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UNHCR tells Rohingyas, Jammu may not be safe, offers relocation funds

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Rohingya's in Jammu
Rohingyas in Jammu

Jammu/New Delhi, Dec 3: Just past noon on November 8, two United Nations officers from Delhi waited for about two dozen Rohingya refugees in a white, ground-floor room in Jammu with a message: “You may face problems or dangers in Jammu, move out if you want, we will fund you,” several refugees said.

The Rohingyas, mainly Muslims, had fled Myanmar because of a military crackdown against them in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, reached Jammu after travelling through Bangladesh and crossing the border in West Bengal. They are spread out in several refugee camps.

But protests by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) have added an element of uncertainty to their stay in Jammu. The protestors have been demanding the Muslim refugees be ousted from Jammu, calling them “illegal”.

The UN officers, who belonged to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), along with UNHCR’s partner organisations, later visited Rohingya refugee settlements in Jammu with the same message, according to refugees at the five settlements which this IANS correspondent visited.

“They came here and said that we may face problems in Jammu and they will give money if we want to go to Delhi, Hyderabad, or Mewat,” Iman Sheriff, 22, said outside his shack in Channi Rama of south Jammu.

The aid from UNHCR includes travel expenses, assistance to build a shack in the new place, and ration for a month, according to the refugees.

When reached for a comment on the relocation of refugees from Jammu, UNHCR, which protects refugees and resolves their problems worldwide, told IANS that it had been “supporting some refugees in Jammu who wish to move to other locations”.

A UNHCR spokesperson said it was due to “protection concerns, among other reasons”, but did not elaborate. “At this stage, we are only able to provide this information,” a UNHCR email response read.

“They are big people and we are illiterate. How will we ask them questions?” Anwar Hussain, 26, said, when asked whether they sought any clarification from UNHCR.

But very few are willing to take up the offer.

IANS spoke to several of the refugees. But they said that despite protests they were not ready to leave. “We are used to Jammu, we know everyone over here, why would we leave?” Anwar said.

The refugees, who had left their farms, houses and life savings behind, said they were not ready to face another displacement.

“What if the UN later tells us that Delhi is not safe, go to Kolkata? What if they then tell us to go back to Myanmar?” another refugee asked.

“I’ll be the last one to leave,” Sheriff, a ragpicker, said, standing next to huge piles of plastic bottles, cardboard and waste — his workplace — in Channi Rama.

“They said they will build jhuggis for us. But where will we go to eat? Here we know all the streets and can earn our roti,” Sheriff said. “What will I do in a new place? Who will look after my old parents?” the youth asked.

Rohingyas, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, were denied citizenship in the country. Termed as one of the “world’s most persecuted minority” they have been facing brutality at the hands of the Myanmar military.

In September, the UN had termed the operations targeting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and urged the country to end the “cruel military operation”.

The organisation also said that it had received multiple reports of security forces “burning Rohingya villages, and consistent accounts of extra-judicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians”.

More than 800,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar in the last five years as a result of the violence, according to UNHCR, and there are around 21,500 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in India.

Rohingyas that IANS met in the slum clusters of Jammu and Delhi said memories of the military harassment, including rape of their relatives, still haunt them.

“I fled after military men tried to enter my home one day when my wife was alone,” said Bashir Ahmad, 30, a refugee in Jammu.

In Jammu, their stay has become increasingly uncertain since November last year when protests against them started.

Both the BJP and JKNPP have been vocal about their demand to drive out “Rohingyas and Bangladeshis” and the latter had put billboards in the city urging Rohingyas to “Quit Jammu”.

“We have been taking out rallies, conducting seminars and public awareness meetings (to drive out Rohingyas),” the Chairman of JKNPP, Harsh Dev Singh, told IANS, calling Rohingyas a “cultural threat”.

In February, BJP’s Jammu legal cell member Hunar Gupta had filed a PIL seeking “identification and deportation of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis from Jammu”.

In September, about 12 refugees were detained by police after a cow’s carcass was found near one of the refugee settlements. The police action came after BJP and Shiv Sena members protested.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu, S.D. Singh, told IANS that the protests were for “political gains” but added that conditions were peaceful.

The Indian government in August had termed Rohingyas a “security threat” and asked states to identify and deport them.

Later, the Supreme Court barred the deportation and is expected to hear the case on December 5.

WeForNews Bureau

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Azerbaijan says 2,783 soldiers killed in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

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Nagorno Karabakh

Azerbaijan said Thursday that nearly 2,800 of its soldiers were killed in recent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, the first details it has released of military losses in weeks of clashes with Armenian forces.

The defence ministry in Baku said in a statement that “2,783 servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces were killed in the patriotic war,” adding that 100 more soldiers were missing.

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Criminal networks could try to sell fake COVID vaccines physically and on internet, warns Interpol

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

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Vaccine

New Delhi, December 3: The Interpol has warned law enforcement agencies across the globe that organised criminal networks could try to advertise and sell fake COVID-19 vaccines physically and on the internet.

In an Orange notice issued to all 194 member countries on Wednesday, the Lyon-based international police cooperation body warned agencies to prepare for potential criminal activity in relation to “the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines”.

“It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines,” a statement from the Interpol said.

The Interpol issues an Orange notice to warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

The CBI, which is the national central bureau for India, is tasked with coordination with the Interpol.

The warning came on the day the UK became the first Western nation to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, vaulting past the US and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine.

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in a statement.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” the official said.

The Interpol cybercrime unit has analysed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware making such operators even more potent of causing financial and health harms.

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Pakistan’s Covid-19 cases surpass 406k mark

Frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age will be the first to get the vaccine administered, he added.

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pakistan coronavirus

Islamabad, Dec 3 : Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 406,810 after an additional 3,499 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

In the same period, a total of 8,205 people died and 346,951 recovered from the disease in the country which is currently battling a serious second wave, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying.

The two new figures increased the overall death toll and recoveries to 8,205 and 346,951, respectively.

Sindh province is currently the worst hit with 177,625 cases, followed by most populous province Punjab with 121,083 positive cases, the official figures revealed.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health Faisal Sultan said that the government has approved to allocate a budget of $150 million to purchase vaccines.

Frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age will be the first to get the vaccine administered, he added.

Meanwhile, Federal Parliamentary Secretary in the Health Ministry Nausheen Hamid said that the government will provide free of cost vaccine to its citizens and the vaccination will start in the second quarter of 2021.

The Pakistani government has also decided to observe “Covid-19 standard operating procedures compliance week” from Saturday for creating awareness in public about the significance of the SOPs in guarding against the disease.

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