Displacement in Rakhine State, Situation Report No. 10

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 28 Oct 2012

This report is produced by OCHA on behalf of the Humanitarian Coordinator with information provided by humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 6 October to 28 October.

I. HIGHLIGHTS/KEY PRIORITIES

• Although the figures are most likely to increase, as of the evening of 28 October the Government’s partial estimate indicates that over 28,000 people have been displaced and that at least 76 persons have been killed in the recent violence that started on 21 October. More than 4,600 houses and several religious buildings have been destroyed in the unrest.

• A high-level delegation led by the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and the heads of UNCHR, WFP and OCHA accompanied the Ministers of Border Affairs to affected areas of Rakhine State.

• The Government requested the international community assistance for all those affected.

I. Situation Overview

Since 21 October, violence has again resurfaced in the Rakhine State townships of Kyaukpyu, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U, Myebon, Pauktaw, Ramree and Rathedaung. Tensions increased after monks, women groups and youth groups organized anti-Rohingya and anti-OIC demonstrations in Sittwe, Mandalay and Yangon. The situation continues to be fluid and tense. The local authorities announced that the curfew (07h00 to 17h00) had been extended to new locations, including Minbya and Mrauk-U. Additional troops have been dispatched to the area.
Although the figures will certainly increase, as of the evening of 28 October the Government’s partial estimate indicates that over 28,000 people have been displaced from their homes and more than 4,600 houses and religious buildings have been destroyed in the unrest. These figures do not include several thousand people who have fled their houses by sea, nor those who have arrived in Sittwe since 21 October. Government sources indicated that at least 76 people lost their lives in the recent violence.

The recent outbreak of violence followed a relatively quiet period after the communal conflict in Rakhine State, in early June 2012, left at least a dozen people dead and hundreds of homes destroyed, and 75,000 displaced as of late September.

A UN team led by the United Nations Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, Ashok Nigam, accompanied the Union Minister for Border Affairs, Lt. General Thein Htay, in a mission to the affected areas from 26 to 28 October. The team visited Myebon, Minbya, Yinthie village in Mrauk-U township, Ramree and Kyauk Pyu where the team observed large displacement and destruction. In response to the Government’s request, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners stand ready to start distribution of humanitarian assistance. Timely and unhindered access and rapid action is critical for urgent life-saving assistance to reach all affected people, as is the generosity of donors to ensure that procurement and dispatch of items is not delayed. While all IDPs camps in Sittwe are accessible, access to a more widespread area, where the recent incidents took place, will be a major logistic challenge. Meanwhile, in the three northern townships of Rakhine State, some partners, including WFP and UNHCR and some NGOs managed to slowly resume some of their regular activities, which were suspended since June 2012.

Expressions of anti-Muslim sentiments have also been recorded in other regions, including Kayin, Mon States and Mandalay. Consequently, the All-Myanmar Islamic Religious Organization has decided not to celebrate Eid el-Adha this year. Since the start of the crisis, the President stated that unless the situation is under control, it ‘could deteriorate further and could extend beyond Rakhine State’ and could ‘damage stability, democratization process and national development of our country in transition period’. In another announcement, on 25 October, the President highlighted that ‘the resurging conflict can impact the dignity and interest of the state and the citizen. (…)There are individuals and organizations that are behind the resurgence of the violence, and effective action will be taken against those in accordance with the existing laws’.

Strong anti-UN and NGO feeling has been fuelled by some elements in Rakhine State. Several pamphlets have been distributed and threats have been articulated against the entire humanitarian community. In some cases, specific partners were told that relief operations have been and continue to be biased. As a result, some assessment teams have been denied access to locations where people are displaced or relief supplies, including that of the Government, have been refused. MSF promising attempts to engage with community leaders to open a clinic for HIV-positive patients in Sittwe was eventually postponed when a protest occurred the day before the opening in front of the clinic.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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