Waiting for Solace

Waiting for Solace By

Meikhtila refugees queue to get dinner. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / The Irrawaddy)

But despite the restricted access to Burmese government-run camps, The Irrawaddy managed to visit an unofficial camp about 20 km from Meikhtila. The camp, which The Irrawaddy gained access to, is run by a businessman from a city near Meikhtila, who requested anonymity. About 3,400 displaced Muslims are crowded into this camp, which costs about US $30,000 per day to run. The camp is functioning without major problems, but without external aid in the near future, the situation could degenerate. Residents at the camp also fear further attacks like the ones that erupted in March.

One side effect of the violence has been a leveling of social differences between Muslims in the camp. Previous social and economic circumstances are irrelevant in a place where people from all economic classes share the same fate. A travel agent shares the same space as a rickshaw driver. Most are uncertain about the future, and fear their situation could become permanent, as has happened to the Rohingya and other Muslims in Arakan State. The Burmese government has said it will rebuild all of the houses in Meikhtila within two months, but few put any trust in this pledge. In the meantime, there is little for the Muslims in this camp to do except wait for the future with apprehension.

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