88 Generation Visits Victims of Arakan Strife

By Nyein Nyein 10 July 2012

Leaders of the 88 Generation Students group arrived in the Arakan State capital Sittwe on Tuesday to provide assistance to victims of the recent sectarian violence.

The traveling party, which includes 10 people in total, of which four have already arrived, will visit displaced people in Sittwe as well as Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, said spokesman Ant Bwe Kyaw.

“We just landed in Sittwe and have come in advance to arrange travel to northern Arakan State for tomorrow,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

“Our travel is to provide emotional support to those affected persons and to help rehabilitate them into society,” confirmed leading group member Ko Ko Gyi. He added that they shipped supplies donated by the public prior to arriving in the area.

Ko Ko Gyi will be accompanied by fellow group leader Min Ko Naing to meet victims of western Burma conflict. This is the first time either has traveled to the troubled state since the crisis erupted a month ago.

In June, two weeks after the conflict started, 88 Generation leaders Nilar Thein and Mee Mee visited Sittwe to observe the situation and met with displaced persons in relief camps. The group has called for more donations for victims and said that they will go and provide assistance in the affected areas.

“We have brought cash donations of more than 16 million kyat which we received from the public, as well as 36 bags of rice and other materials such as clothing and slippers,” said Ant Bwe Kyaw.

Last week, relief camps for displaced ethnic Arakanese people in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, where the fierce fighting started, reportedly did not accept aid from foreign NGOs.

There are still around 60 relief camps left in Maungdaw and Sittwe containing roughly 50,000 displaced people, according to local aid workers. Due to the communal violence, around 80 people died and more than 3,000 houses were burned down, according to official figures.

The government said the situation in the area has since become stable and social workers are focusing on relief work and rehabilitation. Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann and around 30 parliamentarians also made a two-day visit to displaced people in Sittwe last weekend.

The 88 Generation group leaders will stay in Arakan State for five days and are due to travel back to Rangoon on Sunday.