Myanmar's refugee crisis growing

Nov. 1, 2012 at 10:40 AM

BANGKOK, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The collapse of a cease-fire agreement in Myanmar's northern state of Kachin left more than 75,000 people displaced, a U.N. agency said.

A cease-fire between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Army collapsed last year, ending 17 years of peace. The United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN, citing U.N. reports from neighboring Thailand, said more than 75,000 people remain displaced in the wake of the truce breakdown.

More than half, IRIN reports, are in areas controlled by the Kachin army, making humanitarian assistance difficult. Most of the remaining refuges are scattered in refugee camps operated by the government.

Myanmar received praise from the international community for embracing democratic reforms, starting with general elections in 2010. The country was criticized, however, for its human rights record.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs this week said at least 76 people were killed, thousands of homes and religious sites were destroyed and tens of thousands of people were displaced as a result of fighting between Muslims and Buddhists in the region.

Mohammad Nawsim, secretary of the Rohingya Human Rights Association, a pro-Muslim group, told IRIN he was "begging" for international rights groups to visit Rakhine to get a firsthand account of the situation on the ground.

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