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Millions go hungry as Zimbabwe faces the worst drought in decades

The impact of low rain and low crop yields following two years of drought is painfully visible in Matabeleland and other dry lands.

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A photo taken on February 7, 2016 shows the fast drying catchment area of the Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Image source : time.com
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GENEVA—  Zimbabwe is currently facing a huge drought and the President of Zimbabwe has declared this as “state of disaster”. It has faced many regional drought before but this year in 2016, it got worsened by the El nino weather phenomenon. This weather phenomenon has also affected countries like South Africa, Malawi and Zambia causing death of thousands cattle, depletion of reservoirs and spoiling.

U.N. has confirmed that more 3 million people are going hungry due to this drought. The impact of low rain and low crop yields following two years of drought is painfully visible in Matabeleland and other dry lands said Bishow Parajuli U.N. Resident Coordinator of Zimbabwe.

“I recently visited that area with a number of donors and ambassadors; we could really see the desperation and severity of the situation.” said Parajuli.

A man touches dried land which used to be a water source. Image source : voa.com
A man touches dried land which used to be a water source. Image source : voa.com

It is being considered as the worst regional drought in whole decade and some say it is likely to get even.

The United Nations have appealed for $360 million so that assistance can be provided to more than 3 million people. The assistance will include all the important needs like food, water, health, nutrition, sanitation and protection.

$70 million has already been received and only $290 million is left says Parajuli. He urges donors to respond to this appeal and be generous.

“Given Zimbabwe is a landlocked country and also the whole southern Africa region is affected by El Nino, and lack of surplus of maize, it is very critical to plan in advance in terms of importation and supply chain delivery ,” said Parajuli. ” So, earlier response will really help save lives and suffering among the population.”

Parajuli says he is particularly worried about the so-called lean season between September and March.  This is the period between harvests when farmers’ food stocks are at their lowest.

He says people will be severely affected by the lack of food, and many will not be able to count on their cattle as a lifeline as tens of thousands have died from lack of water and grazing land. (VOA)

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  • Pritam Go Green

    PrayForZimbabwe !!! At least we can do this. Major countries such immediately help these poor nations in the name of humanity. We are facing results of our actions. Due to global warming nature’s balance has been destroyed which is leading to these calamities.

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Rohingya Shot in Rakhine Camp By Myanmar Police Raises United Nation’s Concern

A special U.N. fact-finding mission said the military acted "with genocidal intent" against the Rohingyas.

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Rohingya, myanmar
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Reports of shootings, allegedly by Myanmar police, at a camp for Rohingya refugees in Rakhine state have sparked concern by United Nations officials.

Knut Ostby, the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, tweeted that he is “deeply concerned about the reports of shooting in Ah Nauk Ye camp in central #Rakhine, #Myanmar which holds IDPs who fled violence in 2012. I call for calm, non-violence and restraint. ”

The Reuters news agency quotes eyewitnesses as saying Myanmar police shot and injured four Rohingyas Sunday, while detaining two men accused of smuggling people out of a camp for displaced people in western Rakhine state.

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A new toilet recently installed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

The report said about 20 police descended on Ah Nauk Ye camp, 15 kilometers east of the state’s capital Sittwe, and apprehended the two men who were accused of owning the “rickety vessel,” used in an attempt to smuggle 160 people, including 25 children, out of the camp. The watercraft was stopped south of Yangoon.

An eyewitness told Reuters that when the police came into the camp “people from the camp went out to look and police shot at people.”

The police, however, told the news agency that Rohingyas surrounded them with swords and threw stones at them. “I heard that Bengali from the camp tried to grab the arrested people back from the police and police had to fire warning shots,” police inspector Than Htay from a nearby police station, said.

Rohingya, myanmar
Workers build a Rohingya repatriation center in Gunndum near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

People from Myanmar call the Rohingya Muslims “Bengali,” implying they are from Bangladesh and not from Myanmar.

None of the first Rohingya Muslims on a list to return to Myanmar showed up at their departure points in Bangladesh Thursday, the first day they were scheduled to be sent back under a repatriation agreement between the two nations.

About 150 Rohingya refugees were slated to be transported from the crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar back to northern Rakhine state, the region where they and more than 700,000 others escaped in August 2017 from a scorched earth campaign by Myanmar’s military in response to a series of attacks committed by Rohingya militants. Some of the refugees on the list are believed to have gone into hiding to avoid being sent back.

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A Rohingya refugee woman draws water from a hand pump at a temporary shelter in New Delhi, India.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 angry Rohingyas, including children, demonstrated against the repatriation effort at one of the camps.

Bangladesh Refugee Commissioner Abul Kalam told reporters that the refugees cannot be forced to return to Myanmar under the terms of the agreement.

Human rights groups are calling on Myanmar and Bangladesh to end their plans to send Rohingya Muslims back to Rakhine State, where the United Nations says they are subject to extrajudicial killings and other atrocities carried out by Myanmar’s military.

Amnesty International called the organized return of the Rohingya a “reckless move, which puts lives at risk.”

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

“These women, men and children would be sent back into the Myanmar military’s grasp with no protection guarantees, to live alongside those who torched their homes and whose bullets they fled,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty’s East and Southeast Asia director.

Also Read: Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due to Forceful Repatriation

Bill Frelick, the refugee rights director for Human Rights Watch, said Dhaka “will be stunned to see how quickly international opinion turns against it if it starts sending unwilling Rohingya refugees back into harm’s way in Myanmar.”

A special U.N. fact-finding mission said the military acted “with genocidal intent” against the Rohingyas, citing numerous atrocities such as extrajudicial killings, gang rapes and the torching of entire villages. (VOA)