World Bulletin/News Desk
Deep-seated anger and fear smoulder between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in the aftermath of Budist violence in Myanmar, raising concerns that a fragile peace may not last long.
Violence has largely subsided in the villages and capital of northwestern Rakhine state, leaving reformist President Thein Sein with the difficult task of averting another round of Budist mob attacks that have left dozens dead and tens of thousands homeless.
"The government should separate Rakhines and Rohingyas because we can no longer live together," Than Mya, a 30-year-old mother of five who lost her husband, told Reuters at a camp for displaced villagers in Rakhine's capital Sittwe.
The official death toll from two weeks of attacks stands at 50, with 58 injured and more than 2,500 houses burned down, according to state media. Local people say many more have died.
The rampage of rock-hurling, arson and machete attacks started eight days ago against Rohingyas, of whom there are an estimated 800,000, most living in abject conditions.
Thein Sein's quasi-civilian administration is being urged by rights groups and Western countries to treat the Rohingyas fairly and humanely.
Food aid was slowly trickling in to the dozens of camps, mainly monasteries and schools, housing more than 30,000 displaced Rohingyas and Rakhines.
Firemen hose down smoke still billowing from a deserted Rohingya house.
Thousands of Rohingyas have fled to Muslim villages outside Sittwe because of fears for their safety while some were currently adrift in boats on the Naf River between Myanmar and Bangladesh, the United Nations said. Bangladesh has turned back at least a dozen boats this week
"I don't want to live here in Rakhine state anymore. I have eight family members and three have died already, " s aid one Rohingya in the camp, Maung Maung.
Security forces have arrested dozens of rioters, parading them on state television with confiscated bottles of petrol, knives and spears.
Violence could easily reignite once the thousands of displaced Rakhines and Rohingyas return to their battered villages and wrecked homes. The army and police do not appear to have the capacity to patrol all the potential flashpoints, focusing their limited resources mainly on Sittwe.