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Nearly 3 million people in Nepal still need humanitarian assistance: UN

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Kathmandu: Two months after the first of two devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, some 2.8 million people require continued vital humanitarian assistance, the UN said on Thursday.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25 and the ensuing aftershocks that jolted the Himalayan nation, killed 8,832 people and left 22,000 injured. Hundreds of people still remain unaccounted for.

Temporary shelter, food and livelihood support, basic medical care, sanitation and hygiene remain the key needs as survivors now also face the added challenges posed by the ongoing monsoon season.

“Ensuring the survival of hundreds of thousands of people, who lost their homes and livelihoods in the back-to-back disasters, through the monsoon must remain our top collective priority,” said Jamie McGoldrick, humanitarian coordinator in Nepal.

“Timely, principled, and equitable relief and recovery are the key prerequisites for any reconstruction effort to be successful. The humanitarian community will continue to support the government in its effort to address the unmet humanitarian needs.”

With nearly 530,000 houses destroyed and another 278,000 damaged by the quakes, hundreds of thousands of people continue to remain in makeshift shelters, including over 117,000 people who have relocated to open air sites.

Many of the affected families are also still struggling to recover and rebuild their livelihoods, as seeds for planting and livestock were lost in the disasters.

So far, a total of 350,000 tarpaulins were distributed in 14-affected districts, but it is estimated that some 43,500 households have not yet received adequate supplies.

Material assistance, including corrugated iron sheets, is still required for 44,000 of the 125,000 families who began rebuilding their homes.

Aid agencies estimate that more than 1 million people continue to require food assistance to meet their daily dietary requirements, while 500,000 people need continued support to protect and restore their livelihoods.

More than 900,000 people depend on sustained provision of water and sanitation, including 2,000 communities relying on water filtration kits provided by humanitarian partners.

Access to safe temporary learning spaces is still required for some 370,000 children.

Provision of relief depends now even more on the logistical support, as the monsoon season has begun.

“Humanitarian needs are still significant and are expected to persist through the end of September,” said McGoldrick.

“Our ability to address these needs depends largely on the funds which will be made available for humanitarian assistance itself, that is financed independently and separately from recovery and development efforts.”

Till date, only $153 million or 36 percent, was received against the $422 million humanitarian appeal.

An additional $200 million in support to post-earthquake relief was provided directly to the Nepal government on a bilateral basis. (IANS)

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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)