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Inside The Lead-Poisoning Scandal Rocking Bangladesh's Spice Bazaars

Traders in Bangladesh use lead chromate to enhance the appearance of turmeric roots. But the use of the chemical compound has now been linked to potential kidney and brain damage, and could cause developmental delays in children.

ATAIKULA — Before the heat of the day set in, dozens of people were already gathered under a large banyan tree at the twice-weekly turmeric market in Ataikula, Bangladesh. The season for harvesting turmeric was quickly coming to an end. Those who had arrived watched from the shade as other farmers brought their haul on motorbikes and auto rickshaws on the dirt road, their harvests to be combined in large piles atop orange and blue tarpaulin mats. Traders would buy however much they wanted in bulk.

Mohammad Abdullah Sheikh wandered around the market helping farmers weigh their sacks and traders make their purchases. Over the last 30 years, he’s become well acquainted with the space, as his turmeric processing business and trading facilities are headquartered next door. He buys most of his turmeric from this market and processes it to sell to larger food manufacturers and wholesalers across the country.

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The World Is Not Ready For 1.2 Billion Climate Refugees

The number of climate refugees is predicted to hit 1.2 billion by 2050, yet states are still not taking enough action. The Global South will be the most affected, but the West will not be spared.


PARIS — The number of people displaced by environmental disasters is expected to explode in coming years, but governments remain slow to respond.

However, the phenomenon is not new: "Environmental factors have had an impact on migration dynamics since the beginning of humanity," says Alice Baillat, policy coordinator at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). "The world population has been distributed on the planet depending on the more or less fertile areas. This is why South Asia and the Bay of Bengal are now among the most populated areas in the world."

But climate change is making the situation far worse. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, since 2008, an average of 21.5 million people have been displaced each year because of natural disasters. The World Bank expects there to be 260 million climate displaced people by 2030, and up to 1.2 billion by 2050.

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LGBTQ+ International: Book Ban In Tanzania, Mexico's "Lesbomaternal" Rights— And Other News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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How Governments Are Using COVID-19 To Curtail Free Speech

In India, Thailand and elsewhere, authorities have recently passed laws or decrees limiting what media can do and say.

When Shafiqul Islam Kajol, a Bangladeshi journalist, turned up in police custody in early May, it had been 53 days since he was last seen or heard — and 54 since he was sued for defamation.

A politician from Bangladesh's ruling Awami League party had sued Kajol for allegedly publishing "false, offensive, illegally obtained and defamatory" content on Facebook. Kajol disappeared the day after.

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Watch: OneShot — UNICEF: Children And The Right To Have Fun

Yes, to have fun and relax — at least sometimes —should be considered a human right. Especially for children. UNICEF France and One Shot put the concept together in a single image. Enjoy!

UNICEF For Summer Holidays 2019 ©UNICEF/Brian Sokol

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Migrant Lives

Rohingya Refugees Lost Between Languages In Bangladesh

Caught between a host country trying to hinder their integration and a home country holding back their return, Rohingya children find themselves in linguistic limbo.

COX'S BAZAR — When Mohammed Reyas works on his math classwork, his mind splits among multiple languages.

The 11-year-old, a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, starts counting in Burmese: "Tit, hnit, thone." He then switches to Bangla: "Char, panch, chhoy." Then Rohingya: "Hant, anchtho, no." Finally, he finishes in English: "Ten, eleven, twelve."

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Caitlin Wake*

For Rohingya, The Risks Of A Premature Return To Myanmar

The Rohingya people’s long history of forced displacement tells us of the dangers of repatriation from Bangladesh before their safety and rights can be guaranteed.


Last week, trucks waited idly at Bangladesh's border to transport Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar. But not one of the refugees agreed to go. The impending return of the Rohingya is a disaster waiting to happen. There was no transparency in how refugees were chosen for return, and reports indicate that selected refugees have fled the camps or attempted suicide. Once the media spotlight fades, efforts to repatriate refugees are likely to be reinvigorated.

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Faisal Mahmud

Bangladesh Boiler Rooms: On The Mundane Perils Of Our Global Economy

DHAKA — Bangladesh is shifting from an agrarian economy to an industrial one, with an average annual industrial growth rate of 6.8% (as per the CIA World Factbook) over the past decade. While this steady progress has garnered praise and bagged export deals for its economy, one problem steals its glory: boiler rooms.

In the last four years, a total of 62 persons have died in 12 separate incidents of boiler explosions in Bangladesh. On Sept. 10, 2016, 24 people died in a single explosion at Tampaco Foils Ltd, a packaging factory in Tongi at the outskirts of the capital Dhaka. On July 3 last year, 13 people died after a boiler exploded at Multifabs Ltd, a textile factory in Gazipur district.

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Leymah Gbowee

Let Them Lead: The Power And Insight Of Refugee Women

It's time to recognize refugee women for what they are: intrepid organizers and providers, argues Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee.


ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP — The Rohingya exodus is one of the most critical refugee crises of our times, and in recent weeks, as the world marked the first anniversary of the start of the tragic events, images of the exodus abounded. Many of those pictures featured helpless refugee women.

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Watch: OneShot — Rohingya Crisis

OneShot — Rohingya Crisis, 2017 (©Patrick Brown/UNICEF)

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Rémy Ourdan

With Myanmar's Fleeing Rohingyas, A Cruel Portrait Of Ethnic Cleansing

TEKNAF — They ran, they walked, they stumbled, then they ran again. They're exhausted, starving, some are wounded. They fled with fear and death chasing from behind. They are also carrying with them the memory of those who have died and an endless list of the missing. There is, in the forced exodus of Myanmar's Rohingyas, an end-of-the-world feeling.

Two weeks after the Rohingyas started to arrive in southern Bangladesh, on the other bank of the Naf river — which runs along the border with Myanmar — there can be no more doubt about it: the Rohingyas aren't facing yet another persecution, part of an ongoing series of deadly cataclysms to have marred the tragic history of this Muslim community from the Arakan (the Rakhine state, for the Burmese authorities). This time, the Myanmar Rohingyas are the target of a systematic deportation campaign, the goal of which seems to be its totality and finality. An end of their world indeed.

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Profiles Of Suspected Dhaka Attackers Surface

The Monday edition of Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Starfeatures photos of the suspected attackers of the Gulshan café siege in the capital Dhaka that killed 22 people, including 17 foreigners.

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