News / Asia

    Top UN Official Offers Ideas to Quell Ethnic Strife in Burma

    Smokes and flames billow from burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.Smokes and flames billow from burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.
    x
    Smokes and flames billow from burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.
    Smokes and flames billow from burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.
    Lisa Schlein
    GENEVA — The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, is offering to help the Burmese government reconcile the Buddhist and Muslim groups in sectarian-torn Rakhine State. 

    Guterres, who is on a mission to Thailand and Burma, also known as Myanmar, has presented proposals to the Burmese president and other officials for bringing the two communities closer together.

    The U.N. refugee agency reports a tense calm has returned to Rakhine State, a remote region in western Burma.  In May, violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine flared after three Muslims were detained following the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman.  More than 60 people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed in sectarian clashes that followed.  

    U.N. refugee spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says the UNHCR continues to view the unstable situation in Rakhine with concern.  She says Guterres conveyed these concerns to Burmese officials along with his offers of help.

    “We would like to state that in Rakhine State we remain absolutely committed to delivering humanitarian assistance to both populations, the Rakhine and the Muslim without any discrimination," Fleming said. "We believe that this can be a factor for reconciliation -- this aid between the communities -- and we hope that the situation will be established there, with the rule of law prevailing and a human-rights based approach.”  

    At the peak of the ethnic fighting, hundreds of Rakhine Muslims fled across the Naf River to Bangladesh. Their efforts to seek refuge were frustrated when Bangladesh closed its borders.

    Security forces reportedly pushed back refugee boats when they arrived on their territory, leaving hundreds of people adrift in the Naf River.

    UNHCR spokeswoman Fleming said the situation of people fleeing across the border is no longer acute.

    “We are absolutely monitoring this and hopeful that things will return back to normal and that relations between the two communities can be re-established," she said. "But, one of the festering problems is, of course, the statelessness situation, As the nationality law stands, it is based on ethnicity and it does exclude certain groups including the Muslim Rohingya population.”  

    Fleming says the UNHCR believes nationality should be granted to members of the Muslim community who are entitled to have it according to the present legislation.  And, others, she says should receive a legal status that would grant them the rights required to develop a normal life in the country.

    On another issue, she says Guterres asked Burmese officials to clarify why 10 local U.N. and non-governmental aid workers were arrested last month, allegedly on criminal charges. The high commissioner also asked for access to three UNHCR staff being detained.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sazid Ahmed from: India
    August 09, 2012 6:56 AM
    Its a Burma govment politics to kill the all muslims by the Burma Public.......

    by: Sazid Ahmed from: India
    August 09, 2012 6:52 AM
    Please help the victims in Burma...
    Media can do everything......
    Where is govment?
    where is Sympathy?

    by: Moe Thida from: Myanmar
    July 15, 2012 10:30 PM
    I can agree that statelessness situation worsen the problem, however UNHCR's strategy for humanitarian aid can be biased or utilized by this situation. Unless they have their own land to settle down, they shouldn't deliver so many poor kids and threaten the local people with outbreak population in that region. With the back up of UNHCR' humanitarian aids , they dare to swollen their family size, to ask more and more. To provide unbiased advice and aid to all those people, (not only muslins but also buddhist) is important for UNHCR's reputation and also for socioeconomic development of those people.

    by: Toe Sein from: Myanmar
    July 15, 2012 11:57 AM
    No thank you for UNHCR to give assistance to Yakhine victims.People there have suffered more than physical losses committed by people whom UNHCR has provided food and shelter for many years.

    by: Cả Thộn from: Hà Nội
    July 15, 2012 11:57 AM
    Must stop holy war around the world to save humankind. Please stop provoking this most stupid kind of conflict.

    by: ching from: Dhaka
    July 14, 2012 12:59 PM
    the UNHCR is saying now that there is a need to be fair at distributing the relief goods. Does is mean so far it has discriminated against the Rakhine in favor of the bengalis in Rakhine state? there has been a long list of allegations against the UNHCR for being siding with the Bengalis, which it denied again and again. Shortly before the outbreak of the race violence, a Pakistani UNHCR official who worked in Bangladesh was seen with a good number of rohingya separatist leaders in Bangladesh, which many Bangladesh newspapers reported. Is UNHCR still held hostage by that Pakistani officer and his lords among the islaist extremists in Pakistan and in Middle East? We need a clarification from Fleming.

    by: Mike from: USA
    July 14, 2012 11:32 AM
    MORE Muslimes atrocities...!!! when will it end...???

    by: AHMAD from: INDIA
    July 14, 2012 3:37 AM
    if some people doing bad work then we can not give panishment to all people of whole country it is against to humanity.who releted to any group .we want to give panishment to those people who doing invoilence activity who releted any group relison. it my thought. we all are human and brother and all world as a home. (AHMAD ANSARI)

    by: a person from Burma from: Burma
    July 14, 2012 1:07 AM
    The above statement by top UN Official implies that UN has been discriminating against the native Rakhine people and right now, it wants to stop and give equal portion of aid. And UN calls it "offer to settle ethnic strife". What a stupid UN?

    They are formulating that the conflict occurs due to the nice aids the native Rakhine people don't get from UN for years. UN owes them something and they are giving it back now. So everything will be alright. Is that so?

    What UN is pretending not to know is it is an issue of invasion into Burma and the people of Burma will defend it with their lives. The best solution from UN will be stop coming into Burma with the Islamists agenda.

    by: Huyveasna from: Phnom Penh
    July 14, 2012 12:09 AM
    The world leaders should spend 1minute to reflect the sufferings which endured by Rohingya stateless people, they have nowhere to go=To sea is Shark, to land is Tiger, both awaiting to devour them. Why you all not care about other people's precious life such as of Rohingya, they also want to live as a dignity human beings, why the Burmese so cruel to them, only try to hunt them down and kill. Please bring all people in Rakhine State under the rule of law, do not discriminate against anyone, you Burmese being a Buddhist must be compassionate, do not act as a gangster. Buddha bless all.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora