Rohingya girl, 11, tells Arab News how her father was shot dead

Jannat Ara Begum, who witnessed the slaughtered body of her father. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2017
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Rohingya girl, 11, tells Arab News how her father was shot dead

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: An 11-year-old girl has described to Arab News how she found her father’s body in the street after he was shot dead by Myanmar army soldiers hunting down Rohingya Muslim men in Rakhine state.
Jannta Ara Begum and her family had been planning to leave their village when it was cordoned off by soldiers, who went from house to house looking for men. They escaped to a nearby jungle hilltop in Uttarpara, and returned when they thought the army had left.
Jannta’s father, Syed Alan, 48, a carpenter, went out to collect some rice for the family. “As soon as he left the house, we heard gunshots from the market place,” Jannta said.
“My mother and I were very frightened. The neighbors told us that my father had been slaughtered by the Myanmar army. I rushed to the spot and found my father lying on the street. He had been shot twice. It was a trauma for me and my family.”
Jannta and her mother, Anowara Begum, immediately set off toward the Bangladesh border with Jannta’s three brothers and four sisters. “We could not even arrange a funeral to bury my father,” she said.
“For the last eight days, I took shelter in a schoolyard along with mother and brothers and sisters. We have yet to find a tent to sleep in at night.”
Arab News found Jannat asking for help to buy food because she had not eaten for 24 hours. The refugees at the Rohingya camps in Ukhia and Teknaf area are living in miserable conditions.
A local volunteer from Cox’s Bazar, Mohammed Ashraf, said: “Every day we see new faces of Rohingya refugees, taking the total number around 420,000. They are desperate for food, shelter and life-saving medicine.”
The UN human rights agency in Bangladesh says it needs $7.7 million to supply tents and complete registration and other processes for the Rohingya refugees.
The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has begun a week-long immunization program for refugee children aged 6 months to 15 years, targeting 150,000 children. The World Health Organization is providing 100,000 medical kits, 2 million water purification tablets and 20,000 cholera tablets.


Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

Updated 24 June 2018
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Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

  • The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but a government spokesman said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.
  • After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue.

KABUL: The Afghan government is confident of holding peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent surge of attacks by insurgents, a palace spokesman said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the announcement last week of a brief truce by the Taliban over Eid, the increasing movement of extremists and some field commanders to government-held areas, and a call for peace by the Imam of Makkah and the Saudi monarch were the basis of the government’s optimism.

The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but Murtazawi said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.

“A new chapter has been opened and the broad support for a cease-fire and an end to the war are the causes for our optimism,” he told Arab News.

“The fact that Taliban announced a truce and their commanders came into towns and celebrated Eid with government officials are positive signs that the extremists will be ready for talks with the government.”

However, no contact has been established with leaders of the group since the militants called off their truce, Murtazawi said.

After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue. Scores of Afghan troops have been killed in a spate of attacks, including assaults on military bases where the insurgents joined government forces to celebrate Eid.

Some tribal chiefs and local officials are calling for “safe zones” where extremists can hold initial talks with the government, according to a local official who refused to be named.