Tokyo, Oct 23 (UNB) - President Abdul Hamid attended a banquet hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and his spouse at Hotel New Otani here on Wednesday.
“The President exchanged greetings with the Prime Minister of Japan and his spouse during the dinner. Besides, he exchanged pleasantries with the heads of the state of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Slovakia,” President’s Press Secretary Joynal Abedin told UNB.
The dinner was arranged for the royal guests who were invited to the enthronement ceremony of new Japanese Emperor Naruhito.
The enthronement ceremony took place at the State Hall of Imperial Palace at 1pm (local time) on Tuesday.
The enthronement ceremony was held as part of national ceremony (from Oct 22 to October 31) to celebrate the enthronement of the emperor. Some 2,000 people, including heads of state and other dignitaries, from 174 countries attended the ceremony.
President Hamid also visited Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, and spent some moment there on Wednesday.
He passed some time in Yamashita Park and NYK Maritime Museum inside the Hikawa Maru, a passenger liner that was built in 1930 for the Japan-Seattle line by NHK Line.
Around the 1920s, there were growing calls in Japan for building its high-grade ships in order to compete with the large ships introduced by Europe and the United States.
Hikawa Maru was a state-of-the-art ship at the time it was built. During the World War 2, it was set up as a navy hospital.
President Hamid reached Tokyo on Monday on an eight-day official visit to Japan and Singapore. He will visit Singapore on October 25-27 on his way back home.
He is expected to return home on October 27.
Chandpur, Oct 23 (UNB) - Meritorious student Panna Akter of Raicho village in Hajiganj upazila will get the chance to chase her dream of becoming a doctor after all, thanks to the initiative and generosity of her local MP and other affluent personalities of the district.
On Friday last, UNB reported how Panna, a student of Hajiganj Degree College and the daughter of a humble rickshaw puller, gained admission into the MBBS course of Mymensingh Medical College obtaining 672nd position in the admission process, but her family lacked the financial ability to send her away to the college.
After the story gained traction on social media, there was an immediate response from a number of quarters, including parliamentarian Major (retd) Rafiqul Islam Bir Uttam, who pledged to bear all her expenses.
Following the huge outpouring of support, Hajiganj Degree College teachers Bilkis Begum and Belal Hossain of the management and mathematics departments respectively, the kindly married couple who supported Panna through phases of her education, accompanied her to MMC on Monday to complete the process of her enrolment - her classes start on January 10.
Panna obtained GPA-5 both in SSC and HSC exams, according to her principal at Hajiganj Degree College Masud Ahmed and Vice-Principal Anwar Ullah.
Parents of the girl sought financial assistance on humanitarian grounds for their daughter to help her pursue her dream of becoming a doctor through a post on Facebook. It drew the attention of local journalists, who got the story out through various outlets in the past few days.
Her teachers also spoke about her talent while seeking financial support for her medical studies.
On Saturday, parliamentarian Rafiqul Islam assured her mother over the phone that he personally would cover the educational and “all other expenses” during her studies at the MMC.
Talking to UNB on Monday, the Member of Parliament for Chandpur-5 (Hajiganj/Shahrasti) confirmed that he had indeed pledged his support to the girl’s parents, and there was no question of going back on his word.
“I’ve already been in touch with the MMC authorities regarding her attending the institution. [I’ve told them] that everything relating to her education will be borne by me as well as any other expenses she may require,” the three-time MP said.
Indeed, now there is almost a scramble by different individuals to cover some of the costs Panna will incur while away at college. Chandpur Deputy Commissioner Md Majedur Rahman Khan, following the MP’s intervention, had to settle for the admission fee for her to start classes at the MMC.
Meanwhile, Alamgir Hossain, officer-in-charge of Hajiganj Police Station, and some other local influential people are trying to find some costs that they may also bear.
Earlier in her studies, Hajiganj Degree College authorities bore all her necessary expenses, including books. Besides, Belal Hossain and Bilkis Begum, on whom Panna relies for guidance, bore the expenses for her coaching in different subjects.
Dhaka, Oct 23 (UNB) - He had valid papers to stay back and work there but the police in Saudi Arabia deported him ‘forcefully’. Babul Hossain of Chandpur returned home last month barefoot and empty-handed in his uniform.
Babul is not the only worker to have been sent back from Saudi Arabia.
According to Brac Migration Programme, some 16,000 workers were deported from Saudi Arabia this year while the number is 79,106 in the last five years.
Most of the workers had legal papers to stay back and work in Saudi Arabia but they were forced to leave the country on various allegations.
A total of 534 workers were deported from Saudi Arabia in the current month, said Shariful Hasan, head of Brac Migration Programme.
He said workers were used to be sent back home in the past if they violated the recruitment rules but in recent times, workers were being forced to leave the country although they have legal papers.
Shariful urged the ministries concerned and the Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia to look into the matter.
He said recruiting agencies should ensure jobs for the workers when they reach Saudi Arabia on free visas and make sure that they do not face any problem there.
Babul along with 175 other Bangladeshi workers was forced to leave Saudi Arabia in September last.
Talking to UNB, he said he had permission to stay for another six months in Saudi Arabia but police sent him back. “They didn’t pay any heed to our words.”
Mahiuddin Ahmed of Munshiganj had been working in Saudi Arabia for the last 10 years legally but Saudi Immigration Police arrested him recently and beat him mercilessly before sending him back home.
Ninety-three workers returned home on October 9 while 105 on October 8, 120 on October 4 and 130 were deported from Saudi Arabia on October 3.
On September 17, Abu Bakkar came home with a group of 160 Bangladeshi workers from Saudi Arabia.
Bakkar said Saudi police sent him home empty-handed although he has permission to stay and work there.
Jamal of Chandpur told UNB that he renewed the permission (akama) to stay in Saudi Arabia with 4,500 Riyals but police sent him back to the country in two months.
Bayazid of Patuakhali, Abu Sayeed of Manikganj, Nasim of Madaripur, Jamal of Cumilla, Mizan of Munshiganj, Tipu Sultan of Brahmanbaria, Siraj of Madaripur and Jahurul of Kushtia also complained of the same.
They all said Saudi police put them behind bars for a few days and forced them to leave the country.
Workers were being deported from Saudi Arabia for two specific reasons, claimed Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira).
Workers with no legal papers are being forced to leave the country while some others were also being sent back as they sell vegetables or work as hawkers in addition to their scheduled work, he said.
Shameem, however, admitted the deportation of many legal workers, saying the Bangladesh Embassy there should look into the matter.
Asked about the number of workers who returned from Saudi Arabia, DM Atiqur Rahman, director (Employment) of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), said some workers are coming back home. “But I can’t tell you the exact number now.”
According to sources at BMET, around 257,317 workers went to Saudi Arab last year while 234,071 till August of the current year.
Kurigram, Oct 22 (UNB) – Although it was opened to traffic barely 13 months back, most lights of the Sheikh Hasina Kulaghat Dharla Bridge in Fulbari upazila have gone out of order, turning it into a ‘safe haven’ for drug addicts, muggers and anti-social elements at night.
The hanging lights of the bridge over the Dharla River do not light up even though the steel pillars have the electricity connections.
Locals alleged that no attempt has been taken yet for repairing those, forcing people and vehicles to cross the bridge in darkness amid constant fear. The absence of light has made it an ideal place for drug addicts to take narcotics, they said.
They fear that any serious accident may take place on the 950-metre bridge anytime if the situation remains unchanged.
The second Sheikh Hasina Dharla Bridge was implemented by Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) spending Tk 196.75 core. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated it on June 3, 2018 through a videoconference.
On April 24, 2014, a contract was signed with Navana Construction to build the bridge. Although the work was supposed to be completed by 26 months, the construction firm finished it in December 2018 after having the deadline extended twice, according to official sources.
They said the cost of the main bridge was estimated at Tk 129.08 crore, with keeping aside Tk 42.46 crore for river management and fixing the cost of electrification at Tk 65 lakh.
At night when the lights are supposed to be on, most of them do not work and at times all of them go off, according to the local people.
“It has become difficult to cross the nearly 1-km long unattractive bridge without any torchlight,’’ said Kamaluddin Mahbub, a college student of the upazila.
“Even though many visitors throng the bridge on special days, they quickly leave the place well before the night sets in. Anti-social activities like drug abuse are on the rise on the bridge while cases of mugging are being reported regularly,” said Afzal Sheikh, a local businessman.
According to Ershadul and Saidul, both vendors, said more than half of the lights have not been working for a long time. The bridge finds some light as long as the solar lights in their shops are functional. Once the shops are closed, the bridge plunges into complete darkness.
Morshed Alam, in-charge of the complaint centre in upazila electric office, said a transformer has been set up along the bridge to meet the electricity demand.
Asib Iqbal Rajib, an LGED engineer, said some of the lights are not working due to low voltage and some of them were fixed just a few days ago. “We’ve to quickly find out why some of the lights are not working,” he added.
Dhaka, Oct 22 (UNB) - Over 19 million children -- a quarter of them under 5 -- spread across Bangladesh are at the front line of climate change disasters, a UN report says mentioning that climate change threatens child nutrition here.
In 2018, 58.7 million children under 5 were stunted and almost 25.9 million were wasted in South Asia, the report says adding that more children and young people are surviving, but far too few are thriving.
The government of Bangladesh will begin the second phase of its ‘Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan’ this year, placing greater emphasis on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, according to the report.
The plan will be demanding more attention and resources to ensure that child nutrition, health, education, social protection, and other services are shielded from the effects of climate change.
Floods and riverbank erosion are driving families to city slums, where they face overcrowding and a lack of access to adequate health and nutrition services, adequate nutritious food, especially during first 1,000 days, education, sanitation, hygiene and safe water, according to the Unicef report titled ‘The State of the World’s Children (SOWC) 2019: Children, food and nutrition - Growing well in a changing world”.
In slums, children must often fend for themselves and are at greater risk of malnutrition, child labour, child marriage and exposure to pollution, violence and abuse, according to the South Asia section of the global report.
Extreme climatic events such as drought and flashfloods cause severe agricultural losses, it says.
In a country where 60 percent of the population counts on agriculture for their livelihood, this means children from the poorest families are most likely to go hungry, according to the report.
The reduced production also leads to an increase in food prices, hitting the poorest families the hardest.
A rise in communicable and non-communicable diseases linked to changing climate conditions and unplanned urbanisation also threatens children and their families, Unicef said.
These include diarrhoea, hepatitis A, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, dengue and chikungunya fever.
Ruma, her husband Ali Akbar, and their two children Sunjida, 3, and Shahaun, 9, moved to the Chalantika Slum of Dhaka after their home was repeated flooded by the Meghna River, the report mentioned.
“At least we can stand on dry ground here even if we struggle with the cost of living,” she said. “My husband earns about Tk 7,000 [US$83] a month. By the time we’ve paid our rent and bought our groceries there is very little left over. But at least we’re able to earn here, which we often weren’t able to do when we lived in the countryside.”
Ruma shares a small kitchen – a few planks of wood atop bamboo poles set in a swamp – with at least 10 other families.
While they initially used butane gas, this proved impossible to share equitably. Wood is now preferred, further worsening the slum’s air quality.
Her family eats rice and lentils most days, she says, and can occasionally afford meat or fish. Her son, Shahaun, is showing signs of malnourishment.
In addition to the arduous challenge of trying to provide her family with healthy food, Ruma describes an unhealthy environment with no access to safe water, basic toilets or adequate hygiene.
Electricity in the slum is irregular, and rodents and insects in their single room “make our lives an absolute misery,” she says.
It is 20 years since the State of the World’s Children last examined children’s nutrition, and, in that time, much has changed.
Unicef’s flagship report examines the issue of children, food and nutrition, providing a fresh perspective on a rapidly evolving challenge. Despite progress in the past two decades, one-third of children under age 5 are malnourished – stunted, wasted or overweight – while two-thirds are at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger because of the poor quality of their diets.
At the centre of this challenge is a broken food system that fails to provide children with the diets they need to grow healthy.
This report also provided new data and analyses of malnutrition in the 21st century and outlines recommendations to put children’s rights at the heart of food systems.