Over 130 Refugees Drown

Dozens of refugees have drowned after the overcrowded fishing boat they believed was carrying them to safety capsized and sank. Passengers were fleeing the growing violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma

At least 130 Burmese refugees drown in shipwreck

By , The Guardian

At least 130 refugees fleeing violence in western Burma have drowned after the overcrowded fishing boat they believed was carrying them to safety capsized and sank. Six survivors were rescued by local fishermen, local activists said.

The shipwreck is the single most lethal incident linked to the ongoing clashes between the Muslim Rohingya minority and local Rakhine Buddhists in Burma’s Arakan state. The death toll has reached 80 in the last 11 days, according to official estimates. Thousands of homes have also been destroyed, along with places of worship.

Exact details of the wreck are unclear. But there were fears it could fuel further communal violence, which itself threatens to jeopardise the reform process in Burma. Last week UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that “the vigilante attacks, targeted threats and extremist rhetoric must be stopped [or] … the opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardised”.

The crisis has also posed a major challenge to Nobel laureate and pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticised for failing to….[access full article]

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