Eid Al-Fitr offers little respite to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

1 / 6
Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
2 / 6
Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
3 / 6
Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
4 / 6
Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
5 / 6
Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
6 / 6
Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
Updated 05 June 2019

Eid Al-Fitr offers little respite to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh’s government has allotted around 6,500 acres to establish the refugee camps, but space is still tight
  • Different aid agencies have also come up with special offerings to make the festival a little more colorful to the Rohingya

DHAKA: Three years ago, Arifa Bibi would have had her hands full on Eid.

With hordes of relatives and friends thronging to her humble home in Rakhine province, Myanmar, she would be busy in the kitchen whipping up delicacies.

Little did she know then that she would one day find herself struggling to make ends meet as a Rohingya refugee at a makeshift camp in Bangladesh. 

In the 34 camps at Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, hundreds of Rohingya remain stranded following a spate of violence in Myanmar. However, estrangement from their motherland fails to dampen their spirits on Eid. 

Just a couple of days before Eid, the Rohingya were busy making preparations to celebrate the occasion. 

Bangladesh’s government has allotted around 6,500 acres to establish the refugee camps, but space is still tight. “This refugee camp is highly congested and there is no open area available for Eid congregation. So, we have made preparations to offer the Eid prayers inside the mosque,” Abu Solaiman, a refugee from Balukhali camp, told Arab News.

There are more than 550,000 Rohingya children who are deprived of playgrounds and basic recreational pursuits for lack of space. Nevertheless, Rohingya children at Cox’s Bazar have figured out their own ways to turn Eid into a memorable occasion.

“On this Eid, there will be a fair inside the camps which has a merry-go-round and some other amusement materials for the kids,” Humayun Kabir, a Rohingya child at Kutupalang camp, told Arab News.

Halima Sheikh another refugee girl from the same camp, also expressed her excitement over the Eid fair.

“I have asked my father for some money for Eid shopping at the fair along with my friends. I plan to purchase cosmetics for me and my mother,” she said.

At the end of Ramadan, Rohingya women are now trying their best to prepare special dishes as a part of Eid tradition.

Different aid agencies have also come up with special offerings to make the festival a little more colorful to the Rohingya.

“We have provided a special Eid package which includes aromatic rice, lentils, milk, sugar, vermicelli, etc., to several hundred Rohingya families. We also received some Zakat funds from a nonresident Bangladeshi to run one of our health posts in the refugee camps,” said Nazrul Islam, country manager of UK-based aid agency Global One.

Another Bangladeshi aid agency, BRAC, has also provided food packages. “We have supported 2,500 Rohingya families with special food aid, including meat, oil and spices,” Khaled Morshed, head of the humanitarian response program at BRAC, told Arab News.

The authorities in Bangladesh have also beefed up security in and around the refugee camps to ensure peace during the festival.

“We have deployed around 1,100 police in and around the refugee camps to ensure round-the-clock vigilance,” Iqbal Hossain, additional superintendent of police at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.