World Bulletin / News Desk
Hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps in India's northeast desperately need food, water and medicines after fleeingsome of the worst communal violence in a decade, officials and aid workers said on Monday.
At least 12 people, including four children, have died and thousands are sick with diseases such as diahorrea and malaria caused by poor conditions in government-run camps in Assam state, where up to 400,000 people have taken refuge.
"We are in a state of high alert," said Assam's Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. "People in thecamps are suffering from diahorrea, dysentery, malaria and high fever. We are concerned about the condition of the babies and pregnant women."
Violence between Bodo tribespeople and Muslim settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh erupted on July 20 when unidentified men killed four Bodo youths. In retaliation, armed Bodos - which dominate Assam's Kokrajhar district - attacked Muslims, suspecting them of being behind the deaths.
The fighting has tested the ability of India's security forces to restore order in Assam, famed for its tea plantations and home to the constituency of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited the state inlate July to appeal for calm.
So far 61 people have died - some hacked to death with machetes, while dozens of villages have been razed to the ground, forcing both Bodos and Muslims to flee to schools and community centres which have been converted into relief camps.
Sarma said around 8,000 children under two-years-old are sick, while hundreds of others have tested positive for malaria. There are also around 4,000 pregnant women in the camps who need medical support, he added.
FEARFUL TO RETURN HOME
Aid workers described the camps as "suffocating" with livestock living alongside people, few toilets and little access to clean water. Many people sleep in the open and women have little privacy, forced to wait for dawn or dusk to find a place outside to defecate.
Authorities have been overwhelmed by the numbers of displaced -- camps designed to accommodate 400 people are brimming with five times that amount, said aid workers.
"The government is lost and they are somewhat overwhelmed by the number of people who are displaced. They came in hordes and while relief is being distributed, it is totally inadequate," saidMrinal Gohain, northeast manager for the charity ActionAid.
Authorities are encouraging some of the displaced to return home, saying that the situation is under control with police and army patrols, as well as a curfew in some areas.
But aid workers distributing relief in the camps say survivors are too scared to return, especially after reports that five more people were killed over the weekend.
"There is a serious safety issue. Despite what the government says, people are traumatised and fearful and unwilling to return," said Geeta Majumdar from the charity Catholic Relief Services.
"Given the conditions inside the camps and the lack of security and safety outside, we are extremely concerned. Health is a priority and we are worried about epidemics occurring with such unsanitary conditions in such cramped spaces."
The western Indonesian community of Aceh housing Rohingya boat people launches petition demanding president cut all ties.
An earthquake measuring 5.7 has struck the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan.
The US will lift holds on security assistance to Bahrains Defence Force
A Muslim man was beaten by Hindu extremists, then paraded by the extremists and then arrested by police.
A new app designed to help Muslim visitors find mosques, hotels, shopping centers with prayer rooms, halal restaurants
Russian FM will travel to Vienna to discuss the nuclear talks, fighting ISIL with US
The number of criminal cases handed over to the police by environmental protection departments in 2014 reached 2,080, twice the total number during the previous decade.
Using just mobile phones, Indian villagers have found a platform to report their own problems without mainstream media
China has arrested Wu Gan a human rights activist who has according to China, "incited subversion of state power".
The convoy of army soldiers was attacked by suspected Taliban members in Masjid Chobi locality of Karrulh district on Sunday night.
A young woman died on Monday, the first fatality among nearly 500 casualties from a weekend blaze at a Taiwan water park, officials said.
The European Union is set to broaden its ties with China, as China moves to make investments in the European Union.
Vice president of world's most populous Muslim nation initiates new team to tackle mosque loudspeaker volume
Flammable powder used during performance at party reported to have exploded sending ball of flame through air
South Korea's Middle East Respiratory Syndrome death toll rises to 32, but infection rate continues to slow
Thousands have protested in Shanghai over government plans to build a chemical plant.