U.N. envoy assures help to Myanmar

July 27, 2012 at 1:41 AM
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NEW YORK, July 27 (UPI) -- The United Nations would assist Myanmar in its reconciliation effort in Rakhine state, where violence has taken at least 12 lives, a top U.N. official said.

"The United Nations is committed to assisting Myanmar and its people in their reform and national reconciliation efforts, including overcoming imminent challenges," said Vijay Nambiar in a statement carried by the U.N. News service.

Nambiar, the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Myanmar, said the world body already has been working to help assist many of the victims of the recent violence in Rakhine state, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Rakhine is another name for Arakan state in western Myanmar.

Violence erupted in the state last month between the majority Arakanese Buddhists and the minority Rohingya Muslims. There were reports that the rape and slaying of a woman set off the violence.

The U.N. report said the violence had claimed at least 12 lives and led to the destruction of hundreds of homes, and the government of Myanmar, formerly called Burma, has declared a state of emergency in the state. The report said 30,000 people were displaced.

Nambiar, who led a humanitarian team on a visit to the state, called for an investigation that would address the underlying causes of the violence, including the condition of the Muslim community. He said statements by Myanmar President Thein Sein subsequent to the incident recognized the risk that conditions in Rakhine pose for the broader reform process in the country.

Rakhine is estimated to have about 800,000 Rohingya.

Britain's Guardian had quoted Rohingya members saying they are seen by the Myanmar government as Bangladeshi, but neighboring Bangladesh considers them to be illegal migrants. The newspaper said a 1982 law does not allow recognition of Rohingya as Myanmar citizens, and thousands of them have fled to Bangladesh since then.

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