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U.N. aid efforts continue in Rakhine State

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is working to provide basic shelter materials to all communities affected by the violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York this week.

Living conditions are hard in Teknaf camp in Bangladesh.  Movement of refugees is restricted and housing is in need of repair or renewal. Photo: UNHCRCurrently, the Burmese government has set up more than 40 temporary relief camps in six townships in Rakhine State and has asked for humanitarian assistance to help people at these sites, Nesirky said.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has expanded its distributions of emergency supplies to people displaced by violence, he said. In the past week, the program has reached more than 66,000 people with rice, beans and cooking oil, and it estimates that there are some 90,000 displaced people in need of assistance as a result of the recent clashes, he said.

The UNHCR continues to monitor developments along the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, he said.

Violence sparked between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas early this month in Taungup in Rakhine State after a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered.

In a press release, the WFP said: “The WFP has reached more than 66,000 displaced people with emergency food supplies in the past week, delivering rations of rice, beans and cooking oil.”

The Burmese government has requested urgent humanitarian assistance for the affected people in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Sittwe, with food, shelter and medical assistance urgently required.

“At this stage, WFP estimates there are about 90,000 displaced people in need of assistance as a result of the recent clashes – WFP is currently finalizing plans for a three-month food assistance operation that will require additional support from donors,” WFP said.

Local residents said access to the affected areas is difficult and
the situation in Rakhine State remains tense, with reports of sporadic incidents and violence, stemming from sectarian clashes set off by the rape and murder of a Burmese woman by three Rohingya men early this month.

“We expect this number [of refugees] to continue to grow as further information becomes available,” a UNHCR spokesperson told a media conference in Geneva. “The destruction of property appears to be widespread.”

In responded to the unrest, Bangladesh has closed its borders to refugees fleeing from the violence, further complicating the issue.

“UNHCR continues its dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh on the management of these arrivals [refugees],” a U.N. spokesman said.
Last Updated ( Friday, 22 June 2012 12:57 )  

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