Myanmar asks KL to stop NGOs' aid mission to Rohingya

Refugees, many of whom say they are Rohingya, wait for access to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug 11, 2015.
Refugees, many of whom say they are Rohingya, wait for access to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug 11, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Myanmar has asked Malaysia to stop a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from sending aid to assist "a specific community" in the Rakhine state, the New Straits Times said yesterday, quoting a report from Japan's Kyodo News. The "specific community" in question is understood to be the Muslim Rohingya.

The Myanmar Foreign Ministry reportedly said it had told the Malaysian Embassy it "would be grateful if the government of Malaysia could kindly take necessary measures to prevent the reported attempt by certain NGOs to send an aid flotilla, which cannot be allowed to enter without prior approval" from the Myanmar government. The report said that while Myanmar welcomed humanitarian assistance from its fellow Asean members, the aid should be for "both communities in Rakhine state without any discrimination".

The 2,000 tonnes in aid is meant for all in need and not just the Rohingya community, said Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, an Umno MP and chairman of Kelab Putra 1Malaysia, an NGO that has, among other things, led humanitarian missions to Gaza.

The mission, which is jointly organised with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islam Organisations and other NGOs from Turkey, Holland, Britain and Bangladesh, has been delayed until Jan 31, The Star reported yesterday. The coalition applied for permission to enter Myanmar through the embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 12 but has yet to receive a reply.

Mr Abdul Azeez said they wanted to respect Myanmar's laws and regulations. Should there be no approval to enter Myanmar, the ship would be sent to Bangladesh to help the refugees there, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'Myanmar asks KL to stop NGOs' aid mission to Rohingya'. Print Edition | Subscribe