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Situation in Rakhine State ‘fragile’: U.N.


The U.N. refugee agency said this weekend the security situation in Rakhine State in Burma is “tense and fragile,” with new reports of violence and displacement in the sectarian unrest.

The U.N. is reaching affected communities after it re-deployed a team to Sittwe to join other staff who remained in Rakhine State throughout the latest events, said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) refugee agency.

The number of people estimated to have been affected by the violence continues to grow, with latest unofficial estimates close to 90,000, including those displaced and those too frightened to leave their homes. Initial estimates are that many could remain displaced for three months or longer, officials said.

There are now more than 70 sites for displaced people in the area, including camps and monasteries, said a U.N. spokesman.

“Our staff who have visited camps for both displaced communities in Sittwe have found children, women, elderly people and men sleeping on the ground, desperate for heavy tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets,” he said. “We are also concerned about possibility of outbreaks of disease because of poor water supplies and sanitation at a time when it is raining heavily.”

We have already distributed blankets, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting and mosquito nets to more than 4,500 people from our stocks in Maungdaw and Buthidaung,” he said.

Trucks with similar supplies for a further 9,000 people are on their way to Rakhine State, he said, with the first trucks due to reach Sittwe on Sunday.

“We would like to emphasize that we distribute humanitarian aid impartially on the basis of need, and on the basis of need only, regardless of the background and origin of the victims of the recent disturbances,” he said. Many of the refugees are Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Burma. Many have tried to flee to Bangladesh, but have been turned back at the closed border.

“In the days ahead, anyone fleeing the situation in Myanmar or being pushed back will also face increasingly hazardous and rough seas, with swell heights reaching three to four metres in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal,” said a U.N. spokesperson.
Last Updated ( Monday, 25 June 2012 13:15 )  

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