UN warns of ethnic cleansing of Myanmar Muslims

In this Sept. 7, 2017 photo, smoke rises from a burned house in Gawdu Zara village, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar. (AP)
Updated 12 September 2017

UN warns of ethnic cleansing of Myanmar Muslims

DHAKA: The situation in Myanmar is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” the UN human rights chief said, as the number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing the country for Bangladesh topped 300,000.
Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein accused Myanmar of waging a “systematic attack” on the Rohingya and warned that “ethnic cleansing” seemed to be under way.
“Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” he told the UN Human Rights Council.
The UN refugee agency says at least 313,000 Rohingya have now arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state since Aug. 25, around a third of the total population of 1.1 million.
The true figure could be even higher — the UN said many new arrivals are still on the move and are therefore left out of the calculations.
Al-Hussein said he was “appalled” by reports that Myanmar security forces were laying mines near the border to stop the Rohingya returning.
“I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population,” Al-Hussein said.
A large number of Rohingya refugees who took shelter on both the sides of the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf road in Bangladesh, have been shifted to the newly allocated 2,000-acre area of Ukhia Thana by local district management. Bangladesh authority is also building more makeshift houses to cater to the mammoth refugee influx over the past few days.
Bangladesh has introduced a biometric registration system for the refugees. Two booths were installed at Kutupalang and Balukhali camp in this regard while 15 more are due to be in operation soon.
Each booth will register 700 refugees in a day. The Bangladesh government passport issuing authority is conducting the registration process in coordination with International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR.
The diplomats and mission chiefs of different international agencies in Dhaka will visit Cox’s Bazar tomorrow to witness the condition of Rohingya refugees.
A.H. Mahmud Ali, Bangladesh’s foreign minister, told the local press that the visit was part of diplomatic pressure mounted on Myanmar to end the atrocities. Ali and his colleagues met with Asian diplomats in Dhaka on Monday to explain Dhaka’s stance and initiatives.
China and India both pledged support to Bangladesh to cope with the Rohingya refugee crisis, after that meeting.

The team earlier met with western diplomats and mission chiefs where Ali termed the persecution of Rohingya Muslims as “genocide.”
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has declared a month-long one-sided cease fire in Rakhine state to facilitate humanitarian relief activity. The ARSA commander in chief Ata Ullah announced the cease-fire in a tweet, which was rejected by the Myanmar government.
In a separate tweet, the government’s spokesperson Jaa Haate said that Myanmar government has no policy to compromise with the “terrorists.”
The refugee influx, however, still continues. On Monday a large number of refugees entered into Bangladesh through Shah Porir Dip an island in the Bay of Bengal.
“Today I noticed around 10,000 Rohingyas land here in Bangladesh; most of them are from South Mongdu of Arakan state,” Mohammed Faruk, who is also a Rohingya refugee living in Kutupalang camp for the past few years, said.
“I noticed around 2,000 more Rohingyas waiting at Shaplapur point under Teknaf Thana to get entry into Bangladesh,” he added.
The Ghumdhum and Lambabill crossing on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border — from where thousands of Rohingyas entered into Bangladesh as late as last Saturday — was virtually empty on Monday, leading some to predict that there are no more Rohingyas alive on the other side of the border.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit Rohingya camps where it is planned she will distribute relief goods among the refugees.


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.”