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Rohingya newborns offer frail hope in face of Myanmar violence

Rehana Begum, 25, sits near her one-day-old unnamed daughter inside their shelter at Kutupalang unregistered refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, February 10, 2017. “We were in our home and suddenly the military came to our village and started shooting,” said Rehana Begum, who fled her village of Jambuinna in Myanmar three months ago. “When we heard the sound of gun shots we immediately went to our relatives. We walked for four hours without any food and water to reach the border at 1 a.m. We paid $18 to a broker to cross.” The figure is equivalent to 25,000 Myanmar kyat. Intercepted by Bangladesh border guards, Rehana Begum’s family narrowly escaped being sent home. “They wanted to send us back, but then we heard gunshots from the Myanmar side and the guards released us, saying, ‘Stay in Bangladesh and save your lives’,” she said. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

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BALUKHALI, Bangladesh, March 20 (Reuters) – Scared, hungry and badly beaten, Rohingya women fleeing an army crackdown in Myanmar recount harrowing tales of destruction and death: a father burned alive, an uncle slaughtered with a machete, a brother arrested and not heard from again.

But huddled in makeshift refugee camps, dependent on food rations and the mercy of fellow refugees, they also carry something else: hope inspired by their newborn children, for whom Bangladesh is now home.

The babies’ delicate features present a sharp contrast with the squalid conditions of the makeshift refugee camp, where a skipped meal or food poisoning can mean the difference between survival or death.

The Myanmar army launched its “clearance operation” after Rohingya insurgents attacked border guard posts in northwestern Rakhine state in October.

The United Nations said it had committed mass killings and gang rapes and burned villages in a campaign that may amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

“One-and-a-half months ago the military came to our village and kept firing their guns,” said Amina, one of the refugees, as she cradled her 16-day-old daughter, Sumaiya.

“You see us alive only because god was so kind,” added Amina, 30. “They caught my uncle and my younger brother and we don’t know whether they are dead or alive.”

The military calls its crackdown on the Muslim minority a lawful counterinsurgency operation to defend the country and has denied the allegations. Myanmar launched several investigations into the alleged abuse, but human rights monitors say they lack credibility and independence.

Amina is one of about 75,000 refugees to have successfully made an often perilous crossing through the fields, eventually fording a river boundary to reach Bangladesh.

Some starved for weeks, while others gave everything they had to pay off people smugglers. Many never made it, drowning or getting shot by Myanmar security forces on the journey.

Survivors, who rely on shelters of bamboo sticks and black plastic sheets for protection from a scorching sun, face a major challenge in keeping their newborns alive.

The camps often lack medical facilities and running water, leading aid agency workers to worry about an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

“People are living in tough circumstances. Most don’t have access to regular medical services and are not getting enough food,” said Azmat Ulla, an official of the International Federation of Red Cross in Bangladesh, launching an emergency appeal for help on Monday.

SURVIVING ON RATIONS

Many women struggle for funds, having lost male relations, the sole breadwinners in most families. They rely on handouts from the World Food Program and other agencies.

Clinics run by non-government bodies and the U.N. are overrun, scrambling to treat thousands of patients each month.

Minara Begum, 22, calms her crying one-month-old son, Ayub, as she tells of fleeing from her village of Nasha Phuru with her husband and mother-in-law.

“My child doesn’t get enough breast milk as I don’t eat enough nutritious food,” she said. “I have to buy milk powder, though it’s not very good for my son.”

Many women said they survived or witnessed acts of gang rape by soldiers.

An official of a large Western aid agency told Reuters it had distributed more than 660 “dignity kits” for assault victims, besides counseling nearly 200 women who suffered trauma after the killing of a family member, usually male.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said the worker, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 15: Reyhana Begum (in black) receives training at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center March 15, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 15: Reyhana Begum (in black) receives training at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center March 15, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 15: Reyhana Begum (in black) receives training at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center March 15, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 15: Reyhana Begum (in black) receives training at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center March 15, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 15: Reyhana Begum (in black) receives training at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center March 15, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 14: 28 year old Reyhana Begum, who is preparing to work as a housekeeper in Saudi Arabia, plays with her children and neighbors at her home March 14, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 14: 28 year old Reyhana Begum, who is preparing to work as a housekeeper in Saudi Arabia, folds clothes in her home March 14, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 14: 28 year old Reyhana Begum, who is preparing to work as a housekeeper in Saudi Arabia, poses for a photo in her home with her children March 14, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – MARCH 14: 28 year old Reyhana Begum, who is preparing to work as a housekeeper in Saudi Arabia, poses for a photo in her home with her children March 14, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reyhana currently makes around 1,500-3,000 ($19.15-$38.30) taka per month working as a tailor, and her husband makes 5,000-6,000 ($63.83-$76.60) taka per month working as a rickshaw puller. She expects to earn 22,000 taka ($280.86) per month in Saudi Arabia, which she says she will put towards her daughters dowry and son’s education. She says that with the money earned abroad she will be able to give her and her family a future and save money. The Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center provides potential migrant workers with the skills they need to earn a living overseas. Bangladesh received $15.31 billion in remittances from an estimated 9.4 million citizens working overseas in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have published reports documenting how migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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LUCKY TO BE ALIVE

The quiet of Cox’s Bazar, a beachside resort town, makes for a jarring contrast with the temporary camps amid rice paddies and salt flats just an hour’s drive away.

Large groups of desperate women line the roads, begging for money from passing cars, often well after sunset.

A red blanket spread on the earthen floor of her shelter, Rehana Begum, 25, cares for her one-day-old daughter.

“We were in our home and suddenly the military came to our village and started shooting,” said Rehana Begum, who fled her village of Jambuinna in Myanmar three months ago.

“When we heard the sound of gun shots we immediately went to our relatives. We walked for four hours without any food and water to reach the border at 1 a.m. We paid $18 to a broker to cross.”

The figure is equivalent to 25,000 Myanmar kyat.

Intercepted by Bangladesh border guards, Rehana Begum’s family narrowly escaped being sent home.

“They wanted to send us back, but then we heard gunshots from the Myanmar side and the guards released us, saying, ‘Stay in Bangladesh and save your lives’,” she said.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/03/21/rohingya-newborns-offer-frail-hope-in-face-of-myanmar-violence/21903457/

Popular US city cancels Cinco de Mayo celebration over deportation fears

By Mat Hoffman, Buzz60

Philadelphia’s Latin American community is in no mood to party due to fear of an immigration crackdown.

Normally an event called El Carnaval de Puebla is held in the city in the spring.

It’s a commemoration of Mexico’s victory against France in the Battle of Puebla, which is also the inspiration behind Cinco de Mayo.

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But this year the event has been canceled.

Organizer Edgar Ramirez told NBC 10 that in light of recent stepped-up Immigrations and Customs Enforcement actions against illegal immigrants, there were concerns that Carnaval participants would be in danger of deportation.

Co-founder David Piña also told Al Día that the cancellation was an act of protest against President Trump’s policies.

According to NBC 10, the event generally involves 450 marchers and as many as 15,000 celebrants.

Whether or not Carnaval returns in 2018 remains to be seen.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/03/20/popular-us-city-cancels-cinco-de-mayo-celebration-over-deportati/21903253/

Popular US city cancels Cinco de Mayo celebration over deportation fears

By Mat Hoffman, Buzz60

Philadelphia’s Latin American community is in no mood to party due to fear of an immigration crackdown.

Normally an event called El Carnaval de Puebla is held in the city in the spring.

It’s a commemoration of Mexico’s victory against France in the Battle of Puebla, which is also the inspiration behind Cinco de Mayo.

See more related to this story:

Up Next

See Gallery




But this year the event has been canceled.

Organizer Edgar Ramirez told NBC 10 that in light of recent stepped-up Immigrations and Customs Enforcement actions against illegal immigrants, there were concerns that Carnaval participants would be in danger of deportation.

Co-founder David Piña also told Al Día that the cancellation was an act of protest against President Trump’s policies.

According to NBC 10, the event generally involves 450 marchers and as many as 15,000 celebrants.

Whether or not Carnaval returns in 2018 remains to be seen.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/03/20/popular-us-city-cancels-cinco-de-mayo-celebration-over-deportati/21903253/

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