Thu 10 Jan 2013
Filed under: ASEAN,News
The Indonesian Foreign Minister has pledged one million dollars in humanitarian aid to Arakan state after a visit to the conflict-torn region, where Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims clashed last year.
An Indonesian delegation led by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa visited some of the displacement camps, currently housing over 110,000 people uprooted in last year’s violence.
An announcement in state media on Thursday, said Natalegawa met with Burma’s Border Affairs Minister Thein Htay to discuss the ongoing plight of displaced people in the region and pledged to provide food, education, health and economic support.
Last year’s violence threw an international spotlight on Burma’s treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority, which is denied citizenship and basic rights by the government. A number of Muslim countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have since pledged large amounts of humanitarian aid to the region.
But the influx of aid has proved controversial in the western state and prompted accusations that humanitarian agencies are favouring the Rohingya, who are considered illegal Bengali immigrants by many Arakanese.
“The [Indonesian delegation] pledged to provide assistance for refugees on both sides,” said Aung Mrat Kyaw, a spokesperson for the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), which was recently reprimanded for allegedly stirring community tensions.
Arakanese Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya clashed in June and October last year, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 people. The United Nations has called on the Burmese government to address the root causes of the violence, including economic marginalisation and the stateless status of the Rohingya.
The Indonesian delegation travelled to Sittwe, Pauktaw, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Maungdaw townships before meeting with affected communities on both sides.
The visit follows a diplomatic agreement between Indonesia and Burma to work together towards economic development and reconciliation in Arakan state.