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31,844 displaced refugees in Burma’s Rakhine State: minister

Burma’s minister for border affairs, accompanied by the top U.N. Burma envoy and Islam leaders, visited Maungtaw in Rakhine State on Thursday, where they met people whose homes were destroyed in the recent sectarian unrest.

Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi walks with Border Affairs Minister Major General Thein Htay at the  Economic Development Workshop held in Naypyidaw in August 2011. Photo: AFPThe delegation brought food, clothing, education material and other aid for refugees, according to an article in The New Light of Myanmar on Friday. A medical team also treated the refugees.

Lt-Gen Thein Htay told refugees the government would help displaced people in rebuilding their homes, which were burned during the recent sectarian unrest, and restore peace and stability in the region. Action would be taken against the people who rioted during the unrest, he said.

The U.N. special envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar, told refugees that the U.N. would work in cooperation with the government to provide relief to the refugees and steps were being taken to get access to the region.

Ashok Nigam, the U.N. resident representative in Burma, said the international agency would offer aid to refugees in Rakhine State.

At a local press conference, a total of 29 people have been killed and 38 others injured in the deadly rioting in Rakhine State from June 8 to 13, government officials said in Sittway on Thursday, according to an article on Friday by the Xinhua news agency.

Among the dead, 13 were Rakhinese, while the 16 others were Muslims, and 16 of the injured were Rakhinese with 22 others being Muslims, Rakhine State Security and Border Affairs Minister Colonel Htein Lin and Law Officer U Hla Thein said at a press conference.

There are a total of 37 refugee camps opened in the state housing 31,884 victims so far. There are 14 refugee camps in Yadae Taung for 3,104 people and four in Ponnagyun for 2,704 Rakhinese and two in Pauktaw for 1,500 Muslims.

Nine monasteries, seven Muslim mosques and one school were burned down in the violence, said officials, and a total of 2,528 residential houses across the state were destroyed by fire, including 1,192 of Rakhinese and 1,336 of Muslims, officials said.

The press conference was the first offered by the local government since a state of emergency and curfew order was declared on June 10.

Local officials said the situation in western Rakhine State was calmer on Thursday, and a few people are starting to rebuild their destroyed houses. Some shops and banks in the downtown areas of Sittway reopened on Thursday, while big bazaara and schools remained closed.

However, local ethnic Rakhinese victims, housed in refugee camps, told Xinhua that they are afraid of returning to their native villages from where they fled the rioting.
Last Updated ( Friday, 15 June 2012 11:08 )  

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