UN reports 400,000 displaced from Myanmar in recent weeks

UN reports 400,000 displaced from Myanmar in recent weeks

By Luke Vargas   
Published
© UNHCR/Vivian Tan

The United Nations is reporting that some 400,000 people have fled a violent military campaign in the Asian nation of Myanmar in recent weeks, with most seeking shelter in neighboring Bangladesh.

Those fleeing are Rohingya Muslims, a minority population in Buddhist Myanmar who are denied citizenship.

“This is really the root cause of all of this.”

Pierre Peron is a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Sittwe, in northern Myanmar.

“Without citizenship, we have had up to a million people in Rakine State who don’t have access to some of the basic services that they need. They don’t have access to education, don’t have access to hospitals, don’t have freedom of movement without documentation – aren’t able to move freely.

Traders can’t access the market. Farmers can’t access their fields. Fishermen can’t go into the ocean to fish. Some of these really basic things that everyone needs to have to have a normal life have really been lacking.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the government of Myanmar to grant the Rohingya citizenship, or at least, in the short term, the right to freedom of movement and access to services.

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And while the United States was largely spared the worst of Hurricane Irma, the same can’t be said for parts of the eastern Caribbean.

According to reports from humanitarian responders, the worst hit areas have been Anguilla, Barbuda, the Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos.

A report by the Risk Assessment firm Ingeniar calculates that in Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, some 64 percent of property exposed to the storm has been lost, with financial losses nearing $3 billion dollars.

The same survey calculated upwards of $7.5 billion on the island of Puerto Rico, and in Florida, just under $50 billion.

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