Friday, 8 May 2015

300 of an estimated 25,000 illegal migrants die in Bay of Bengal in 2015, says UN agency

UN refuge agency on Friday said more than 25,000 people from Bangladesh and Myanmar lured by traffickers set sail illegally for overseas jobs through the Bay of Bengal in the first three months of the year.

Of these illegal travelers an estimated 300 people were killed during the risky voyages through the rough sea, it said.

United Nations High Commission for Refugee came up with the statement on the heels of discovery of at least 30 graves of migrant workers at abandoned concentration camps run by the traffickers in remote jungle of Thailand.

The bodies of the migrant workers, who were subjected to persecution for ransom, are suspected to be of Bangladeshi nationals and stateless Rohingya from Myanmar. They were died of illness or abuse, said the agency.

Thai police have launched an investigation into the reported trafficking in human and the government closed duty of more than 50 policemen for their inaction over the incidents of brutality in the camps. Four local government officials were also arrested.

“But we also appalled by these deaths. Smugglings networks by sea from the Bay of Bengal area to Thailand and onwards to Malaysia have become increasingly lucrative for smugglers, and increasingly dangerous for their human cargoes,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website.

A UNHCR periodic report estimates that some 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis boarded smuggler’s boats between January and March this year- almost double the number over the same period in 2014.

The agency called for urgent actions from the governments of the countries concerned. It added that the UNHCR members spoke to several hundred survivors of such journeys during the reporting period.

Their accounts signal a shift in how smugglers recruit passengers for the boats. Initial boarding fees are often low and in some cases people are given free-passage on condition that they repay the debt with future earnings in Malaysia, it added.

“We heard of children being abducted off the streets or while fishing, and forced onto boats. People are unaware that money will be extorted from them later in the journey and what started with being smuggled soon turns into trafficking in persons,” it said.

One survivor who spent 62 days in such conditions compared it to a graveyard and said he lost hope of reaching shore alive.

Friday 8 May 2015

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Death toll climbs to 7,903 in Nepal quake

The death toll in the devastating earthquake of April 25 has reached 7,903, according to the latest update made available by the Nepal Police on Friday.

The police said the bodies of 7,779 people have already been handed over to their family members and 6,086 people are receiving treatment in various hospitals across the country.

A total of 17,803 people were injured in the quake.

Citing the latest data, police said that 6,69,775 people have been displaced in the country.

Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Sindhupalchok, Dhading, Rasuwa and Nuwakot were the worst hit districts in the quake besides Gorkha district, which was the epicentre of the quake.

Of the over 5,22,820 people displaced in the mid-region, 66,780 have been displaced in Kathmandu alone.

Police said that 2,90,756 houses have been fully damaged and 10,801 government buildings have collapsed in the quake.

At least 264 Nepali nationals and 111 foreigners have been missing after the disaster.

Friday 8 May 2015

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Italy says may have found ship that carried 900 drowned migrants

Italy's navy said on Thursday it believed it had found the wreck of a boat that sank last month killing up to 900 migrants off the coast of Libya, the Mediterranean's most deadly migrant tragedy in living memory.

Only 24 bodies have been recovered since the April 18 disaster and the discovery of the wreck 375 metres (1,235 feet) underwater some 135 km (85 miles) north of Libya would notably increase the chances of finding more remains.

Search teams based on two minesweepers and a smaller navy vessel used sonar instruments and a submersible to locate the hulk of a 25-metre blue boat which fitted the description of the one that sank, the navy said in a statement.

Asked if Italian authorities believed the migrant boat had now been found, a navy spokesman said, "Yes ... The location and length are correct, but we cannot be certain."

Lawlessness in Libya, where two rival governments are vying for control, has given almost free rein to traffickers. Two survivors of the disaster were arrested on the island of Sicily last month on suspicion of trafficking people on the ship.

After interviewing survivors, prosecutors concluded that more than 750 people were likely to have been aboard, many locked in the hold. Other reports suggested the death toll could be up to 900. Twenty-eight people were saved.

The scale of the disaster shocked the European Union into tripling funding for its sea patrol mission Triton, which replaced Italy's now-defunct, broader "Mare Nostrum" mission.

Some 51,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea this year, 30,500 of them via Italy, according to the U.N. refugee agency, and calmer seas in the run-up to summer have encouraged thousands to take the risk in recent weeks.

About 1,800 people are thought to have drowned in the Mediterranean so far in 2015. In the latest known tragedy, members of a group of roughly 240 migrants who arrived in Sicily on Tuesday said they had been travelling with about 40 others who had drowned.

Thursday 7 May 2015

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South Korea, US experts excavate for Korean War remains

South Korea and the United States have begun exhuming the remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. The project is not the first of its kind – since 2000 the South Korean military has conducted excavations of war remains, Yonhap reported.

To date, most of the 9,500 bodies recovered have been identified as South Korean soldiers.

The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, sent a team to jointly excavate the remains on Wednesday in the South Korean region of Masan in the southeast, reported South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo.

In August 1950, the area was the scene of brutal fighting between North Korean forces and the Allied Command, which consisted mostly of South Korean and U.S. soldiers. Due to the high number of casualties, soldiers called the area "Death Valley."

The three-day excavation began on Wednesday and will involve 15 South Korean experts and eight U.S. analysts from the DPAA.

According to the U.S. team chief, the bodies of 8,000 dead U.S. soldiers remain unaccounted for. In Masan, the U.S. 25th Infantry Division under the command of Maj. Gen. William Keen repelled North Korean incursions toward the port city of Busan. In the course of bloody battles, however, many lives were lost.

South Korea's defense ministry decided to launch an investigation in Masan after ministry staff member Hwang U-ung said he heard stories about the area from his mother and suggested an investigation.

According to Hwang, locals said U.S. soldiers were buried in a nearby mountain, and superstition suggested digging in the area would bring bad luck.

The Korean War began in June 1950, when North Korean forces invaded Seoul, and continued for three years until a truce was signed in 1953.

Friday 8 May 2015

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