Mob attack, Red Cross crash hamper Rohingya assistance

Source:AFP Published: 2017/9/21 22:53:40

Myanmar police clashed with an angry mob blocking an aid shipment in Rakhine state and nine people died when a Red Cross truck crashed in Bangladesh Thursday, hampering urgently-needed relief efforts for Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence.

Communal tensions remain high across Rakhine where raids by Rohingya militants at the end of last month sparked a massive army crackdown, driving more than 420,000 people into Bangladesh in what the UN calls a campaign of "ethnic cleansing."

Aid groups fear that tens of thousands trapped in Rakhine state are desperate for support, even though humanitarian access is still hampered despite the government's promise to allow safe passage.

The crisis has prompted a global chorus of condemnation against the country's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for refusing to blame Myanmar's powerful military for the crackdown, which French President Emmanuel Macron said amounted to "genocide."

A 300-strong Buddhist mob in Rakhine state's capital Sittwe massed late Wednesday at a jetty where a boat carrying relief goods was preparing to travel up river to hard-hit Maungdaw.

They forced the International Committee of the Red Cross  (ICRC) to unload the aid from the boat and prevented the vessel from leaving, state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Thursday, quoting Myanmar's Information Committee.

Police officers arrived as the crowd neared the jetty, while Buddhist monks also tried to calm the mob, but people began to hurl "stones and Molotov (cocktails) at the riot police."

Eight people were detained and several policemen were injured before order was restored. 

The ICRC confirmed the incident and said they would continue to try and deliver relief. 

News of the clashes in the violence-wracked state, where security forces have been accused of razing scores of Rohingya villages, emerged as a truck hired by the Red Cross and ICRC crashed in Bangladesh, killing nine people and injuring 10 others.

AFP


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