Bangladesh police use drones in Cox’s Bazar after crime rise at Rohingya camps

Bangladesh police use drones in Cox’s Bazar after crime rise at Rohingya camps
Bangladeshi rights organization SHUJAN has also observed an increase in criminal activity at Rohingya refugee camps in the city of Cox’s Bazar. (AFP/File)
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Updated 16 January 2022

Bangladesh police use drones in Cox’s Bazar after crime rise at Rohingya camps

Bangladesh police use drones in Cox’s Bazar after crime rise at Rohingya camps
  • Bangladesh hosts over 1.1 million Rohingya who fled neighboring Myanmar during a military crackdown in 2017

DHAKA: Bangladeshi police said on Sunday they had resorted to using drones to monitor Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar after a spike in criminal activity.

Bangladesh hosts over 1.1 million Rohingya who fled neighboring Myanmar during a military crackdown in 2017. Most of them live in dozens of cramped settlements in Cox’s Bazar, a coastal region in the country’s east.

According to data from Cox’s Bazar police, at least 104 murders were recorded in Rohingya camps in the past four years, and more than 1,000 cases had been filed against their inhabitants on charges of abduction, extortion, drug dealing, human trafficking and sexual assault.

“Incidents in which Rohingya are abducted for ransom are on the rise,” Naimul Haque, superintendent of the Armed Police Battalion that oversees the camp area, told Arab News.

“Some of the areas in the camp are inaccessible to law enforcers. We can’t go there by vehicle because of the hilly areas. So, we introduced drones last Thursday to monitor the movement of suspects,” he said.

Since late last week, he added, two police operations have already taken place following footage retrieved from drones, including the arrest of the brother of the leader of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a Rohingya insurgent group active in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State.

Bangladeshi rights organization SHUJAN has also observed an increase in criminal activity at refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. “The rate of crime and number of cases against the Rohingya are on the rise,” Mahbubur Rahman, SHUJAN’s secretary in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.

“The Rohingya are getting involved in extortion, abduction, drug dealing and human trafficking, which has become a concern for the host communities,” he said. “Some of the Rohingya are being used as drug carriers also since they know the routes between Bangladesh and Myanmar.”

FASTFACT

Law enforcers have limited access to many areas in Cox’s Bazar camps due to congestion and hilly terrain.

Security analyst retired Air Commodore Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury said the deployment of drones would help law enforcers expand the scale of surveillance.

“Now law enforcers will have better access to the hard-to-reach areas. Improved surveillance will definitely reduce the crime rate in the camp areas,” he said.

“Border Security Force in India is already using drones at many parts of the border as a surveillance tool. Our Border Guard Bangladesh can also use drones to curb drug traffickers, arms dealers and human traffickers in the border areas.”


Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France

Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France
Updated 19 sec ago

Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France

Iraqi migrants shot amid people-smuggling gang fight in France
  • 2 hospitalized after gunfire erupts between rival groups in Dunkirk

LONDON: Two Iraqi migrants have been hospitalized in serious conditions after rival people-smuggling gangs fired on each other in northern France.

Fighting erupted at the Grande Synthe camp in Dunkirk after gangs quarreled over territory for launching their small boats into the English Channel.

The camp, the largest in France, is reportedly controlled by Kurdish gangs, who organize territory and allocate migrants spaces on small boats. Up to 500 people are expected to live there, though this can fluctuate rapidly according to trips on the Channel.

The Times newspaper was told by a migrant that he saw men with rifles and pistols during the fighting on Sunday, with gunshots also heard on Friday. Bullet casings were found on the scene after the authorities came in.

The Dunkirk public prosecutor’s office has started investigating the incidents, but few expect any witnesses to come forward and provide evidence. The rapidly changing population also adds problems for the police, with many witnesses at risk of fleeing for Britain at any moment. The two men in hospital are so critically injured that they cannot give statements.

The witness said: “I saw men with guns, one a pistol, another with a rifle. It was many, many shots fired. Previously we’ve had fights but it was very small. This time there were a lot of gunshots. The volunteers ran away.”

Another witness told Le Parisien that they “heard gunshots,” which sounded like “bursts of Kalashnikovs.” They added: “Everyone got down on the ground.”

Volunteer worker association Utopia 56 announced that “at least three people” were rushed to hospital after the violence. A helicopter was destroyed in the clashes, as police and ambulances rushed to the scene.

The violent gangs in northern France have long been a concern for British authorities receiving migrants.

UK Border Force officials told The Times that migrants were regularly facing threats of violence, often at gun or knifepoint, if they questioned the seafaring quality of the small boats.

Richard Lederle, from the crime and financial investigations unit in the Home Office, said: “It often isn’t an option of choosing to get into the boats. It will affect their profit margins and business models as gangs are competing with each other.”

Christopher Tilley, chief of staff at the unit dealing with Channel crossings, said: “A lot of their business relies on word of mouth — they don’t want people saying, ‘Don’t go with that gang because it’s unsafe’ so they force them to board even when the boats are unsafe. They are pushing people across to maximise the profits. It’s ruthless and cut-throat.”


Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel

Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel
The WEF— running from May 22 to 26 — will see global business, technology and political leaders come together. (Supplied)
Updated 24 May 2022

Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel

Europe needs migration pact to deal with staggering flow of refugees: WEF panel
  • Europe needs a holistic migration pact to deal with the growing number of Ukrainian refugees, Vice President for Promoting the European Way of Life in the European Commission says
  • The war has displaced 8 million within Ukraine and forced more than 6 million others to flee elsewhere

DAVOS: Europe must enact a stable and holistic migration pact to deal with the growing number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, Vice President for Promoting the European Way of Life in the European Commission Margaritis Schinas said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum session entitled “Responding to New Migration Flows in Europe,” Schinas said: “Europe will always remain an asylum destination for those who are fleeing war and persecution. This is the model of society we stand for. We have welcomed more than 5 million Ukrainian refugees, but we do not yet have a migration pact. This forces us to very often function like firefighters rather than architects.”

A future EU migration policy would need a holistic approach that includes strong relations with origin and transit countries, a collective and uniform border system and procedures within EU countries, and solidarity across all levels of society to deal with the burdens of global crises, the vice president said.

Moldova is one example of how joint border controls and communication on all levels can help facilitate the movement of refugees, according to Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilița.

About half a million people have crossed the border from Ukraine into Moldova, the prime minister said, adding that contingency plans in place allowed thousands of migrants who had fled in a hurry to enter the country without sufficient documents. 

Hundreds of Moldovans also scurried to provide aid and volunteer their services to help facilitate the influx of Ukrainians coming into the country, she said. 

The WEF session came after the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, announced Monday that the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution around the world had crossed the bleak milestone of 100 million for the first time. 

The war in Ukraine alone has displaced 8 million within the country and forced more than 6 million others to flee elsewhere, according to the new data from UNHCR. 

By the end of 2021, about 90 million people were forcibly displaced around the world as a result of conflicts and new waves of violence in countries that include Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Burkina Faso. 

The WEF— running from May 22 to 26 — will see global business, technology and political leaders come together for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss climate, technology and geopolitical issues, including the consequences of the outbreak and the Ukraine crisis.


UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan

UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan
Updated 24 May 2022

UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan

UK lawmakers criticize ‘absence’ of Afghan evacuation plan
  • The committee criticized the Foreign Office for the “total absence” of a plan for evacuating Afghans

LONDON: Britain’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was a “disaster and betrayal” hampered by a lack of leadership from senior politicians and civil servants, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report released Tuesday.
The committee criticized the Foreign Office for the “total absence” of a plan for evacuating Afghans who supported the UK mission despite knowing for 18 months that such an evacuation might be necessary.
This was compounded by the fact that there seemed to be no clear lines of leadership among political leaders, with decisions made on the basis of “untraceable and unaccountable political interventions,” the committee said in its report.
“The fact that the Foreign Office’s senior leaders were on holiday when Kabul fell marks a fundamental lack of seriousness, grip or leadership at a time of national emergency,” the committee said.
The report was based on an eight-month inquiry during which the committee heard testimony from 20 witnesses and reviewed written evidence from 36 organizations.


Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules

Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules
Updated 24 May 2022

Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules

Beijing ramps up COVID-19 quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules
  • Chinese vice premier: Situation in Beijing manageable, but containment efforts cannot ease

BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Beijing stepped up quarantine efforts to end its month-old COVID-19 outbreak as fresh signs of frustration emerged in Shanghai, where some bemoaned unfair curbs with the city of 25 million preparing to lift a prolonged lockdown in just over a week.
Even as China’s drastic attempts to eradicate COVID-19 entirely — its “zero-COVID” approach — bite into prospects for the world’s second-biggest economy, new reported infection numbers remain well below levels seen in many Western cities. The capital reported 48 new cases for Monday among its population of 22 million, with Shanghai reporting fewer than 500.
Still, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called for more thorough measures to cut virus transmission and adhere to the nation’s zero-COVID-19 policy during an inspection tour in Beijing, state agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
The situation in Beijing was manageable, but containment efforts cannot ease, she said, according to Xinhua.
In one example of the stringency of Beijing’s approach, around 1,800 people in one city neighborhood were relocated to Zhangjiakou city in the nearby Hebei province for quarantine, the state-backed Beijing Daily reported.
Still in place are instructions for residents in six of the capital’s 16 districts to work from home, while a further three districts encouraged people to follow such measures, with each district responsible for implementing its own guidelines.
Beijing had already reduced public transport, requesting some shopping malls and other venues to close and sealing buildings where new cases were detected.
In Shanghai, authorities plan to keep most restrictions in place this month, before a more complete lifting of the two-month-old lockdown from June 1. Even then, public venues will have to cap people flows at 75 percent of capacity.
With Shanghai officially declared to be a zero-COVID-19 city, some authorities allowed more people to leave their homes for brief periods over the past week, and more supermarkets and pharmacies were authorized to reopen and provide deliveries.
But other lower-level officials separately tightened restrictions in some neighborhoods, ordering residents back indoors to cement progress achieved so far during the city’s final lap toward exiting the lockdown.
That has led to frustration and complaints of uneven treatment among some residents.
While the zero-COVID-19 status describes the entire city, and residents in some compounds have been allowed to move in and out of their homes freely, others have been told they can only go out for a few hours, and many of those stuck indoors were told nothing.
Videos circulating on social media this week showed residents arguing with officials to be let out of their residential compounds.
The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
One resident said people in his compound decided on the WeChat social media platform to go out in groups.
“Let’s strike at our gate tonight to demand that we be allowed to go out like many of other compounds in the neighborhood,” he quoted one of his neighbors as saying in the group chat.
A video he shared then showed a group of people arguing at the entrance of the compound with a man who described himself as a sub-district official, who asked the residents to go back inside and discuss the situation.
“Don’t bother with him,” one person said as some people were socialising outside the compound.
People in at least two other compounds were planning to try going outside despite not being told they were allowed to do so, residents said.


FBI counts 61 ‘active shooter’ incidents last year, up 52 percent from 2020

The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings. (REUTERS)
The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 May 2022

FBI counts 61 ‘active shooter’ incidents last year, up 52 percent from 2020

The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings. (REUTERS)
  • The Las Vegas attack alone helped push 2017’s annual casualty toll — 143 killed and 591 wounded — to record highs even though there were only 31 active shooting incidents that year, about half the number in 2021

WASHINGTON: The United States experienced 61 “active shooter” incidents last year, up sharply in the sheer number of attacks, casualties and geographic distribution from 2021 and the highest tally in over 20 years, the FBI reported on Monday.
The 2021 total, spread over 30 states, was 52 percent higher than 2020 and about double each of the three previous years, according to the FBI. The agency defines an active shooter as someone engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a public space in seemingly random fashion.
Commercial businesses accounted for just over half of all such incidents last year, which also was notable for an emerging trend of “roving active shooters” opening fire in multiple locations, as was the case with a gunman who attacked several Atlanta-area day spas, the FBI said.
Last year’s active-shooter carnage left 103 people dead and 140 wounded, the report said. By contrast, the FBI counted 40 active-shooter attacks in 19 states that killed 38 people and wounded 126 in 2020, a year that coincided with the height of restrictions on social and economic life due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Comparisons with recent years are heavily skewed by data from 2017, the year a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas from a high-rise hotel window, killing 56 people and wounding hundreds more in a single incident.
The Las Vegas attack alone helped push 2017’s annual casualty toll — 143 killed and 591 wounded — to record highs even though there were only 31 active shooting incidents that year, about half the number in 2021.
As high as last year’s death toll was, it ranks as only the seventh deadliest year in active shooting incidents dating back to 2000, the first year for which FBI figures are available. Still, it marks the biggest number of such attacks on record, exceeding only the 40 recorded in 2020.
California, despite having some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, accounted for more active shooter incidents than any other state last year, six out of 61, followed by Texas and Georgia with five each, according to the report.
The single deadliest incident of 2021 was the mass shooting at the Kings Soopers Grocery Store in Boulder, Colorado, in which 10 victims perished. Eight were killed and seven wounded at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings, which the government defines as at least killings in a single incident.
Excluded from the data were gang- or drug-related acts of violence, incidents defined strictly as domestic disputes, isolated hostage situations or crossfire from other criminal acts, the FBI said.