Netherlands pledges aid to Rohingya population

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Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons). Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

The Dutch government made money available to provide emergency relief to the Rohingya population fleeing from Myanmar, Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade announced at her meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Amsterdam on Thursday.

"The images on TV say enough. Anxious fathers and mothers fleeing with their children in overcrowded boats. With so much human suffering, we can not remain insensitive and ignore the call of aid organizations to do more", Ploumen said.

The government is initially making 500 thousand euros available for refugees who fled over the Myanmar border and are now staying in Bangladesh. The current estimate is that this involves 150 thousand people. This money will provide aid to these refugees through the United Nations World Food Program. Aid organizations expect the number of refugees to continue to rise due to the violence in Myanmar, and worry about shortages of food, water, tents and sanitation. 

There are also worrying reports about human rights violations in the province of Rakhine in Myanmar, where the army is fighting with insurgents. There too many people were displaced and are now living in very distressing conditions. "At present, it is impossibles for aid organizations to work there. That has to change", Ploumen said. "As soon as the situation allows, we'll see what we can do there."

The province of Rakhine has been troubled by great tensions and regular fighting between ethnic- and religious groups, often also involving the army, for years. Kofi Annan, former UN chairman, recently issued a report about the future of Rakhine, pleading for improving the position of all communities, strengthening human rights awareness in the army and police and monitoring the performance of security forces. 

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