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Refugees moved out to make way for polling station

May 22, 2008 (DVB), Cyclone victims sheltering in a community hall in South Dagon township, Rangoon, were forced to move by local authorities so that the hall could be used as a polling station.

The hall in South Dagon's ward 26 is to be used for voting in the postponed constitutional referendum on 24 May.

One of the cyclone victims said there were around 90 people taking refuge in the hall.

"There are many families and we have nowhere to shelter and can't move out," she said.

"But they told us we had to go, and said they couldn't make any arrangements for us."

The group asked to stay in a small adjoining kitchen, but the authorities refused permission.

The refugee said the people in the hall had to find food for themselves as they were no longer receiving any assistance.

"We have to find food on our own initiative as no one comes to give it to us," the refugee said.

"As soon as the dawn breaks, we leave our children behind and go out to find food where we can," she said.

"They gave us four cups of rice and a piece of fish in the beginning, now they don't give us anything."

State television broadcasts showed 40 tents for refugees when military leaders came to inspect camps in South Dagon's ward 17 and in Hlaing Tharyar township, but thousands are living on the roadsides, in monasteries and in communal halls.

Reporting by Aye Nai


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