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

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Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
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Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
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Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
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Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
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Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
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Over 1.15 million Rohingya are living in camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. (AN photo)
Updated 05 June 2019
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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.


‘Fewer but newer’ nuclear arms in the world: report

Updated 31 min 59 sec ago
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‘Fewer but newer’ nuclear arms in the world: report

  • At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons
  • That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018

STOCKHOLM: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernizing their arsenals, a report published Monday said.
At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.
But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernizing these arms — and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.
“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.
The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it.”
Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.
The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.
While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
There is also a more general trend toward an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.
“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalized,” Kile said.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.
Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.