India floods kill more than 270, displace one million

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A man stands next to damaged cars after a landslide caused by torrential monsoon rains at Puthumala near Meppadi, Wayanad district, in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 14, 2019. (REUTERS)
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In this handout photo taken and released by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department on August 11, 2019, Indian National Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi (unseen) visits the landslide site at Kavalappara-Bhoothanam, in Malappuram district of Kerala state, where many people are still trapped and rescue operations still going on. (AFP)
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People gather on the banks of the overflowing Periyar River as flood waters continued to rise in the Aluva area of Kochi, in the south Indian state of Kerala, on August 9, 2019. (AFP)
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Volunteers, local residents and members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) search for survivors in the debris left by a landslide at Puthumala at Meppadi in the Wayanad district of the Indian state of Kerala on August 10. (AFP)
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Residents are being evacuated from their home to a safer place following floods warnings, on a wooden boat at Kadamakkudi near Kochi in the Indian state of Kerala on August 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2019

India floods kill more than 270, displace one million

  • Last year Kerala was hit by its worst floods in almost a century with around 450 people killed

BENGALURU/MUMBAI: Floods and landslides have killed more than 270 people in India this month, displaced one million and inundated thousands of homes across six states, authorities said on Wednesday after two weeks of heavy monsoon rains.
The rains from June to September are a lifeline for rural India, delivering some 70% of the country’s rainfall, but they also cause death and destruction each year.
The southern states of Kerala and Karnataka, and Maharashtra and Gujarat in the west, were among the hardest hit by floods that washed away thousands of hectares of summer-sown crops and damaged roads and rail lines.
At least 95 people were killed and more than 50 are missing in Kerala, where heavy rainfall triggered dozens of landslides last week and trapped more than 100 people.
About 190,000 people are still living in relief camps in the state, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, but he added some people are returning home as flood waters recede.
In neighboring Karnataka, home to the technology hub Bengaluru, 54 people died and 15 are missing after rivers burst their banks when authorities released water from dams.
Nearly 700,000 people have been evacuated in the state.
Heavy rainfall is expected in parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, as well as the central state of Madhya Pradesh, in the next two days, weather officials said.
In Maharashtra, which includes the financial capital Mumbai, 48 people died but flood waters are receding, said a state official.
“We are now trying to restore electricity and drinking water supplies,” he said.
In Madhya Pradesh, the biggest producer of soybeans, heavy rains killed 32 people and damaged crops, authorities said.
In Gujarat, 31 people died in rain-related incidents, while landslides killed nearly a dozen people in the northern hilly state of Uttarakhand.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.