More Rohingya moved to remote Bangladesh island

More Rohingya moved to remote Bangladesh island
A Rohingya refugee headed to Bhasan Char island wearing a mask arrives to board a navy vessel from the south eastern port city of Chattogram, Bangladesh, Feb.15, 2021. (AP Photo)
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Updated 16 February 2021

More Rohingya moved to remote Bangladesh island

More Rohingya moved to remote Bangladesh island
  • Dhaka wants to relocate 100,000 Rohingya from squalid border camps in southeastern Bangladesh
  • Rights activists say not all the refugees have left voluntarily and critics have said the island is prone to flooding

DHAKA: Another 3,000 Rohingya refugees have been relocated by Bangladesh to a remote silt island in the Bay of Bengal, officials said Tuesday, bringing the total number taken to the new settlement to more than 10,000.
Dhaka wants to relocate 100,000 Rohingya from squalid border camps in southeastern Bangladesh, where nearly a million of the Muslim minority have lived in crowded conditions since fleeing a 2017 military offensive in neighboring Myanmar.
About 2,000 more refugees were moved to Bhashan Char on Monday and another 1,000 on Tuesday, Anwarul Kabir, a senior officer with the Bangladesh navy, told AFP.
Their arrival comes after around 7,000 men, women and children were taken in December and January to the 53-square-kilometer island, which is a three-hour boat journey from the southeastern port of Chittagong.
Bangladesh’s Deputy Refugee Commissioner Mohammad Shamsud Douza told AFP the Rohingya had moved to the island “spontaneously and willingly.”
“They are taking their dogs, bunnies and goats to the island with them,” Douza said.
But rights activists say not all the refugees have left voluntarily and critics have said the island is prone to flooding and is in the path of deadly cyclones.
There has been fighting in recent months between rival Rohingya drug gangs in southeastern Bangladesh’s refugee camps — the world’s largest — with several people killed and several others reported injured.
Officials said they were hoping to move more refugees to the island ahead of the April-May cyclone season and the June-September monsoon, when the sea is rough.
The United Nations says it has not been involved in the relocations.


Fire in residential building kills 6, injures 15 in Mumbai

Fire in residential building kills 6, injures 15 in Mumbai
Updated 9 sec ago

Fire in residential building kills 6, injures 15 in Mumbai

Fire in residential building kills 6, injures 15 in Mumbai
  • The fire was caused by a short-circuit in an air conditioner in one of the apartments
  • Nearly two dozen fire engines extinguished the blaze and controlled the smoke after a two-hour effort
NEW DELHI: A major fire in a 19-story residential building killed at least six people and injured 15 others on Saturday in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, officials said.
The fire was caused by a short-circuit in an air conditioner in one of the apartments, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said.
Residents said the fire started on the 15th floor and a big column of black smoke soon enveloped the building. More than 90 people escaped the building on their own or helped by neighbors, they said.
Ganesh Purnaik, a spokesman for the city government, said the fire left six people dead and 15 hospitalized with injuries.
Four of the injured were in critical condition, said police officer Saurabh Tripathi.
Nearly two dozen fire engines extinguished the blaze and controlled the smoke after a two-hour effort, media reports said. Firefighters rushed the injured to two nearby hospitals.
Pednekar said some of the injured needed oxygen support because they had inhaled smoke.
Fires are common in India, where building laws and safety norms are often flouted by builders and residents.
In August, a fire killed eight coronavirus patients at a hospital in Ahmedabad, a major city in Gujarat state. In December 2018, a late-night fire in a Mumbai restaurant killed 15 people.

1 NYPD officer killed, 1 severely injured in Harlem shooting

1 NYPD officer killed, 1 severely injured in Harlem shooting
Updated 22 January 2022

1 NYPD officer killed, 1 severely injured in Harlem shooting

1 NYPD officer killed, 1 severely injured in Harlem shooting
  • Call for federal authorities to do more to round up stolen guns like the one used in Friday’s shooting

NEW YORK: A New York City police officer was killed and another critically wounded Friday night while answering a call about an argument between a woman and her adult son, officials said, making four officers shot in the city in as many days.
Just three weeks into their jobs, Mayor Eric Adams — a former police captain himself — and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell stood before the media at a Harlem hospital, denouncing the spate of violence against the New York Police Department.
“Countless officers lined this hallway after carrying him in and grieve for their brother while praying with everything they have for the other” officer, Sewell said. “I am struggling to find the words to express the tragedy we are enduring. We’re mourning, and we’re angry.”
Adams said, “This was just not an attack on these brave officers. This was an attack on the city of New York.”
Adams called for federal authorities to do more to round up stolen guns like the one used in Friday’s shooting inside a Harlem apartment.
“There are no gun manufacturers in New York City,” he said. “We don’t make guns here. How are we removing thousands of guns off the street and they still find their way into New York City, in the hands of people who are killers?”
Authorities said the officers, along with a third officer, went to the apartment on 135th Street after a call came in from a woman needing help with her son, identified by police as Lashawn J. McNeil, 47.
Authorities said the officers spoke with the woman and another son, but there was no mention of a weapon. Then two of them walked from the front of the apartment down a narrow, 30-foot (9-meter) hallway.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said McNeil swung open a bedroom door and opened fire at the officers, striking them.
The officer who was killed was identified as 22-year-old Jason Rivera, who joined the force in November 2020, and the wounded officer as Wilbert Mora, 27, who’s been with the NYPD for four years.
As McNeil tried to flee, a third officer who’d stayed with McNeil’s mother in the front of the apartment shot at McNeil and wounded him in the head and arm, Essig said.
McNeil is alive and hospitalized in critical condition, NYPD spokesperson Lt. John Grimpel said, correcting earlier reports that he had been killed. Sewell and Adams did not take questions at the hospital press conference.
McNeil’s last known address is in Allentown, Pennsylvania, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of New York City.
McNeil was on probation for a 2003 drug conviction in New York City. He also had several out of state arrests. In 1998, he was arrested in South Carolina for unlawfully carrying a pistol, but records show the matter was later dismissed. In 2002, he was arrested in Pennsylvania for assaulting a police officer, Essig said.
Police said the gun used in Friday night’s shooting, a .45-caliber Glock with a high-capacity magazine capable of holding up to 40 extra rounds, had been stolen in Baltimore in 2017.
Friday night’s shooting happened in a street-level apartment in a six-story apartment building on a block between two iconic Harlem avenues: Malcolm X Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.
It came three nights after an officer was wounded in the leg in the Bronx during a struggle with a teenager who also shot himself. On Thursday, a narcotics detective was shot in the leg on Staten Island.
Under Adams, the NYPD has reinstated a plainclothes anti-crime unit aimed at getting guns off the streets. The unit had been disbanded in 2020 over concerns it accounted for a disproportionate number of shootings and complaints.
The NYPD has also partnered with prosecutors, city and federal agencies in recent months on a task force that meets daily and works to track gun violence, accelerate gun tracing and build cases against shooters and gun traffickers.


Magnitude 6 earthquake strikes Sarangani, Philippines

People gather on a field after an earthquake struck the Batanes Province, in northern Philippines. (REUTERS file photo)
People gather on a field after an earthquake struck the Batanes Province, in northern Philippines. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 22 January 2022

Magnitude 6 earthquake strikes Sarangani, Philippines

People gather on a field after an earthquake struck the Batanes Province, in northern Philippines. (REUTERS file photo)

MANILA: A magnitude 6 earthquake struck Sarangani province in Philippines, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said on Friday.
The quake was at a depth of 24 km (15 miles), USGS said.


Myanmar sentences lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s party to death

Myanmar sentences lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s party to death
Updated 22 January 2022

Myanmar sentences lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s party to death

Myanmar sentences lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s party to death
  • The two are among the most prominent activists to be given death sentences since the military in February last year seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi

BANGKOK: Two prominent political activists in military-ruled Myanmar have been sentenced to death for alleged involvement in terrorist activities, an army television station reported Friday.
Myawaddy TV said on its evening news broadcast that Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, and Phyo Zeyar Thaw, also known as Maung Kyaw, were convicted under the country’s Counterterrorism Law. They were found guilty of offenses involving explosives, bombings and financing terrorism.
Both have been detained since their arrests, unable to comment on the allegations, and no lawyer ever emerged to comment on their behalfs. Min Yu’s wife, Nilar Thein, in October denied the allegations lodged against her husband.
Details of their trials were unavailable because the proceedings were carried out in a closed military court. It was unclear if their two cases were linked.
Modern-day Myanmar has a record of rarely carrying out death sentences.
The two are among the most prominent activists to be given death sentences since the military in February last year seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Its takeover sparked wide-scale popular protests, which have since turned into a low-level insurgency after nonviolent demonstrations were met with deadly force by the security forces. Almost 1,500 civilians are estimated to have been killed, and more than 11,000 arrest carried out for political offenses.
Some resistance factions have engaged in assassinations, drive-by shootings and bombings in urban areas, The mainstream opposition organizations generally disavow such activities, while supporting armed resistance in rural areas, which are more often subject to brutal military attacks.
Kyaw Min Yu is one of the leaders of the 88 Generation Students Group, veterans of the popular uprising that failed to unseat a previous military government.
He has been active politically ever since then, and has spent more than a dozen years behind bars. His Oct. 23 arrest in Yangon was originally reported by his wife, an activist who also has been jailed in the past. Both went into hiding after the February takeover and she is believed to still be in hiding.
Two weeks after his arrest, a statement from the military-installed government accused Kyaw Min Yu, of “conducting terrorism acts including mine attacks to undermine the state stability” and alleged he headed a group called “Moon Light Operation” to carry out urban guerrilla attacks.
He had already been on the wanted list for social media postings that allegedly incited unrest.
Phyo Zeyar Thaw is a former lawmaker with Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. He was a hip-hop musician before becoming as a member of Generation Wave, a political movement formed in 2007.
He was arrested on Nov. 18 in possession of weapons and ammunition, according to a statement at the time from the ruling military.
That statement also said he was arrested on the basis of information from people arrested a day earlier for carrying out the shootings of security personnel.
Other statements from the military accused him of being a key figure in a network of dozens of people who allegedly carried out what the military described as “terrorist” attacks in Yangon.


Eritrean refugees in Tigray ‘desperate’: UN

Eritrean refugees in Tigray ‘desperate’: UN
Updated 21 January 2022

Eritrean refugees in Tigray ‘desperate’: UN

Eritrean refugees in Tigray ‘desperate’: UN
  • "UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply alarmed at the deteriorating conditions faced by Eritrean refugees in the camps in Tigray," spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told reporters in Geneva
  • "Our team found refugees scared and struggling to get enough to eat, lacking medicine and with little or no access to clean water," said Cheshirkov

GENEVA: Eritrean refugees living in camps in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region are in a “desperate situation,” the United Nations warned Friday as they struggle to access food and clean water.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply alarmed at the deteriorating conditions faced by Eritrean refugees in the camps in Tigray,” spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told reporters in Geneva.
In recent days, UNHCR staff managed to reach the Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps for the first time in three weeks, following air strikes in and near the two sites.
“Our team found refugees scared and struggling to get enough to eat, lacking medicine and with little or no access to clean water,” said Cheshirkov.
The situation was leading to a growing number of preventable deaths, he warned, pointing to accounts from refugees that at least 20 people had died in the past six weeks due to the declining conditions.
He said the clinics in the camps had effectively been closed since early January when they ran out of medicine.
“The lack of fuel means that clean water can neither be pumped nor trucked to the camps, with refugees resorting to collecting water from streams that are rapidly drying up, leading to a severe risk of water-borne diseases,” he said.
The spokesman said extreme hunger was an increasing concern given the inability to move supplies into the region, while refugees reported having to sell their clothes and belongings for food.
“Basic services for Eritrean refugees in the two camps have been severely compromised for many months,” said Cheshirkov.
“The desperate situation in these camps is a stark example of the impact of the lack of access and supplies affecting millions of displaced persons and other civilians throughout the region.
“If food, medicine, fuel and other supplies cannot be immediately brought in, and if we continue to be unable to relocate refugees out of harm’s way to where we can provide them with life-saving assistance, more refugees will die.”
Northern Ethiopia has been beset by conflict since November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, of attacks on federal army camps.
UNHCR called for a cease-fire and guarantee of safe passage that would help them voluntarily relocate the more than 25,000 refugees remaining in the camps to a new site in Dabat in the neighboring Amhara region.
“Refugees must not be held hostage to this conflict,” Cheshirkov said.