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.”


Harvey Weinstein rape trial jury finalized — seven men, five women

Updated 14 min 22 sec ago

Harvey Weinstein rape trial jury finalized — seven men, five women

  • Weinstein, 67, faces life in prison if convicted
  • The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks

NEW YORK: Lawyers in Harvey Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault trial agreed Friday on a jury of seven men and five women to decide the fate of the fallen film producer.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys settled on the 12 jurors after screening around 700 candidates in an exhaustive process that took almost two weeks.
Weinstein, 67, faces life in prison if convicted on predatory sexual assault charges related to two women in the high-profile trial seen as key to the #MeToo movement.
The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks, with opening arguments from the prosecution and the defense scheduled for Wednesday.
The jury will hear testimony from former production assistant Mimi Haleyi who says Weinstein forcibly performed a sex act on her in his New York apartment in July 2006.
The disgraced movie mogul is accused of raping another woman, whose identity is unknown.
“The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra is expected to testify as a supporting witness. She says Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since claims against him ignited the #MeToo movement in October 2017.
But many of the alleged crimes fall outside the time frame for bringing charges.
The trial is expected to run until March 6.