UN envoy visits Myanmar ethnic-conflict sites

Vijay Nambiar voices "deep sorrow" after touring Meiktila town where riots left 32 dead and almost 9,000 displaced.
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2013 18:41

The UN special adviser on Myanmar has visited several sites following the devastation wrought by deadly communal riots in the centre of the country, meeting with some of the estimated 9,000 people displaced, local media said.

Vijay Nambiar visited two makeshift camps for displaced Muslims and a monastery housing Buddhists who also fled the violence, according to an AFP photographer on Sunday.

The clashes are the latest sign of deepening tensions between Muslims and Buddhists and present a serious challenge for the Myanmar government as it looks to reform the country after decades of military rule.

Religious violence in the town of Meiktila claimed at least 32 lives and has displaced thousands since the violence began last Wednesday, according to officials.

The bloodshed left vast areas of the town in ruins, prompting an army-enforced state of emergency.

Nambiar on Friday expressed "deep sorrow" at the loss of life and urged religious leaders to call on their communities to "abjure violence, respect the law and promote peace".

Around 50 military trucks were deployed in the riot-hit area on Saturday, after homes and mosques were torched by mobs armed with knives and sticks in the three days of communal rioting.

It is the worst religious violence since clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

The UN has repeatedly voiced concern over the ongoing plight of the displaced in Rakhine, the majority of them Rohingya Muslims who were forced into insanitary camps.


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