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Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar need to be relocated ahead of rains: UN chief

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United Nations:About 1.5 lakh Rohingya refugees, who fled violence in Myanmar to settle in crowded camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, are living in flood-prone areas and must be relocated ahead of the coming rainy season, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
“In relation to Cox’s Bazar, the monsoon is the biggest concern. We believe that about 150,000 people are in areas that are flood-prone or can be negatively impacted by the monsoon in a dangerous way for the people,” he told reporters here yesterday.
The UN chief was responding to a question on the need to relocate the Rohingya refugees currently living in camps in the border town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
Guterres said he has had the opportunity to discuss with the Bangladesh government the best way to relocate these people. “And I think the best way to relocate these people is in higher areas that can be outside… Treated to accommodate this group that, of course, is extremely vulnerable to the monsoon,” he said.
He added that on-ground officials of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and other agencies will be talking with the Bangladesh authorities on the issue. “We believe the higher ground is the best place for this kind of relocation,” he said.
When asked why has he not yet appointed a special adviser on Myanmar, Guterres said he has been conducting a number of consultations for that appointment.
“I hope it will come soon. It is not an easy function that everyone is ready to accept, but I’m sure that we will have a solution soon,” he said.
Veteran Indian diplomat Vijay Nambiar had served as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Myanmar from 2010 till December 2016. Guterres is yet to name his successor.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation appealed to the international community to contribute generously to enable appropriate and timely health services to the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, now facing grave risks to their lives and health in view of the coming rainy season.
“This is one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in recent times. No single agency or the government of Bangladesh alone can meet the massive health needs of such a large population group,” WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said at a meeting of partners in Dhaka.
WHO said the country’s health sector is grossly underfunded to meet the needs of 1.3 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar.
“The Rohingya population are settled in an area that is prone to cyclone and a terrain that would be flooded as soon as rains begin. The risk of outbreak of life threatening water and vector-borne diseases under such conditions is huge,” Singh said.
Coordinating the work of over a 100 partners on the ground along with the Ministry of Health, WHO has facilitated the contingency plan for the rainy season and coordinated a simulation around it. The plan aims at continuity of health services during rains and floods to minimise the risk of disease and deaths among the affected population.


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International

Peace talks with Taliban will happen soon: US

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KABUL: The US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan said talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon” but if the insurgents continue to fight, then American forces would support Afghan forces in the war.

Talks between the Taliban and American officials have hit a roadblock after the hardline militants cancelled the fourth round of peace talks last week and rejected the involvement of the Afghan government in the dialogue.

The Taliban threatened to pull out of the peace process with the United States if they diverted from the issue of foreign force withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the insurgents to end the 17-year war.

 

The Taliban’s warning came hours after Zalmay Khalilzad landed in Afghanistan after meeting officials from India, China and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the peace process. “If the Taliban want to talk, we can talk. If they want to fight, we can fight,” Khalilzad told journalists in Kabul.

The White House has said President Donald Trump had not issued orders to the Pentagon to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but the White House has not denied reports that the United States plans to pull out some of the 14,000-strong force currently deployed.

Khalilzad said: “We hope that they [Taliban] want to make peace. But if they do not choose to come to the table, if they choose to continue fighting, the United States will stand with the Afghan people and the Afghan government and support them.”

Speaking about the next date for a meeting with the Taliban, he said: “We are hopeful it will happen very soon. That’s what we’re working towards.” “What we want is to see this conflict end through negotiation, to continue our partnership with Afghanistan and to ensure no terrorist threatens either of us,” Khalilzad told reporters.

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UN approves mission to shore up Yemen truce

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UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the deployment to Yemen of up to 75 monitors in a new mission to shore up a fragile ceasefire and oversee a pullback of forces from the flashpoint port of Hodeida.

The observer mission was agreed during talks last month in Sweden between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels and an advance team is already on the ground in the rebel-held city.

The unarmed monitors will be sent to Hodeida city and port as well as to the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa for an initial period of six months.

 

The resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “expeditiously” deploy the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA), led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.

Guterres has described the mission as a “nimble presence” that will report on violations in Hodeida, which for months was the front line in the war after pro-government forces launched an offensive to capture it in June.

Human Rights Watch warned of a tough road ahead and urged the council to keep the pressure on the warring sides.

“The countdown for exchanging prisoners is fast approaching, but the parties have missed deadlines, putting the prisoner swap in jeopardy,” said Louis Charbonneau, HRW’s UN director.

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Lift travel ban on opposition leaders: Pak SC asks Imran Khan govt

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Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday ordered the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift the travel ban imposed on opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and the Sindh Chief Minister, and asked the country’s anti-corruption body to probe their involvement in Rs 35 billion ‘fake accounts case’.

As many as 172 suspects were placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the recommendations of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the apex court.

A person cannot fly abroad if his name is placed on the ECL.

 

The Supreme Court, in a detailed judgement, ordered the government to remove the names of opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from the ECL.

It, however, referred the report and material collected by the JIT in the Rs 35 billion ‘fake accounts case’ to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Dawn news reported.

The JIT probe focused on “32 fake accounts” which were allegedly used to give massive financial benefits to former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and several others.

“Removing of the names will not prevent (the) NAB to probe and in case sufficient material is found connecting these individuals with cognisable offences, it will not be precluded from making an appropriate request to the federal government to place their names on (the) ECL again or take any appropriate action provided by law,” according to the judgement authored by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan.

The apex court in its earlier instructions asked the government to delete names of Bilawal and Shah from the ECL but the Cabinet waited for the detailed judgment.

After the judgement, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government will decide whether it should implement the court orders or file a review petition.

Justice Ahsan was part of the three-judge bench that last year took a suo-motu cognisance after it emerged that several big names were involved in money laundering through fake accounts.

Currently, a Karachi court is hearing the case against Zardari and Talpur for alleged money laundering.

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