6 months after attacks began, Rohingya see no end in sight

Rohingya Muslim refugees in Jalpatoli refugee camp, in the no-man's land area between Myanmar and Bangladesh, watch as Myanmar soldiers patrol on the other side of the border, near Gumdhum village in Ukhia. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018
0

6 months after attacks began, Rohingya see no end in sight

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Their houses are often made of plastic sheets. Much of their food comes from aid agencies. Jobs are few, and there is painfully little to do. The nightmares are relentless.
But six months after their horrors began, the Rohingya Muslims who fled army attacks in Myanmar for refuge in Bangladesh feel one immense consolation.
"Nobody is coming to kill us, that's for sure," said Mohammed Amanullah, whose village was destroyed last year just before he left for Bangladesh with his wife and three children. They now live in the Kutupalong refugee camp outside the coastal city of Cox's Bazar. "We have peace here."
On Aug. 25, Rohingya insurgents attacked several security posts in Myanmar, killing at least 14 people. Within hours, waves of revenge attacks broke out, with the military and Buddhist mobs marauding through Rohingya villages in bloody pogroms, killing thousands, raping women and girls, and burning houses and whole villages. The aid group Doctors Without Borders has estimated at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Myanmar in the first month of the violence, including at least 730 children younger than 5. The survivors flooded into Bangladesh.
Six months later, there are few signs Rohingya are going home anytime soon.
Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement to gradually repatriate Rohingya in "safety, security and dignity," but the process has been opaque and the dangers remain. New satellite images have shown empty villages and hamlets leveled, erasing evidence of the Rohingyas' former lives. And with 700,000 having fled Myanmar since August, more Rohingya continue to flee.
So for now, the refugees wait.
"If they agree to send us back that's fine, but is it that easy?" asked Amanullah. "Myanmar must give us citizenship. That is our home. Without citizenship they will torture us again. They will kill us again."
He said he would only return under the protection of UN peacekeepers: "They must take care of us there. Otherwise it will not work. "
Buddhist-majority Myanmar doesn't recognize the Rohingya as an official ethnic group and they face intense discrimination and persecution.
The children in the camps face a particularly difficult time. The UN estimates children are the heads of 5,600 refugee families.
A survey of children's lives inside the camps showed they faced an array of terrors, from girls reporting concerns of harassments near the camp toilets to fears that elephants and snakes could attack them as they collect firewood.
"We cannot expect Rohingya children to overcome the traumatic experiences they've suffered when exposed to further insecurity and fears of violence in the camps," Mark Pierce, country director for Save the Children in Bangladesh, said in a statement.
The study was prepared jointly by Save the Children, World Vision and Plan International.
"The overwhelming message from these children is that they are afraid," Pierce said. "This is no way for a child to live."
The situation will worsen soon. Seasonal monsoon rains will begin pounding the refugees' plastic-and-bamboo city in April.


Heavy snow kills three, snarls travel in US Southeast

Snow-covered roads made traffic move slowly on I-85 in Lexington, NC on Sunday, December 9, 2018. (AP)
Updated 5 min 39 sec ago
0

Heavy snow kills three, snarls travel in US Southeast

  • A motorist died and a passenger was injured in Matthews in southwestern North Carolina on Sunday when a tree fell on their vehicle

ATLANTA: An intense snowstorm headed out to sea on Monday after dumping up to 2 feet (60 cm) of snow on parts of the Southeastern United States, leaving three people dead in North Carolina and some 138,000 customers in the region still without power.
School districts across North and South Carolina and Virginia canceled classes for the day and emergency officials warned that heavy snow and icy roads were slowing their responses to problems such as hundreds of stranded motorists.
The storm dropped its heaviest snow in the appropriately named Whitetop, Virginia, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains along the western end of the Virginia-North Carolina border, the US National Weather Service said. Whitetop received 2 feet of snow, while Greensboro, North Carolina, had 16 inches (41 cm) and Durham, North Carolina, got 14 inches (36 cm).
Slippery conditions on roadways in central and western North Carolina and southwest Virginia were expected on Monday night as temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing, Daniel Petersen, NWS meteorologist, said.
But temperatures were expected to rise later in the week, reaching into the 50s F in North Carolina east of the mountains on Friday, when there is a chance of rain.
There were three storm-related deaths, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office said in a statement. A person died from a heart-related condition while en route to a shelter, and a terminally ill woman died when her oxygen device stopped working.
A motorist also died and a passenger was injured in Matthews in southwestern North Carolina on Sunday when a tree fell on their vehicle as it was traveling, Matthews police officials said in a statement.
The number of customers without power in the Carolinas and Virginia had decreased to about 138,000 by Monday evening from more than 220,000, Poweroutage.us reported.
The storm prompted the cancelation of one in four flights into and out of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the sixth-busiest in the country, and other airports across the region, flight-tracking website FlightAware said.
The mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, Nancy Vaughan, who declared a state of emergency for the city on Sunday, said online that its police and fire departments had responded to over 100 accidents and 450 stranded motorists.
“Stay off the roads if you can,” Vaughan tweeted on Monday.
More than 100 counties across Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia delayed or canceled classes on Monday because of severe weather.