YANGON: A new wave of sectarian violence in western Myanmar has left five people dead and dozens injured in recent days, triggering another exodus of Muslims to emergency camps, officials said Thursday.
Hundreds of homes have been burned in the fresh outburst of unrest in Rakhine state, where Buddhist-Muslim clashes have killed at least 95 people since June and displaced tens of thousands, according to the authorities.
On Thursday, Ashok Nigam, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, issued a statement, calling for calm.
“The UN is gravely concerned about reports of a resurgence of inter-communal conflict in several areas in Rakhine State – which has resulted in deaths and has forced thousands of people, including women and children, to flee their homes,” said the official.
About 75,000 people are estimated to be uprooted in Rakhine state, mostly Rohingya. There have been a series of protests by Buddhists in Myanmar against the stateless Muslim group, long considered by the United Nations to be one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet.
The Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas and has classified them as illegal migrants, even though, the Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origins, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the eighth century.
Reports say more than hundreds of Rohingyas have been killed in Rakhine over the past few months.
Rights groups fear that the real death toll may be much higher than the official toll.