Bangladesh confirms 1st death of Rohingya from coronavirus

Rohingya refugees gather at a market as first cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have emerged in the area. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Bangladesh confirms 1st death of Rohingya from coronavirus

  • The man died in an isolation center set up by the government and aid agencies
  • UN refugee agency said at least 29 Rohingya refugees have tested positive for the disease

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Authorities in Bangladesh have confirmed the first death of a Rohingya refugee from the coronavirus, as infections rise in sprawling camps where more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims have been living since fleeing from neighboring Myanmar.
The 71-year-old refugee died Saturday at Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar, and samples collected from him tested positive on Monday, said Abu Toha M.R. Bhuiyan, chief health coordinator of the office of the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner.
The man died in an isolation center set up by the government and aid agencies where he had been admitted with COVID-19 symptoms a week earlier.
Louise Donovan, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, said at least 29 Rohingya refugees have tested positive for the disease.
With about 40,000 people per square kilometer (103,600 per square mile), the 34 refugee camps have more than 40 times Bangladesh’s average population density. Each shack is barely 10 square meters (107 square feet) and many are packed with up to 12 residents.
Aid agencies and government officials say the challenge of handling a wide outbreak of the virus could be huge.
Authorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar consider Muslim Rohingya to be migrants from Bangladesh, even though their families have lived in Myanmar for decades. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless. They are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights, including education.
Most of the Rohingya in the camps fled Myanmar after August 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched clearance operations in response to attacks by a rebel group. Security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes.


Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

Updated 17 min 51 sec ago

Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

  • Plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of ‘bomb makers and suicide bombers’ from the Abu Sayyaf militant group

MANILA: Philippine authorities are investigating the deaths of four soldiers shot by police in the country’s restive south, with the defense minister vowing Thursday to “get to the bottom” of the incident.
The plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of “bomb makers and suicide bombers” from the Abu Sayyaf militant group when they were attacked by police in the Muslim-majority province of Sulu on Monday, the army has said.
Army chief Gilbert Gapay has accused the nine officers involved of murdering the men, while Philippine National Police has described the shooting as a “misencounter.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the shootings were “a very unfortunate incident,” adding that the dead soldiers “were just doing their jobs.”
“We don’t want this to escalate. We will get to the bottom of this,” he said.
The country’s National Bureau of Investigation was probing the incident, and Lorenzana said the findings should be released soon.
The army has accused the police of firing on the soldiers even after they identified themselves as members of the military.
The officers have been detained while the investigation is under way, said Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano.
President Rodrigo Duterte will visit police and military commanders in the south, his spokesman Harry Roque said, without specifying when.
Abu Sayyaf is based in the south and has engaged in bombings as well as kidnappings of Western tourists and missionaries for ransom since the early 1990s.
They also have ties to Daesh militants seeking to set up a caliphate in Southeast Asia.