Rakhine State has a long and proud history. This report, however, looks primarily to the future and asks how Rakhine State can make the best use of its enormous but underutilised potential. Rakhine enjoys fertile soils, an abundance of natural resources and is strategically located for regional trade. Yet, today, Rakhine State suffers from a pernicious mix of underdevelopment, inter-communal conﬂ ict, and lingering grievances towards the central government. The Rakhine Advisory Commission recognizes the complexity of the problems in the state, and cautions that there are no “quick ﬁ x” solutions to these challenges. Yet, ﬁ nding a path to move forward is an urgent task. The status quo is not tenable.
On one level, Rakhine represents a development crisis. The state is marked by chronic poverty from which all communities suffer, and lags behind the national average in virtually every area. Protracted conﬂ ict, insecure land tenure and lack of livelihood opportunities have resulted in signiﬁ cant migration out of the state, reducing the size of the work force and undermining prospects of development and economic growth. Movement restrictions on the Muslim population hurt the economy. The failure to improve inter-communal relations, enforced segregation and the simmering threat of violence and instability continue to deter private sector investment. Although Rakhine is rich in natural resources, the development of extractive industries – such as oil and gas-related investments in Kyawkpyuh – have not generated a signiﬁ cant number of new jobs nor other beneﬁ ts for local residents. Both Rakhine and Muslim communities feel marginalised and disempowered by decisions taken in Naypyitaw.
Rakhine also represents a human rights crisis. While all communities have suffered from violence and abuse, protracted statelessness and profound discrimination have made the Muslim community particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. Some ten percent of the world’s stateless people live in Myanmar, and the Muslims in Rakhine constitute the single biggest stateless community in the world. The community faces a number of restrictions which affect basic rights and many aspects of their daily lives. Approximately 120,000 people are still left in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs). The community has been denied political representation, and is generally excluded from Myanmar’s body politic. Efforts by the Government to verify citizenship claims have failed to win the conﬁ dence of either Muslim or Rakhine communities.
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