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Internally Displaced Rohingyas Face Acute Starvation

By Aung Aung

Sittwe (Akyab), (Rohingya Vision) – Hundreds of internally displaced Rohingyas have been facing acute starvation and malnutrition at ‘Say Tha Ma’ IDP Cmaps in Sittwe, Arakan state, according to the reliable sources.

A total of 210 families comprising 1100 members fled Pauktaw Township for Sittwe’s ‘Say Tha Ma’ IDP camps in late August 2012. The Rakhine-state authorities didn’t provide them any shelter on pretext of insufficiency of places required for them in the camps nor did they register them as IDP when they arrived displaced and homeless.

Therefore, they have hardly received any rice or other food rations from World Food Program (WFP) like any other IDP do in the camps. They sell whatsoever aids received from other INGOs in order to buy rice as the rice is main food for survival.

Mr. Muhammad Rafique, a displaced Rohingya in ‘Say Tha Ma’ IDP camps, said “I don’t know how we survive in the rainy season. No one provides us rice regularly. We are a group of the displaced people that do not receive any rice or main food items.”

Therefore, displaced and shelter-less, they survived in the make-shift tents built by the roadsides in ‘Say Tha Ma’ until June 2013. When the foreign envoys visited the camps (in June 2013) and saw their situation, the destroyed their tents and placed them among other people in the ‘Say Tha Ma’ IDP camps and yet without registration as IDP eligible for receiving required humanitarian aids.

“Why are we in such a torturous condition? It will be better off if we die. If I didn’t believe in God, I would poison my kids and myself. Here, we don’t have right here for almost 3 years. Our land was robbed by them and our houses were burnt down.

We came here to escape from deadly condition but are starving to death instead” said Ms. Noor Begum, a displaced Rohingya woman.  

Many of the international media quoting the Burmese domestic media usually mention that there are 140,000 people living under dire condition in the squalid concentration camps in Sittwe. However, they fail to highlight the plight of these more than 1000 people who are not even lucky enough to get stay in such concentration camps. Sometimes, they get to eat and sometimes, not. Some other times, they need to beg for food to other people. Their situation is obviously worse than the former (i.e. the registered IDP in Say Tha Ma).

Say Tha Ma IDPAnother unfortunate Rohingya Woman identifying to be Mrs. Karimullah said “If I starve, then no problem. I have no strength to see my kids’ feeling hungry. I prefer death over having to see them starve before my eyes.”

According to the sources, the WFP and other INGOs are unable to provide them any rice or food because the Rakhine state authority ordered them not to do so. In the summer and the winter, they find some means of livelihood and earn some money to buy rice for survival. But now as the rainy reason has started, they are in semi-starving condition as they have no means to find food in the season.

Moreover, there are several cases of malnutrition amongst children resulting from starvation and lack of proper nutrition and medical access. These dire crises being faced by more than 1000 people have to be tackled in time. Otherwise, the humanity has to answer for a potential catastrophe which can easily be prevented from taking place.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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