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At least 20,000 displaced in one week

UN reports widespread devastation in Buddhist-Rohingya clashes

Houses blaze in Mrauk-U, one of the conflict zones Houses blaze in Mrauk-U, one of the conflict zones
  • By Daniel Wynn, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • October 29, 2012
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More than 22,000 people have been displaced by the renewed sectarian violence in Rakhine state, according to the United Nations and the authorities.

The clashes between minority Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines left 87 people dead and nearly 100 injured during the most recent flare-up between October 21 and 27, according to a report released today by the government-run newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar.

A similar number of people were killed after violence in June.

A UN team that visited the conflict-hit zones of Minbya, Mrauk-U, Kyaukphyu and Myaebon townships in Rakhine state described large scale destruction of residential houses.

Their report, released on Sunday, said that 22,500 people were displaced and more than 6,000 houses were burned in the renewed violence.

The number of displaced excludes thousands of other people forced to flee from the port city of KyaukPhyu. The UN has urged the government to give immediate support to those people.

“I am gravely concerned by the fear and mistrust that I saw in the eyes of the displaced people,” said Ashok Nigam, head of the UN office in Yangon, in the report. “It is critically important that the government ensures that the rule of law prevails, prevents any further spreading of this violence and continues to communicate strong messages of harmony.

“The violence, fear and mistrust is contrary to the democratic transition and economic and social development that Myanmar is committed to,” he added.

According to Muslim community leaders in Yangon, most of the latest victims are Rohingyas who are now in desperate need of food and shelter.

Wunna Maung Shwe, secretary of the Myanmar Islam Council, said that many Rohingya refugees are still on boats at sea and some have already died from starvation and lack of medical treatment.

“I got so many phone calls from the Rohingyas on boats who said some of their relatives were dying," he said. "Those refugees are now not safe to go back to their homes but also don’t wish to be moved to remote parts of Rakhine state."

Win Myaing, the spokesman for the local government in Rakhine state, said that there are some plans to relocate the new refugees to Maungdaw, a border town near Bangladesh. Rohingyas refugees in KyaukPhyu said they only want to return their homes.

“We are expecting better security protection from the authorities so that we can go back home,” said one of them.

Related report

Fresh unrest in Rakhine state

At least 64 dead in fresh Rakhine unrest

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