BD students in Yichang appeal for evacuation amid coronavirus lockdown

09 February 2020

A group of Bangladeshi students stuck in Yichang, a city in Hubei province of China, have appealed for evacuation citing a shortage of food and lockdown for a coronavirus outbreak.
As many as 172 Bangladesh nationals studying at the Three Gorges University in the locked down city have been affected by the restrictions, according to some of them.
They said, they want to return home as like as the 312 Bangladeshis who had been evacuated from Wuhan, another city some 285 kilometres   from Yichang and at the heart of the epidemic.
"We are short of food and drinking water. The situation is getting more miserable day by day," said Abu Saleh, a Civil Engineering student of the university.
He urged the Foreign Ministry and the Bangladesh Embassy in China to urgently arrange their exit from the city. "We want to return to Bangladesh."
Saleh said, they cannot go out of their residential hall as the entire city is under lockdown with public transport, shops, banks and other services suspended for over two weeks. The university has also been shut.
The death toll in mainland China reached 636, with 73 more recorded by Thursday and 3,143 new confirmed infections, taking the total to 31,161 cases, the National Health Commission said.
Most of the infections and deaths occurred in Wuhan, from where Bangladesh brought back the 312 nationals on February 1. The evacuees are under observation in isolation.
Those stranded in Yichang say that the nearby cities were in the same state as Wuhan, but the media were not giving any importance to the condition of the other cities.
 "Even the food supplied by the university authorities from the canteen is not enough," said Dwin Muhammad Priyo, another student of the Three Gorges University.
He also alleged that the embassy in Beijing was not responding properly to their calls. "An official of the embassy had been in a social media group of ours, but he left without any notification," Priyo said.
"Whenever we contact people in Bangladesh, they say that a decision to bring us back has been taken and the embassy has been informed. But the embassy officials say they are awaiting a decision from home. This is confusing. Our only wish now is to return home," he added.
Faisal Ahmed Anik, a mechanical engineering student of the university, said that they have been hold up in their rooms for 20 days. "Now there is a shortage of food and water. We are getting stuff, hold we require urgently three to four days later," he said.
Anik also said the US, the UK, India, Nepal, Morocco, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan have brought back their nationals from the university. "But we see no such effort for us," he said.
Khairul Bashar, the First Secretary of the embassy, denied the allegations against it as well as the students' claim of about a lack of food and water.
The university was supplying food and other things to the students in time, but the Bangladeshi students do not want to eat meals from the canteen, he said, citing the Course Coordinator Li Kho.
 "They order rice, lentil, salt and onion to cook themselves at the dormitory. But it takes time. It's impossible for the university to provide at once whatever the students want in this situation."
Asked why an embassy official left the social media group of the students, Khairul said, "Anyone can enter the group for information and then leave. I see no problem here."
 "Would we be able to keep our jobs if we defied (orders from) Dhaka?" he asked, in response to another allegation.
After the evacuation from Wuhan, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said on February 3 that 171 more Bangladeshis were stranded due to the lockdown.
The government "wants to bring them back", but the problem is about who will fly and crew the plane, the secretary had said.
 "No country is letting in the pilots of the Wuhan flight. There have been discussed on the issue. If we can find a plane to charter, that will be the best option. And in that case Chinese planes will be the first preference," he had added.

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