News / Asia

    UN: Refugee Camps in Western Burma 'Shocking'

    Muslim refugees stand near their tent at Sin Thet Maw relief camp in Pauk Taw township, Rakhine state, western Myanmar, November 10, 2012.
    Muslim refugees stand near their tent at Sin Thet Maw relief camp in Pauk Taw township, Rakhine state, western Myanmar, November 10, 2012.
    Ron Corben
    The United Nations humanitarian affairs chief says a Rohingya Muslim refugee camp in Burma for victims of recent inter-communal violence is "shockingly overcrowded."  Valerie Amos, head of humanitarian affairs for the United Nations, has called on the international community to press Burma to address issues of citizenship for the stateless Rohingya and move forward on reconciliation efforts within the community.
     
    Amos speaking to reporters Saturday at the end of a four-day official visit to Burma, says conditions in camps housing victims of inter-communal violence are among the worst she has witnessed in terms of overcrowding and sanitation.
     
    Amos travelled to eight camps in Western Rakhine State, where clashes and arson this year left almost 200 dead and around 115,000 displaced.  She says while conditions varied, the Myebon camp was "particularly shocking".
     
    "The people are very crowded. Men, women, children are inside these tents that basically are for smaller numbers," said Amos.  "Sanitation is very, very poor indeed. Water for people; getting access to water, for bathing for cooking and so on is terrible. There is no school and the children cannot go to school anywhere else."
     
    The U.N. humanitarian affairs chief said Burma (also known as Myanmar) faces several humanitarian challenges with 500,000 people displaced because of local conflicts.  Amos says the violence has left a deep fracture between Buddhist and Muslim communities.

    While Amos welcomed political reforms under President Thein Sein, with whom she held talks, Amos also called on the government to address the U.N.'s concerns and offered U.N. assistance. The issue of citizenship for stateless Muslim Rohingya is highly sensitive in Burma. Many Buddhists claim the Rohingya are Bengali.
     
    "Donors and countries need to continue to put pressure on the government of Myanmar to sort out the issue of citizenship and at the same time to begin the process of reconciliation," Amos added.

    The U.N. says $27 million in aid has been received for the displaced in Rakhine state, but $41 million more is needed by June, 2013.
     
    Amos also pointed to concerns over thousands of internally displaced people in eastern Burma's Kachin State. Some 75,000 people have been forced from their homes due to fighting between Kachin and the Burmese army. She said aid was badly needed to assist 40,000 people in areas where the U.N. has no access.  
     
    The U.N.'s call for assistance and reform in Burma was welcomed by the rights group Alternative ASEAN Network. But the group warned the international community should ensure that the government in the capital, Naypyidaw, will adopt the U.N.'s recommendations.
     
    "If Naypyidaw does not do anything or in fact start behaving in a more negative way then I think that's going to be a wakeup call for the rest of the international community - a high ranking U.N. Official has flown in, got the relevant briefings and now has a clear picture for the situation, which she has communicated in public," said Debbie Stothard, the Alternative ASEAN Network's spokesperson.
     
    Rights groups say it is urgent for the international community to access the internally displaced, especially the Kachin who are facing the on-coming winter in northern Burma and need more than plastic sheeting for shelter.

    U.N. Humanitarian chief Amos says the Rakhine community also feels it has been "left behind" in terms of development across Burma, pointing to an immediate need to address their grievances.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora