YANGON, Myanmar, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Children are bearing the brunt of the conflict pitting Buddhists against Muslims in Myanmar's restive Rakhine state, UNICEF said.
Myanmar made steps toward democracy with general elections in 2010. President Thein Sein in July promised to release all prisoners of conscience by the end of the year and CNN International reported several dozen were released late Tuesday as part of an amnesty program.
Despite political progress, the country has struggled with national security issues. The U.S. Embassy in Yangon last week said it was monitoring the security situation after at least one person was killed and several homes were destroyed during conflicts between Buddhists and the Muslim minority in Rakhine.
UNICEF issued an appeal for calm for the sake of the country's children.
"Now is the time for this violence to end," Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF's representative in Yangon, said in a statement Tuesday. "Hate messages and inflammatory propaganda just perpetuate the cycle of violence, and it is children who suffer."
UNICEF said at least 36,000 people were displaced by religious violence in Rakhine during the last year.