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Huge Fire Adds to Woes for Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims

  • VOA News

A boy searches for useful items among the ashes of burnt down dwellings after a fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine State near Sittwe, May 3, 2016.

A boy searches for useful items among the ashes of burnt down dwellings after a fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine State near Sittwe, May 3, 2016.

Nearly 450 Rohingya Muslims are homeless after a huge fire burned down several shelters at a camp for internally displaced people Tuesday.

About 50 shelters were destroyed at the Baw Du Pa camp located near Sittwe, the capital of the western state of Rakhine. The French news agency, AFP, says it has learned from authorities that strong winds caught the flames from a cooking stove and spread them from shelter to shelter. There are no reports of injuries or deaths.

About 140,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in limbo in dozens of squalid displacement camps across Rakhine state, having been forced to leave their homes amid fighting between Muslims and Myanmar's majority Buddhists in 2012.

Rohingya Muslims are marginalized in Myanmar. Branded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, they are unable to travel freely, cannot vote, marry or have children without official permission, are largely barred from higher education and face the constant threat of violence as Buddhist extremism gains traction.

Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has drawn criticism from the international community for failing to speak out on the plight of Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya. On April 1, the United Nations gave her newly installed civilian government 100 days to improve living conditions for the Rohingya.

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