Following is the interview with Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye and Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu by Myanmar News Agency.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) extremist terrorists launched simultaneous attacks on police outposts in Maungtaw, Buthidaung and Yethedaung in Rakhine State resulting in loss of lives and casualties of military officers and civilians. They also destroyed households, bridges and roads using landmines and explosives.
Dr. Win Myat Aye, the Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and U Nyi Pu, the Rakhine State Chief Minister were interviewed on the status of security operations, healthcare and humanitarian aid provided by the Union Government and the Tatmadaw.
Interview with Dr Win Myat Aye
Q: What is the current status of aid and support for the displaced people in Rakhine?
A: Due to current events all the ethnic people have to gather in one place. There are difficulties for providing daily food and healthcare issues and for sending aid to these areas due to landmines planted on roads and bridges. Air Myanmar Aviation Services Co. Ltd has provided a helicopter to the State Counsellor to aid in these efforts. I went to these areas the next day after these events happened.
There are currently six people who suffered casualties receiving treatment in Buthidaung General Hospital. There are around 250 ethnic people taking refuge in Ayezadi monastery and around 2,400 people currently staying at the Maungtaw Four Mile High School building. These places are safe for now and there are humanitarian workers and aid for them. We are arranging to send them to Sittway or back to their respective villages. This was my experience on 27 August.
On 28 August, we saw some areas and villages burned by ARSA extremist terrorists. The city entrance to Maungtaw was also burnt and we went to the gathering places of the villagers. In Taunbazar there were about 633 displaced people and 25 humanitarian workers. In Kyainchaung there were about 200 displaced people and 70 humanitarian workers. Then we went to Maungtaw General Hospital to deliver aid to the patients from ARSA extremist terrorists attacks. We arranged for the critically injured to be transported to Sittway’s Hospital. We then went to the religious building and saw about 200 displaced people there.
Next, we went to Maungtaw B.E.H.S (3) and saw about 1,000 displaced people, most of whom were Hindus. They primarily lacked proper healthcare but there were military health officers tending to them. We explained to them that the Tatmadaw is providing security for the area.
Q: Currently tens of thousands of people had to flee their homes and roads and transportations have been damaged so how are you providing them with humanitarian aid?
A: The Union Government is cooperating with the regional government to provide humanitarian aid as fast as possible. Many of them are scared so we have to deal with that effectively. The Tatmadaw is also providing a lot of security assistance.
Q: Do you have any comments on the help and support being provided after these attacks?
A: We started providing these help and support with ethnic and internal peace in mind. Since most of the ethnic people are in states and regions we have to give them priority and Chin and Rakhine are the two states with the most help needed. Rakhine is currently in conflict, which is an added difficulty.
Since Rakhine is the bigger state it is given first priority and the State Counsellor formed the Central Committee for the Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development in Rakhine State for that purpose. Work committees had been formed to help Rakhine State but after these attacks happened it just added to the workload.
Interview with Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu
Q: What is the state government doing about the terrorist acts in Maungtaw, Buthidaung and Yathedaung Townships?
A: Information was collected when the terrorist acts occur and we have been working with the union government to respond to the acts. Security is the most important requirement and reinforcing Police Forces, Border Police Forces and Tatmadaw was quickly done.
Q: What is the arrangement of state government for ethnic nationals who fled their villages?
A: First arrangement is for security forces to reach the affected areas. Security is also arranged for marshaling areas where the fleeing villagers are sheltering. Two months’ supplies of food were sent since ethnic Myo people were killed earlier in the month so this already fulfilled the current requirement. There were incidents of bridges and roads being destroyed by mines causing difficulties in sending aid items. But we are overcoming these difficulties. In marshaling points close to security force stations, foods and rations from these stations were provided to the fleeing villagers. When we were there, we arranged with Tatmadaw officials to replenish these foods and rations. Everywhere we were, we found foods being adequately provided. We are ensuring that there is no shortage of food.
Q: How is the union government cooperating with Tatmadaw with regards to the current terrorist incident?
A: Cooperation is good. As the response was immediate, damages were minimized. There were some losses initially in some places but almost all is provided with security now.
Q: What is the arrangement of the state government on rebuilding the houses burnt by ARSA extremist terrorist when the ethnic nationals return?
A: Arrangements will be made to reconstruct the damaged homes once the ethnic nationals return to their respective places. Records will be made of damages and losses, which village had how many number of houses, the population etc. With this complete information and records, reconstruction will be done speedily. Requirements of the ethnic nationals will also be enquired. The primary requirement is security and on our side, we will inform Tatmadaw, police force and border police force to increase security.
Q: What has been done for health matter?
A: Medicines are adequately provided to hospitals in Buthidaung and Maungtaw as well as village health clinics. Police personnel and people killed and hurt by ARSA extremist terrorists were provided with financial supports. The events that occurred will be properly reviewed and the union government will be coordinated with.