22,000 displaced by Myanmar unrest: UN

More than 22,000 people from mainly Muslim communities have been displaced by fresh unrest in western Myanmar that has killed dozens and seen whole neighbourhoods razed, the UN said Sunday.

The United Nations chief in Yangon, Ashok Nigam, said government estimates provided early Sunday were that 22,587 people had been displaced and 4,665 houses were set ablaze in a new wave of communal unrest that swept Rakhine state this week.

"We have to say that this is a current estimate and we suspect there may be additional numbers," he told AFP, adding that 21,700 of those made homeless were Muslims.

"Those 22,000 people are still in the locality where they were, they are not moving. The boat people are separate," he told AFP, referring to thousands of additional displaced people who have surged towards the state capital Sittwe.

Seething resentment between Buddhists and Muslims erupted on October 21 in fresh violence in the state, following fierce clashes in June that left 75,000 mainly Muslim minority Rohingya seeking shelter in temporary camps.

The latest fighting, which has prompted international warnings that the nation's reforms could be under threat, has killed more than 80 people, according to a government official who asked to remain anonymous, bringing the total toll since June to above 170.


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