this is bbc news. i'm mike embley. our top stories: human rights groups warn of a potentially deadly diptheria outbreak among rohingya refugees fleeing myanmar. ukraine and russian—backed rebels complete one of the biggest prisoner exchanges since the conflict began. in syria, the first evacuations begin from a rebel—held suburb near damascus. but there's no relief for hundreds more still trapped in ghouta. an arctic cold snap brings heavy snow to large parts of the north—eastern united states and canada. forty british doctors, nurses and firefighters are travelling to bangladesh today to battle an outbreak of diphtheria among rohingya refugees fleeing violence in myanmar. at least 640,000 rohingya muslims have fled their homes
and attacks by myanmar‘s military, to seek refuge over the border in bangladesh. most are now living in huge camps near the town of cox's bazaar. this report from richard main. the united nations has called the world ‘s fastest growing refugee crisis. more than 600,000 rohingya muslims have fled prosecution —— persecution by myanmar government. they are here at cox's bazar. crowded squalid living conditions, in adequate water supplies and inadequate sanitation facilities has led to a wave of disease, including diphtheria, a potentially fatal disease at long forgotten parts of the world thanks to vaccination. cases have been reported since the start of november. most of the patients are between five and 1a
yea rs patients are between five and 1a years old. 0ver patients are between five and 1a years old. over the next two days, 40 years old. over the next two days, a0 british dog is, ——, nurses and firefighters will come here. a group of volu nteers firefighters will come here. a group of volunteers from the emergency services ready to respond at short notice to humanitarian disasters. it isa notice to humanitarian disasters. it is a team of‘s first deployment. with warnings that kolarov and tuberculosis may also be on the rises could be the start of a long campaign. —— cholera. eric schwartz is a former us assistant secretary of state, now president of refugees international. he visited the rohingya camps in bangladesh just a couple of months ago. it is as bad as you can imagine. one of the most densely populated countries in the world having
to accommodate a rapid influx of something like 650,000 refugees in miserable conditions. they came over during the rainy season. they are living in extremely challenging circumstances. it is as bad as you could possibly imagine, and the risks of communicable diseases are just overwhelming. and, in addition, the international appealfor the rohingya is tragically underfunded. it is a problem that merits so much more attention from international governments of the world. why do you think it is not getting it? well, that is a great question. it is tragic, because this is not one of those cases where we have the luxury of saying we did not know. 10 days after august 25 when the attacks started, my organisation accused the regime, the burmese, of crimes against humanity. many others have. the information is there. the government in ukraine,
and rebels backed by russia, have completed one of the biggest prisoner exchanges since the conflict began nearly four years ago. fighting between the two sides started in eastern ukraine, soon after russia annexed ukraine's crimea peninsula. full—scale conflict began about a month later, after ukraine's president, viktor yanukovych, who favoured russia, was deposed and fled to moscow. the un says at least 10,000 people have died since, in the regions of donetsk and luhansk. the bbc‘s andrew plant has the story. in the war—torn east of ukrainian, carried on three plain buses, hundreds of prisoners are heading home, some after years in captivity. more than 300 people, in one of the biggest prisoner swaps since the ukrainian conflict began, the first such swap since september last year, arriving with their belongings, shivering in temperatures close to freezing, but glad to be finally free.
translation: i am very happy that i am going back to ukraine, and i thank everyone for the work that has been done to be able to see my loved ones again. translation: i want to believe that people are tired of all of this and must find the strength to engage in a dialogue, because without dialogue, we will be in a deadlock with no way out. the prisoner transports arrived in the early hours in the donetsk region, in eastern ukraine, at the mayorsk checkpoint, near the city of horlivka. it happened watched by tight security. ukrainian armed forces on one side, on the other, the russian—backed eastern militia. the ukrainian president has been heavily involved in negotiations
along with vladimir putin. the exchanges were agreed in the thousand 15 but they have stalled several times. the conflict began more than three years ago, soon after russia annexed ukraine's crimea peninsula, in march, 201a. the un estimates more than 10,000 have since died, the latest on wednesday, a soldier, the first death since a christmas ceasefire started last saturday. the prisoners released on wednesday then, a late present forfamilies and loved ones who have spent many months campaigning to have them set free. but this exchange has been far smaller than many had hoped for, and hundreds more prisoners are still held by both sides. andrew plant, bbc news. let's take a look at some of the other stories makingthe news: the united nations emergency relief co—ordinator has said people in yemen face an apocalyptic situation, with the prospect of death by starvation, disease or airstrikes. mark lowcock called for a series of pauses in fighting between houthi rebels and the saudi—led coalition. he told the bbc aid shipments were reaching the port of hodeida
but continuing hostilities were holding up deliveries of food, water and medicines. the liberian election commission says it will publish the first provisional results from tuesday's presidential election later today. the second—round run—off pitted joseph boakai, the incumbent vice—president, against george weah, a former international football star. the united nations has said the poll was carried out in an orderly way. in syria, aid workers have started to move critically—ill children from a rebel—held suburb near the capital, damascus. after months of negotiation, four patients were taken out of ghouta on tuesday night. but the un's special envoy to syria has told the bbc he fears the children are being used as bargaining chips. jan egeland said he understood rebels in eastern ghouta had agreed to swap captured government workers in exchange for the children. another 25 are expected to be moved in the coming days, although hundreds more are in urgent need of treatment. around a00,000 people have been under siege by government forces since 2013. dr ahmad tarakji is president of the syria american medical society
he joins us now from fresno in california. thank you for your time. it has taken, as you know, months of negotiations to get these few people out. is this just a humanitarian gesture by the asada government aura they effectively bargaining chips. _by they effectively bargaining chips. —— by cher al—assad. they effectively bargaining chips. -- by cher al-assad. first of want to express the patients had been evacuated and they feel there is hope for the future. we are talking about 29 total taking place out of hundreds of patients who are in dire need and at risk of death from treatable conditions. that does not make sense that this is a humanitarian deal, sought to speak. u nfortu nately we have humanitarian deal, sought to speak. unfortunately we have seen many
deals, operations to help the patients to treat the ones we can help at this time. we know that four months ago, when we started reaching out to the us and un leadership, we provided information that they were patients in urgent need. now we're seeing those 29 being approved but not just that, not just the starvation is going up in eastern mark —— ghouta, but there are many violations of international law is and that makes us suspicious. using them as a cheaper bargaining position to negotiate a better political position. in exchange for
free and sick children, the government is getting something in return. we were also hearing that some held in the rebel held area are uncertain about accepting evacuation because they worry that if they go toa because they worry that if they go to a government—held hospital they may face arrest, interrogation or worse? absolutely right. as a matter of fa ct, worse? absolutely right. as a matter of fact, a few hours ago, the last patient offered evacuation refused to go out. the draft does not guarantee the safety of the patient and the right to go back home and god knows what kind of quality of medical care that will be provided with. that patient, like many others, refused to go out and that is why we feel that providing aid to the citizens in ghouta is more
appropriate and will stabilise the community and prevent other things. we will be keeping a close eye on this. i am sure we will be talking to you again. thank you very much. thank you for the opportunity. an improvised explosive device has gone off in a supermarket in the russian city of st petersburg. local officials say ten people are in hospital — one is in a serious condition. the incident is being investigated as attempted murder but no theories have been ruled out. the bbc‘s tim allman reports. ambulance siren. emergency services were quickly on the scene. the explosion taking place at around 6:30pm local time. a small home—made devices detonating, according to local media, in a lock—up where shoppers leave their belongings. packed with pieces of metal, equivalent to around 200g of tnt, it could have caused carnage. "0ne woman's face was covered
in blood," said this eyewitness, "and one man was limping." from outside the supermarket, the damage looked fairly limited. some broken glass and shattered windows. there have been injuries but no deaths. now the authorities are on the hunt for the bomber or bombers. so far this has not been described as a terror attack but nothing is being ruled out. translation: an investigation is underway, which includes experienced officers from the federal security service and the interior ministry. all possible theories of what happened are being worked on. russia and saint petersburg itself is no stranger to bomb attacks like this. in april, 16 people died when the city's metro system was targeted. and next summer saint petersburg is due to host games in the football world cup. so an incident like this will have the authorities on edge. russia is a target and whoever carried out this latest attack is still at large.
tim allman, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: the harry and barry show — the former president talks to the british royal about the irresponsible use of social media. the most ambitious financial and political change ever attempted has gotten under way with the introduction of the euro. tomorrow in holland we will use money we picked up in belgium today and we will use the same money in france. it has got to be the way to go. george harrison, the former beatle is recovering in hospital after being stabbed at his oxfordshire home. a 33—year—old man from liverpool is being interviewed by police on suspicion of attempted murder. i think it was good.
just good? no, fantastic! that's better. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: human rights groups are warning of a potentially deadly diptheria outbreak amongst rohingya refugees fleeing myanmar. 0ur southeast asia correspondent jonathan head has reported extensively from rakhine state in myanmar, and across the border in bangladesh. you know this area and this issue very well. one of the problems i
guess is the total disconnect between what the rohingya say they have suffered and what the government and the military in myanmar say has been happening. that isa myanmar say has been happening. that is a problem because in the end you cannot have repatriation, which is what both governments say must happen. bangladesh say it is intolerable for them to accommodate these conditions —— people in these conditions. there are not adequate facilities for them. both bangladesh and myanmar in principle have agreed, in fact the myanmar government will be given a list of 100,000 rohingya who are ready to go back. however no—one believes that this is practical. nobody is going to go back as long as there are no international agencies nor any other independent observers will allowed into rakhine state and as long as
the terrible stories of atrocities are not addressed. the military investigated itself and found the soldiers were responsible for no death at all. whereas the doctors without borders estimated the hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. beneath the acknowledgement of what happened. 0therwise acknowledgement of what happened. otherwise you cannot expect these rohingya will go back. it is meant to be voluntary so it is unlikely they will agree to. the rest of the world needs to focus on this as well. what are the prospects for the rohingya? they are dire at the moment. the conditions in the camp are such that you will see them try to get out. one of the great concerns that people have here is that there may be a revival of the attempted sea passage we saw it nine yea rs attempted sea passage we saw it nine years ago where ships full of traffic rohingya were being trafficked out through thailand. that route has been blocked that there will be enormous pressure were
rohingya straddle escape these conditions on going to other countries. the disease is there and it is hard to control because there is not adequate sanitation and bangladesh is concerned about security implications with an aggrieved and distraught population packed together in awful conditions. the pressure has to go back to myanmar but the sense of deny all and the inability to hold the military to account... look at the two journalists arrested for being investigated —— investigating about what is going on in rakhine. for now, those rohingya asked where they are andi now, those rohingya asked where they are and i would be so right that we see more than a few thousand people who may be ready to go back, possibly non— muslims, that back to myanmar in the next few months. an arctic cold snap is bringing sub—zero temperatures and heavy snow to large parts of north—east america and canada. temperatures have been reported as low as minus fifteen in toronto. while the us lakeside city of erie, in pennsylvania, had a record
1.5 metres of snow in a8 hours, with more on the way. demarco morgan from cbs news is in erie, pennsylvania. parts of the us are literally frozen. many places are well below zero. this is eyrie, pennsylvania, which got 70 centimetres of snow. —— this is eyrie, pennsylvania, which got 70 inches of snow. this place has been placed under a state of emergency because of heavy snow. officials are asking everyone to stay inside and stay off of the roads because they are treacherous and dangerous. we have heard of many places around the country with people killed in accidents as a result of the weather. four people died in a car crash in kansas. back here in pennsylvania, people are trying to take it all in and enjoy it, but at the same time, obviously, because of the system, 70 inches of snow, it has broken a record in this area,
and flights have been delayed or cancelled. we are not sure when the state of emergency will be lifted, but the national guard has been called in to help the locals get back on track. in the latest twist to peru's political crisis, the culture minister has resigned — although it's not clear why. there have been mass protests over president kuczynski's decision to pardon and free from jail his predecessor, alberto fujimori. last week president kuczynski avoided an attempt to impeach him, with the help of mr fujimori's daughter. bill hayton explains. behind the barricade lies a sick man, forced from power 17 years ago but still the centre of controversy. ex—president fujimori embezzled millions and ordered the deaths of dozens. but all that has all been pardoned.
his doctor says he remains gravely ill with an irregular heart beat. translation: he continues to be hospitalised in the intermediate care unit, which is also the critical care unit. it has also been determined that he will continue to be hospitalised, undergoing treatment so he can be completely stabilised. during fujimori's decade in power, he oversaw a successful campaign against ultra—left—wing rebels of the shining path, but his methods were brutal and sometimes illegal, including kidnappings and killings of activists. survivors have not forgiven him. translation: this is a pardon for human rights violations without acknowledging the gravity of those crimes. it encourages impunity in our country and deepens the pain that we feel. president kuczynski says he ordered the pardon on humanitarian grounds, but it came two
days after an attempt to impeach him for corruption. he survived that vote after supporters of a party led by mr fujimori's daughter abstained. critics say a dodgy deal was done. three mps and now the minister of culture have resigned from the governing party, but the prime minister is playing down the controversy. translation: these are decisions of conscience and i respect them. however i want to emphasise that several of those who have resigned have been completely loyal to the president and to me, but i understand their position. this is unlikely to be the end. a cabinet reshuffle is expected and fresh street protests have been called for thursday. how do you stop poachers devastating wildlife in remote parts of the african continent? one solution — though some people are very uncomfortable with it — is military—style
training and tactics now being used in the vulnerable state of chad. zakouma national park has lost 90% of its elephants over the past a0 years. the bbc‘s alastair leithead travelled to the park to find the elephant population finally recovering. they were the herd heading for extinction. but the elephants of zakouma national park have made a dramatic recovery. translation: before, there used to be elephant carcasses everywhere. so what has been the difference, since african parks took over? translation: since african parks arrived here, we no longer see carcasses of elephants in the park. across the continent, a private, not—for—profit conservation group called african parks believes it has the answer to saving africa's disappearing wildlife. and it's controversial. they are arming rangers and giving them military—style training. in some places, it's become a war against poachers. adoum allam is a sniper with fast response unit mamba number two.
his father was killed by poachers in this park. he jumped at the chance to join. "it's a very dangerous job but i love doing it", he said. it's a good income. but it's also personal. this was zakouma, ten years ago. decades of poaching killed 90% of the park's elephants and many rangers as well. but, today, it's a much healthier picture. they haven't lost an elephant in two years or a ranger since 2012. and last year, the population started to grow again. there were more than 20,000 elephants in this parkjust a0 years ago, but now there arejust over 500. what's encouraging, though, is that they've now got babies, they're reproducing, their numbers are starting to go up. and if the poachers can be kept at bay, the population is going to recover.
this is the best way to counter raids from the heavily armed sudanese horsemen. the main perpetrators who've been poaching ivory here for centuries. but now, both sides have automatic weapons. and local communities are a key to success. barack 0bama has issued a warning about the irresponsible use of social media. in an interview with the bbc by britain's prince harry the former us president said such actions were distorting people's understanding of complex issues. the prince and the president didn't just discuss politics and social media. they also took time to tackle some of the big questions. let's have a listen. clips from the interview are proving very popular on the bbc news website. if you are out and about early this thursday morning, bear in mind that conditions could be slippery out there. frost and ice to contend
with where we had wintry weather during wednesday and that cleared away. then the sky cleared overhead and thursday starts off with the risk of ice. there are still wintry showers exacerbating the risk across some northern and western areas. freezing fog developing across parts of northern ireland as well perhaps, and if that fog develops it could linger through the day. for most of us, thursday is a cracking day. plenty of sparkling winter sunshine. a closer look at three o'clock in the afternoon. despite the sunshine through the midlands, central southern england, temperatures will only reach three degrees, possibly hitting five in london. kent into east anglia, a much drier day with a lot of sunshine. fine for the bulk of northern england. a few showers drifting across north—west england, fading as the day goes on. sunshine across much of scotland butjust a couple of degrees. wintry showers still in the far north. any fog that develops early across northern ireland could stick through to the end of the day.
sunny skies for the most part. fine for much of wales and for the bristol area. somerset and dorset into devon. but for cornwall a change. cloud and outbreaks of patchy rain. it will not amount to much as we go on into thursday evening. thursday night will be another cold and frosty one for the majority. the odd fog patch as well. but then things begin to change from the west. rain sliding in from the atlantic, running into that cold air and that could temporarily give snow to northern ireland, wales, the midlands and during friday proper, northern england and southern scotland could see some snow, even to fairly low levels. still a lot to play for with the details on that and we will keep you posted and up—to—date. to the north of the weather system is still cold and to the south is much milder. 10 degrees there in the far south—west. as we go on into the weekend, that mild weather will increasingly make its presence felt. the frontal system bringing rain and perhaps some hill snow in the north through the early part of saturday and then once it clears
we are left with fairly brisk and mild south—westerly wind. some showery rain, spells of sunshine as well. mild in the south but still cold air holding on further north. that mild airedging northwards as we enter sunday. still some showery rain and spells of sunshine as well. that is all from me. bye for now. assad this is bbc news, the headlines: more than a0 doctors, nurses and firefighters from the uk are making their way to bangladesh to help thousands of rohingya refugees at risk from a rapid and deadly outbreak of diphtheria. there are nearly 1500 suspected
cases and 20 reported deaths from the airborne disease. the government in ukraine and rebels, backed by russia, have completed one of the biggest prisoner exchanges since the conflict began nearly four years ago. the red cross says more than 230 people have now crossed a checkpoint back to rebel—held territory. in syria, the first critically—ill patients have been evacuated from a rebel—held suburb near damascus. in total, 29 are being taken out of eastern ghouta under a deal with the government. aid groups had urged president assad to allow treatment for urgent cases, including seven children with cancer. now on bbc news, rachel horne looks back at the big business stories this year, and asks what we can expect in the coming twelve months