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Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses Myanmar Army of burning hundreds of houses in Rohingya Muslim minority Villages

Both the army and the government denied the accusations and instead blamed the attacks on Rohingya militants

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Nay Pyi Taw, December 13, 2016: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused the Myanmar army of burning hundreds of houses in the Rohingya Muslim minority villages where a massive military offensive has been ongoing for over two months.

The rights group, with the help of satellite images, said 1,500 houses were burnt by the army in the northern Rakhine state, EFE news reported.

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The army’s offensive followed an attack on October 9 against police border posts, allegedly by Rohingya insurgents.

The group said the pattern of torching houses coincided with the advance of the soldiers and their deployment in the villages.

The torching in three cases took place after alleged attacks by insurgents and suggests “a reprisal element”, the report said.

It included the testimony of 10 Rohingya refugees, who fled towards Bangladesh due to the violence and witnessed soldiers setting houses on fire.

The report strengthens claims by local activists who accuse the army of carrying out killings, rapes and looting in the area which has been closed off to humanitarian aid organisations, observers and the media.

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According to the UN, around 150,000 people were dependent on humanitarian aid for food and money before the armed attacks and subsequent military operation by the army, which has prompted at least 21,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.

Both the army and the government denied the accusations and instead blamed the attacks on Rohingya militants.

HRW also urged the Myanmar authorities to open up the affected region to humanitarian aid and observers, following similar pleas by the UN and 14 diplomatic missions in the country in recent days.

Rakhine is home to more than a million Rohingyas, a community not recognised as citizens in the country and often shunned as Bangladeshi immigrants.

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Around 120,000 of them live severely restricted lives in 67 camps since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012 when at least 160 people died.

The sectarian conflict in Rakhine is one of the main challenges facing the Aung San Suu Kyi administration, the first democratic one in the country in over half a century. (IANS)

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Earth Will Reach 1.5 Degrees Above Pre-Industrial Levels By 2030

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off.

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The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday said the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

In a report, the IPCC said that governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, CNN reported.

The date, which falls well within the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree Celsius. Avoiding going even higher will require significant action in the next few years, the report said.

climate, global warming, celsisu
A fisherman stands on his boat as he fishes at the Tisma lagoon wetland park, also designated as Ramsar Site 1141 in the Convention on Wetlands, in Tisma, Nicaragua. VOA

Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, according to the report.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Coral reefs will also be drastically effected, with between 70 and 90 per cent expected to die off, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

climate, global warming, celsisus
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C. VOA

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off, the report said, adding “projected to experience the largest impacts on economic growth due to climate change should global warming increase”.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some eco-systems,” CNN quoted Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, as saying.

Monday’s report is three years in the making and is a direct result of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Also Read: Paris Adopts Climate Action Plan, Aims At Achieving A ‘Zero Carbon’ Future

In the Paris accord, 197 countries agreed to the goal of holding global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 90 authors from 40 countries were involved in leading the report, helped by 133 contributing authors. (IANS)