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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid