UN staff members detained in Rakhine

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon waves to U.N. staff in Myanmar. U.N. staff members have been detained by the authorities in Rakhine state. Photo by: Evan Schneider / UN

    The United Nations has been trying to get information from the government of Myanmar on staff members detained for questioning by authorities in Rakhine state.

    Ashok Nigam, the U.N. humanitarian and resident coordinator in Yangon, has reported the incident to the government, although it is unclear when this took place. But one letter was sent this week, U.N. representative in Myanmar Aye Win told Devex in an email.

    Win declined to identify the detained staff members, following a U.N. decision not to disclose personal or professional information of the concerned individuals for privacy concerns.

    Asked what the reason was behind the incidents, Win said the United Nations is still waiting for a “formal reply” from the government.

    International medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières has also confirmed that some of its staff members have been detained in Rakhine. The organization is “in touch” with the authorities to check on its staff members, Jo Kuper, MSF communications adviser for Myanmar, told Devex in an email.

    It is not yet clear when the incidents happened, although The New York Times reported the aid workers were detained on separate dates and locations.

    The detentions follow the United Nation’s decision to temporarily relocate its staff members working in Rakhine. It also follows MSF’s decision to temporarily suspend activities in the area. Both happened after President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in the area June 10.

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    About the author

    • 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.

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