Dhaka allocates land for giant Rohingya camp

A Rohingya Muslim refugee and child look on as they sit in a school housing new refugees from Myanmar in Kutupalong refugee camp in the Bangaldeshi district of Ukhia on September 23, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2017

Dhaka allocates land for giant Rohingya camp

DHAKA: Bangladesh will expand a massive settlement under construction in its southernmost district to house 900,000 Rohingya Muslims, a minister said Thursday, putting it on track to rival the world’s largest refugee camps.
Two thousand acres of land in Cox’s Bazar district were set aside last month for a new site to house 400,000 Rohingya who had fled ethnic bloodshed in neighboring Myanmar since late August.
But space has been exhausted as the number of refugees exceeded half a million, putting immense strain on camps along the border that already hosted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya displaced from past violence in Rakhine State.
Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, minister for disaster management and relief, said the estimated 8-900,000 refugees would be relocated to the new camp on the fringes of Kutupalong, the largest Rohingya settlement in the area.
“Those who are living in scattered places... would be brought into one place. That’s why more land is needed. Slowly all of them will come,” he told AFP, adding families were already on the move to the new site.
The settlement being built by the army — known as the Kutupalong Extension — would be expanded by 1,000 acres to accommodate the enormous population, Maya said.
He said all refugees living in the 23 camps stretching along the border would be relocated to the new site, and the existing settlements closed. Two have already been shut down, he added.
The project has caused concern among doctors and charities on the ground who fear a disease like cholera could spread quickly through such a congested, overpopulated site.
The refugee crisis — ignited by violence in Myanmar’s westernmost Rakhine State on Aug. 25 — is the fastest and largest flow of people across a frontier since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the lead UN agency handling the humanitarian crisis, says the situation is “slowly spiralling into a catastrophe of biblical proportions.”
Charities are struggling to feed and shelter the half a million new refugees who have flooded the camps, where cases of diarrhea have doubled in the past week due to poor sanitation.
Mark Lowcock, a UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said the world body would be seeking around $430 million to scale up the relief operation for the destitute Rohingya.


Thailand confirms six more coronavirus infections, bringing total to 14

Updated 5 min 23 sec ago

Thailand confirms six more coronavirus infections, bringing total to 14

  • Five of the new cases came from Hubei province and are part of the same family
  • The Department of Disease Control will now scan all passengers from China

BANGKOK: Thailand announced plans on Tuesday to screen all arrivals from China for symptoms of a deadly virus and confirmed six more infections among such visitors, taking the southeast Asian nation’s tally to 14, health officials said.

The new strain of coronavirus claimed its first victim in Beijing, the Chinese capital, taking the death toll to 106 as infections reached 4,515, although there have been no deaths outside China.

Five victims among Thailand’s new cases, aged between 6 and 70, came from China’s central province of Hubei, and belonged to the same family, health official Tanarak Plipat, told reporters, and the sixth from southwestern Chongqing province.

One passenger from among the family of seven traveling together was taken to hospital after showing symptoms on arrival, added Tanarak, the deputy director-general of the department of disease control.

The other four of the family were quarantined after showing symptoms following monitoring, he added.

“Now we will expand screening to all Chinese from China and prepare equipment to screen 100%,” said Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the permanent secretary of the public health ministry.

Thailand had earlier screened passengers only from China’s central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, its southern city of Guangzhou and northeastern Changchun across five airports, from Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok to those at Chiang Mai, Don Mueng, Phuket and Krabi.