Aboard rickety boats or swimming, over 750 Rohingya reach Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees sit on a makeshift boat as they get interrogated by the Border Guard of Bangladesh after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, at Shah Porir Dwip near Cox's Bazar Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Aboard rickety boats or swimming, over 750 Rohingya reach Bangladesh

COX’S BAZAR/YANGON: They came in boats, others on flimsy rafts, some even swam. Around 750 Rohingya Muslims made their escape from Myanmar on Friday to reach Bangladesh, where the greatest danger is malnutrition and disease in teeming refugee camps.
Over 613,000 Rohingya have already taken refuge in the camps since a Myanmar military clearance operation forced them to abandon their villages in northern Rakhine state.
Rohingya who have reached Bangladesh have recounted horror stories of rape and murder. A top UN official described the military’s actions as “ethnic cleansing,” though Myanmar denied that, saying its operation was needed for national security after Rohingya militants attacked 30 security posts on Aug. 25.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar’s less than two-year-old administration, was in Vietnam on Friday, attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. She was expected to hold talks with several leaders on the sidelines of the gathering, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Having won the Nobel Peace Prize for defying the generals who ruled predominantly Buddhist Myanmar with an iron fist for nearly half a century, Suu Kyi’s reputation as a stateswoman has suffered due to her failure to speak out more strongly over the Rohingya crisis.
Under a constitution written before the junta gave way, the civilian administration still has to share power with the generals, and has little say over defense and security issues.
Still, leaders at APEC, and two other regional summits to be hosted by the Philippines in the coming days, are expected to exert pressure on Suu Kyi to do more to stem the crisis.
And on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw, the Myanmar capital, with senators back in Washington pressing to impose sanctions targeting the military.
International Rescue Committee, the leading aid agency headquartered in New York and led by former British Foreign Minister David Miliband, reckoned that up to two-thirds of the 300,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar will join the exodus to Bangladesh in the coming months.
The IRC in a statement highlighted the extremely dangerous health conditions for Rohingya living in camps in the port city of Cox’s Bazar.
A nutrition survey led by its partner Action Contre la Faim had found 40,000 Rohingya children faced malnutrition and required life-saving assistance.
It said 95 percent of the population was drinking contaminated water — and agencies had reported that two-thirds of Cox’s Bazar’s water was contaminated with feces.
“The conditions we are seeing in Cox’s Bazaar create a perfect storm for a public health crisis on an unimaginable scale,” said Cat Mahony, the IRC’s emergency response director in Cox’s Bazar.
“The situation will only deteriorate with more arrivals and a greater strain on already overstretched resources.”
Still, Rohingya too scared to stay in Myanmar were ready to risk their lives crossing the waters around the mouth of the Naf River to reach Bangladesh.
They were helped on Friday by another day of calm seas, though more than 200 have drowned attempting the crossing during the past two months.
Bangladesh officials said significant numbers were arriving on rafts they had built from bamboo, lashing plastic jerrycans to the poles for extra buoyancy. They said more Rohingya had swum across on Thursday.
A Reuters photographer saw up to 10 rafts landing on the beaches of Teknaf, at the southern tip of Cox’s Bazar, on Friday.
People reaching the shore have told Reuters that there are thousands living in desperate conditions on the strand of beach by the river’s mouth at Pa Nyaung Pin Gyi, as they waited for a chance to cross over.
Dil Muhammad, 30, from Buthidaung, one of the Rakhine regions that bore the brunt of the military operation, finally made it across with his wife and three children after weeks of living on the sand because he could not afford to pay a boatman.


UN chief warns of ‘chaotic’ world order as General Assembly opens

Updated 25 September 2018
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UN chief warns of ‘chaotic’ world order as General Assembly opens

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday opened the world's largest diplomatic gathering with a stark warning of growing chaos and confusion as the rules-based global order comes under threat of breaking down.
Addressing the opening session of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said trust in the rules-based global order and among states was "at a breaking point" and international cooperation was becoming more difficult.
"Today, world order is increasingly chaotic. Power relations are less clear," Guterres told the 193-nation assembly just minutes before President Donald Trump was to take the podium.
"Universal values are being eroded. Democratic principles are under siege."
Guterres did not single out a country for criticism, but there are fears among UN diplomats that the world is being carved up into spheres of influence and a return to great power rivalry.
Trump's administration has made clear its distrust of international treaties, having scrapped the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement and cut funding to the United Nations.
"Today, with shifts in the balance of power, the risk of confrontation may increase," warned Guterres.
The human rights agenda is losing ground and "authoritarianism is on the rise," he said
Guterres urged world leaders to renew their commitment to a rules-based order, with the United Nations at its center to confront "massive, existential threats to people and planet."
"There is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good," he said.
Drawing a list of global problems, Guterres acknowledged that peace efforts were failing and that respect for international humanitarian norms was unraveling.
"There is outrage at our inability to end the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere", he said.
"The Rohingya people remain exiled, traumatized and in misery, still yearning for safety and justice."
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become "more and more distant" while the nuclear threat "has not eased".
Guterres zeroed in on climate change as an urgent priority, warning that if no concrete action is taken in the next two years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world risks facing runaway climate change.

US President Donald Trump delivered a sharp rebuke of global governing, drawing headshakes and even mocking laughter from fellow world leaders as he promoted his aggressive “America First” agenda and boasted of America’s economic and military might.
Trump arrived late, forcing a last-minute scheduling switch, then received polite applause but also blank stares as he took his blustery brand of policies to the annual General Assembly.
Trump launched a searing attack on Iran, saying its leadership sows “chaos, death and destruction,” criticizing Tehran as a “corrupt dictatorship” that is “plundering the Iranian people to pay for aggression abroad.”
In response, he reiterated the US commitment to a “campaign of economic pressure” to deny Iran funds for its “regional behavior,” and that more sanctions will follow after the resumption of oil sanctions on Nov. 5.
In a speech which focused heavily on the Middle East, Trump praised Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their roles in improving regional security and their efforts in assisting those affected by the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen. He also praised the Saudi Arabian leadership for their bold reforms.
On the Syria conflict, he said the US would respond if chemical weapons are used by the Assad regime in Syria.
He emphasized US support for regional stability with the help of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt and Jordan and the establishment of a “strategic alliance” in the Middle East.
Speaking in triumphal terms, Trump approached the address as an annual report to the world on his country’s progress since his inauguration. He touted economic figures, declared that the US military is “more powerful than it has ever been before.”
He referenced a long list of UN initiatives, from the International Criminal Court to the Human Rights Council, that his administration is working to undermine.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticized the use of economic sanctions "as weapons" in his address, in an implicit swipe at the United States.
"None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements, the spreading prevalence of protectionism and the use of economic sanctions as weapons," Erdogan told the General Assembly.
Ties between Washington and Ankara hit a low in August when Trump announced steep new tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum in response to the detention of an American pastor in Turkey.
The Turkish lira has taken a beating on the currency market, sparking fears in Turkey of a full-blown economic crisis.
"Nobody wants the world to experience a new economic rupture," said Erdogan.
He did not accuse the United States directly but pointed to "countries that are persistently trying to create chaos."
"It is very easy to create chaos but it's difficult to re-establish order, and today some countries are persistently trying to create chaos."
Erdogan urged world leaders to crack down on followers of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Turkish preacher whom the president has accused of backing a failed coup in 2016 and considers the leader of a terror organization.
Calling once again for his extradition, Erdogan alleged that Gulen was living in Pennsylvania "in a very well-off fashion."
About 130 world leaders are attending this year's annual session.