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MSF welcomes offer to resume operations in Rakhine, Myanmar but remains cautious

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Amsterdam, 25 July 2014 - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the announcement by the Union Government of Myanmar and the Rakhine State Government that MSF will be allowed to resume operations in Rakhine State, after it was forced to halt medical activities in February.

“MSF is cautiously optimistic about this development,” said Marcel Langenbach, Director of Operations for MSF in Amsterdam.  “Given that for many people in Rakhine access to medical services remains a major challenge, we hope that MSF can restart treating patients as soon as possible.”

“We believe it is critical that the Government allows humanitarian aid agencies to have unfettered access to ensure people can receive medical care,” added Langenbach. “We understand that this is a sensitive environment, particularly with regard to inter-communal tensions. This makes it all the more important that independent international organizations can play their role in treating those most vulnerable.”

MSF has been working in Rakhine since 1994, and until the suspension was the largest non-governmental medical provider in the state. Since the suspension in February, MSF has been in ongoing dialogue with the Union and State authorities.

“We remain eager to resume activities throughout Rakhine State and have a team of national and international staff ready to provide medical care immediately,” Langenbach said.

Prior to February this year, MSF provided medical services in 24 camps for displaced people and in isolated villages across Rakhine.  In 2013 alone, our doctors and community health workers performed more than 400,000 consultations in Rakhine addressing HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, malaria, antenatal and postnatal care and mental health.

MSF has been in Myanmar since 1992 and is currently providing health care in Shan, Kachin and Yangon to thousands of people from many ethnic origins. MSF provides 31,700 people living with HIV/AIDS with life-saving anti-retroviral treatment as well and treats over 2,500 tuberculosis patients. It was among the first responders to cyclones Nargis and Giri, providing medical assistance, survival items and clean water resources for hundreds of thousands of people.