News / Asia

UN, Burmese Officials Discuss Rohingya Citizenship

A Muslim woman weeps as she and others arrive at Thechaung camp refugee camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Burma, October 28, 2012.
A Muslim woman weeps as she and others arrive at Thechaung camp refugee camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Burma, October 28, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator,Valerie Amos, is meeting with Burma's President Thein Sein after visiting displaced peoples camps in Rakhine and Kachin states.  Amos is expected to discuss the sensitive issue of citizenship for the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority, as well as improving conditions and aid access in the camps.
 
Amos visited Kachin state, where fighting between the army and ethnic rebels along the China border has displaced tens of thousands of people.  She also traveled to western Rakhine state, where communal fighting this year between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim minorities left close to 200 dead and 115,000 displaced.
 
The worst affected were the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority considered one of the world's most persecuted.
 
United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, August 16, 2012 file photo.United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, August 16, 2012 file photo.
x
United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, August 16, 2012 file photo.
United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, August 16, 2012 file photo.
U.N. officials say Amos will discuss the issue of citizenship for the Rohingya with President Thein Sein.
 
Stewart Davies, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Office of Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs in Burma, notes the president has said Burma needs to address the issue of citizenship in a positive and inclusive manner.
 
"I think for her she would definitely be interested in advocating towards that as well and potentially even looking towards well, what are the practical steps and what are the timelines, what is the timeline in this regard," Davies says.
 
Citizenship for the Rohingya is sensitive in Burma, where most people and the government prefer to call them Bengalis. The term reflects the view that many consider them illegal migrants from Bangladesh -- despite the fact that many have lived in Burma for generations.
 
The vast majority of the displaced in camps in Rakhine state are Rohingya. But because of continuing tensions, humanitarian aid workers have received threats and intimidation for trying to help them.
 
The U.N. OCHA quoted Amos as saying the level of assistance varies significantly by camp and that security threats are a major challenge.  She also said camp conditions are overcrowded with substandard shelters and sanitation.
 
Davies says Amos will push President Thein Sein for better access as well as improved conditions in the camps.
 
"Most in need is shelter, food, non-food items like household goods, tarpaulins, those sorts of things, and health care services, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities," he explains. "But, all of them are desperately needed across the board."
 
Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, says the U.N. humanitarian chief's visit and comments underscore the problems in Rakhine state, also known as Arakan.
 
"It's a welcome recognition of the dire situation that are facing persons in these internally displaced persons camps in Arakan State," Robertson says. "It's a reflection of reality.  And, it is an indictment of the policy of de facto segregation that the government of Burma appears to be pushing."
 
Robertson says the government has to find some way for the two groups to live together if they want to have a long-term solution to the conflict.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: lstmohican from: USA
December 07, 2012 11:29 AM
The UN should seriously consider relocating of the Rohingyas to other countries as offered by Myanmar. They should also be discussing the border security issues as stated by Aung San Suu Kyi, as the Muslim populace has embraced the Pan Islamism ideology in the porous border areas with Bangladesh.
In Response

by: Snowgrass from: USA
December 19, 2012 2:30 AM
Istmochlcan is right. AS an American Miss Amos see only present situation. Those Bangalis are very pretentable, One face infront of the people like Ms Amos and absolutely opposite face with native Citizens. Their Behavior too.Characters too,. Infront of Turky Foreign Ministy ,they show very pitiful th made foreign minister's wife cry, but behind them they beat, rape and kill the native citizens. Don't be diaboliced.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs