Sittwe/Yangon (MRCS/ICRC/IFRC) – The Red Cross has given emergency assistance to more than 28,000 people affected by violence in Rakhine since 25 August.

As well as distributing emergency items such as hygiene kits, mosquito nets, blankets and tarpaulins to 28,800 people (5,500 households), the Red Cross has provided food to more than 28,000 people and thousands have benefited from improved water and sanitation.  Support to mobile clinics and seven health structures has also been given. Additionally, more than 5,000 people received cash grants.

The Red Cross has assisted people displaced within Rakhine state and also to people with urgent needs in their home communities. It is a joint response by the Myanmar Red Cross Society, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“Wherever people are, whoever they are, no matter their background, race or religion, if they have been affected by the violence and they need help, the Red Cross wants to help them,” said Dr Mya Thu, president of the Myanmar Red Cross Society. “We are honoured that the government has asked Red Cross to step up our work according to our humanitarian principles and strict standards to help people in need.”

Challenges include security risks, the remote locations of people in need, poor roads and other infrastructure, monsoon rains and a looming cyclone season.

The head of the ICRC delegation in Myanmar, Fabrizzio Carboni, said: “Red Cross partners have reached a significant number of people. But the needs are immense and much more needs to be done. We plan to help roughly 180,000 people by the end of 2017. While this assistance is critical, so is protection; we call on all persons involved in the violence to respect the rule of law.”

The Red Cross has been rapidly scaling up its capacity to help. All means of air, water and road transport are being used to undertake assessments and deliver aid with urgency.

“The Red Cross is doing all it can to assist people in need,” said Joy Singhal, head of IFRC in Myanmar. “But we cannot do it alone. We hope other humanitarian organisations to be able to re-engage to meet existing and urgent new needs.”

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