‘I can’t take this any more’ – Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in new surge

Rohingya refugees, who arrived from Myanmar last night, walk in a rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali near Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh

By Tom Allard and Nurul Islam

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar fled to Bangladesh on Monday in a new surge of refugees driven by fears of starvation and violence the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.

Reuters reporters on the Bangladeshi side of the border, in Palong Khali district, saw several thousand people crossing from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, filing along embankments between flooded fields and scrubby forest.

“Half of my village was burnt down. I saw them do it,” said Sayed Azin, 46, who said he had walked for eight days carrying his 80-year-old mother in a basket strung on a bamboo pole between him and his son.

Soldiers and Buddhist mobs had torched his village, he said.

“I left everything,” he said, sobbing. “I can’t find my relatives … I can’t take this any more.”

Some new arrivals spoke of bloody attacks by Buddhist mobs on people trekking toward the border.

Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar make their way through the rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar make their way through the rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

About 519,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts in Rakhine sparked a ferocious military response.

Refugees and rights groups say the army and Buddhist vigilantes have engaged in a campaign of killing and arson aimed at driving the Rohingya out of Myanmar.

Myanmar rejects accusations of ethnic cleansing and has labeled the militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army who launched the initial attacks as terrorists who have killed civilians and burnt villages.

Among those fleeing were up to 35 people on a boat that capsized off the Bangladesh coast on Sunday. At least 12 of them drowned while 13 were rescued, Bangladeshi police said.

“We faced so many difficulties, for food and survival,” Sayed Hossein, 30, told Reuters, adding that his wife, three children, mother and father in law had drowned.

“We came here to save our lives.”

 

‘GETTING WORSE’

The Myanmar government has said its “clearance operations” against the militants ended in early September and people had no reason to flee. But in recent days the government has reported large numbers of Muslims preparing to leave, with more than 17,000 people in one area alone.

The government cited worries about food and security as their reasons.

Some villagers in Rakhine said food was running out because rice in the fields was not ready for harvest and the state government had closed village markets and restricted the transport of food, apparently to cut supplies to the militants.

“The situation’s getting worse. We have no food and no guarantee of security,” said a Rohingya resident of Hsin Hnin Pyar village on the south of the state’s Buthidaung district.

He said a lot of people were preparing to flee.

“While the Myanmar military has engaged in a campaign of violence, there is mounting evidence that Rohingya women, men and children are now also fleeing the very real threat of starvation,” rights group Amnesty International said.

Senior state government official Kyaw Swar Tun declined to go into details when asked about the food, except to ask, “Have you heard of anyone dying of hunger in Buthidaung?”

The reports of food shortages will add to the urgency of calls by aid agencies and the international community for unfettered humanitarian access to the conflict zone.

The insurgents declared a one-month ceasefire from Sept. 10 to enable the delivery of aid but the government rebuffed them, saying it did not negotiate with terrorists.

The ceasefire is due to end at midnight on Monday but the insurgents said in a statement they were ready to respond to any peace move by the government.

The ability of the group to mount any sort of challenge to the army is not known, but it does not appear to have been able to put up resistance to the latest military offensive.

Students of a local madrasa watch from inside their classroom as bodies of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, who were killed when their boat capsized on the way to Bangladesh, are brought to their school in Shah Porir Dwip, in Teknaf, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, October 9, 2017.

Students of a local madrasa watch from inside their classroom as bodies of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, who were killed when their boat capsized on the way to Bangladesh, are brought to their school in Shah Porir Dwip, in Teknaf, near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

COMING, GOING

Bangladesh was already home to 400,000 Rohingya who had fled earlier bouts of violence.

Mostly Buddhist Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, even though many have lived there for generations.

But even as refugees arrive, Bangladesh insists they will all have to go home. Myanmar has responded by saying it will take back those who can be verified as genuine refugees.

Many Rohingya fear they will not be able to prove their right to return.

Myanmar leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has faced scathing international criticism for not doing more to stop the violence, although she has no power over the security forces under a military-drafted constitution.

The United States and Britain have warned Myanmar the crisis is putting at risk the progress it has made since the military began to loosen its grip on power in 2011.

 

(Additonal reportin by Damir Sagolj in COX’S BAZAR, Wa Lone in YANGON; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)

 

Morningside disaster team in Florida – Lives can change in only a day

One home destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Florida,

By Kami Klein

Imagine being a hard working family in a small agricultural town in Florida.  You don’t have much but everyday you give it the best you can. You work hard, you love your family and you support your church.  But then a storm like Hurricane Irma hits and is unlike any storm you can remember.  The town you knew, the job you went to everyday,  your home where your family and friends gathered and the simple vital items such as food and clean water are gone.

This is the fate of thousands of people in Immokalee, Florida, one of the hardest hit communities of Hurricane Irma.  With no power, lack of good drinking water and warm meals for families, the people in this community have been devastated.  At this very moment, the donations you have provided through our Disaster Relief fund  are giving hope and food to hungry people who have lost literally everything.

Yesterday our Morningside team, Mondo DeLaVega, Ricky Bakker, Tammy Sue Bakker, Daina Martin and our camera crew David Zorob, Hamilton Neumann and Adam Armstrong, began handing out the food from our food buckets.  The people stood in line for hours, waiting to fill bags, boxes and buckets up with rice, beans, pancake mix, vegetable stew, milk, banana and apple chips and so much more because of YOUR gifts to the relief effort.  At times, the line seemed never ending, and the experience of seeing so many who were waiting so patiently for help stirred the deepest emotions in the volunteers who were there.  

Another home destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Florida

Another-home-in-florida-damaged-by-Hurricane-Irma

Tammy Sue Bakker attempted to share the emotions that the volunteers were feeling. “If you have a heart, it’s just so hard to talk about it…We’ve got to keep helping people.  We have no choice!”  

Mondo and Tammy Sue agreed that the entire team has been completely changed by this humbling experience, and the needs they have seen from the disaster in Houston and now Florida are surreal.  On a Facebook live message Mondo wanted to deeply impress the great need that is going on all over the world right now.  

“We need your help.  This is not just a one day effort, this is an everyday kind of effort.  People need ministries like this one to give food and supplies.  Every little bit helps here but please, be a part of what we are doing right now.  This food we give today will only last a little while and then these families have to go out to find more.  Pray for this community, the volunteers, donate what you can and please pray for us!”  

The crew has been busy gathering stories and filming the community of Immokalee. The relief effort that is ongoing will be shared soon on The Jim Bakker Show. 

Danny Viera owns the only Christian bookstore in Fr. Myers. He has been coordinating all of the food for this effort.

Danny Viera owns the only Christian bookstore in Fr. Myers. He has been coordinating all of the food for this effort.

Your donations are making a huge impact in this disaster relief effort, but the urgency and the need is quite overwhelming!  We need you!  

So many have asked about our ministry going to help in Puerto Rico.  We are doing all we can to get there.  There are many logistics involved in getting this food to where it needs to go, so we must rely on your compassion and financial generosity to help us get these supplies to those that are starving right now in that country!  

Again, we thank you for your prayers!  Those many people who stood in line yesterday, their arms filled with food for their families when they walked home cannot thank you as they would wish but you are in their grateful prayers tonight!

With so much need around the world right now, it takes all of us to make a difference!  Please be a part of what God is asking us to do now!  

Give your gift today!! 

South Korea approves aid to North Korea, North calls Trump ‘barking dog’

By Christine Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea approved a plan on Thursday to send $8 million worth of aid to North Korea, as China warned the crisis on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day and the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington continued.

North Korea’s foreign minister likened U.S. President Donald Trump to a “barking dog” on Thursday, after Trump warned he would “totally destroy” the North if it threatened the United States and its allies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the situation on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day and could not be allowed to spin out of control.

“We call on all parties to be calmer than calm and not let the situation escalate out of control,” Wang said, according to a report from the state-run China News Service on Thursday.

Meeting separately with his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, Wang reiterated a call for South Korea to remove the U.S.-built THAAD anti-missile system, which China says is a threat to its own security.

“China hopes South Korea will make efforts to reduce tension,” a report on China’s official Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.

The decision to send aid to North Korea was not popular in South Korea, hitting President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating. It also raised concerns in Japan and the United States, and followed new U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its sixth nuclear test earlier this month.

The South’s Unification Ministry said its aid policy remained unaffected by geopolitical tensions with the North. The exact timing of when the aid would be sent, as well as its size, would be confirmed later, the ministry said in a statement.

The South said it aimed to send $4.5 million worth of nutritional products for children and pregnant women through the World Food Programme and $3.5 million worth of vaccines and medicinal treatments through UNICEF.

“We have consistently said we would pursue humanitarian aid for North Korea in consideration of the poor conditions children and pregnant women are in there, apart from political issues,” said Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon.

UNICEF’s regional director for East Asia and the Pacific Karin Hulshof said in a statement before the decision the problems North Korean children face “are all too real”.

“Today, we estimate that around 200,000 children are affected by acute malnutrition, heightening their risk of death and increasing rates of stunting,” Hulshof said.

“Food and essential medicines and equipment to treat young children are in short supply,” she said.

The last time the South had sent aid to the North was in December 2015 through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) under ex-president Park Geun-hye.

 

DOG BARKING

South Korea’s efforts aimed at fresh aid for North Korea dragged down Moon’s approval rating. Realmeter, a South Korean polling organization, said on Thursday Moon’s approval rating stood at 65.7 percent, weakening for a fourth straight month.

Although the approval rate is still high, those surveyed said Moon had fallen out of favor due to North Korea’s continued provocations and the government’s decision to consider sending aid to North Korea, Realmeter said.

Moon will meet Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump later on Thursday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, where North Korea was expected to be the core agenda item.

In an address on Tuesday, Trump escalated his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge, threatening to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people if the North threatened the United States and its allies.

Trump also mocked its leader, Kim Jong Un, calling him a “rocket man”.

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho called Trump’s comments “the sound of a dog barking”.

“There is a saying that goes: ‘Even when dogs bark, the parade goes on’,” Ri said in televised remarks to reporters in front of a hotel near the U.N. headquarters in New York.

“If (Trump) was thinking about surprising us with dog-barking sounds then he is clearly dreaming,” he said.

Asked by reporters what he thought of Trump calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “rocket man”, Ri quipped: “I feel sorry for his aides.”

North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3 and has launched numerous missiles this year, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles and two other rockets that flew over Japan.

Such provocations have sparked strong disapproval from the international community, especially from the United States and Japan.

 

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait)

 

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show Sending Team to Texas

Jim and Lori Bakker ready to leave for the Houston area to bring food, comfort and prayer to those needing our help September 4, 2017

By Kami Klein

Pastor Jim and Lori Bakker left today for the Houston area to help local churches struggling to keep up with the needs from the disaster left behind from Hurricane Harvey.  Jim and Lori, along with The Jim Bakker Show team will be there to feed, comfort and pray with those who have lost so much and are struggling to rebuild.  They will witness with you scenes that are left from this devastating storm, and share with you the stories of heroism, courage and the humanity of the people that have been affected by this tragic event.

Yesterday, a truck loaded full with pallets of food buckets, water purification products, Bibles and other survival supplies left Morningside bound for Houston.  In an email from Pastor Jim he wrote,

 

“Never before have you been “the hands and feet of Jesus” as much as this moment.  Because you have been prepared and have prepared to share with others, we are able to make this trip possible.  

We appreciate all you do for this Ministry and for allowing us to represent you to thousands of hurting people in need. We could not be doing this without you.

Please continue to pray for us in our journey.  Pray for those still in harm’s way. And, most importantly, continue to pray that each one will experience the love of Jesus through us to His glory. ”

 

We will be sharing what is happening in Houston directly from our team as they work alongside these true survivors that have shown the world what being a Christian and an American is all about. Please keep them in your prayers!  

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show team ready to leave for Houston.

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show team ready to leave for Houston.

We are now asking for your help by donating funds towards supporting and helping in areas where there is the greatest need.

The people of Houston and the gulf coast are only at the beginning of an incredibly daunting challenge as they rebuild their lives.  Now is the time to remember that we are all part of God’s family.

Now is the time for compassion!  Now is the time to act!

 Follow this link to our slideshow that will be updated throughout our team’s time in Texas!  

Please donate today!   

 

Returning Nigerian refugees could create new crisis as rainy season starts: UNHCR

GENEVA (Reuters) – Nigerian refugees who fled Islamist militants are returning from Cameroon into a country that is still not equipped to support them, and they risk creating a new humanitarian crisis, the head of the U.N. refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, said on Wednesday.

The UNHCR issued a similar warning last month when about 12,000 refugees returned to the border town of Banki in Borno state, which was already housing 45,000 displaced Nigerians.

Another 889 refugees, mostly children, arrived in Banki on June 17 from Minawao camp in Cameroon, Grandi said.

“The new arrivals – and we hear reports of more refugees seeking to return – put a strain on the few existing services, he said in a statement. “A new emergency, just as the rainy season is starting, has to be avoided at all costs.”

“It is my firm view that returns are not sustainable at this time.”

Banki, once a thriving town, was razed to the ground by the time the Nigerian army retook it from Boko Haram insurgents in September 2015.

Grandi said the severely overcrowded town could not provide adequate shelter or aid and its water supply and sanitation were “wholly inadequate”, creating the risk of disease.

Although Boko Haram attacks have been fewer in recent months, more people are on the move and there are 1.9 million Nigerians displaced across the northeast, the World Food Program (WFP) said in a report last week.

“Insecurity persists in parts of Northeast Nigeria, disrupting food supplies, seriously hindering access to basic services, and limiting agricultural activities, worsening an already dire food security situation,” it said.

More than 5 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in northeastern Nigeria have no secure food supply, WFP said.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Exclusive: Vomitoxin makes nasty appearance for U.S. farm sector

FILE PHOTO -- Cobs of corn are held at a corn field in in La Paloma city, Canindeyu, about 348km (216 miles) northeast of Asuncion August 7, 2012. Corn export is second only to soybean export in Paraguay. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno/File Photo

By P.J. Huffstutter and Michael Hirtzer

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A fungus that causes “vomitoxin” has been found in some U.S. corn harvested last year, forcing poultry and pork farmers to test their grain, and giving headaches to grain growers already wrestling with massive supplies and low prices.

The plant toxin sickens livestock and can also make humans and pets fall ill.

The appearance of vomitoxin and other toxins produced by fungi is affecting ethanol markets and prompting grain processors to seek alternative sources of feed supplies.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture first isolated the toxin in 1973 after an unusually wet winter in the Midwest. The compound was given what researchers described as the “trivial name” vomitoxin because pigs were refusing to eat the infected corn or vomiting after consuming it. The U.S. Corn Belt had earlier outbreaks of infection from the toxin in 1966 and 1928.

A vessel carrying a shipment of corn from Paraguay is due next month at a North Carolina port used by Smithfield Foods Inc [SFII.UL], the world’s largest pork producer.

The spread of vomitoxin is concentrated in Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and parts of Iowa and Michigan, and its full impact is not yet known, according to state officials and data gathered by food testing firm Neogen Corp.

In Indiana, 40 of 92 counties had at least one load of corn harvested last fall that has tested positive for vomitoxin, according to the Office of Indiana State Chemist’s county survey. In 2015 and 2014, no more than four counties saw grain affected by the fungus.

And in a “considerable” share of corn crops tested in Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana since last fall’s harvest, the vomitoxin levels have tested high enough to be considered too toxic for humans, pets, hogs, chickens and dairy cattle, according to public and private data compiled by Neogen. The company did not state what percent of each state’s corn crop was tested.

Smithfield would not confirm it had ordered the corn from Paraguay, but two independent grain trading sources said Smithfield was the likely buyer. A company source said corn Smithfield has brought in from Indiana and Ohio, to feed pigs in North Carolina, has been “horrible quality” due to the presence of mycotoxins.

TOXIN LEVELS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows vomitoxin levels of up to 1 part per million (ppm) in human and pet foods and recommends levels under 5 ppm in grain for hogs, 10 ppm for chickens and dairy cattle. Beef cattle can withstand toxin levels up to 30 ppm.

Alltech Inc, a Kentucky-based feed supplement company, said 73 percent of feed samples it has tested this year have vomitoxin. The company analyzed samples sent by farmers whose animals have fallen ill.

“We know there is lots of bad corn out there, because corn byproducts keep getting worse,” said Max Hawkins, a nutritionist with Alltech.

Neogen, which sells grain testing supplies, reported a 29 percent jump in global sales for toxin tests – with strong demand for vomitoxin tests – in their fiscal third quarter, ending Feb. 28.

“We’re polling our customers and continually talking to them about the levels they’re seeing. Those levels are not going down,” said Pat Frasco, director of sales for Neogen’s milling, grain and pet food business.

The problem, stemming from heavy rain before and during the 2016 harvest, prompted farmers to store wet grain, said farmers, ethanol makers and grain inspectors.

The issue was compounded by farmers and grain elevators storing corn on the ground and other improvised spaces, sometimes covering the grain piles with plastic tarps. Grain buyers say they will have a clearer picture of the problem later this spring, as more farm-stored grain is moved to market.

Iowa State University grain quality expert Charles Hurburgh said the sheer size of the harvest in 2016 – the largest in U.S. history – complicates the job of managing toxins in grain, especially in the core Midwest.

“Mycotoxins are very hard to handle in high volume,” he said. “You can’t test every truckload, or if you do, you are only going to unload 20 trucks in a day.” By comparison, corn processors in Iowa unload 400 or more trucks a day.

BIOFUEL IMPACTS

Ethanol makers already are feeling the impact. Turning corn into ethanol creates a byproduct called distillers dried grains (DDGs), which is sold as animal feed. With fuel prices low, the DDGs can boost profitability.

But the refining process triples the concentration of mycotoxins, making the feed byproduct less attractive. DDG prices in Indiana fell to $92.50 per ton in February, the lowest since 2009, and now are selling for $97.50 per ton, according to USDA.

Many ethanol plants are testing nearly every load of corn they receive for the presence of vomitoxin, said Indiana grain inspector Doug Titus, whose company has labs at The Andersons Inc, a grain handler, and energy company Valero Energy sites.

The Andersons in a February call with analysts said vomitoxin has hurt results at three of its refineries in the eastern U.S. “That will be with us for some time,” Andersons’ chief executive Pat Bowe said.

Missouri grain farmer Doug Roth, who put grain into storage after last year’s wet harvest, has seen a few loads of corn rejected by clients who make pet food after the grain tested positive for low levels of fumonisin, a type of mycotoxin.

Roth said he paid to reroute the grain to livestock producers in Arkansas, who planned to blend it with unaffected grain in order to mitigate the effect of the toxins.

“As long as this doesn’t become a widespread problem, we’re all fine,” said Roth, who said toxins have shown up in less than 1 percent of the grain loads he has sold.

U.S. farmers with clean corn are reaping a price bump. A Cardinal Ethanol plant in Union City, Indiana, is offering grain sellers a 10-cent per bushel premium for corn with less than one-part-per-million (ppm) or less of vomitoxin in it, according to the company’s website.

(Additional reporting by Karl Plume and Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)