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Over 22,000 Myanmar Muslims have been displaced, UN claims

Muslims continue to flee sectarian violence in western Myanmar, as satellite images are released showing the destruction of hundreds of homes

Burma violenceEnlarge
An activist holds a burning Myanmar and UN flag during a protest in Multan on July 22, 2012, against the killing of Muslims in Myanmar. Myanmar security forces have committed serious rights abuses against Muslims in violence-hit western Rakhine state during six weeks of emergency rule, Amnesty International said. Communal violence between ethnic Buddhist Rakhine and local Muslims, including the Rohingya, has left at least 80 people dead and forced tens of thousands out of their homes. (S. S. Mirza/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations has reported that 22,000 Myanmar Muslims have been displaced in the latest wave of bloody sectarian violence in Rakhine state, as tensions between Buddhists and Muslims continue to flare.

This places the current number of displaced Myanmar Muslims at 100,000, increasingly pushed into over-crowded and squalid refugee camps.

Human Rights Watch has released satellite images purporting to show numerous destroyed Muslim homes. The images show around 811 destroyed buildings in the coastal town of Kyauk Pyu, which hosts a majority Muslim population, says HRW. 

The arson attacks appear to have taken place on October 24th. Myanmar's government has acknowledged that 80 people have died thus far in the sectarian violence, says the BBC, and over 4,600 houses have been burnt.

More from GlobalPost: Rights groups sound alarm for Myanmar Muslims

The Rohingya-advocacy group Arakan Rohingya National Organization (or ARNO) has rather different figures: on Saturday, they claimed 360 dead and over 3,500 buildings burned in the renewed violence.

HRW said on Saturday that Myanmar's government should "take immediate steps to stop sectarian violence against the Rohingya Muslim population in Arakan State, in western Burma, and ensure protection and aid to both Rohingyas and Arakanese in the state." 

Zafar Ahmad bin Abdul Ghani, president of Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia, critiqued the United Nations response to the violence on Friday, claiming that the UN had "failed" to protect the Rohingya.

"The United Nations must be accountable for the massacre of Rohingyas in Arakan State," said Ghani. "The failure of the United Nations to stop the massacre has caused thousands of Rohingyas to be murdered brutally."

The fighting is a continuation of violence ignited last summer, when 80 people died after a group of Muslims were accused of raping a Buddhist girl. About 800,000 Muslims reside in Rakhine state.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/myanmar/121028/over-20000-myanmar-muslims-have-been-displaced-gov