In makeshift homes, Rohingya recall Ramadan in Myanmar

A Myanmar border guard policeman stand near a Rohingya Muslim family in front of their home in a village during a government-organized visit for journalists in Buthidaung townships in the restive Rakhine state on January 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2019

In makeshift homes, Rohingya recall Ramadan in Myanmar

  • More than 1.1 million Rohingya are currently lodged at various refugee camps, with nearly 750,000 taking shelter in Bangladesh since August 2017 when the violence escalated in the northern Myanmar province of Rakhine

DHAKA: 
For the past two years, during Ramadan, an overwhelming sadness takes over 15-year-old Ahmed Kamal, a Rohingya refugee at the Cox’s Bazar camp in Bangladesh.
He says it is at this time, specifically during iftar, that he misses his mother, Halima Begum, the most.
Begum was brutally killed in September 2017 by the Myanmar army during a crackdown on thousands of Rohingya — many of whom fled to Bangladesh to escape the persecution.
“My mother used to prepare so many homemade foods during iftar and we all used to enjoy it. But everything is lost now,” Kamal told Arab News.
For many of the Rohingya living at Cox’s Bazar, Ramadan brings with it a sense of nostalgia and memories of days well spent.
“We used to have a get-together with relatives during Ramadan at our home in Mongdu township. All year, I used to wait for this Ramadan get-together with our maternal cousins, grandparents and uncles,” Saleha Khatun, a 13-year-old refugee girl from Kutupalang Rohingya camp, said.
“Some of our relatives were killed in September 2017, a few of them stayed in Rakhine and some fled to Cox’s Bazar. Our greater family is now completely scattered and I miss my relatives a lot in this Ramadan month,” she added.
More than 1.1 million Rohingya are currently lodged at various refugee camps, with nearly 750,000 taking shelter in Bangladesh since August 2017 when the violence escalated in the northern Myanmar province of Rakhine. For most of the Rohingya, this is their second Ramadan in Bangladesh since the great exodus.

BACKGROUND

• World Food Program steps up free food initiative for the displaced this month.

• More than 1.1 million living in world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh.

“Last year we didn’t get enough food for iftar to break the fast. Sometimes we had to drink only water but this year there is enough — we have received food from the World Food Program (WFP),” Rashid Khan, a refugee from Balukhali camp, told Arab News.
The WFP also distributed dates to families in refugee camps specifically for Ramadan, which were donated by Qatar.
Gemma Snowdon, the WFP’s communications officer at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News: “We have scaled up our e-voucher food assistance system in time for Ramadan, which means families have access to a wider range of food. Using an electronic card, families can shop at one of the WFP e-voucher outlets in the camps, and access things such as fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, dried fish, spices, and the usual staples.”
She added that the program gave the Rohingya a greater range of choice for Ramadan, as opposed to basic rice, lentils and oil they were previously receiving. There are also special offers on food from retailers who operate the WFP e-voucher outlets so people can receive more than they usually do.
“We believe quality food assistance needs to extend beyond just Ramadan, and for us to do this we rely on the generous support provided by donors around the globe,” said Snowdon.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.