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Temporary houses are being built in Kinchaung village in the restive northern Arakanese town of Maungdaw; but they are not for Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence – this time the emergency shelters are for Arakanese Buddhist refugees who have escaped persecution in neighbouring Bangladesh.
The construction of prefabricated houses began in earnest on 26 December, and is being sponsored and paid for by the Chinese government.
“We have brought 10 construction specialists here to help build the houses in the village”, said project manager Thet Khine Oo. ”We employ local residents for construction work and can generally complete one house in 17 days. These ready-to-assemble houses can adjust to the outside temperature – whether hot or cold.”
Each house will be big enough for six people, and the company has pledged to construct 17 of them for the more than 100 Arakanese refugees currently being sheltered at a Buddhist monastery in Maungdaw. Simultaneously, an administration office, a library and a medical centre will also be erected.
Waves of Burmese Buddhist refugees have been fleeing in fear to Burma since December 2012 after communal violence spread across the border.
The 102 Arakanese Buddhists hope they will only have to shelter in the prefab houses as a temporary measure; however, sources have indicated that even more refugees may be looking to cross the border and head to Maungdaw in the meantime.