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Half Million Jobless as Bird Flu Spreads in Bangladesh

Posted to the IUF website 18-Feb-2008

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While government authorities claim the situation is "under control", an estimated 500,000 poultry workers are currently jobless as the H5N1 avian flu virus continues to spread through Bangladesh. The virus has now been confirmed in over two-thirds of the country's districts. Over 800,000 birds have been slaughtered, including a massive culling in one of the largest commercial farms in the capital city Dhaka. According to an industry official, at least 40% of the 150,000 commercial poultry farms have been closed. Over 5 million people depend on commercial poultry production for their livelihood.

The government has announced compensation of USD 1.50 to farmers for every culled bird, with no mention of compensation for the half million farm and poultry workers now unemployed. In last year's H5N1 outbreak, army troops were called in for culling operations when workers resisted the mass slaughter because their jobs were at stake. At a state-run farm near Dhaka last March, workers told reporters "If the birds go, we will starve to death."