YNTR – December 2020: Bangladeshi government’s crackdown on Rohingya refugees, Germany’s lax restrictions on New Years celebrations, and wide-spread hunger in Venezuela

YNTR – December 2020: Bangladeshi government’s crackdown on Rohingya refugees, Germany’s lax restrictions on New Years celebrations, and wide-spread hunger in Venezuela

Out of sight, out of mind

…seems to be a popular attitude of states to handle the ugly reality of an ever-worsening international refugee movement. The strategy to keep refugees on islands has moved to the core of the EU asylum system, and has recently hit fertile soil in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government has begun transporting as many as 1,600 Rohingya refugees to the remote island of Bhasan Char.

Background

Overcrowding and severe weather conditions—as well as covid-19—are affecting the livelihoods of the over one million refugees that reside in the Cox’s Bazar region of Banlgladesh. The island of Bhasan Char is portrayed by Bangladeshi news outlet Daily Bangladesh as a welcomed alternative “environment where Rohingyas can stay safe”.

Critique

Humanitarian organizations, among them Human Rights Watch, have been outspokenly concerned with the relocation plans of the Bangladeshi government. There has been little transparency in the procedure, no independent international body has assessed the suitability of the island—formed only 20 years ago, far removed from the mainland, and prone to severe weather condition—for inhabitancy. Reports of relocations of Rohingya without consent are piling up.

Is this the Ode to the Healthcare Workers?

In the spring they regularly received applause from people’s balconies for continuing to risk their lives, but risking ones lives has long become a normality for nurses, doctors, and other healthcare personnel.

Despite harsh criticism from the EU and record numbers of covid-19 cases, Germany has decided to ease its restrictions for Christmas, putting an avoidable strain onto a healthcare system that is already reaching its limits.

Background

In the face of the “hardest Christmas of the postwar period”, as conservative politician Armin Laschet put it, the German government has decided to temporarily lift coronavirus restrictions.

Critique

The 3 bn euros of “Corona aid”, invested by the German government into the healthcare sector, won’t pay for the virus to take a break over the holidays. The government’s failure to ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve—the day that produces more emergency admissions to hospitals than any other day of the year—makes Germany’s failure to support healthcare workers ever more explicit.

Hunger in Venezuela

Once the largest producer of Latin America with an annual income of US$ 90 billion, Venezuela has seen a rapid economic decline since President Nicolás Maduro came to power. Today, 96% of the country’s population live in poverty and the coronavirus pandemic has left countless Venezuelans, especially children, without enough food, approaching the limits of an existential minimum.

Background

The economic crisis which has affected Venezuela long before the pandemic broke out, has produced a lack of essential medication and initiated a “brain drain” of medical staff, leaving the healthcare sector vulnerable and underequipped. Many Venezuelan families rely on payments from abroad, which have witnessed a decline in over 50% due to the corona pandemic. A request by the Maduro government to the International Monetary Fond (IMF) over a US$ 5 billion corona-aid-package has been denied on the grounds of Maduro’s government not being internationally recognized.

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