Myanmar has been under tight control for decades and access to the country has been, and continues to be, very difficult when attempting to implement programmes for the Muslim Rohingya populations. The Rohingya are not formally recognised by the government and are deemed ‘stateless’. Consequently, they have limited access to education, healthcare and have severe food security issues. The recent election of Aung San Suu Kyi has prompted great hope among the international community and the local people for a change to the status of the Rohingya, so they can access the most basic services. This however, has yet to materialise. Despite the massive needs of this population, many international NGOs operating in Myanmar experience difficulties in executing programmes with the Rohingya. Tensions are beginning to mount in Rakhine State. The recent bomb blast in Sittwe dramatically highlights the precarious situation as well as the rising tensions within the refugee camps.
In light of this, AKF has decided to proceed with due caution in how we address the plight of the people to ensure that we deliver the best programmes possible in the most appropriate and safest way. Taking into account the changing environment in Myanmar, we have been continually assessing the situation to identify areas of immediate need, particularly within the Rakhine state where the majority of the Rohingya reside. We are working to establish strategic partnerships with long-standing credible organisations who have experience in working in the region, with whom we can deliver successful and sustainable projects to the people of Rakhine State and beyond.
One of the primary areas of humanitarian intervention is to ensure food security to the refugees whose lack of basic rights to employment and income often leave families destitute and unable to access reliable and healthy food sources. As a short-term solution, last year AKF carried out food distributions during Qurbani in Rakhine State where 2,875 people befitted from a supply of meat for the month. In the coming months, we plan to implement educational, livelihood, infrastructural and health related programmes within the camps with local partners on the ground.
Whilst we pursue to implement projects in Myanmar, our work to support the Rohingya refugees across the rest of Asia is ongoing, as we deliver livelihood, health and food security programmes in Pakistan, Malaysia, India and Indonesia.