Camp For Displaced Hindus in Rakhine Short of Food, Manager Says

By Min Aung Khine 1 November 2018

SITTWE, Rakhine State — The manager of a camp in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township for Hindus displaced by last year’s violence said the camp was running short of food.

U Ni Mal said the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement stopped providing monthly rations for the camp in August.

“It has been three months since we last received rations. We reported it to the [Maungdaw] district authorities, and they said they have reported it to senior authorities and had not yet received a reply. We’ve had to be very sparing with food,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The camp currently shelters 1,225 Hindus, some of whom have had to rely on relatives or pick up odd jobs to secure their meals, U Ni Mal said.

Township administrator U Myint Khaing, however, told The Irrawaddy there were fewer than 500 people in the camp.

“According to our statistics, the number is only half of what they said. Some have come to stay at the camp even though they have homes. The government will not be able to provide food for long. But it has given as necessary,” he said.

Hindu families fled to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, after their houses were torched and their family members were killed in the violence that followed the coordinated attacks of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on Aug. 25, 2017. Many of them returned to Maungdaw to take shelter in the camp.

More than 60 Hindus who fled their homes after seeing their family members killed remain at a Hindu temple in Sittwe and are also short of food.

“They got rations only once in two months. They dare not go back to Maungdaw. The government said it would give them houses, but so far it has not happened,” U Bu Hla Shwe, a member of a Hindu social organization in Sittwe, told The Irrawaddy.

He said they too have had to do odd jobs to eke out a living.

Amnesty International has said that about 100 people were killed by ARSA after its Aug. 25 attacks.

The attacks displaced thousands of ethnic minorities in northern Rakhine including Arakanese, Mro and Daingnet. More than 6,000 were taking shelter at some 30 monasteries in Sittwe, but the government closed those camps in November 2017 and sent them back to their homes.

The military crackdown that followed the ARSA attacks has also driven some 700,000 mostly Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh. Only a handful have returned to date.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.