Refugees fleeing Myanmar violence at mercy of traffickers, warns UN

Rohingya Muslim refugees wait for a consultation at a clinic run by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Leda refugee camp near the Bangladeshi town of Teknaf on September 18, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2017
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Refugees fleeing Myanmar violence at mercy of traffickers, warns UN

KUALA LUMPUR: Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar are “at the mercy” of human traffickers, the UN migration agency warned on Wednesday, saying well-managed refugee camps were needed to reduce the risk.
Fighting in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state has forced 422,000 Rohingya to seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh, where unofficial shelters have sprung up outside of two government-run camps.
But the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the new arrivals – the majority of them women and children — are at risk of human trafficking, as officials and aid workers struggle to cope with the influx.
“Most have no money, no food, no clean water, no shelter and don’t speak the language,” IOM’s Asia-Pacific spokesman Chris Lom told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar.
“That leaves them potentially at the mercy of anyone offering help and they may end up as victims of trafficking.”
Lom said the IOM has sent a counter-trafficking specialist to the border but warned that effectively-run camps were needed to reduce the dangers.
“The best way to minimize this risk is to have a functioning camp management system in the locations where they are settled,” he said.
“We — the humanitarian agencies on the ground — are currently a long way from being able to provide this, given the numbers and the speed at which people have arrived and continue to arrive.”
Rohingya seeking to escape persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have been trafficked or smuggled by road and sea to places like Thailand and Malaysia in the past.
In 2015, a crackdown by Thai authorities on human trafficking activities saw migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh abandoned at sea by smugglers. Dozens of bodies of suspected migrants were discovered in jungle camps along the Thai-Malaysian border.
The violence in western Myanmar began on Aug. 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked about 30 police posts and an army camp, killing about 12 people.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in her first address on the crisis on Tuesday, condemned rights abuses in Rakhine state but did not address UN accusations of ethnic cleansing by the security forces, drawing a cool international response.


Dozens of casualties reported after Taliban attack on Afghan base

Updated 34 min 36 sec ago
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Dozens of casualties reported after Taliban attack on Afghan base

  • The attack killed as many as 44 Afghan police and soldiers, provincial officials said
  • It is the latest in a series that have killed dozens of members of the security forces in provinces across Afghanistan

KABUL: A Taliban attack on a military outpost in the northern province of Baghlan in the early hours of Wednesday killed as many as 44 Afghan police and soldiers, provincial officials said, as the insurgents kept up pressure on government forces.

There was no immediate comment from the ministry of defense but officials in the area said nine police and 35 soldiers were killed in the attack, the latest in a series that have killed dozens of members of the security forces in provinces across Afghanistan.

The attack came as the situation in the embattled central city of Ghazni eased after the Taliban said they had ordered forces out after five days of fighting that killed and wounded hundreds and left the city a burned-out wreck.

The city hospital was overcrowded with hundreds of wounded people and dozens of bodies and people desperately searching for relatives among the dead and wounded.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was providing dressing packages and oral and intravenous medicine to treat wounded at the provincial hospital.

The ICRC also sent fresh water and electricity generators for trauma surgeries and delivered material for the management of remains.

About 20 percent of the population in Ghazni depend on the city water system, which has been down since the beginning of fighting. The ICRC is organizing emergency water supplies by truck to cover the needs of about 18,000 people.

“Some people had managed to flee the city but there were many others trapped in their houses,” said one Taliban commander, who said the decision to pull out was made to prevent further destruction in the city.

“They were facing severe shortage of food and drinking water as the power supply was also suspended to the city two days ago,” the Taliban commander, who declined to be identified, said by telephone.