Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's call to the international community to put more pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees is very timely, because, it seems, only international pressure can make Myanmar act according to the deal. Myanmar's assertion that it has repatriated the first Rohingya family of five from Bangladesh just goes to show how insincere it is in honouring the repatriation agreement that was signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar last November. Rights activists and international relations experts have aptly called the move by Myanmar "a public relations stunt."
The painful experiences of Rohingyas have once again been poignantly narrated to the visiting Nobel trio, and anyone who hasn't really been through the harrowing experiences cannot actually comprehend the horrendous nature of violence that these people have been through.
The commendable initiative of a group of girls combating early marriage in Trishal, as reported by The Daily Star on Thursday, shows how social problems like child marriage are best handled: through greater community involvement. The girls are working to raise awareness of the consequences of early marriage among local people and girls/women themselves so that they can resist any such attempts on their own, without recourse to administrative measures and other such interventions. In the last two months alone, encouraged by the local UNO and community leaders, they prevented 10 early marriages.
A front-page picture of a worker unloading coal from a supply truck in Anu Majhir Ghat in Chittagong city's Sadarghat area, published by The Daily Star on Thursday, tells everything that is wrong with our informal labour market. The man in the picture is seen offloading coal with no safety gear on to thwart the effects of exposure to harmful coal dust or prevent bodily harm in the event of an accident. His whole appearance is a throwback to the pre-industrial times. But this is not just a question of safety in hazardous jobs like coal mining or offloading; it's also about basic human dignity that all people, irrespective of the kind of work they do, are entitled to.
We welcome the recent agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. However, there is ample ground for scepticism regarding the real concerns of the Rohingyas fully addressed by Myanmar. Now, as the date and timeframe have been fixed, a further concern—the rate of repatriation—has been added.
Three pictures in this paper yesterday depict the utter callousness with which we have degraded our natural resources because of greed and indifference. The front page shows a horrific pile of rubbish in an area in Keraniganj—an earlier picture of the same area juxtaposed with it makes us realise with disbelief, that this garbage dump was actually a canal only a year and a half ago. It is hard to believe that once this pit of rubbish was a pristine waterbody running between rows of buildings, providing relief to the concrete jungle. Obviously, over this short period of time, there has been absolutely no oversight regarding illegal dumping of waste.
It was long overdue, but we welcome the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, which condemned the military operations in Myanmar's Rakhine state against the Rohingya minority community.
The UN Security Council has once again dropped plans, in the face of likely Chinese veto, to adopt a resolution demanding an end to the violence against the Rohingyas. What we have instead is a formal statement calling upon Myanmar to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine State, to restore civilian administration and apply the rule of law, and to take immediate steps in accordance with their obligations and commitments to respect human rights. This relieves the mounting pressure on the Myanmar government. But where does this leave the Rohingyas? According to the UN, more than 600,000 Rohingyas have been driven out of their homes, and who must be taken back, as the world body has also stated. And conducive conditions must be created for them to go back.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics unveiled the report “Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016” on October 17. It is the most exhaustive nationwide survey carried out and is usually brought out every five years or so. What it tells us is that the income inequality between the rich and poor has widened with the top 10 percent of the population now having an income share of 38.16 percent, which is 2.32 percent higher than what it was in 2010. Whereas, the bottom 10 percent of the population has half (1.01 pecent) of the income share it had in the year 2010 (2 percent). Indeed, poverty reduction has also slowed down a full 0.5 percent over this period.
Child marriage – despite the caveat in the new amendment of the law – remains illegal in the country. Last Friday, as eight under-age girls were about to be married off in Dinajpur, locals informed the local administration. But no action was taken by the UNO. In Narayanganj, an underage girl was married off on Sunday, but despite locals protesting, the upazila administration refused to intervene. A report by this paper yesterday cited more similar cases.
On Tuesday, The Daily Star and IPDC Finance Limited jointly presented the “Unsung Women Nation Builders Awards” to seven exceptional women at the Krishibid Institution. These women were awarded for their courage, persistence, generosity and hard work and for their immense contributions to Bangladesh's socio-economic development. The awards – a crest and a cheque of Tk 2 lakh – were given out to each of the awardees in the categories of child rights, agriculture, law enforcement, education, entrepreneurship and health.
Amidst all the show of force and sabre-rattling by North Korea and the United States, has anyone bothered to ask what would happen if push comes to shove? No matter how tyrannical the leadership in North Korea may seem to the outside world, we are not dealing merely with a country that has operational nuclear arms, but fields significant conventional firepower in the field and will, in all probability (if attacked) launch all of its weapons, nuclear or otherwise at neighbouring South Korea and beyond. Those are the ground realities. It is not without reason that Beijing is sufficiently worried about the potential consequences of any attack on North Korea, which will be both immediate and long-term. Even if the nuclear weapons programme is neutralised on Korean soil, the radiation fallout will be significant and it has everyone worried.
In yet another tragic incident related to child marriage, a teenage girl from Akkelpur upazila of Joypurhat committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling in her living room. Fifteen-year-old Marjia Sultana killed herself finding no other way out of being married off by her family.
It is a matter of grave concern that, according to a UN estimate, twenty million people are facing starvation in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. These are the conflict prone regions that have witnessed civil war, foreign invasion, a breakdown of civil order and the rise of militancy. We are appalled that this crisis, which has been built up over a period of time, has been allowed to continue. Clearly, enough has not been done, as a UN official told the Security Council, that without immediate help, death and severe malnutrition would plague the regions for a long time.
A new study using ground and satellite GPS monitors have concluded that the north-eastern corner of the Indian subcontinent encompassing Bangladesh, eastern India and parts of Myanmar is at risk of a major earthquake, and the effect when it occurs would be on a massive scale (8.2 to 9 on the Richter scale). The study conducted at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University should be taken seriously, particularly by Bangladesh which has several issues going against it in the event of a major quake.