Resettlement ‘priority’ after Myanmar unrest: FM

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 9:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 9:53pm

Myanmar is working to resettle tens of thousands of people displaced by communal bloodshed in western Rakhine state as soon as possible, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday.

“The priority of the government for the present moment is to resettle and rehabilitate those victims who are homeless,” Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Laos.

“The government is handling with great care so that this kind of violence cannot reoccur again,” he added.

More than 100,000 people have been displaced and about 180 killed since clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims erupted in June, followed by another outbreak of violence in October.

Overcrowded camps are struggling to cope with a growing humanitarian crisis, dampening international optimism over a recent string of dramatic political reforms as the country emerges from decades of military rule.

The government said last week that the clashes risked developing into an armed conflict, and Myanmar’s top diplomat warned on Monday against extremism.

“There are some quarters... they are instigating, exaggerating the events so we do not encourage any kind of involvement or any kind of extremist ideas to solve the problem,” Wunna Maung Lwin said.

Myanmar’s 800,000 stateless Rohingya are viewed by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minorities on the planet.

They are seen by the government and many Burmese as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, and face discrimination that activists say has led to a deepening alienation from Buddhists.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday called on Myanmar to resolve the citizenship status of Rohingya Muslims.

“We would like the problems, the unresolved problems of the status of the Rohingya people to be addressed by the leaders in Burma across politics,” he told reporters ahead of the summit, using the country’s former name.