Four Britons kidnapped in southern Nigeria

In this March file photo, Chadian soldiers sit in a military transport plane as they head to Diffa, Niger before transferring to a helicopter bound for Damasak, Nigeria. Niger has suffered extremist attacks for years, the local al-Qaida affiliate staged dramatic kidnappings of foreigners, Boko Haram from neighboring Nigeria brought suicide bombings across the border. (AP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Four Britons kidnapped in southern Nigeria

WARRI: Suspected militants have kidnapped four British nationals in southern Nigeria, police and community leaders said on Wednesday.
The four had been providing “free medical care and religious activities” in the Burutu area of Delta state, said Chief Theo Fakama, from the local Enukorowa community.
Fakama said locals were “saddened” by the kidnapping as the victims had “brought succor to residents of the community for the past three years.”
The spokesman for Delta state police, Andrew Aniamaka, confirmed the kidnapping, which happened on Oct. 13.
“The victims are of British nationality, two of whom are a couple, and have been rendering humanitarian services in the area for a while.
“But unfortunately, they didn’t let the authorities know of their presence in the area all this while.
“There is a militant group that has been operating in the area and we believe they are the ones behind the abduction.
“Immediately the militants struck, they whisked the victims to the interior regions of the creek where we believe they are being held for the past five days.”
It was unclear whether any contact had been made with the kidnappers or the motive for the seizure, he added.
Kidnapping for ransom has long been a risk in Nigeria’s south, where high-profile individuals and their families are a frequent target for criminal gangs.
Victims are usually released after a few days once payment is made.
On Oct. 14, the Vatican said an Italian priest was kidnapped by gunman just outside Benin City, which is the capital of Edo state and neighbors Delta state to the north.
Delta state commissioner of police Zanna Ibrahim told reporters in the state capital, Asaba, on Tuesday: “An anti-kidnapping team is already on the trail of the suspects.”
He suggested the abduction could be linked to a recent military operation against violent crime, which has seen an increase in troops in southern Nigeria.


Rohingya leaders to visit Myanmar

Updated 16 November 2018
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Rohingya leaders to visit Myanmar

  • Community leaders will check on preparations for repatriation
  • Refugees who fled tents fearing forced repatriation have started to return

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: A group of Rohingya community leaders will go to Rakhine, Myanmar, to witness developments on the ground there, said Bangladesh Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali on Thursday evening in Dhaka.

Ali was talking to the journalists after his briefing to diplomats in Dhaka over the Rohingya repatriation and forthcoming general election. He said that during the briefing session diplomats came up with the idea of sending the Rohingya community leaders (Majhi) to witness the practical developments for repatriation.

“We agreed with this idea,” said Bangladesh Foreign Minister.

A group of community leaders will check the preparations initiated by Myanmar government and will brief their fellow Rohingyas after returning Bangladesh.

Ali said that there is a misconception among a few stakeholders that Bangladesh was trying to send back Rohingyas against their will.

“If we wanted to send the refugees forcibly, we won’t have allowed them in our country. We have shown a humanitarian gesture to them, so there is no question of sending them back forcibly,” Ali said.

“We will not send a single one of the refugees against their will. Those who will repatriate will go on their own will,” he added.

Talking to Arab News, Abul Kalam, Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner of Bangladesh said, they have not stopped the repatriation process. It will remain open and if any of the Rohingyas wants to go back home, Bangladesh authorities will initiate repatriation for him or her.

Commenting on the failure of the first attempt at repatriation Kalam said, “Now we need to create more pressure on Myanmar for the completion of some specific tasks to build confidence among the Rohingyas. In the next Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting, we will put up these issues after more scrutiny.”
However, the next JWG meeting date is yet to be fixed, Kalam said.

After a week of tension over feared repatriation, on Friday everything was peaceful in the Rohingya camps at Cox’s Bazar. The refugees who fled from their tents fearing forceful repatriation started returning to their shanties.

“The Myanmar authority wanted to deceive us in the name of so-called repatriation process. If we would have returned on Thursday, they (Myanmar) would never granted our citizenship rights,” said Mohammad Lutfor Rahman, 53, of Jamtoli camp, Ukhia, who fled from his own tent after hearing that he was listed as a returnee in the first group.

Why did the Rohingyas refuse to take the offer to go back home, Rahman was asked. He said, “Myanmar authorities have declared that the repatriated Rohingyas will be kept in the camps for 5 months or more, guarded by armed law enforcers and there were no clear guidelines if we can go back to our original places or villages. So, what is point of accepting a camp life proposal in Rakhine?”

Another refugee, Syed Alam, 37, of Kutupalang camp, told Arab News, “Before any kind of repatriation, our top most priority is the guarantee of citizenship and once it is granted many of our problems will be minimized.”

However, talking about the future course of repatriation, United Nations Human Rights agency, UNHCR spokesperson in Bangladesh, Fairas Al-Khateeb, said, “We will continue to assist the Bangladesh government in assessing the voluntariness for repatriation. Bangladesh and Myanmar have made the deal of repatriation bilaterally, we can’t say when it will actually take place.”