Britain names Antarctica section Queen Elizabeth Land

Updated 18 December 2012
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Britain names Antarctica section Queen Elizabeth Land

LONDON: The southern portion of British Antarctic Territory has been named Queen Elizabeth Land in honor of the monarch’s 60 years on the throne, London announced yesterday. The announcement was made as Queen Elizabeth II attended her final diamond jubilee event with a visit to the Foreign Office, which handles Britain’s overseas territories.
The previously unnamed area now called Queen Elizabeth Land is around 437,000 square kilometers. It makes up just under a third of the British Antarctic Territory land mass and is an area almost twice the size of Britain.
“As a mark of this country’s gratitude to the Queen for her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honor as Queen Elizabeth Land,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
“This is a fitting tribute at the end of Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee year. “To be able to recognize the UK’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honor.” The new name will be used on all British maps and other countries may follow suit.
The Foreign Office said the area’s boundaries were the Ronne and Filchner ice shelves to the north; Coats Land to the northeast; Dronning Maud Land to the east and to the west, a line between the South Pole and the Rutford Ice Stream, east of Constellation Inlet.
“From today, in your honor, it will be forever known as Queen Elizabeth Land,” Hague said.
British Antarctic Territory stretches from a longitude of 20 degrees to 80 degrees west. It was the first official claim in Antarctica, made in 1908. It was designated a separate overseas territory in 1962.
Argentina and Chile made later overlapping claims to the area in the 1940s, though all claims are held in abeyance under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. Britain operates three research stations there.
It is not the first time that a patch of the icy continent has been named after Queen Elizabeth, now 86.
A sector of Australian Antarctic Territory was named Princess Elizabeth Land upon its discovery in 1931, when her grandfather King George V was on the throne.


Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

Updated 21 April 2018
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Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

BIREUEN, Indonesia: A Rohingya Muslim man among the group of 76 rescued in Indonesian waters in a wooden boat says they were at sea for nine days after leaving Myanmar, where the minority group faces intense persecution, and were hoping to reach Malaysia.
The eight children, 25 women and 43 men were brought ashore on Friday afternoon at Bireuen in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra, the third known attempt by members of the ethnic minority to escape Myanmar by sea this month. Several required medical attention for dehydration and exhaustion, local authorities said.
Fariq Muhammad said he paid the equivalent of about $150 for a place on the boat that left from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where a violent military crackdown on the minority group has sparked an exodus of some 700,000 refugees over land into neighboring Bangladesh since August.
The refugee vessel was intercepted by a Thai navy frigate and later escorted by a Thai patrol vessel until sighting land, said Fariq. The group believed the Thais understood they wanted to reach Malaysia and were dismayed when they realized they were in Indonesia, said Fariq, who gave the identification numbers of the Thai vessels.
“We were forced to leave because we could not stay, could not work so our lives became difficult in Myanmar. Our identity card was not given so we were forced to go,” he told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Local officials and a charitable group are providing shelter and food for the refugees. The International Organization for Migration said it has sent a team from its Medan office in Sumatra, including Rohingya interpreters, to help local officials with humanitarian assistance.
Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and denied citizenship, used to flee by sea by the thousands each year until security in Myanmar was tightened after a surge of refugees in 2015 caused regional alarm.
In April, there has been an apparent increase in Rohingya attempts to leave the country by sea. An Indonesian fishing boat rescued a group of five Rohingya in weak condition off westernmost Aceh province on April 6, after a 20-day voyage in which five other people died.
Just days before, Malaysian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 56 people believed to be Rohingya refugees and brought the vessel and its passengers to shore.
Mohammad Saleem, part of the group that landed Friday in Aceh, said they left from Sittwe in Rakhine state, the location of displacement camps for Rohingya set up following attacks in 2012 by Buddhist mobs.
“We’re not allowed to do anything. We don’t have a livelihood,” the 25-year-old said. “We can only live in the camps with not enough food to eat there. We have no rights there.”