Aid mobilised for Muslim IDPs without shelter after fire
International aid agencies and the Myanmar government say they are mobilising aid for more than 2000 Muslim IDPs left homeless after a fire ripped through their internment camp in Arakan (Rakhine) State amid conflicting reports of their whereabouts.
“The UN is working closely with the authorities to quickly mobilise a solution for the immediate shelter needs in Baw Du Pha 2, particularly since the monsoon season is fast approaching,” said Pierre Peron, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The May 3 inferno, believed to have been caused by a cooking accident, ripped through the IDP camp near the Arakan (Rakhine) state capital of Akyab (Sittwe), destroying 49 bamboo longhouses, leaving 392 families without shelter. No deaths were reported but 14 people were injured.
Mr Peron said the government’s Relief and Resettlement Department had provided tarpaulins and communal tents which can accommodate about 200 families. “However, most of the people affected by the fire have decided to stay with relatives or friends in other parts of the IDP camp that were not damaged, or in makeshift shelters made by themselves,” he said.
The World Food Programme has advanced its monthly food allocation and started distributions for the entire camp and surrounding area of about 10,000 people, he said. The authorities have also provided some rice and oil, as well as non-food items such as kitchen sets, mosquito nets and clothes.
“Despite these efforts, the current living conditions in the IDP camp are not adequate, nor were they before the fire. The victims of this terrible fire were already living in difficult conditions before this tragedy which has made them even more vulnerable. This fire has only added to their woes,” Mr Peron said.
The coastal area near Akkyab (Sittwe) is a web of sprawling IDP camps where tens of thousands of stateless Muslims have been confined by the authorities since communal violence erupted across Arakan (Rakhine) State in 2012. Several thousand Arakan (Rakhine) Buddhists live in separate camps.
A Arakan (Rakhine) State official, who asked not to be named, said the homeless from Baw Du Ba 2 needed to be moved to the nearby Ohn Daw Gyi area where there is a Muslim village and other IDP camps. He said that move would be temporary while a solution was worked out with international agencies.
According to the Lutheran World Federation which works in the IDP camp of Ohn Taw Gyi South, many from Baw Du Pa had already been moved to an abandoned market on the edge of Ohn Taw Gyi village. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported on May 4 that 1744 people from 435 households affected by the fire had moved to Ohn Taw Gyi.
When The Myanmar Times visited Baw Du Pa 2 the day after the fire, many people had no shelter, scavenging through the ashes and erecting shanties out of bits of corrugated iron. Some said they had received no food at all that day and had lost their meagre provisions in the blaze.
The UN routinely does not state the ethnicity of the more than 100,000 IDPs who are held in camps across the state with tough restrictions on their movements and limited access to healthcare and education. According to people in Baw Du Ba 2, many there identify themselves as Rohingya, an ethnic term rejected by the Myanmar authorities.
Note: Changes have been made, MYANMAR TIMES is not responsible for these.
Source: MYANMAR TIMES