UN Zaps Hunger Report on Myanmar, Raising Suspicions

'There was a real sense that they had things to hide'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2017 9:09 AM CDT
UN Zaps Hunger Report on Myanmar, Raising Suspicions
Rohingya refugee women carrying their babies wait at a World Food Program distribution center in Bangladesh, on Sept. 3, 2017.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

A July report describing near starvation in Myanmar's Rakhine state has been expunged from the UN website—at Myanmar's request. Myanmar was upset with the report's claim that military forces were blocking access to food for the Rohingya even before a government crackdown led 537,000 to flee to Bangladesh, per NPR. But the Guardian reports the UN's World Food Program might have its own reasons for wanting the report erased. According to one source, UN officials knew the report was "potentially damaging," as it suggested WFP food aid cuts to the Rohingya over a two-year period were causing harm, even starvation. "There was a real sense that they had things to hide," the source says.

The WFP tells a very different story: The agency "stands by its original assessment" that 80,000 Rohingya children under the age of five were suffering from potentially fatal weight loss in Rakhine in July. However, the food situation will have changed since an "upsurge in violence" in August, "just months before the next harvest," a rep tells the Telegraph. "In a dynamic and evolving situation, it is important to coordinate closely with all partners, including the government," WFP adds, noting its decision to scrap the previous report came "following a request by the government to conduct a joint review." That review has stalled with Myanmar keeping agencies out of the conflict zone, however. The WFP says it's continuing to push for access. (More Myanmar stories.)

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