Bangladesh’s mega refugee camp plan ‘dangerous’: UN

Rohingya refugees reach up for relief supplies at the Kutupalong refugee camp in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2017

Bangladesh’s mega refugee camp plan ‘dangerous’: UN

COX’S BAZAR: A top UN official said Saturday Bangladesh’s plan to build the world’s biggest refugee camp for 800,000-plus Rohingya was dangerous because overcrowding could heighten the risks of deadly diseases spreading quickly.
The arrival of more than half-a-million Rohingya refugees who have fled an army crackdown in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state since Aug. 25 has put an immense strain on already packed camps in Bangladesh.
Hard-pressed Bangladesh authorities plan to expand a refugee camp at Kutupalong near the border town of Cox’s Bazar to accommodate all the Rohingya.
But Robert Watkins, the UN resident coordinator in Dhaka, told AFP the country should instead look for new sites to build more camps.
“When you concentrate too many people into a very small area, particularly the people who are very vulnerable to diseases, it is dangerous,” Watkins told AFP.
“There are stronger possibilities, if there are any infectious diseases that spread, that will spread very quickly,” he said, also highlighting fire risks in the camps.
“It is much easier to manage people, manage the health situation and security situation if there are a number of different camps rather than one concentrated camp.”
At the request of the Bangladesh government, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) has agreed to coordinate the work of aid agencies and help build shelters at the new camp site.

According to the IOM, the proposed camp will be the world’s largest, dwarfing Bidi Bidi in Uganda and Dadaab in Kenya — both housing around 300,000 refugees.
Three thousand acres of land next to the existing Kutupalong camp have been set aside for the new Rohingya arrivals.
“700,000 is a big camp... we and our partners will have our work cut out for us,” Joel Millman, an IOM spokesman, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
But he added that UN agencies “wouldn’t be undertaking this if we didn’t think it was feasible.”
Bangladeshi officials say the new camp will help them better manage relief operations and ensure the safety of the Rohingya amid fears that dispersed camps could become recruiting grounds for militants.
This week Bangladesh reported 4,000-5,000 Rohingya were crossing the border daily, with 10,000 more waiting at the frontier.
Watkins said the continuing influx represented “a very big challenge” for aid agencies.
“Just when we start to think we are getting on top of the situation, the numbers go up. We are not where we need to be right now,” he said.
“There is still a lot more needed to be done.”


Riyadh’s Sri Lankan gem tycoon dies at 80

Updated 9 min 1 sec ago

Riyadh’s Sri Lankan gem tycoon dies at 80

  • Razeen Salih entered the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing a 41.3 carat diamond for $4.6 million at a gem auction
  • He was the founder of Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh

COLOMBO: Razeen Salih, the celebrated Sri Lankan gem tycoon in Riyadh, died in India on Sunday night during a visit to the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.

The owner of Al-Nadeera Gem and Jewelry in Riyadh, 80-year-old Salih started his business in the Kingdom in late 1970s with his first shop, Al- Sharq Jewellers, in the Saudi capital.

In the early 1980s, Salih entered the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing a 41.3 carat diamond for $4.6 million at a gem auction in Geneva. The diamond, “Polar Star,” was once owned by the brother of the French Emperor Napoleon, and this was thought to be the highest price paid for a piece of jewelry at the time.

Salih, a renowned philanthropist, helped to set up the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh, which has 1300 students today.

He attended Zahira College, Colombo, during the golden era of Dr. A.M.A. Azeez’s principalship, where he was a senior prefect and also represented the college at rugger. Everybody in College adored him for his enviable personality and his courage.

The Sri Lankan Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Azmi Thassim said that the death of Razeen Salih came as a great shock to the Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom. “He was our pride and his contributions towards the community are immeasurable. We hope and pray that Allah will give him the best place in Jannah for his valued services for the community uplift,” Thassim said.

Azad Yousuf, an accountant at a private medical hospital in Riyadh said that Salih had left a vacuum which no one else could fill it: “He was an icon in the Saudi business circle who brought Sri Lankan gems and jewelry to the Kingdom’s market.”

Salih is survived by his two daughters Aysha and Jamaaliyah.

His remains will be flown to Philadelphia, USA.