UN renews call for dialogue between displaced persons and Myanmar authorities

A group of internally displaced people in Myanmar's Rakhine state. Photo: UNHCR

13 August 2013 – The United Nations refugee agency today reiterated its call for dialogue between displaced Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and national authorities after recent violent clashes left one man dead and 10 other people injured.

“UNHCR is reiterating its call for peaceful dialogue and confidence building between the IDPs [internally displaced persons] and Government. We believe this is key to avoiding further violence,” Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news conference in Geneva.

The latest incident is reported to have started on Friday morning, when a dead body was found in a creek near Ohn Taw Gyi IDP camp outside Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state.

The cause of death and the handling of the body erupted into a dispute between a group of IDPs and the local police. This is believed to have led to violent confrontations between the police and IDPs that led to several injuries.

Mr. Edwards noted that the situation in the camps had calmed enough yesterday to allow humanitarian work to resume. UNHCR is the lead agency for shelter, camp coordination, camp management and protection in the humanitarian response in Rakhine state. Its current priority is to provide temporary relief for the displaced during the rainy season.

“Our teams are working with partners and the IDPs to strengthen camp management and help establish reliable camp committees that can mitigate any future tensions,” the spokesperson said.

He added that “camp coordination and camp management activities are of paramount importance to assist in ensuring constructive dialogue with the authorities in order to prevent future incidents.”

Some 140,000 people remain internally displaced in Rakhine state following last year's inter-communal violence, according to UN agency figures.

An additional 36,000 people in isolated areas and host communities in the state have also been adversely affected, with little to no access to work and basic services.


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