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    UN warns of humanitarian catastrophe for displaced Rohingyas

    File photo shows
    internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.
    April 19, 2013
    The UN refugee
    agency has warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Myanmar as the country’s
    displaced Rohingya Muslims face the threat of monsoon floods.
    The United Nations
    High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said it is “seriously concerned
    about the risks facing over 60,000 displaced people in flood-prone areas and in
    makeshift shelters.”
    “From May to
    September, the monsoon season is expected to unleash heavy rains and possible
    cyclones in Rakhine state, where more than 115,000 people remain uprooted after
    last year’s inter-communal violence,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told
    The official was
    referring to the deadly attacks by extremist Buddhists in 2012 against the
    western state of Rakhine’s community of Rohingya Muslims, described by the UN
    as one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world.
    Edwards also
    expressed concern that operations to provide shelter and food for the displaced
    are desperately underfunded, noting that donors have provided just 14 percent of
    the USD 1.4 million the UN agency needs for its Myanmar operation.
    “Flooding will
    exacerbate the already fragile conditions of shelter and sanitation, and
    increase the risk of water-borne diseases. In addition, several thousand people
    are still living in tents and flimsy makeshift shelters made of tarpaulin, rice
    bags, and grass that cannot withstand even moderate rains,” he warned.
    Rohingya Muslims in
    Myanmar account for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60
    million. They have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression
    since the country’s independence in 1948.
    government has been repeatedly criticized for failing to protect the Rohingya