Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Christian Kastrop, Director of Policy Studies, OECD

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola: UN Security Council unanimously passes resolution

Read more

ENCORE!

Author Kiran Desai on early success and the Booker Prize

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Tyler Brûlé, Founder and Editor-in-chief of Monocle

Read more

REPORTERS

From Sarajevo to Guantanamo, the journey of the Algerian Six

Read more

#THE 51%

Angelique Kidjo, 'Africa’s premier diva'

Read more

FASHION

The Quest for an Exceptional Object

Read more

FOCUS

Ukraine's 'volunteer' battalions: Under Kiev's control?

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

US strategy to combat the Islamic State group

Read more

Asia-pacific

Doctors Without Borders expelled from Burma

© AFP file picture

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-28

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Friday said Burma’s government has ordered it to “to cease all activities” in the southeast Asian country, leaving tens of thousands of people without proper medical care.

The aid group, which provides primary healthcare in strife-torn western Rakhine state as well as HIV and tuberculosis treatments across Burma, said the move would have a "devastating effect" on its patients.

"MSF is deeply shocked by this unilateral decision and extremely concerned about the fate of tens of thousands of patients currently under our care across the country," the group said in a statement, adding it was in discussions with the government to resume services.

It said clinics across the country, which is also known as Myanmar, were closed Friday for the first time in the aid group's 22-year history.

"There is no other medical non-government organisation that operates at the scale of MSF with the experience and infrastructure to deliver necessary life-saving medical services," it said.

Burma’s health service has been left in tatters after decades of underfunding during a military dictatorship that was replaced by a quasi-civilian regime in 2011.

MSF, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, is the largest provider of treatment for HIV and AIDS in Burma, with over 30,000 patients.

Treating stateless Rohingya minority

The group provides primary healthcare services in several remote areas near the border with Bangladesh where impoverished stateless Rohingya Muslim communities live under severe restriction of movement.

MSF has faced increasing pressure in recent weeks after it said it treated injured people in its clinic near the site of a reported mass killing of Rohingya that was strongly denied by the government.

The organisation, which has faced accusations of giving preferential treatment to the stateless Rohingya, said it "guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality".

MSF also has programmes for the treatment of tuberculosis and malaria as well as reproductive health services.

The US calls for free humanitarian access

Earlier Friday, the United States Embassy in Yangon called for free humanitarian access in the former junta-ruled nation.

"The United States encourages [Burma] to continue to work with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to communities in need and to ensure unfettered access for humanitarian agencies, in accordance with international standards," it said.

MSF had halted work in Rakhine state since Wednesday because its operating licence has expired, regional government spokesman Win Myaing told AFP earlier, adding the group "might resume their work again".

He denied the move was connected to recent protests against the aid group.

Rakhine remains tense after several outbreaks of inter-communal violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities since 2012 that have killed scores and displaced 140,000 people, mainly from the Rohingya minority.

Burma’s government considers the estimated 800,000 Rohingya in the country to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and view them with hostility.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-02-28

  • BURMA

    Explosion strikes luxury hotel in Burma

    Read more

  • BURMA

    Burma releases 56 political prisoners in new amnesty

    Read more

  • BURMA

    Burma marks 25 years since brutal junta crackdown

    Read more

COMMENT(S)