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Friday, August 23, 2019
SITTWE, Myanmar, May 12 2015 (IPS) - In Myanmar’s Western Rakhine State, over a hundred thousand people displaced by inter communal violence that broke out nearly three years ago remain interned in camps on torrid plains and coastal marshes, struggling to survive.
In the face of unimaginable hardship, many have found ways to cope and maintain their dignity, through innovation and hard work.
Behind sensational and at times gory headlines peddled by the mainstream media, a far more simple story is unfolding: the story of scores of victims of violence in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) outside the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe, gaining sustenance, acquiring fuel for fires, re-establishing businesses, and developing community-led social services.
Inter communal violence erupted in 2012 between the region’s majority Rakhine Buddhists and minority Muslims who mostly self-identify as Rohingya, an ethnic label that remains heavily contested and at the heart of a decades-old conflict.
Three years later, over 140,000 IDPs, predominantly Rohingya Muslims, remain effectively interned and segregated in camps from which the government has not allowed them to return home.
Aid is administered through United Nations agencies and other mainstream bodies that are bound to work primarily with the government, leading to top-down interventions that do little to build the capacity of beneficiaries themselves, at worst stifling their ability to take their lives back into their own hands.
Up against the odds, these communities are nevertheless demonstrating the sheer strength of the human spirit, and the remarkable resilience that often presents itself only in the darkest, most hopeless situations. Through small acts of determination, courage and kindness, they are assuring their own survival and slowly regaining their dignity.
Edited by Kanya D’Almeida
Photos by Rob Jarvis: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Text by Kim Jolliffe: email@example.com
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