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UN humanitarian chief calls for probe into latest violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos (centre), on a visit in December 2012 to the the Ma Gyee Myaing camp in Sittwe Town, Myanmar, where displaced from Rakhine state are hosted. Photo: UNOCHA/David Ohana

January 23, 2014

The United Nations humanitarian chief on Thursday voiced deep concern about reports of alarming levels of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, including the killing of many civilians and a policeman, and called for an immediate investigation by the authorities.

“I ask the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure the full protection of all civilians and to enable safe and continued access by humanitarian staff to the affected areas in order to assess needs and provide emergency assistance to all those affected by the recent violence,” Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in a statement.

“I also ask the Government to immediately launch an impartial investigation into these events and to respect the rights of those arrested and detained in connection with this incident,” she added.

News outlets have reported that security forces killed at least 40 Rohingya Muslims in Maungdaw Township last week, including women and children. Government officials, meanwhile, have denied these reports. There were also reports of attacks on police.

Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, called on the Government to investigate reports of fatal clashes between security forces and Muslims in Rakhine state, where over 110,000 people have been uprooted in Buddhist-Muslim violence in the past 18 months.

Mr. Ojea Quintana said the human rights situation in Rakhine state is posing one of the most serious threats to the process of democratic reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar, which has seen the release of hundreds of prisoners of conscience, greater media freedom, an active Parliament and efforts to reach a ceasefire with various rebel groups.

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