Paletwa Locals, Govt Facing Difficulties Due to Internet Blackout

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Locals and members of government departments in northern Rakhine State and southern Chin State say they are facing difficulties because access to the internet has been cut in the region for more than a week.

Under an order from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, telecommunications and mobile phone operators cut internet access on June 21 to Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung and Myaepon in Rakhine State and Paletwa in Chin State. Clashes between the Arakan Army and the Burma Army have been occurring in the area.

Wai Tang, who is working for a Paletwa Township social volunteer group, said that because of the internet blackout, his organization cannot transfer or withdraw money from banks using popular services like Wave Money. They also cannot communicate with donors about supporting the needs of locals affected by the conflict, he added.

“We cannot get updated information,” Wai Tang said.

A member of local the government staff said that there have been delays to their work because of the lack of internet access.  

“Our work requires internet access. We use the internet for sending and receiving email… We are facing difficulties in our work,” said the staff member, who works for the social relief and resettlement department, said. “If we can access the internet, we can send photos and reports easily… Now we have to send reports by post, so our work is delayed.” Civil society organizations have widely called on the government to reinstate internet access, and on June 29, the US embassy echoed the call.

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