WFP’s Emergency Food Supplies Reached to Chin State But Did Not Say Who Attacked the Convey

Photo fromVK:  It writes 5 trucks of WFP bannered driving to Paletwa through rough road.  
Sittway. May 3, 2020.
World Food Programme released statement on May 3 and said emergency food supplies from the United Nations-WFP have successfully reached to conflict affected communities of 3,700 people in Paletwa, Chin State. 

The statement said, “Families were forced to skip meals and forage wild plants for foods. Some resorted to selling or eating their livestock, a coping strategy that could hurt longer-term agricultural productivity and food security.” 

But the statement does not mention who exactly shot the WFP covey near Sami Twon village on April 29. 

The WFP statement said, “The delivery was hampered by insecurity earlier, when, on 29 April, a convey of five WFP contracted trucks carrying the food aid was fired on by unidentified gunmen while en route to Paletwa.” 

President Office Spokesperson Zaw Htay said during the online press conference AA shot the aid convey and injured the truck driver. 

Arakan Army issued statement on May 1 and dismissed the allegation and urged WFP to issue public statement based on the true facts of ground condition.

For several months, roads and waterways have been cut off after AA and Tatmadaw were intensifying fighting in Paletwa township. Local communities and IDPs were largely affected for shortage of foods and near starvations.

Arakan Army blamed Myanmar army for the roads and waterways cut. It issued several statements on urgency of food supplies and cooperation of food transportation and road security. It even went further and said road blockages were intentionally and strategically done by the army itself in aiming to cut food supply to AA but divergent to the community in starvation. 

Myanmar army also denounced AA for blocking the road and waterway transportation routes to Paletwa. 

Several private boats were shot and wounded many passengers in Kaladan River. Some local traders were arrested by the government security forces for bringing rice and dry fishes to Paletwa from Kyauktaw. 

At one point, AA was accused for forcefully taken some portion of rice bags from the local officials when they were bringing 150 rice bags from Rakhine State. AA denied the allegation.

After seriousness of food shortage and nearly starved to death of the local residents and refugees, both international and national organizations tried very hard to reach words to State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to get helps, according to reliable source in Natpyataw. Voice President Henry Van Thio also helped for the aid delivery. Ministry of social welfare also assisted Chin state government to reopen the supply routes after the ministry negotiated with the army officers. 

For this success, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had praised the bravery of soldiers who fought very hard against AA to secure the supply routes.

Arakan Army Commander Tun Myat Naing wrote on his Twitter and said the army seal off the road and reopen itself but praise for bravery;  was it ashamed?

Finally, the first batch of WFP aid convey was reached to the affected communities for at least temporarily feeding. There are over 2,000 fresh IDPs in Paletwa township and 150,000 in northern Rakhine State respectively.

Courageous WFP Country Director in Myanmar Stephen Anderson said ‘our work doesn’t stop here.’ He continued and said “The communities are extremely vulnerable and need sustained support to prevent the food situation from getting worse.”

Local CSO and charity organizations welcome determination of WFP to deliver more humanitarian assistances and foods to the IDPs and affected communities. 

There are some obstacles remain in Rakhine and Chin states. Some news reported ICRC, WHO, and WFP vehicles were attacked during the operational works, but none of the armed organizations took responsibility. 

Observers carefully warn that international organizations and UN aid agencies in Myanmar to take extra cautious not to fall in middle of traps and cast sided with during these complicated and complexity of unstable and confusion times, and a tiny mistake can damage credibility and reputation of the world organization. 

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