Remains of Indians killed by Daesh in Iraq to arrive home today

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India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh condemned terrorism and expressed his government’s stance in fighting it. (AP)
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Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit, India's Ambassador to Iraq, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 02 April 2018

Remains of Indians killed by Daesh in Iraq to arrive home today

BAGHDAD: The remains of 38 Indian construction workers captured and killed by Daesh in northern Iraq were handed over to Indian authorities in Baghdad and were flown home later Sunday.
Indian Ambassador Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit said the bodies had been taken to Baghdad International Airport and would be flown back on a military flight, arriving in India on Monday.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh saluted the remains at the airport as workers loaded the caskets on the aircraft.
Singh condemned terrorism and expressed his government’s stance in fighting it.
“We are against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he told reporters, describing Daesh as “very cruel terrorist organization and our people have fallen to their bullets.”
Daesh abducted and killed the workers shortly after seizing the northern city of Mosul in the summer of 2014. Iraqi authorities discovered the remains in a mass grave last year after retaking Mosul, and positively identified the bodies last month.
The militants initially abducted 40 workers. One managed to escape, while the presumed remains of another have yet to be positively identified. Authorities are awaiting DNA samples from a first-degree relative.
The workers, most from northern India, had been employed by a construction company operating near Mosul. Around 10,000 Indians lived and worked in Iraq at the time. Daesh may have viewed the workers as polytheists deserving of death because of their Hindu or Sikh faith.
Daesh swept across northern and central Iraq in 2014, eventually seizing a third of the country. Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition eventually drove the militants from all the territory under their control in a grueling three-year campaign. The militants are still carrying out insurgent-style attacks.
Dozens of mass graves have been found in areas held by the extremist group, which boasted about massacring its enemies and posted videos and photos of many of the mass killings online. Iraq has only managed to excavate a few of the sites due to a lack of funding and specialized staff.


Dhaka awaiting UN green light to relocate 100,000 Rohingya to $275m island

Updated 22 January 2020

Dhaka awaiting UN green light to relocate 100,000 Rohingya to $275m island

  • Nearly 30,000 refugees volunteer for move to Bay of Bengal camp which critics fear is in cyclone zone

DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh were on Tuesday still awaiting the green light from UN inspectors to start the controversial relocation of 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a newly built $275 million island camp.

Although Dhaka has insisted the tiny island of Bhasan Char is ready to begin receiving families, UN technical experts have yet to carry out health and safety checks.

“Although everything is ready on the ground, we are yet to fix a date to begin the relocation process,” Shah Kamal, senior secretary of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, told Arab News. 

A UN team had been scheduled to visit the island in November last year to assess the safety of facilities and amenities on offer, but the inspection was postponed after Bangladesh asked the UN to explain the reasons for the checks.

“The UN is yet to finalize its technical expert team. Once it has, we will organize the assessment visit,” Kamal said.

Bhasan Char is located in the Bay of Bengal and was formed with Himalayan silt in 2006. In recent months, several international rights organizations have urged Bangladesh not to relocate the Rohingya to the island due to it being in an area prone to cyclones.

Bangladeshi authorities claim it is safe and includes barracks to house the refugees, cyclone centers, schools, hospitals, mosques, community centers, and children’s playgrounds.

However, following the international pressure, Dhaka said it would only move refugees who had volunteered for the initiative. “So far, we have enrolled 5,200 families who have registered voluntarily for the relocation and the total refugee number will be around 30,000,” Kamal added.

The UN says it has already sent details to the Bangladeshi government regarding the technical team’s visit to the island. 

“We are awaiting confirmation from the government regarding alternative dates, as we have shared relevant information with the government of Bangladesh regarding the objectives of the proposed onsite visits, which are part of a broader assessment process,” Louise Donovan, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News. 

“The UN has emphasized the importance of undertaking independent and thorough technical and protection assessments that consider safety, sustainability, and protection issues prior to any relocation taking place. The assessment process should include onsite visits to Bhasan Char,” she added. 

Bangladesh has already spent $275 million to construct the facilities on the island and make it habitable for the Rohingya.

The country currently hosts more than 1,150,000 Rohingya in overcrowded camps at Cox’s Bazar which the UN describes as the largest refugee settlement in the world. Around 750,000 of them have fled from the state of Rakhine, in Myanmar since August 2017 following a brutal military crackdown by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people.