Wednesday November 21, 2018
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Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due To Forceful Repatriation

Another man who was informed he was on the list told VOA he witnessed troops killing people from his village

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Rohingya, Myanmar, refugees
Rohingya refugee women wait outside of a medical center at Jamtoli camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA
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Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal military campaign in Myanmar last year are living in fear after being told they are on a list of over 2,200 people due to be forcibly returned to the country this month.

Some have said they are considering taking their own lives to avoid being sent back to Rakhine state, where Myanmar’s military is accused of waging a genocidal campaign of mass murder and rape.

“If we go back, they can kill us, they can torture us. We have already lost everything once,” said one man from the Jamtoli camp, speaking on the condition of anonymity, who was told by camp officials he is on the list along with his family.

Bangladesh and Myanmar last month struck a deal to begin returning Rohingya refugees by “mid-November”. The 2,200 names were picked from a list of 8,000 that Bangladesh gave to Myanmar in February.

Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, Abul Kalam, has told Human Rights Watch the Rohingya on the list “were not chosen because they particularly wanted to go back.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since August last year from what UN investigators say is genocide. Myanmar has consistently denied the charge and says the campaign was a legitimate response to what it called terrorist attacks.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee,has called on both countries to scrap the plan to return people this month, warning Rohingya face a “high risk of persecution” if returned.

Rohingya
Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

The plan may also “violate obligations under customary international law to uphold the principle of non-refoulement,” she added.

“Bangladesh should not be sending anyone at this time,” Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist, told VOA. “Forcing survivors and refugees back to the killing fields where genocide is still going on is complicity in genocide.”

A humanitarian who works closely with the Rohingya community in Bangladesh said that, although Rohingya at Jamtoli had been told they are on the list, names had not yet been officially confirmed. Until the UN’s refugee agency receives an official list from the Bangladeshi government, “we’re not entirely sure,” who is due to be returned, they said.

They added that they were aware of one man who had attempted suicide after hearing he was on the list: “The issue is that the lack of clarity and communication alone is already causing harm regardless of whether repatriation actually starts.”

Rohingya, India
Some Rohingya children and a woman at an unidentified refugee colony in West Bengal, eastern India. VOA

Rohingya who believe they are on the list told VOA that a block leader in their camp said they would be moved to another location inside Bangladesh on November 12 in preparation for their return.

Myanmar has this year built “reception centers” and “transit camps” to house and process the expected returnees.

The facilities are surrounded by barbed wire and security posts, and advocates fear the camps could become permanent homes for returning Rohingya. “They are like concentration camps,” said Nay San Lwin.

Myanmar government spokesperson Zaw Htay told VOA he could not comment for this story.

Rohingya, India
Some Rohingya women and children in an unidentified refugee colony in West Bengal, eastern India. VOA

The Rohingya man from the Jamtoli camp in Bangladesh, who was told his family was on the list last week, said his mother recently fainted from the stress.

As he was fleeing Rakhine state in September last year he saw his nephew and son-in-law shot dead, he said.

“Other families who are being sent back are crying loudly, all day and night,” he told VOA. “One family on the list have lost their parents. They’re crying, they have no one to look after them.”

One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child
One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child . BENAR.

Another man who was informed he was on the list told VOA he witnessed troops killing people from his village as he fled Rakhine state at the end of August last year. “They were killing everyone, small children, the elderly, everyone,” he said.

Also Read: Should Promote Human Rights More in Myanmar: Facebook

Earlier this week two block leaders – Rohingya volunteers who help refugees communicate with officials – approached him with a form and asked how many family members he has, and for a picture of the head of the family.

He refused, he said, and an argument ensued. “We will never agree to go,” he told them. “If they make us go we will take our own lives here, this is our final decision.” (VOA)

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Climate Change To Get Worse In The Future: Study

The real change to mitigate climate change through gradual cutting of emissions will come from the public.

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Drought, Climate change
A farmer stands on cracked earth that three weeks earlier created the bottom of a reservoir on his farm, in Groot Marico, South Africa. VOA

A new report has taken the results of thousands of papers on the impacts of climate change and put them together into a giant assessment detailing the multiple ways that climate change will impact humanity in the coming century.

Lead researcher Camilo Mora says the report shows what he calls a “massive domino effect” of bad news as climate change intensifies in the coming century if the world doesn’t mitigate the amount of carbon we are pumping into the atmosphere.

In the report being published Monday in Nature Climate Change, Mora says there is literally no place on the planet that’s safe.

Putting all the data in one place

The study is unique in that it doesn’t produce any new information, but is basically a mother of all spreadsheets that takes all of the predicted effects of climate change and puts them into one place.

Hurricane, climate change
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, Texas, VOA

Mora told VOA he and his team of dozens of researchers spent six months gathering and inputting data on climate change into their system and watching how all of these impacts would affect individual sites around the world.

What they came up with was exactly 467 ways that climate change is going to negatively impact the weather, from localized changes like more droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and storms, to the global changes like sea level rise, and changes in ocean chemistry.

Mora also looked at how climate change is expected to impact everything from food supplies, to increased susceptibility to disease, as well as more difficult to gauge effects like climate insecurity’s impact on mental health.

What he found was surprising, “I couldn’t stop being mind blown every single day,” he told VOA, mainly by the fact that the dangerous and damaging effects of climate change are already impacting humans all over the globe. “We think this is going to happen later,” he says, “but we found that this is already happening.”

“Last year, for instance, Florida recorded extreme drought, record high temperatures, over 100 wildfires, and the strongest ever recorded hurricane in its Panhandle: the category 4 Hurricane Michael,” Mora says. “Likewise, California is currently experiencing ferocious wild fires and one of the longest droughts, plus extreme heatwaves this past summer.”

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change
Tire tracks left by a truck can be seen in a drought-stricken paddock on Kahmoo Station property, located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

And he says if carbon levels in the atmosphere continue to increase on pace there will no place on earth that isn’t affected.

Take New York, for instance. Mora lays out a future scenario in which in 2100 New York will be constantly dealing with the potentially devastating effects of four different climate hazards, including extreme weather and sea level rise.

All of these effects are measurable and in the future a city like Miami might be dealing with drought, extreme heat, sea level rise and more numerous and more powerful hurricanes. “Any coastal area in the tropics is going to be on fire” Mora says. Sydney, Los Angeles, Brazil and Mexico City are all at risk as the effects of climate change stack up.”

Mora’s study is impressive in its detail, noting, “Planes can’t fly during heat waves … wires short circuit during heat waves,” Mora says. And for people who work outdoors it can literally get too hot and “their livelihoods depend on their job ability to work out doors.”

All of these impacts add up and have a profound economic effect. Mora says they create stressed communities that have less economic ability to deal with change, plus higher financial costs thanks to the infrastructure damage and repair associated with predicted extreme weather events.

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change
A tree art installation made up of individual trees and Hydrangeas is seen in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 22, 2018, to celebrate Earth Day and promote the planting of trees in an effort to combat climate change. VOA

Is it too late?

But despite all of the bad news in this assessment, Mora is bullish on our ability to head off the effects of climate change.

“This is not game over,” he says. “We are not too late to turn this around and we have pathways to reduce emissions what we need to do is implement them.”

Mora says the solution to the world’s carbon problem will not come from the world’s leaders, despite agreements like the Paris Accord for which hundreds of the world’s leaders came together to commit to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

Also Read: Australia’s PM Abandons Plan To Enshrine Carbon Emission Cuts

He says the real change to mitigate climate change through gradual cutting of emissions will come from the public, and he points to efforts like Hawaii’s decision to become a carbon neutral state by 2045 and to shift to 100 percent renewable energy.

Mora is also involved with tree planting efforts in Hawaii that he says if done worldwide could help the planet actually remove carbon from the atmosphere, not just stop putting it in. He calls it one of “many simple steps to clean our footprint all together.” (VOA)