Thirty-eight Rohingya Muslims were arrested last week in the village of Anoung Pyin in Rathedaung Township, Arakan State, over the alleged killing of 10 Arakanese Buddhists in the nearby village of Kukaung.
According to Rathedaung Township Chairman Hla Myint, the 10 bodies were discovered at a house in Anoung Pyin on June 21 following sectarian clashes two days earlier. “State authorities arrested 22 people first, then another 16 following interrogations,” said Win Myaing, an Arakan State Information Department officer.
Violence between Arakanese Buddhists and ethnic Rohingyas has been ongoing for weeks and has left perhaps hundreds of people killed and tens of thousands displaced.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) announced that thousands of displaced people in the region are in need of humanitarian aid and that the security situation remains “tense and fragile.”
“Even though the situation appears calm, we are still getting reports of violence and new displacements,” said the brief statement from UNHCR, adding that their information was obtained from reports at the ground level in Arakan State.
The UNHCR said that there are now more than 70 sites for displaced people, including camps and monasteries. It said its staff have visited camps for both displaced communities in Sittwe where they found children, women, elderly people and men sleeping on the ground, desperate for heavy tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets.
“We are also concerned about the possibility of outbreaks of disease because of poor water supplies and sanitation at a time when it is raining heavily,” said the report.
The UNHCR said it has already distributed blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting and mosquito nets to more than 4,500 people from its stocks in Maungdaw and Buthidaung.
The UN agency added that it is concerned for anyone fleeing the sectarian violence in Arakan State by sea because they may be pushed back by authorities and also face increasingly hazardous seas, with swell heights reaching three to four meters in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal.
Over the weekend, local authorities in Sittwe moved dozens of Rohingya people outside the city to Tae Choung village, saying they were worried that further violence would break out if both communities were sheltered too close to each other.
According to the UN’s World Food Programme, the actual number of displaced people in need of immediate emergency assistance is around 90,000.
The Burmese government announced earlier last week that the death toll had reached 62 and that more than 2,500 houses were destroyed during riots that started on June 8 after a group of Muslims were lynched by a mob five days earlier, apparently in reprisal for the rape and murder of an Arakanese woman on May 28.