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BURMA ROHINGYA

The United Nations is urging Burma to address the citizenship status and other long-term needs of minority Rohingya Muslims, tens of thousands of whom remain in refugee camps following communal violence.

The U.N. humanitarian relief agency said Tuesday 140,000 people remain displaced in Burma's western Rakhine state, a year after the Buddhist-Muslim clashes killed about 200 people and left much of the region racially and religiously segregated.

The report said increased humanitarian aid has addressed the immediate needs of the displaced communities. It said food is now distributed regularly to those in need, about 3,000 latrines are functioning, and temporary shelter for over 71,000 people has been built.

But the agency cautioned that such measures are only temporary, warning that root causes of the tensions must be addressed in order to restore lasting peace and harmony.

Specifically, it called for the citizenship status of the 800,000 Muslims in Rakhine state to be addressed. It said the "consequences of statelessness for Muslims in Rakhine state continue to have a direct effect on fundamental human rights, and the social and economic development" of Burma.



Though many Rohingya have lived in Rakhine for decades, they are denied citizenship and many other basic rights in Burma, where they are instead regarded as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

The Rohingya are also subject to many other discriminatory government policies, such as restrictions on movement and a two-child limit that is not in place for other members of Burmese society.

The U.N. report on Tuesday said restrictions of access and freedom of movement have "severely affected employment, and health and education rights." It said 20,000 primary school-aged displaced children have lost an entire school year, and have no access to formal education.

Rights groups have warned that Burma is in danger of creating a long-term state of religious segregation if it does not take steps to resettle the Rohingya refugees. One group, Human Rights Watch, recently said the Muslim population in the city of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, is "completely segregated."

Burmese officials, who have prevented people from leaving the refugee camps, have suggested the segregation is temporary and necessary to prevent further unrest in the area.

Although the violence in Rakhine state has since calmed, sectarian clashes later spread to other areas of Burma, where it has taken on an a more general, anti-Muslim tone.

The unrest threatens to undermine the political and economic reforms undertaken by Burmese President Thein Sein.

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