TEHRAN (FNA)- The World Food Programme warned that more than 80,000 children under the age of five living in majority-Muslim areas of Western Myanmar are wasting and will need treatment for acute malnutrition over the next year.
The report from the United Nations agency was based on an assessment of villages in Western Rakhine state, where some 75,000 Muslim Rohingya people have fled a bloody army crackdown, The Guardian reported.
Those who remain are now reeling from a food crisis, with WFP finding one-third of homes are experiencing extreme food deprivation in Maungdaw, one district particularly affected by the violence. This includes episodes of no food in the house or not eating for 24 hours.
A quarter of all households composed of only one female adult as the men had left due to the military campaign. These households had the highest frequency of episodes of severe hunger, WFP said, adding that no children under the age of two met minimum adequate diet requirements, while 225,000 people need humanitarian assistance.
“It is estimated that 80,500 children under the age of five are expected to be in need of treatment for acute malnutrition over the next twelve months,” the WFP report said.
A WFP Spokesperson in Myanmar stressed that this “wasting” — condition of rapid weight lose that can become fatal — impairs the functioning of the immune system.
“The survey has confirmed a worsening of the food security situation in already highly vulnerable areas following the security incidents and ensuing violence in late 2016,” the WFP report added.
The WFP assessment found that in area affected by the violence, nearly half of the markets were not or only partially functioning.
“Food prices were highly volatile, and supply of affordable dried fish, a main source of proteins for the population, was scarce,” the report said.
“Under these circumstances and with the upcoming rainy season that may aggravate an already fragile situation, the capacity of the most vulnerable population to access sufficient food in the long-term is severally undermined and will depend on the humanitarian assistance in the near future,” the report added.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has also expressed concerns about the poor living conditions of Rohingya Muslim refugees, who have fled a “very dire state” in their homeland Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh.
“The conditions are very minimal, very basic. I would say that this is quite worrying especially for those that have been here for a long time, and for the new arrivals that come from very traumatic situations; this is worse perhaps,” Grandi said in Dhaka.
He added that Rohingya refugees may stay “for some more time” in squalid Bangladeshi camps as Myanmar officials had said the verification procedure for refugees before any repatriation would be lengthy.
Last October, the army launched a crackdown in Rakhine after a deadly attack on the country’s border guards left nine policemen dead, as the government blamed the Rohingya for the assault.
There have been numerous accounts by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began, while the military blocked access to Rakhine and banned journalists and aid workers from entering the zone.
Rakhine has also been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands forced from homes to live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to the UN, the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.