UNHCR redeploys further staff to Myanmar's Rakhine State as relative calm returns

Briefing Notes, 29 June 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 29 June 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

On Wednesday, more UNHCR staff returned to Myanmar's Rakhine State to help address immediate humanitarian needs there. An earlier team had gone back on 20 June, joining others of our staff who never left.

We are also participating in a joint visit by the government, UN, NGOs and representatives from donor countries to areas affected by the violence. They will spend two or three days in Rakhine State.

As part of the overall UN humanitarian response, UNHCR staff in Sittwe have begun needs assessments in the relief camps. So far we have covered approximately 30 locations hosting people displaced by the recent violence and distributed UNHCR relief items (mainly blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and mosquito nets) to some 5,000 people in several of these camps. Trucks with UNHCR supplies for a further 35,000 people will reach Sittwe early next week.

Our staff who have visited camps for the displaced have found children, elderly people, women, and men sleeping on the ground, and in need of floor mats, heavy tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets. We and our partners are concerned about the possibility of disease outbreaks because of poor water supplies and sanitation at a time when it is raining heavily.

According to the Myanmar authorities, more than 52,000 people have been displaced during the riots. Our sister agency, the World Food Programme, reports having distributed food to some 91,000 people who were affected by the violence that started on 08 June. The Myanmar authorities are currently running more than 80 temporary camps for displaced people in five townships. Considering the extent of the destruction we estimate that many people may have to stay out of their homes and villages for three months or more.

At the request of the government UNHCR and other agencies will also start assessing both the short and long term shelter needs, with a view to addressing these as soon as possible. Together with other partners, UNHCR continues to assist and distribute humanitarian aid impartially, on the basis of need, to all the communities and victims of the recent disturbances.

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