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Fire displaces tens of thousands of refugees

Rohingya become homeless again amid the pandemic and monsoon season

Rohingya women at a refugee camp in Bangladesh that burned this week Associated Press/Photo by Shafiqur Rahman

Fire displaces tens of thousands of refugees

BANGLADESH: Relief workers estimate the massive fire at the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar on Monday destroyed 17,000 temporary shelters and facilities—including food, water, and sanitation sites—and has left anywhere from 45,000 to 70,000 people again homeless in one of the world’s largest refugee camps. The blazes killed at least 15, including three children, with 400 missing. A CARE Bangladesh spokesman said the group is offering shelter to 2,000 victims in nearby camps and has provided them hot meals. World Vision’s Fredrick Christopher said his group provided emergency food and shelter, also. He called the fire an “unforgiving incident,” coming at the start of monsoon season and with COVID-19 circulating at “an alarming rate.”

ISRAEL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lacks a clear path to continuing in power following Tuesday’s election despite his Likud Party leading in vote tallies and his bloc securing 59 of 61 seats needed to form a governing majority.

COVID-19: Israel far outstrips the rest of the world in its rate of COVID-19 vaccination, administering doses at a rate of 113 per 100 people, versus 38 per 100 in the United States. Europe is running on average far behind at 13 vaccines per 100 people amid continued controversy over data and safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Last week, European leaders held up distributing the vaccine, and this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is threatening to ban its export to other countries until deliveries within Europe are complete. Germany announced a hard lockdown over Easter holidays but reversed course under heavy criticism from business leaders and scientists. As a third wave of COVID-19 hits many Europeans, protests over lockdown restrictions grow.

TURKEY: State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said Tuesday the administration doesn’t “have any change in our current policy to announce,” after 37 senators asked President Joe Biden to recognize the Armenian genocide. But political analyst Ian Bremmer quoted White House sources who say Biden will recognize the genocide, a turnabout in U.S. policy and a move long opposed by ally Turkey.

The Senate last year approved a resolution on the genocide, but the Trump administration did not act on it. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., took the lead with 36 Republicans and Democrats in asking Biden to acknowledge formally a 30-year pogrom across Turkey that wiped out 20 percent of its Christian population: mostly Armenians but also Greek Orthodox and Assyrians.

AZERBAIJAN’s torture of detained Armenian soldiers in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a war crime, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch.

YEMEN: Saudi Arabia announced a cease-fire proposal with the Houthi rebels, including a plan allowing food and fuel imports through Yemen’s main port while renewing talks between the rebels and the Yemeni government. The Houthis dismissed the proposal because it does not include fully lifting a Saudi blockade.

NORTH KOREA: Ship-tracking data, corporate records, and satellite imagery is uncovering how North Korea evades strict international sanctions.

MYANMAR (BURMA): The crisis over last month’s military takeover is hurtling toward civil war and poses great danger to the country’s nearly 9 percent Christian minority, who are mostly ethnic Chin, Kachin, and Karen. “The coup is a leveler,” said expert Benedict Rogers. “Whether you are Burman or Rohingya, Karen or Kachin, you face the same enemy now.”

NIGER: Armed attackers riding motorcycles killed 137 people in coordinated raids on villages in southwestern Niger near the border with Mali—a suspected part of a crime wave in the region that involves gangs armed and radicalized by jihadists.

IRAQ: Teenage girls captured by Islamic State (ISIS) nearly seven years ago are being reunited with children they gave birth to in captivity—but they have to give up returning to their Yazidi homeland, where their children are not wanted.

ALBANIA is not simply bulldozing its authoritarian past; it’s turning it into art and museums.

GREECE will tomorrow begin celebrations marking 200 years of independence from the Ottoman Empire, significant for its role in spreading democracy and Christianity and bridging East and West.

I’M LISTENING (and watching) … art lectures from Rome, master gardens of England, and American conversations on culture—all just some of the silver linings made possible by COVID-19. What are you watching via lockdowns?

And for this Easter season, there’s a new recording of Vexilla Regis, which was written in 530 and considered one of the most beautiful hymns of the ancient church liturgy.

Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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