Norway has expressed deep concern about the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation of the Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, amidst an army crackdown that was sparked by insurgent attacks two weeks ago.
“All groups must show restraint. The authorities, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, have a particular responsibility to protect civilians from abuses, to stop the violence and to ensure humanitarian access,” said Foreign Minister Børge Brende, according to a press release from the Norwegian embassy in Dhaka on Thursday.
According to the United Nations, nearly 164,000 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine State have entered Bangladesh since the violence began on August 25.
Rohingya insurgents had attacked dozens of police posts and an army base there that day, leading to the military counter-offensive and clashes that have killed over 400 people.
The humanitarian organisations have had to withdraw personnel too from Rakhine due to the worsening security situation and restrictions by Myanmar government, said the press release.
Børge Brende, who had raised this issue at a meeting with Suu Kyi in Myanmar in July, said: “This is extremely serious. We will continue to raise the issue of humanitarian access in our contact with the authorities in Myanmar.”
The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recently submitted its final report and recommendations over the situation. Brende had also met the commission representatives during his Naypyidaw visit.
“The situation in Rakhine cannot be resolved through violence. It is encouraging that the Myanmar authorities have expressed their intention to implement the recommendations in the Advisory Commission’s report,” said Brende.
“Norway is prepared to assist the Myanmar authorities in this work,” he added.
He also said that Norway, which had condemned the August 25 attack, will increase its humanitarian aid by NOK 15 million for the vulnerable civilian population in the affected areas in Rakhine.