One day earlier this month, a businessman turned social worker was going about a familiar and urgent task: looking for blood donors in camps crowded with Rohingya Muslims driven from their homes.
This time, Nu Maung needed three pints — one of O-positive, two of B-positive. Among those in need was a woman who had suffered complications during childbirth.
The military-led purges and abuses carried out against Myanmar’s Muslim minority Rohingya over the past year continue to yield new hardships. The blood hunt, as described by aid groups and others, offers another look at the extreme segregation Rohingya Muslims face in their country.
Rohingya are effectively blocked from accessing the blood bank in the main medical facility in the western Rakhine state, where most Rohingya live in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, according to two internal reports by a consortium of six major international aid groups.
Buddhists insist that their blood go only to other Buddhists, and the hospitals oblige, the groups say.
So men such as 48-year-old Nu Maung have to persuade fellow Muslims in these squalid camps to offer their own blood for about $10 per donation. He said he has been a donor 44 times so far.
“After making their [blood] donation, sometimes they can’t work for the next few days,” Nu Maung told The Washington Post by telephone from Sittwe, the Rakhine state capital. “So we need to support them [financially].”
The report, as well as aid workers, also detailed the heavy financial costs for Muslim patients treated at the hospital: payments to guards and drivers to safely transport them and additional bribes to nurses and doctors for better care. A Muslim patient, the report estimated, would pay 61 percent more than a Buddhist person admitted to the hospital for five days for the same condition.