300 Pakistani students stranded in Bangladesh cry out for help

Updated April 09, 2020

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“For days on end, we have been subsisting either on bread and jam or just biscuits.” — AFP/File
“For days on end, we have been subsisting either on bread and jam or just biscuits.” — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: For over 300 Pakistani students studying in Bangladesh under the Saarc quota scholarship programme, life these days seems to be a never-ending nightmare.

“Earlier, I was residing in a hostel in Rajshahi and after my fellow students from India, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were evacuated by their respective countries, I was shifted to a hostel in Dhaka,” said medical student Rija Hameed while talking to Dawn.

Most male and female students said limited access to food amid a lockdown in the country coupled with Bangladesh’s fragile healthcare system was making them nervous. “For days on end, we have been subsisting either on bread and jam or just biscuits,” said Rija.

Bangladesh has reported 218 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 20 deaths, so far, and there are fears it could spread rapidly throughout the densely-populated country, whose weak healthcare systems risk quickly becoming overwhelmed, according to Reuters.

Informed sources told Dawn that Prime Minister’s Public Affairs and Grievances Wing has forwarded to the foreign secretary an application of the father of a Pakistani student in Bangladesh seeking early action in order to evacuate them as soon as possible.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, when contacted for comments, said she could do so once she gets a report on the situation from the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority survive. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, even causing pneumonia or death.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020