Heavy rain Wednesday brought an uneasy calm to western Myanmar after five days of deadly sectarian strife, though residents said they were still too afraid to sleep at night and faced a new problem of food shortages.
At least 21 people have died and more than 1,600 homes torched in the conflict pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, some of the worst sectarian unrest recorded in Myanmar in years.
Fears of renewed violence prompted bus and ferry services from Yangon to halt deliveries of food and other cargo to Sittwe, Rakhine’s capital, limiting supplies and sending prices skyrocketing. Shops, banks, schools and markets were closed.
The UN special adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, visited Sittwe on Wednesday.
Security forces have struggled to contain the strife that started Friday and has prompted thousands of Muslim villagers to flee. About 1,500 Rohingyas attempted to enter Bangladesh by boats but were turned away.
Myanmar considers Rohingyas to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Bangladesh says Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar for centuries and should be recognised as citizens.