Myanmar closes second refugee camp in western state

A refugee camp housing displaced Buddhist families in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was closed Thursday, officials said.

The camp is the second to be closed in recent weeks as part of the government’s effort to resettle people displaced by communal violence since 2012.

The authorities started relocating 65 ethnic Rakhine Buddhist households from Ka Nyin Taw camp in the southern part of Rakhine to the nearby village of Pyin Phyu Maw late last month.

The Kyauk Phyu Township administrator, Nyi Nyi Lin, told Anadolu Agency that the camp was completely closed.

65 ethnic Rakhine Buddhist families relocated to nearby village

“Relocation of displaced people in the camp has now completed,” he said.

The regional government provided the refugees with land, houses and other assistance, he added. “We are also planning to provide small loans so that they can restart their fishing work.”

As an initial step in resettling about 120,000 people, a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan recommended the immediate closure of three camps.

The first — a camp in Ramree that housed 55 Kaman Muslim families — was shut last month. Most were relocated to Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, rather than returned to their homes in Ramree.

An official from the Rakhine government told Anadolu Agency that Kyein Ni Pyin camp, where 215 Rohingya Muslim households have been sheltering for nearly five years, has yet to be closed.

“We are working to close the third camp before monsoon,” regional government spokesman Min Aung said. “How to facilitate them to reintegrate into local communities is a big challenge.”

Since mid-2012, the region has seen a series of incidents of communal violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya which have left around 100 people dead and some 120,000 displaced in camps — mostly members of the Rohingya minority.

Myanmar has long faced international condemnation for its persecution of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state.

Fresh violence erupted in Rakhine last October after nine border police were killed. According to the UN, the security forces subsequently carried out widespread abuses against the Rohingya.

These atrocities included the killing of children and babies, gang rapes, beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances. The government has said 106 people were killed during the operation but Rohingya groups have said approximately 400 were slain.
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