|UN says 22,000 displaced in Myanmar’s anti-Muslim violence||
Wooden boats carrying some of those on the move arrived outside the state capital, Sittwe. They trudged to the nearby Thechaung camp, a place already home to thousands of Rohingya Muslims who took refuge there after a previous wave of violence in June, The Associated Press reported.
“I fled my hometown Pauktaw on Friday because there is no security at all,” said 42-year-old fisherman Maung Myint, who arrived on a boat carrying 40 other people, including his wife and six children. “My house was burned to ashes and I have no money left.”
Another Muslim refugee said she fled her village, Kyaukphyu, on Thursday after attackers set her home on fire.
“We don't feel safe,” said 40-year old Zainabi, a fish-seller who left with her two sons, aged 12 and 14. “I wish the violence would stop so we can live peacefully.”
Human Rights Watch released dramatic satellite imagery of Kyaukphyu on Saturday showing a vast, predominantly Rohingya swath of the village in ashes. The destruction included more than 800 buildings and floating barges.
Myanmar's government has put the death toll at 67 over the last week, saying 95 more people were injured from Sunday through Thursday in seven townships in Rakhine state.
The casualty figures have not been broken down by ethnic group, but Human Rights Watch said the Rohingya had suffered the brunt of the violence. The New York-based rights group also said the true death toll may be far higher, based on witness accounts and the government's history of minimizing news that might reflect badly on it.
Border Affairs Minister Lt. General Thein Htay traveled to the affected areas with the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Ashok Nigam.
Nigam said 22,587 were displaced and they included both Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, but he gave no breakdown.
Some 4,600 homes were also destroyed, according to the U.N, which said in a separate statement that it had begun distributing emergency food and shelter supplies with its humanitarian partners to refugees in urgent need of help.
The latest unrest pushes the total displaced to nearly 100,000 since clashes broke out in June.
Speaking to The Associated Press while visiting Thechaung camp, Nigam said getting aid to the new wave of displaced will be a challenge as some fled on boat and others have sought refuge on isolated hilltops.
“The situation is certainly very grave and we are working with the government to provide urgent aid to these people,” he said.
On Saturday, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein admitted that an extraordinary wave of ethnic and sectarian violence had targeted Rohingya Muslims in the west of the country.
“There have been incidents of whole villages and parts of the towns being burnt down in Rakhine state,” Thein Sein's spokesman said.
“If necessary, we will send more police and military troops in order to get back stability,” presidential spokesman Zaw Htay added.
Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas as Myanmarese citizens and classifies them as illegal migrants, although the Rohingyas have resided in the country for centuries.
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