YANGON, 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.
The humanitarian group said it was “deeply shocked” by Myanmar’s decision to expel it after two decades of work in the country.
The United States said it was very concerned and urged the government to continue to provide “unfettered” access for humanitarian agencies.
“Today for the first time in MSF’s history of operations in the country, HIV/AIDS clinics in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, as well as Yangon division, were closed and patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed,” the Doctors Without Borders said in a statement, using the French acronym for its name.
As Myanmar’s main provider of HIV drugs, supplying treatment to 30,000 people, the group described the impact as devastating.
Myanmar presidential spokesman Ye Htut had criticized Doctors Without Borders in the Myanmar Freedom newspaper for hiring “Bengalis,” the term the government uses for the Rohingya Muslim minority, and lacked transparency in its work.
He also accused the group of misleading the world about an attack last month in the remote northern part of Rakhine. The United Nations says more than 40 Rohingya may have been killed, but the government has vehemently denied allegations that a Buddhist mob rampaged through a village, killing women and children. It says one policeman was killed by Rohingya and no other violence occurred.
Doctors Without Borders said it treated 22 injured and traumatized Rohingya.
Repeated attempts to reach Ye Htut for comment were unsuccessful Friday.