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US unlocks $100,000 in aid as Myanmar riots spread

28 march 2013, 10:27
The United States said Tuesday it was providing some $100,000 to help the victims of communal riots in Myanmar, as the violence crept closer to the main city of Yangon, AFP reports.

The money would go towards providing hygiene kits, blankets and plastic sheeting, as well as emergency water supplies for people fleeing the unrest, State Department acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

He renewed US concerns after fresh Buddhist-Muslim violence broke out late Monday and again on Tuesday in villages in the Bago region roughly 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Yangon.

About 40 people are reported to have died in the unrest, which erupted in the Mandalay region on March 20, and which has also left several mosques and dozens of homes reportedly destroyed.

"We send our deep condolences to those affected by this violence, including families of the victims," Ventrell told journalists.

"We urge the authorities to restore order and maintain peace in a manner that respects human rights and due process of law and to provide all necessary assistance to internally displaced persons."

The clashes are a stark reminder of the challenges that Muslim-Buddhist tensions pose to Myanmar's government as it tries to reform the country after decades of iron-fisted military rule ended two years ago.

Washington had always recognized that there was a certain "fragility" in the country as it transitions from military rule, and "we need to be very vigilant," Ventrell said.

The United States was in regular contact with Myanmar authorities "about the best way to establish rule of law and order and deal with some of these ethnic tensions," he added.

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