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."
Official says executions of 10 other drug smugglers to be held at later stage, without providing details
Sherbakov was also ordered by the court to pay $23,000 in compensation to the woman's family over the November 2015 killing.
National Security Council Act necessary, says Najib Razak, and other countries have since followed Malaysia's lead
China and Russia will hold "routine" naval drills in the South China Sea in September
Boy shot during riots caused by allegations that Hindu man burned copy of Quran
Secretary of state says Hague decison on disputes of ownership legally binding ; expects compliance
Report says families of missing people still lack closure, years after end of civil war in 2009
South Korean military reveals recent discovery of North Korean leaflets in Han River
China slams statement released by allies urging sides abide by Hague court’s South China Sea ruling in favor of Manila
Attorney general does not deny executions may be held at end of week as security tightened around notorious prison island
Irom Sharmila brings protest to end to enter politics, continue fight against human rights abuses
He said US forces have conducted more than 450 airstrikes since the beginning of the year with the latest attack being in Nangarhar province a key ISIL stronghold
Curfew lifted in much of Kashmir but communications still suspended, protests continue
Afghan army launches crackdown after ISIL claims suicide bombing that killed more than 80 in capital
Bangladesh police carry out raid on suspected Dhaka hideout after deadly cafe attack
More than 1,070 killed this year, but majority of missing and losses also due to storms wreaking havoc since June