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Confusion Surrounds Myanmar Government’s Expulsion Of, Then Reversal On MSF Operations

The government of Myanmar on Thursday called on Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, to cease its health care operations in the country, but then allowed the group to continue its activities except in Rakhine state, where a majority of a Muslim minority group live.

Agence France-Presse: Myanmar orders MSF to ‘cease all activities’ in the country
“Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Friday said the Myanmar government had ordered it to suspend all its activities in the country, halting vital health care to thousands of people…” (3/1).

Associated Press: Doctors Without Borders expelled from Myanmar
“Doctors Without Borders said Friday it has been expelled from Myanmar and that tens of thousands of lives are at risk. The decision came after the humanitarian group reported it treated nearly two dozen Rohingya Muslim victims of communal violence in Rakhine state, which the government has denied…” (Mason, 2/28).

BBC News: Médecins Sans Frontières’ shock at Myanmar suspension
“The aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières has expressed its shock at the order to cease operations in Myanmar. It said it was deeply concerned about the tens of thousands of people it was treating, particularly for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB…” (2/28).

Devex: Biased aid? MSF negotiating full access in Myanmar
“…In a baffling government U-turn, Medecins Sans Frontieres was first ordered to cease operations in Myanmar and then allowed to resume their work — although not in Rakhine state, home to the vast majority of the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority which the country’s Buddhist rulers refuse to grant full rights…” (Ravelo, 3/3).

IRIN: Myanmar still talking tough over MSF expulsion from Rakhine
“Authorities in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State say they are ready to take over the health programs Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-Holland has been implementing in the conflict-hit state for the past 20 years, after the government ordered their closure…” (3/3).

Médecins Sans Frontières: Myanmar: MSF to resume HIV/AIDS and all other activities in Kachin, Shan and Yangon but concerns remain
“On February 27, Médecins Sans Frontières Holland (MSF) received a written order from the Union Government of Myanmar to cease all operations in the country, which led to a full closure of all MSF Holland clinics on February 28. This act left patients confused and desperately concerned across the whole country…” (3/1).

VOA News: Aid Group Told to Halt Operations in Burma After Rohingya Controversy
“The international aid group Doctors Without Borders says it has been ordered to halt all operations in Burma, also known as Myanmar, following a controversy involving Rohingya Muslims…” (2/28).

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Aid Chief Says Myanmar Can’t Stall on Reforms
“The U.S. government’s chief aid officer has warned that assistance to Myanmar depends on continued reform and that the country needs to stop restricting humanitarian access to communities hit by sectarian violence. In an interview at the conclusion of a two-day trip to the country, Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that Washington has spent $186 million in foreign aid in Myanmar on a variety of programs in health care, agriculture and technology…” (3/2).