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Five humanitarian workers remain in Burmese detention


Five humanitarian aid workers, including one employee of the UNHCR, two men working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and two for Action Against Hunger (ACF) remain in detention Rakhine State in Burma.

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Three UN employees were released last week.
 
“This is a positive step, but we hope the remaining aid workers will be set free soon,” said UNHCR regional spokeswoman Vivian Tan.
 
The aid workers were arrested on charges of alleged involvement in communal violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in June, which left dozens dead, thousands of homes destroyed, and almost 70,000 people displaced, IRIN, the UN humanitarian relief agency reported this weekend.
 
The Burmese government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine on June 10 and brought in the military to help restore order.
 
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (IRIN), the displaced are currently being housed in 63 camps in Sittwe, Kyauktaw and Maungdaw townships; nine camps in Sittwe are sheltering nearly 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of them Rohingya.
 
The Rohingya –  an ethnic, linguistic and Muslim minority numbering about 800,000 – have long faced persecution in Burma, where they are stateless under Burmese law, rights activists say.
 
Hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they are viewed as illegal migrants, and fare little better, with few legal rights and few employment opportunities.
 
Following the June violence, the Bangladesh government went on record as saying it was effectively closing its doors to a possible fresh influx from across its border.
 
Most Rohingya in Bangladesh live in squalor, receive limited aid and remain vulnerable to arrest, extortion and even physical attack.
 
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are some 200,000 Rohingyas in Bangladesh, of whom only 28,000 are documented and living in two government camps assisted by the agency. Close to 11,000 live at the Kutupalong camp, with another 17,000 farther south at Nayapara – both within two kilometres of the Burmese border.
Last Updated ( Monday, 03 September 2012 15:37 )  

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