Relief items commonly seen in the markets include sanitary napkins, rice, towels, and tarpaulins, said a young woman from Sittwe, the state capital.
“Sanitary napkins can always be found in Sittwe market. While the normal price is 1,000 kyats, they are sold there for only about 800 kyats,” she said.
In addition, stationery items such as books and pencils with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) stamp and items with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stamp such as towels and tarpaulins are also openly sold, according to locals in Sittwe and markets in other townships.
An unnamed administrator said that relief goods are also available in markets in after Cyclone Mocha hit the state.
“The rice has ended up in the market because the relevant organizations and authorities haven’t covered transportation costs and fees for the relief supplies,” he said.
A woman in charge of an IDP camp in Buthidaung Township claimed that the sanitary napkins provided are being resold partly because the displaced families are facing livelihood problems.
“There are two sides to this. Some providers didn’t distribute the sanitary napkins based on the number of women, but simply from house to house. Houses without young girls got extra pads. So they sell them cheaply, while some families sell them because they are facing livelihood problems,” she said.
Civil society groups have pointed out that authorities should monitor such cases and control the aid supplies reaching the markets.
“This shouldn’t happen. We have seen these things in the markets over and over again. Relevant organizations should investigate on the ground. Some items have gone directly to the market without reaching the intended recipients. This is unacceptable,” said a woman from a civil society group.
Narinjara was still trying to reach UNHCR and other aid groups on the matter.
Around 70,000 people are still displaced in Arakan State after fighting flared up between the Myanmar army and the Arakan Army (AA) in 2018.
Hundreds of thousands of people are also still displaced in townships such as Sittwe, Myebon and Kyaukphyu, according to IDP records, following inter-communal violence in the state in 2012.
The displaced say they no longer receive government assistance and now rely on international groups.