The US and Britain have called for an immediate cessation of violence in western Rakhine State, as the death toll increased to at least 56 people including 31 women in the past three days.
“The United States is deeply concerned about reports this week of increasing ethnic and sectarian violence in Burma's Rakhine state and urges parties to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday.
“The situation in Rakhine state underscores the critical need for mutual respect among all ethnic and religious groups and for serious efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Burma,” she told reporters at a regular news briefing.
British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire called for an immediate end to the violence following renewed clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.
“I am deeply concerned at the latest outbreaks of inter-communal violence in Rakhine State: the most serious since the initial violence in June. We have received reports that clashes over the last few days have left several thousand people homeless and resulted in an unverified number of casualties.
“We call on all parties for an immediate end to the violence. We further urge the government, the police, and the local gendarmerie to take all necessary action to protect civilians, and to grant full humanitarian access to the areas affected as soon as possible.
“The latest violence reinforces the need for a long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine State, involving an inclusive political settlement that protects the rights of all members of the local population.
“We have welcomed the significant reform programme underway in Burma, led by President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and hope that as a matter of urgency they can work with the local authorities and communities to resolve the situation in Rakhine State in a peaceful and constructive manner,” he said.
The latest wave of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, which also resulted in 64 injuries, led to local authorities to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the towns of Minbya and Mrauk U on Monday night.
Earlier riots in Rakhine State since June left up to 90 people dead and thousands of homes burned.