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Ramadan a challenge for migrants trapped in Greece

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SCHISTO, GREECE — Expecting twins in a couple of months, Shahnaz Sadat is not obliged to fast for Ramadan — but stuck in a migrant camp in Greece, she’d be hard put to even if she wanted to.

“Every night, every time the food is potato. But we can’t eat it,” said the 22-year-old, who is four months pregnant.

“How can we follow the Ramadan with this food? Food is not good. Especially for women, for children, for pregnant women, for all of them,” she told AFP at the army-run camp of Schisto near Athens.

And for drinking water, they have to queue at the bathroom sink, she said.

Previously a disused army base in Athens’ industrial zone, Schisto houses 1,700 people of all ages, the vast majority from Afghanistan.

Around 700 have expressed an interest in fasting, according to authorities here.

No figures are currently available for the other camps housing over 45,000 people who became trapped in Greece when Balkan nations began shutting their borders to migrants in February.

Greek officials say those fasting are given their sundown meal together with the pre-dawn meal, which they can pack away and eat at their discretion.

“There is a concerted effort to deal with a situation whose scale is unprecedented in Greece,” a government source said.

An official menu provided to AFP includes beans, pasta, rice, chicken, chickpeas, peas, eggs, boiled potato and fruit.

“We checked this with migrant communities and with religion experts from the education ministry,” the government official said.

“Clear instructions have been sent to camp overseers on the topic…we are providing high nutrition value food that can also be kept out of the fridge,” the official added.

Schisto’s civilian supervisor Panagiotis Karakatsanis says that “things are slower” during the day as many of those who fast trying to conserve energy until dusk.

But in the warm summer sun, the tents become so hot that it is difficult to rest, says Shahnaz.

“The tent becomes so warm, so hot,” she said.

To commemorate the divine revelation received by the Prophet Mohammed, during Ramadan, faithful Muslims abstain during daylight hours from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex.

At sunset they break the fast with a meal known as iftar and before dawn have a second opportunity to eat and drink during suhur.

AFP

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Deadly Nipah virus claims 12 in Indian state of Kerala

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NEW DELHI — At least 12 people in India have died from a rare deadly and contagious virus known as Nipah virus, according to news reports.

Four deaths were reported on Monday, including of a nurse who treated the three initial infections at the EMS Cooperative Hospital in Perambra. The death of the nurse triggered panic among hospital staff who have had their leaves cancelled to treat the sick, Hindustan Times reported

Two deaths were reported from Kozhikode and four from Malappuram district. At least six persons are in critical condition and another 20 are under observation, state health officials said.

It was recorded in Siliguri district in West Bengal in 2001 and is being suspected in Kerala now, according to media reports

Humans get infected by consuming fruit or date-palm sap contaminated by infected bats but while human-to-human transmission through body fluids is rare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nipah virus infection is an emerging disease that was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.

The virus is thought to naturally infect fruit bats (of the genus Pteropus), but it can also infect pigs and other domesticated animals, as well as humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus can also spread from person to person.

CDC says Nipah virus can cause an inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis. Symptoms can include fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and confusion. People who are infected with the virus may fall into a coma within 48 hours of showing symptoms, the CDC says.

The virus can be highly lethal, with an average fatality rate of around 75 percent, according to the WHO.

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