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Myanmar dismisses UN call to relocate Rohingyas

Muslim Rohingya walk
around the Bawdupha Internally Displaced Persons camp on the outskirts of
Sittwe, the capital of Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. (Credit: AFP)

Radio
Australia 
March
19, 2013

Myanmar
has dismissed a United Nations report calling for urgent action to protect tens
of thousands of Rohingya refugees this monsoon season.

Presidential
spokesman U Ye Htut has told Australia Network’sNewsline program the shelter at
camps holding an estimated 120,000 people is adequate.

“I
think most of the people are still living in the camp but they have enough
shelter and food supply for the rainy season,” he said.

United
Nations Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana says in his report he is
concerned the camps will flood in a few months time and recommends Rohingya
refugees be integrated into communities.

“The
coming rainy season in May, which will flood many of these camps, further
increases the urgency of relocation in order to avoid a humanitarian
disaster,” he said.
Myanmar’s
Rakhine state suffered two bouts of deadly sectarian violence last year between
ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

The
fighting has divided the community and led to Rohingya Muslims being separated
into temporary camps.

Granting
citizenship

Myanmar
has reaffirmed Rohingya refugees won’t be given special treatment or granted
citizenship, despite increased pressure from the United Nations.

Mr
Ye Htut says thousands of stateless refugees must meet government criteria to
get citizenship.

“Every
people who have met the criteria of citizenship will have the
citizenship,” he said.

“But
there’s still many illegal immigrants in that area, and we have to solve that
problem.”

United
Nations Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana is urging Myanmar to address
“shortcomings” with the country’s human rights situation,
particularly regarding the Rohingya population.

“The
government must establish the truth about what happened in Rakhine state during
the two waves of communal violence last June and October, and hold those
responsible for human rights violations to account,” Mr Ye Htut said.