Human flood of Rohingya tell of 5-day trek to safety

A Rohingya ethnic minority refugee from Myanmar carries a child in a sack and walks through rice fields after crossing over to the Bangladesh side of the border near Cox's Bazar's Teknaf area on Sept. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Updated 07 September 2017

Human flood of Rohingya tell of 5-day trek to safety

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh/ANKARA: At times, it resembles a flash flood — not of water, but of humanity. On the banks of the River Naf that separates Myanmar from Bangladesh, the Rohingya refugees pour in by the thousand, day and night, hungry, dehydrated and exhausted.
No one even knows how many there are. The UN refugee agency estimates nearly 150,000. Local officials in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar believe it is nearer 200,000. All have fled bloodshed and persecution in Rakhine state in Myanmar, and many possess only the clothes they stand up in.
“It reminds me of the time of independence in 1971, when we fled to India to save our lives from the Pakistani military,” says Abdur Rahman, 70, a local farmer.
“The Rohingya refugees are compelled to rush to the Bangladesh border with the minimum amount of luggage and kitchen utensils. Sometimes, they arrive completely empty handed.”
Mohammad Nurul Amin, 32, a grocery shop owner in the village of Miajong in Rakhine, walked for five days with 14 members of his family, just to reach safety. The journey has already cost him the equivalent of $73, a large sum of money in rural Myanmar
“This amount was taken by the boatmen, since the family had to cross two rivers and a canal,” he says.
The situation in Rakhine, Amin said, is desperate. “There is not a single house in my locality which was not set ablaze by the Myanmar army. Young men were slaughtered brutally and piles of dead bodies were torched by petrol bombs. It had become hell.”

Turkey extends a helping hand
Turkey, meanwhile, extended a helping hand to the Muslim minority on humanitarian and diplomatic platforms.
Following the telephone discussion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Su Kyi on Monday, Myanmar allowed Turkish aid agency (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency/TIKA) to distribute 1,000 tons of aid to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin announced.
Kalin also said that Turkey plans to deliver aid initially to 100,000 families in coordination with the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
TIKA will be the first foreign agency to distribute aid to the Rohingya Muslims despite Myanmar government’s doubts about the international aid organizations that were accused by Kyi of helping terrorism in the country.
On the diplomatic front, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan are expected to visit Cox’s Bazar district to observe the on-site situation of thousands of Rohingya who have taken shelter there.


Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

Updated 22 September 2020

Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

  • Heightened danger particularly acute among over-65s
  • WHO identifies flu season as acute threat given COVID-19 spikes

LONDON: Infection with flu and coronavirus at the same time more than doubles a person’s risk of dying than if he or she only had COVID-19, according to research released by England’s highest public health body.

Research conducted by Public Health England (PHE) found that those with flu and COVID-19 were 2.27 times more likely to die than those who just had COVID-19, and 5.92 times more likely to die than those who had neither.

Researchers found that those aged 65 and over were at greatest risk. Most cases of co-infection were in older people, and more than half of them died.

The paper describes the possible impact of COVID-19 alongside seasonal flu as a “major concern.”

Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE, said: “If you get both you’re in some serious trouble, and the people who are most likely to get both of these infections may be the very people who can least afford to in terms of their own immune system, or their risk for serious outcomes.”

The paper found that people with flu were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, but Doyle said this should not be taken as a reassurance.

Some countries in Asia have pre-emptively rolled out early and more aggressive flu vaccination programs this year to prevent complications caused by co-infection.

But others, such as Poland, have been struggling to secure flu vaccines due to shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The upcoming flu season has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a particularly acute threat, given that many parts of the world are already experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections.

“We’re starting to see worrying trends in some countries,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19. “We’re seeing increases in hospitalizations, in intensive care units … That’s worrying because we haven’t seen the flu season yet.”