‘Myanmar violence death toll hits 43’


The death toll from recent violence against Muslims in central Myanmar has risen to 43 with more than 1,300 homes and other buildings having been destroyed, state media reports.

The report was released on Saturday as the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the violence left 11,376 people homeless.

The recent clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims were sparked in a gold shop in Meiktila, a town in Mandalay division, on March 20.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said that the violence “spread to other townships in other regions, and so far, 163 cases of violence have occurred in 15 townships, reaching casualty toll of 43 and leaving 86 injured.”

It said 1,355 houses, shops and buildings were destroyed. More than 9,000 people were in temporary refuges.

The United Nations warned on Friday thousands of Muslim Rohingyas displaced by the anti-Muslims violence in western Myanmar face a looming crisis this rainy season if the government fails to move their camps and facilitate aid deliveries.

“Tens of thousands of people displaced by violence in Rakhine State are now in imminent danger of yet another tragedy when the monsoon rains hit,” said John Ging, director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The rainy season usually starts in May, and brings around 500 centimetres of rain over the following six months.

Humanitarian aid to the camps has been hindered by local Buddhist communities, who want the Rohingyas deported to Bangladesh.

“We need the government’s support to build community respect for the international aid effort,” said Ging, who visited the Rakhine State this week. “There has been a serious problem with threats and incitement against aid agencies and aid workers.”

“The gravity and urgency of the situation cannot be overstated. Community and religious leaders also have a major role in promoting a culture of peace and mutual respect in multicultural and multi-ethnic Myanmar,” he added.

The Buddhist extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and set fire to their homes. This comes while the Myanmar government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority.

Myanmar’s Army forces allegedly provided the extremist Buddhists with containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who were then forced to flee.

Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremist Buddhists.

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