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Some 900 Muslims from Meikhtila in central Burma who lost their homes in communal violence just over a year ago are now facing water shortages and sanitation-related diseases at the shelter where they reside.
The 900, all Muslims from the town’s Chanaye Tharyar quarter, have been sheltering in a cramped 150ft x 500ft (1.72 acre) compound belonging to the local Water Resource Office since their homes were razed by angry Buddhist mobs last March.
Aung Htay, a coordinator of the Water Resource Office displacement camp – one of five shelters housing some 8,000 riot victims, both Muslim and Buddhist – said the 900 inhabitants have been affected by water shortages since a decision was made to cut water supplies to the camp from 1,600 gallons per month to 1,200.
He said many were also suffering from an outbreak of diarrhoea.
“The camp was previously supplied 1,600 gallons of water per month from Meikhtila Lake, but the ration was recently cut to 1,200 gallons,” said Aung Htay. “This is nowhere near enough for almost 1,000 people – 900 refugees plus the 95 policemen who are stationed there.”
The Water Resource officer said his department was receiving heated complaints from the refugees. “They don’t have enough water to cook and bathe,” he said. “The toilets have been overflowing and a foul smell lingers in the camp.”
He said seven people have been hospitalised recently for diarrhoea and dehydration.
Meanwhile, an administrator from Meikhtila’s local council said the ongoing construction of more than 300 new houses and apartments to accommodate the refugees was unlikely to be completed ahead of the coming rainy season.