By Ainur Rohmah
Indonesia on Monday said it has officially began construction of a hospital in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
In a statement, Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said that the construction, which is planned to be completed by mid of 2018, has started in Myaung Bwe for the entire Rakhine’s population, regardless of their religious background.
Nasir said the hospital is being built through collaboration among the government and the people of Indonesia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
Once completed, he said, the hospital would be used by the entire Rakhine population.
The hospital, which costs $1.8 million, is set up on an area of 12,000 square meters (3 acres) with a total building area of 8,000 square meters (2 acres), including health staff’s accommodation and the main building.
"The construction of the hospital will involve local contractors and raw materials from the surrounding areas, with the aim of helping to improve the economic opportunities of local people, as well as to grow a sense of ownership of this hospital," Nasir said.
The inauguration of the hospital construction took place on Sunday, attended by the Indonesian Ambassador to Myanmar, representatives of Myanmar's health ministry, the representatives of a humanitarian organization, Indonesia Medical Emergency Rescue Committee local community leaders and people representing Buddhists and Muslims.
Since Aug. 25, over 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.
The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
Prior to the establishment of hospitals, Indonesia also delivered $1 million for the construction of four schools by 2014, 10 containers of basic necessities for Rohingya residents by December 2016 and the construction of two schools in Sittwe that have been inaugurated in January this year.