A total of 78 people were killed in the bloody sectarian violence in Burma’s Rakhine State from May 28 to June 24, according to government figures released on Tuesday. The widespread killings grew out of revenge killings in the murder and rape of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men on May 28.
A total of 3,158 residential and business structures were destroyed by arson.
The violent rampages forced Buddhist and Muslims to seek safety in temples, mosques, schools and government facilities. In the post-violence period, a total of 37 refugee camps were established for a total of 31,884 refugees, according to official statistics. Other sources say as many as 90,000 people may be in need of aid or assistance, including food, shelter and medicine.
Meanwhile, relief aid and donations are pouring into the state. United Nations agencies and international nongovernmental organizations are setting up aid programs for the refugees in the riot-hit state. The U.N. said it foresees a three-month relief effort in the area.
Over the past week, nearly 1,000 displaced people were sent back to respective villages in Maungtaw Township as a move by the local government after it claimed restoration of peace and stability to the area. Many refugees say they are still afraid of violence in the area.
A declaration of emergency in the state and the imposition of curfew in six townships including Maungtaw and Sittway, the capital of the state, has been in force since June 10.
President Thein Sein appeared on nationwide television during the peak of the violence calling for calm and religious tolerance in the country. He said the country does not have a good record of respecting all religions. The majority of Burmese consider the Rohingya population of Rakhine State to be foreign intruders and call them “Bengali,” even though many have lived there for generations. The government denies Rohingya citizenship.
Aung San Suu Kyi has called for the government to clarify its citizenship laws. President Thein Sein will go to Bangladesh on July 15 to meet with government officials to disucss the refugee problem. As many as 200,000 undocumented Rohingya have sought shelter in Bangladesh over the past decades, officials said. Bangladesh said it does not have the resources to aid the Rohingya on its territory.