New homes are being built for those who lost their houses in militant attacks. (Photo: May Wong)
MAUNGDAW, Myanmar: “We want to live peacefully like other communities in Myanmar. We don’t need to be discriminated (against),” 51-year-old Dil Mohammed shouted from across barbed wire fencing in the “no man’s land” area between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
However this is no simple task, especially in violence-stricken Maungdaw in Myanmar’s nothern Rakhine state.
More than half a year after militant attacks in Rakhine state led to a government crackdown which saw more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, northern Rakhine remains under tight security, with only authorised personnel allowed to travel there.
The United Nations (UN) on Friday (Mar 16) launched an appeal for nearly US$1 billion to care for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, while also emphasising that efforts should continue to secure their safe return to Myanmar.
However during a media trip to the area, Maungdaw district deputy commissioner Ye Htut refuted UN accusations that the government had carried out “ethnic cleansing” in the region.
“We have no intention of hiding anything, and that’s why we invited the media into the area,” he said.
When Channel NewsAsia visited the area, various parts of Maungdaw were turned into massive construction sites scattered with heavy machinery.
Bulldozers and excavators could be seen levelling the ground, while workers were seen paving newly constructed roads and erecting new structures.