Some aid workers freed in Myanmar

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alights from a helicopter during one of his visits to Myanmar. Some detained staff members of the U.N. and other international groups in Myanmar have been released. Photo by: Mark Garten / UN

While relieved at the release of some of their aid workers, the United Nations and Médecins Sans Frontières remain concerned about staff members who have been in detention since they were arrested in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in June.

Four of MSF’s six detained staff members have been released last week, Communications Adviser Jo Kuper confirmed to Devex via email. Aye Win, U.N. national information officer in Myanmar, has also confirmed the release of some U.N. staff members.

But he remains mum on the identities of the aid workers.

“We are deliberately not issuing names or numbers released as the discussion is still in process as to the remaining persons,” he said, adding security and privacy issues concerning the aid workers.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said two of its four local staff members have been released, according to the Associated Press. This, however, cannot be independently verified.

The U.N. World Food Program, meanwhile, confirmed to Devex that one of its staff members has been freed. Another, however, remains in government custody.

“We are hopeful that our staff member still in detention will be released soon,” WFP Pakistan Head of Public Information and Resource Mobilization Robin Lodge said. “We do not at this point have any information as to the circumstances — only that the authorities described all those detained, including a number of NGO staff, as ‘troublemakers’.”

The arrests followed an eruption of violence in Rakhine, where President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in June. Some aid groups have already returned to the area amid ongoing security concerns.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.