Myanmar rejects militants’ call for humanitarian cease-fire

Rohingya refugees receive mosquito netting and bowls from relief organization workers in the streets of Teknaf, Bangladesh, on Sunday. The Myanmar government rejected Sunday a proposed monthlong cease-fire from Rohingya insurgents, who sought a temporary end to fighting to allow humanitarian aid to reach victims of the ongoing violence. Photo by Abir Abdullah/EPA/EFE

Sept. 11 (UPI) — The Myanmar government rebuffed a Rohingya insurgent group’s announcement of a monthlong cease-fire, saying it will not negotiate with “terrorists.”

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army announced Saturday on Twitter it was calling for a cessation of military operations from Sept. 10 to Oct. 9 to allow humanitarian groups to render assistance to victims of the violence in Rakhine state.

“ARSA strongly encourages all concerned humanitarian actors resume their humanitarian assistance to all victims of the humanitarian crisis, irrespective of ethnic or religious background during the ceasefire period,” the group said in a statement.

Myanmar spokesman Zaw Htay, however, indicated Sunday the government would not participate in ARSA’s cease-fire.

“We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists,” Htay tweeted.

Approximately 130,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar for Bangladesh on Friday, nearly doubling the count from earlier last week.

The United Nations said more than 290,000 people had crossed the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh since an Aug. 25 crackdown on the stateless ethnic minority that the country’s military said was sparked when Rohingya militants attacked police posts.

Humanitarian agencies are seeking $77 million to assist the massive influx of people who have fled to the country from Myanmar and struggled to find space at existing camps and settlements and lack access to basic services at new settlements.

“Before this latest crisis, agencies were already working on the ground, but the influx has overwhelmed the services that were in place,” Robert Watkins, U.N. Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, said. “To support the new arrivals there is now an urgent need for 60,000 new shelters, as well as food, clean water and health services, including specialist mental health services and support for survivors of sexual violence.”

The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $7 million to allow agencies to provide life-saving assistance to an estimated 75,000 people in the three new spontaneous settlements.


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