Bangladesh says Rohingya outflow “untenable,” seeks solution

Rohingya refugees line up to receive humanitarian aid in Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Oct. 23, 2017. (Reuters/Hannah McKay)
Updated 23 October 2017
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Bangladesh says Rohingya outflow “untenable,” seeks solution

GENEVA: Nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar, an “untenable situation” for neighbor Bangladesh, the country’s UN envoy said on Monday, calling on Myanmar to let them return.
About 600,000 people have crossed the border since Aug. 25, when insurgent attacks on security posts were met by a ferocious counter-offensive by the Myanmar army in Rakhine state which the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.
“This is the biggest exodus from a single country since the Rwandan genocide in 1994,” Shameem Ahsan, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told a UN pledging conference.
“Despite claims to the contrary, violence in Rakhine state has not stopped. Thousands still enter on a daily basis,” he said.
Bangladesh’s interior minister was in Yangon on Monday for talks to find a “durable solution,” Ahsan said.
But Myanmar continued to issue “propaganda projecting Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,” Ahsan said, adding: “This blatant denial of the ethnic identity of Rohingyas remains a stumbling block.”
Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be stateless, although they trace their families’ presence in the country for generations.
Jordan’s Queen Rania visited Rohingya refugee camps on Monday and called for a stronger response from the international community to the plight of the Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh to escape “systematic persecution” in Myanmar.
“One has to ask, why is the plight of this Muslim minority group being ignored? Why has the systematic prosecution been allowed to play out for so long?” she asked after touring the camps.
The United Nations has appealed for $434 million to provide life-saving aid to 1.2 million people for six months.
“We need more money to keep pace with intensifying needs. This is not an isolated crisis, it is the latest round in a decades-long cycle of persecution, violence and displacement,” UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the talks.
“Children, women and men fleeing Myanmar are streaming into Bangladesh traumatized and destitute,” he added.
“We assess we have pledges of around $340 million,” Lowcock said before the mid-day break in the meeting.
New pledges included 30 million euros announced by the European Union, $15 million by Kuwait, 10 million Australian dollars by Australia and 12 million pounds from Britain.
He reiterated the UN call on Myanmar to allow “full humanitarian access across Rakhine” where aid agencies have been denied entry.
Myanmar must “guarantee the right to safe, voluntary and dignified return so that the Rohingya can live in peace with their human rights upheld in Rakhine,” Lowcock said.


Abused and destitute: Wars fuel rise in global number of widows

Rohingya Muslim women, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stretch their arms out to collect sanitary products distributed by aid agencies near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP)
Updated 5 min 50 sec ago
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Abused and destitute: Wars fuel rise in global number of widows

  • One in seven widows globally — 38 million — lives in extreme poverty
  • Deaths through conflict and disease contributed to a 9 percent increase in the number of widows between 2010 and 2015

LONDON: Millions of widows worldwide suffer crushing poverty and persecution, their numbers swelled by a proliferation of conflicts from Syria to Myanmar.
International Widows’ Day on June 23 aims to raise awareness of the often hidden injustices they face.
Many are robbed of their inheritance, while others are enslaved by in-laws, accused of witchcraft or forced into abusive sexual rituals. Here are some facts:
- Experts estimated there were 258.5 million widows globally in 2015, but say the number is likely to have risen.
- Deaths through conflict and disease contributed to a 9 percent increase in the number of widows between 2010 and 2015.
- The biggest jump has been in the Middle East and North Africa, where the estimated number of widows rose 24 percent between 2010 and 2015, partly due to the Syrian war and other conflicts.
- One in seven widows globally — 38 million — lives in extreme poverty.
- One in 10 women of marital age is widowed. The proportion is about one in five in Afghanistan and Ukraine.
- A third of widows worldwide live in India or China. India, with an estimated 46 million widows in 2015, has overtaken China (44.6 million) to become the country with the largest number of widows.
- Widow “cleansing” rituals in some sub-Saharan countries may require a widow to drink the water used to wash her dead husband’s body or to have sex with an in-law, village “cleanser” or stranger.
- Campaigners for widows’ rights say such rituals, which are intended to rid a widow of her husband’s spirit, spread disease and are a violation of dignity.
- Widows are regularly accused of killing their husbands either deliberately or through neglect — including by transmitting HIV/AIDS — in India, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Property seizures and evictions by the late husband’s family are widespread in many places including Angola, Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
- A significant number of girls are widowed in childhood — a reflection of the prevalence of child marriage in developing countries and the custom of marrying off young girls to much older men.