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Displaced Hindu families return to Maungdaw

Hindu women wait in Danyawaddy sports ground to be transported to the port in Sittwe where they will be returned home to Maungdaw, 5 December 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)

More than 300 displaced persons returned yesterday to their homes in Maungdaw, northwest Rakhine State. All were Hindus who had taken shelter at Danyawaddy sports ground in Sittwe during Burmese military operations against Rohingya insurgents in the area since August.

A remaining group of more than 100 Hindu persons were en route to Maungdaw this afternoon.

“They [displaced persons] left for Maungdaw by ship,” said Maung Hla, a representative for the Hindu families sheltering at the makeshift camp in Sittwe, speaking to DVB earlier. “The government has arranged for temporary shelters and food assistance for them. But I cannot say for sure whether they will be able to survive well under these arrangements.”

On arrival in Maungdaw, buses and cars have been arranged for some Hindu families to return to their home villages. Others will shelter temporarily at a high school in Maungdaw until the security situation in their hometowns clears.

Speaking to DVB this morning, afternoon, Maungdaw township administrator Myint Khaing said, “We are expecting one boatful of Hindu people to arrive in Maungdaw at around 5pm. We have fixed up a temporary camp at a local high school for some, while others can go home to villages where it is safe. We have arranged for enough food assistance for two weeks.”

However, some of the displaced Hindus expressed grave fears about returning home.

“I don’t want to return to Maungdaw,” said Yazu Puti, who fled Maungdaw due to a bloody wave of violence. “I am terrified that terrorists will attack again. I have children to worry about, and they are scared too. I urge the authorities to heighten security in this area to prevent further attacks from occurring.”

On 25 August, Rohingya militants coordinated attacks on Burmese border post and police stations around Maungdaw, resulting in the death of 13 officers. Reprisals by Burmese security forces were swift and brutal. Rights groups say hundreds if not thousands were killed, mained and raped. Some 600,000 civilians, mostly Rohingya Muslim families, fled across the border to Bangladesh to escape the crackdown.