The Independent

World news in brief


Rohingya homeless after camp blaze

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims in southern Bangladesh were rendered homeless after a fire raged through the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Two thousand shelters were damaged or destroyed in the blaze on Sunday evening, said UNHCR. “Impact of the massive fire in the camps in Bangladesh on 5 March: 2,000 shelters damaged or destroyed ... 12,000 Rohingya refugees who lost everything again. Ninety facilities including hospitals and learning centres burnt down,”

the UNHCR Bangladesh said in a tweet. Emdadul Haque, a fire service official, said no casualties were recorded.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, including about 740,000 who crossed the border starting in August 2017 when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown. After the military coup in Myanmar in 2021, attempts to send back Rohingya refugees have failed, while their conditions in the country have worsened. The oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide, the US said last year after authoritie­s confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority.

Vow to shut down French economy over pension row

Unions are threatenin­g to shut down France’s economy this week in what they hope is their toughest riposte yet to president Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age. Yesterday truckers in some areas blocked major roads and interchang­es in go-slow actions dubbed “escargot” operations. And the government is bracing for the biggest disruption­s today when strikes are expected across multiple sectors and protests are planned in cities across France.

“There will be a very strong impact” from the strikes, transport minister Clement Beaune said on regional broadcaste­r France-3. “I know that for many people it will be a real headache.” Labour minister Olivier Dussopt, speaking on the FranceInfo news broadcaste­r yesterday, said “expressing disagreeme­nt is legitimate, yet it must not lead to blocking the country, which would be dangerous to our economy”. Authoritie­s encouraged people to work from home today if possible. The reform, which would raise the official pension age from 62 to 64 and require 43 years of work to earn a full pension, is currently under debate in parliament.

Low birthrate threatens existence of Japan, warn experts

Japan will “disappear” if action is not taken to curb the slowing birthrate, a senior adviser to the Japanese prime minister has warned. The comment comes just days after Japan announced that the number of babies born last year had slumped to a record low. The number of newborns fell to 799,728 in 2022, down 5.1 per cent from a year earlier, to the lowest since Japan began record-keeping in 1899, according to data from its health ministry. The number of deaths rose 8.9 per cent to 1.58 million for the same period the data adds. “If we go on like this, the country will disappear,” warned Masako Mori, an adviser to the PM said in an interview to Bloomberg.

Poisonings deserve death penalty, says Iran’s leader

Iran’s supreme leader has said that if a series of suspected poisonings at girls’ schools are proven to be deliberate the culprits should be sentenced to death for committing an “unforgivab­le crime”. It is the first time Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, has spoken publicly about the suspected poisonings, which began late last year and has left hundreds of children sick. Iranian officials only acknowledg­ed them in recent weeks and have provided no details on who may be behind the attacks or what chemicals – if any – have been used. Unlike neighborin­g Afghanista­n, Iran has no history of religious extremists targeting women’s education.

“If the poisoning of students is proven, those behind this crime should be sentenced to capital punishment and there will be no amnesty for them,” Khamenei said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. Authoritie­s have acknowledg­ed suspected attacks at more than 50 schools across 21 of Iran’s 30 provinces since November.

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 ?? (AP) ?? Officials are investigat­ing a fire that ripped through the Cox’ sB azarR oh ingya refugee camp in Bang l adesh
(AP) Officials are investigat­ing a fire that ripped through the Cox’ sB azarR oh ingya refugee camp in Bang l adesh

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