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Myanmar must ‘allow Rohingya to leave camps’

Panel led by ex-UN boss Kofi Annan says camps where tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are trapped should be closed.

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Rohingya

A panel led by former UN chief Kofi Annan says Myanmar needs to close the squalid camps in Rakhine State, where thousands of persecuted displaced Rohingya Muslims have been trapped for nearly five years, and allow them to return home.

“It’s really about time they close the camps and allow the people in the camps, particularly those who have gone through the (citizenship) verification process, access to freedom of movement and all rights of citizenship,” Annan told Reuters on Thursday by telephone from Geneva.

This screen grab taken on January 4, 2017 from a YouTube video shows policemen standing guard around Rohingya minority villagers seated on the ground in the village of Kotankauk during a police area clearance operation on November 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

More than 120,000 Rohingya Muslims have languished in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) since they were driven from their homes by extremist Buddhists in 2012.

Most are not allowed to leave the bleak displacement camps, where they live in rundown shelters with little access to food. They have also been denied access to basic education and healthcare.

“We have made recommendations that can be implemented now and help improve the situation,” Annan said.

Ghassan Salame, a member of the body, also said at the launch of the body’s interim report in the Myanmar city of Yangon on Thursday that the commission calls for “an independent investigation into the violence in Rakhine.”

The report calls for the Myanmar government to ensure “security and livelihood opportunities at the site of return/relocation” for those leaving the camps. It also suggests building new houses for the displaced Muslims.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s office said it would implement the “large majority of recommendations” without giving more details.

Myanmar has long faced international condemnation for its treatment of the Rohingya. Suu Kyi, who has received the Nobel Peace Prize, has been incapable of containing the violence against the minority community.

Rakhine has been under a military siege since October 2016 over a raid on a police post that was blamed on the Rohingya. A four-month crackdown on the minority group has seen some 75,000 Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh.

A Rohingya refugee girl carries a baby inside a refugee camp in Sitwe, in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar, on March 4, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

UN investigators, who interviewed Rohingya escapees in neighboring Bangladesh, have blamed Myanmar’s government forces for responding with a campaign of murder, gang rape and arson that they say may amount to genocide.

On Monday, Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, warned that the Southeast Asian country may be seeking to “expel” all members of the Rohingya Muslim community from its territory.

The UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, has said treatment of the Rohingya merits a UN commission of inquiry and review by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Buddhist-dominated Myanmar has a history of discrimination against Muslims, considering the Rohingya illegal immigrants.

Rights groups and governments have challenged the claim, arguing that the Rohingya had historical roots in the country.

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Global availability of Covid vaccine for public only by mid-2021: Moody’s

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi: While recent news about the high effectiveness of two coronavirus vaccines is a promising sign in the effort to combat the pandemic, a vaccine for Covid-19 will not be widely distributed before mid-2021, Moodys Investors Service said on Tuesday.

“However, these developments do not change the assumption underpinning our economic forecasts that widespread, global availability of the vaccine to the general public is only likely by around mid-2021,” Moody’s said in a report.

It added that the recent positive news about the effectiveness of vaccines under development will do little to ease the immediate concern that the current rise in coronavirus cases across the US and Europe will dampen sentiments and economic momentum in these regions this quarter and the next.

“Our baseline economic forecasts balance the downside risks of increasing infections and new lockdowns in the next two months, against the potential for widespread vaccinations over the next 12 months. If lockdowns are more severe than we expect, the negative effect on GDP could be offset if a coronavirus vaccine is available quicker and uptake is wider than we had expected,” it added.

Although successful Phase 3 trials of vaccines are a big step, there are numerous hurdles ahead, including satisfying approval requirements by regulators in individual countries, production of the billions of doses required for mass vaccination, ensuring proper storage and building distribution networks.

Distribution will likely occur in phases once regulators approve a vaccine, with health officials prioritizing access for healthcare workers and those in other high-risk professions, as well as for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as older people and individuals in care homes.

Moody’s said two important variables in overall success of vaccines in curbing the pandemic will be the public’s willingness to get vaccinated and what percentage of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for the spread of the virus to be brought under control. Vaccine availability likely will vary across countries, with cost and access major hurdles in particular for less-developed economies.

Many advanced and a handful of middle-income emerging market countries have already secured contracts for hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccines. Residents of these countries will be among the first to get the vaccinations, with their economies benefiting from the associated easing of the public health crisis. The earlier the health crisis in a country subsides, the stronger the country’s economic recovery will be, it added.

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

As long as the coronavirus remains a health risk, social distancing restrictions and the reluctance of consumers to engage in high contact social and economic activity will mar the recovery of services sectors. As vaccines become broadly available, health fears and concerns about an uncertain economic and financial outlook should recede, allowing for a quicker resumption of activity in high contact sectors such as hotels, restaurants, theaters, mass transit, airlines and travel and tourism.

Moody’s said the pandemic has already inflicted enormous damage on the hardest-hit sectors and will continue to undermine their financial condition and prospects, with repeated virus outbreaks and lockdown measures suppressing demand. The risk of business failure increases exponentially the longer the pandemic prevents a return to some semblance of normal activity.

A vaccine will help accelerate the recovery. But for many of these businesses, survival will remain challenging until the virus is no longer viewed as a significant public health threat. It is difficult to know how many businesses will survive several more months of below-normal revenue, it added.

Small and midsized businesses across advanced and emerging market countries are at risk and more of them will undoubtedly close on account of the prolonged cash flow shock. And those that do survive will have the long and arduous task of rebuilding their balance sheets while also, in many cases, facing significant changes in consumer behavior and demand patterns. “Therefore, even if economic activity returns to healthy levels once a vaccine is widely available, the detrimental economic impact and transformed operating environment will be felt for years to come”, Moody’s said.

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Karnataka to table law on cow slaughter ban in next Assembly session

In 2010, Yediyurappa in his first stint as Chief Minister had introduced the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010.

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Cow in India

Bengaluru: Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chauhan said on Tuesday that a law to ban cow slaughter, sale and consumption of beef would be tabled in the forthcoming Assembly session starting December 7.

Speaking to reporters, Chauhan said that the department has been consulting with the experts from various fields besides studying similar laws enacted by other states. “I can assure that our law will be harsher than all the other states which have enacted similar laws,” he said.

Chauhan added that he has held discussions with Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in this regard and he too is happy with the progress.

Yediyurappa had assured at the BJP state executive committee meeting held in Mangaluru recently that his government is committed to enact stronger laws to ban cow slaughter as well as prevent forcible conversions (‘Love Jihad’).

He added that once the new law comes into force, selling and consuming cow meat and slaughtering of cows will be banned completely, along with transportation of cows to other states.

“Safeguarding cows is our priority. I am very happy that this law will be piloted by me in the Assembly,” he said.

In 2010, Yediyurappa in his first stint as Chief Minister had introduced the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010.

The legislation would have instituted a blanket ban on cow slaughter and consumption of beef. However, the bill did not get presidential assent and was withdrawn after the Congress returned to power in 2013.

Both the passage of the bill in 2010 and its withdrawal triggered protests by groups on the opposite spectrum of the debate on cow slaughter.

Karnataka already has the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, which permits slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffalos that are over 12 years of age and are unfit for breeding and giving milk.

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Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’

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Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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