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UN sets up ‘independent’ group to review UNRWA

Guterres said the group will “assess” whether UNWRA is doing “everything within its power to ensure neutrality…reports Asian Lite News

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has established an “independent” Review Group to look into how UNRWA (UN Relief Workers Agency for the Palestinian areas) workers took part in the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7.

Guterres said the group will “assess” whether UNWRA is doing “everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made.”

The review will be led by Catherine Colonna, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, who will work with three research organizations: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The Review Group will begin its work on February 14, 2024 and is expected to submit an interim report to the Secretary-General late March 2024, with a final report expected to be completed by late April 2024. The final report will be made public.

The Review Group will determine what, if any, “mechanisms and procedures” that UNWRA has in place to “ensure neutrality,” if they have been implemented and assess the “adequacy” of those mechanisms and procedures and whether they are fit for purpose, including in relation to the management of risks and taking into account the particular operational, political and security context in which the Agency works.

It will also make recommendations for the” improvement and strengthening, if necessary,” of the mechanisms and procedures that are currently in place or for the creation of new and alternative mechanisms and procedures that “would be better fit for purpose.”

Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees was notified that its Israeli bank account was blocked over unusual activity as an expert explained to the Tazpit Press Service that “every war is ultimately reflected in the banks.”

Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s largest and oldest banking institutions, alerted UNRWA to suspicious financial transfers, but the UN agency did not provide satisfactory explanations, prompting bank officials to freeze the account, the Israel Hayom daily reported on Sunday.

In particular, the bank said it was unable to trace the source or final destination of several money transfers, and is concerned money is being used to fund terrorism, the report said.

Officials from Bank Leumi and UNRWA did not respond to the Tazpit Press Service’s requests to comment.

Israel demands that UNRWA be stripped of its authority in Gaza amid revelations that members of the agency’s staff participated in Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel. The US and 14 other countries have suspended funding for the agency.

Israel provided intelligence incriminating 12 staffers of their participation, including using UNRWA vehicles and facilities as 1,200 Israelis were massacred. The New York Times received leaked information incriminating 12 UNRWA employees of participating in the attack and even using agency vehicles.

The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported that one in 10 UNRWA employees is either an active member or has ties to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

We Had the Information ‘For Years’: “The basic idea says that when there is a war beyond weapons, there is the economic weapon, and every war is ultimately reflected in the banks,” Dr. Alex Coman told TPS. Coman is a senior financial analyst and a professor at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo.

Banks monitor transactions as part of their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing efforts. These measures are in place to detect and prevent the illicit flow of funds. Banks that don’t comply can be cut off from the SWIFT network, which enables banks and other financial institutions worldwide to send and receive standardized, secure messages, such as payment orders, fund transfer instructions, and other financial information, Coman explained.

“This mechanism worked very well when the accounts of many Russian oligarchs abroad were blocked” after Russia invaded Ukraine, he noted. (ANI/TPS)

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UN Warns of Gaza Shutdown Without Funding

The US, Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands decided to pause funding to UNRWA…reports Asian Lite News

Funding suspension would force UNRWA to halt all its activities in the conflict-ridden Gaza Strip in a few weeks, the UN relief agency’s Commissioner-General said.

Philippe Lazzarini said on his social media X account on Sunday that the suspension decision is “regrettable,” stressing that the agency “relies on the support of our partners to maintain our humanitarian response to two million people in Gaza and Palestinian refugees in the region”.

The US, Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands decided to pause funding to UNRWA after Israel accused several UNRWA employees of suspected involvement in the October 7 attack on Israel last year, Xinhua news agency reported.

Lazzarini said he was “shocked” upon knowing the accusations against its employees, adding that the agency has decided to “dismiss the employees concerned and to commence an investigation without delay”.

“UNRWA is also implementing structural reforms to enhance the commitment of its staff to humanitarian principles, including the principle of neutrality, with independent experts responsible for assessing and deepening our efforts in this direction,” he noted.

UNRWA, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1949, is tasked to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees registered in the agency’s operational areas until a just and lasting solution to their plight is found.

On Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani condemned Israel’s accusations against UNRWA employees.

“The accusations hurled by Israel against some of the UNRWA staff members are another malicious act in completion of Israel’s inhumane actions against Palestinians,” he was quoted in a statement published on the Ministry’s website as saying.

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UN Seeks $4.2B to Support Ukraine

The UN aims to aid 8.5 million people in Ukraine and support 2.3 million refugees and host communities in eastern Europe….reports Asian Lite News

The United Nations has emphasised the necessity of $4.2 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukraine in 2024, addressing both the conflict’s impact within the country and the millions of refugees. While recent headlines have focused on the Gaza war, Russia’s prolonged conflict in Ukraine is approaching its third year this February.

The UN’s ambitious goal is to assist 8.5 million people within Ukraine and provide aid to 2.3 million refugees and their host communities in eastern Europe. A recent surge in attacks has underscored the severe toll on civilians, magnified by the approaching harsh winter, intensifying the urgent need for life-saving humanitarian assistance.

The full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022 marked the largest European invasion since World War II, resulting in the continent’s most significant refugee crisis since the 1939-1945 conflict. The UN estimates that 14.6 million people, constituting 40% of Ukraine’s population, will require humanitarian aid in 2024, with a primary focus on reaching the 8.5 million most vulnerable.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths emphasized the dire situation for children living in frontline communities, expressing the urgent need to provide more humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The ongoing conflict has led to repeated strikes on homes, schools, hospitals, and essential infrastructure like water, gas, and power systems, causing profound societal damage and consequences.

2 killed as Russian shelling hits Kiev apartment building.(photo:SES Ukraine)

Ukraine claims to destroy Russian spy plane

Ukraine has claimed to destroy a Russian spy plane over the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi initially said on Telegram on Monday that two aircraft had been destroyed, writing: “Warriors of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed an enemy A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft and an enemy IL-22 air control centre,” CNN reported

He also thanked the Air Force for “the perfectly planned and executed operation” in southern Ukraine.

In a statement, the Ukrainian Air Forces called the special operation in the Azov Sea region “successful”.

Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, later said in a post on Facebook that one of the Russian planes targeted was able to make a landing, but said it appeared “beyond repair”.

“So, no matter how you slice it, the target is destroyed, and resuscitation will not help!” he wrote.

“The long-range radar detection aircraft A-50 was and is a priority target for us. And until today, the destruction of this aircraft seemed an impossible task for the Air Force.”

Information about the downing of two Russian military aircraft by Ukrainian forces over the Sea of Azov appeared in social media late on Sunday, CNN reported.

Russia has not commented on the development.

The Sea of Azov separates Ukraine and Russia at the northeastern point of the Black Sea, north of the occupied Crimean Peninsula.

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UN Urges Israel to Stop Killings in West Bank

On October 27, Israel initiated a ground offensive in Gaza in response to a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7. The assault resulted in 1200 Israeli casualties and over 200 individuals being taken hostage….reports Asian Lite News

The UN has urged the Israel to end unlawful killings against the Palestinians, saying that the human rights situation in the occupied West Bank is rapidly deteriorating, media reports said.

“The use of military tactics and weapons in law enforcement contexts, the use of unnecessary or disproportionate force, and the enforcement of broad, arbitrary and discriminatory movement restrictions that affect Palestinians are extremely troubling,” UN Rights Chief Volker Turk said in a statement.

Israel launched a ground offensive inside Gaza on October 27 after Hamas attacked Israel in a surprise attack on October 7 in which 1200 Israelis were killed and over 200 were taken hostage.

Since the outbreak of hostilities between Hamas and Israel, at least 21,110 Palestinians have been killed mostly being children and women while 53,688 Palestinians have been injured.

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UN Seeks Help For Refugees

UN Chief Antonio Guterres stressed that resources to support refugees are “under enormous strain”, especially in the Global South which bears a disproportionate amount of the burden…reports Asian Lite News

While some of the world’s poorest countries are welcoming refugees “with great hospitality”, the international community must match that generosity with far greater solidarity, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday.

Speaking at the closing of the Global Refugee Forum, which ran from 13th to 15th December, the UN Secretary-General said that protection and help for these most vulnerable of people, was “an obligation shared by all of humanity”.

He was speaking after three days of intensive activity geared towards finding solutions and building partnerships, which saw pledges from multiple stakeholders that have the potential to generate “a bright burst of light” for the millions displaced worldwide.

Guterres stressed that resources to support refugees are “under enormous strain”, especially in the Global South which bears a disproportionate amount of the burden.

He noted it had been a year of “intense political division, conflict and climate catastrophe”, which has pushed record numbers of people to flee.

“From the Sahel to Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen – to the DRC, Myanmar and Somalia – to the utter devastation we are witnessing in Gaza,” he emphasised that “humanitarian nightmares” had created and exacerbated the displacement of 114 million people during the year, 36 million of whom are refugees.

Guterres asked not to forget that the statistics represent real people with legitimate hopes and dreams: women and men with skills and ideas, children with plans and ambitions.

These are people, he underscored, who have the same rights to safety, food, water, shelter and dignity.

And as the refugees deserve every chance at a better future, protection and support should not be a lottery, or a disproportionate burden that falls on a few countries and communities based on geography.

“It is an obligation shared by all of humanity,” he declared in his remarks.

Guterres praised the commitments made by stakeholders, saying that they “breathe life into the great promise of the Global Compact on Refugees not only to support refugees, but to ease pressure on host countries and tackle the systemic issues that cause people to flee in the first place”.

Afghan-Pakistan relations in turmoil as Pak detains refugees.(photo:IN)

Pledges for the common good

Among the key pledges made were commitments to resettlement and community sponsorship.

Countries agreed to resettle one million refugees by 2030, supported by a new global sponsorship fund. This fund aims to assist an additional three million refugees in accessing third countries through innovative community sponsorship schemes.

Refugee participation took centre stage, with more than 100 organisations committed to promoting meaningful engagement by including refugees on governing boards and involving them in decisions that directly impact their lives.

This move is seen as a crucial step toward recognising and leveraging the valuable perspectives and contributions of those displaced.

“By rallying around the needs of refugees at this Forum, you are all providing a bright burst of light in what has been a dark and troubling year,” the UN Secretary-General summed up the Forum’s work, encouraging its participants to continue matching the courage and resilience of every refugee with a steadfast commitment to helping them rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

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India calls for zero tolerance for terror actors, sponsors at UN

While speaking at the UNSC Open Debate on Small Arms, she highlighted that India has suffered from cross-border terrorism and violence carried by terrorist groups using illicit weapons….reports Asian Lite News

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj, called on the UN on Friday to exercise zero tolerance against the terror groups and their sponsors, adding that the illicit traffic of small arms and light is a key enabler for sustaining conflicts by armed and terrorist groups.

“The illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons and related ammunition is a key enabler for sustaining conflicts by armed and terrorist groups. This necessitates the need for coordinated efforts by states to limit the acquisition of small arms and light weapons by such actors. It is therefore important that this council exercise a zero tolerance for terror actors and their sponsors, their possession and misuse of small arms and light weapons,” Kamboj said.

While speaking at the UNSC Open Debate on Small Arms, she highlighted that India has suffered from cross-border terrorism and violence carried by terrorist groups using illicit weapons.

She said, “Having fought the scourge of terrorism for several decades. India is aware of the perils of the diversion and illicit transfer of small arms and ammunition to armed non state actors and terrorists. We have suffered immensely due to cross-border terrorism and violence carried out by terrorist groups using these illicit weapons smuggled across our borders, including now through the use of drones.”

Kamboj added, “The increase in volume and the quality of the arsenal acquired by these terrorist organizations reminds us time and again that they cannot exist without the sponsorship or support of states.”

Asserting the need of International cooperation to identify diversion points and trafficking routes, India supported the implementation of UN program of Action and the international tracing instrument for controlling the illicit trafficking.

Kamboj stated, “International cooperation is essential in strengthening existing mechanisms for information exchange to identify diversion points, trafficking routes, customs control, cross border cooperation, etcetera, to prevent diversion and the illicit transfers of small arms and life weapons and their ammunition.”

She said further, “India accordingly supports the redoubling of efforts at the national and global levels to strengthen the implementation of the UN program of Action and the international tracing instrument, including through national legislative measures and enforcement, exporter controls information sharing and capacity building. “

Kamboj highlighted India’s efforts for controlling export of all munitions and related items and shared India’s participation in the ” Wassenaar Arrangement”.

She said, “India maintains strict, export controls over all munitions and related items, including small arms and light weapons. Our commitment is also reflected in India’s participation in the Wassenaar Arrangement. As plenary chair for the year 20 23, India remains committed to work towards a further strengthening of the global non proliferation architecture, including in the area of small arms and light weapons. Thank you very much.” (ANI)

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UAE President, UN Chief Discuss COP28 Agenda

The meeting also addressed cooperation between the UAE and UN agencies, particularly in supporting world peace…reports Asian Lite News

President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Expo City Dubai.

During the meeting, His Highness and the UN Secretary-General discussed issues on the COP28 agenda and the importance of the conference in enhancing international collective action to address climate challenges in a manner that serves humanity and future generations.

The UN Secretary-General commended the initiative by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in establishing a US$30 billion fund for global climate solutions to bridge the climate financing gap and facilitate affordable access.

The meeting also addressed cooperation between the UAE and UN agencies, particularly in supporting world peace, climate action, and sustainable development, as well as humanitarian work regionally and internationally.

Additionally, both sides reviewed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, with particular emphasis on developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They underscored the need for international action to reach a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, protect civilians, prevent their forced displacement, and ensure the safe, sustained, and at-scale delivery of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, efforts to prevent the escalation of regional conflict and work towards peace based on the two-state solution were discussed as essential for achieving regional stability, creating an environment conducive to enhanced cooperation in the Middle East, and fostering the development and prosperity of its peoples.

The meeting was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Advisor for Special Affairs at the Ministry of Presidential Court; Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and COP28 President; Mohammed Alsuwaidi, Minister of Investment; Mohamad Issa Abushahab, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the UAE to the United Nations; and the delegation accompanying the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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UN Honours Climate Champions at COP28

The two award winners will be celebrated at an award ceremony on Friday….reports Asian Lite News

Two young people will be celebrated as winners of the UN Global Climate Action Awards during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai later this week.

Michelle Zarate Palomec of Mexico and Sebastian Mwaura of Kenya were selected from hundreds of applicants from 120 countries for their outstanding efforts to make their communities more sustainable, resilient and equitable places to live.

Palomec (27) leads efforts within an organization called Espacio de Encuentro de las Culturas Originarias to provide access to clean and sufficient water for highly marginalised indigenous communities in the state of Oaxaca, where water resources are scarce and water pollution accentuates social and gender inequalities.

“The communities involved in the project benefit from affordable and innovative eco-technologies for water sanitation, micro-watershed recovery and the ability to adapt to the main hydro-meteorological events to which they are vulnerable,” said Palomec, who won under the Award’s “resilient nature” category.

Mwaura (35) is the co-founder of Yna Kenya, whose primary objective is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by providing a robust charging network that is powered by renewable energy sources.

He also started the HerGo programme to bring women into the e-mobility transport sector, aiming at creating 12,000 jobs for women as drivers and charging-station owners.

“This initiative was born from our commitment to mitigating climate change by promoting renewable energy in the transportation sector,” said Mwaura, who won under the Award’s “energy transition” category.

“The widespread adoption of electric vehicles and the availability of a robust charging network play a pivotal role in achieving a sustainable and carbon-neutral future.”

The two award winners will be celebrated at an award ceremony on Friday.

Singer-songwriter, organiser of the Battery Tour renewable-energy powered concert series, and one of the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Young Leaders for the SDGs’ AY Young will perform, as well as Erick Marques, multimedia artist and DJ from the Terena ethnic group of Brazil.

Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, is expected to speak at the COP28 Award Ceremony.

The awards have been spearheaded by UN Climate Change since 2011.

The 2023 edition of the awards are implemented in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to IRENA.

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Futurists Seek Creation of UN Framework to Solve Global Challenges

Dr. Jamie Metzl, founder of “OneShared.World” and author of Hacking Darwin, said the world struggles to address its most significant challenges “because it is not organised”….reports Asian Lite News

Governments and the United Nations should create an internationally adopted framework specifically designed to help solve global challenges, a world-leading futurist told the Dubai Future Forum 2023, the world’s largest gathering of futurists.

Dr. Jamie Metzl, founder of “OneShared.World” and author of Hacking Darwin, said the world struggles to address its most significant challenges “because it is not organised”.

“We cannot solve climate change while everyone is competing with each other … We need to do the equivalent of finding a universal flu vaccine. What is the common element, and how do we target that? That is why we need to think of global frameworks,” he said during a panel titled ‘Law and Order: How Do We Hold Technology Accountable in the Future?’.

The panel, held under one of the forum’s four themes – Transcending Collaboration – explored specific challenges relating to the rapid emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). Olivier Desbiey from “AXA Group” described how regulating technology “is a global concern and we need global solutions,” while Dr. June Brawner from “The Royal Society” underlined the need for international collaboration on a regulatory level, calling for governments to “share best practices”.

The Transcending Collaboration theme examined the proliferation of AI, the future dynamics between humans and machines, and how societies can adapt to rapid technological advancements.

Tackling a panel titled “Bionic Being: Will Wearable Technology Provide Us with the Option of a New Sixth Sense?”, Prof. Paolo Dario from “Dubai Future Labs” likened wearables to having companions. Ken Chua from “(these)abilities” said all wearables must undergo community testing. Pawel Swieboda from “NeuroCentury” concurred with the concept of purpose-driven wearables, noting that it was key to drive the sector to reach 1.1 billion connected wearable devices in 2022.

During a panel titled “Through the Looking Glass: Are We Ready for the Age of AI?” Prof. Pascale Fung from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, busted the myth of personal data used by generative AI tools, specifically large language models (LLMs).

She noted that they are trained on publicly available data, and all data is in the hands of the beholder, so it is up to the user to provide the rights to access. She said, “We need to be mindful of what we are developing, but ultimately, the ethical questions are posed on the implementation stage, not development. Hence, we need to proceed cautiously but with optimism.”

William Hurley, better known as whurley*, from “Strangeworks”, spoke of the inaccurate doomsday predictions brought on by the spread of AI tools. He noted that we are at a key moment in time, with a very short window to affect the technology, and therefore, we should be looking at ethics, development, and advancement. He cited Japan’s light-touch approach to AI regulations when calling for a balanced approach to implementing technology and AI in the real world.

Prof. Hoda Alkhzaimi from Emaratsec highlighted that the AI boom unravelled several issues that must be addressed. She noted that it increased the visibility of global issues while describing a drive to ensure solutions have technological sovereignty.

During a panel titled “Anticipate Responsibly: How Should Governments Act on Foresight?” Aarathi Krishnan, Risk Anticipation and Strategic Foresight Expert, noted that our systems, in a multilateral space, are not set up to understand or act on the emerging risk because they look at risks in silos – economic, health, nature and others, whereas in reality, they are interconnected.

Dimitri Lorenzani highlighted the need for collective intelligence to move to foresight optimism – to be honest about an inconvenient truth to address it and not be pessimistic.

The second Dubai Future Forum, which began on 27th November and concludes today, at the Museum of the Future, includes more than 150 speakers from around the globe who are engaging in 70 dialogue sessions, keynote speeches, and workshops.

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Renewed Conflict in Myanmar Forces 26,000 to Flee: UN

According to UN, the latest figures bring the total number of internally displaced people due to conflict between the two sides to approximately 90,000…reports Asian Lite News

More than 26,000 from Myanmar’s Rakhine state have been displaced since Monday after fresh fighting between Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and the Arakan Army (AA) according to the United Nations, CNN reported on Saturday.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement that the latest figures bring the total number of internally displaced people due to conflict between the two sides to approximately 90,000.

Notably, 11 deaths and over 30 injuries have been reported since an informal ceasefire agreed a year ago broke on November 13, the statement read.

It added that over 100 people have reportedly been detained by the MAF and five by the AA, CNN reported.

Battles between the military and resistance groups have unfolded almost daily across Myanmar since Army General Min Aung Hlaing seized power in February 2021, plunging the country into economic chaos and fresh civil war, according to CNN.

The most recent fighting began when the AA reportedly attacked two border posts near the Maungdaw township, which is near the border with Bangladesh.

The two parties had previously established an informal ceasefire in November 2022, according to the UN body.

It added that there have been reports of MAF shelling in AA-controlled areas and that the military had conducted at least one operation backed by air and naval support.

Most humanitarian activities have been suspended due to the fighting and “virtually all roads and waterways” between Rakhine townships have been blocked, CNN reported citing the statement..

Airstrikes and ground attacks on what the MAF calls “terrorist” targets have occurred regularly since 2021 and killed thousands of civilians, including children, CNN reported citing monitoring groups.

Meanwhile, around 5000 people from Myanmar have entered the Indian state of Mizoram following a fresh airstrike by the Myanmar army in the bordering areas along the Indo-Myanmar border.

In the wake of the situation. India has called for the end of violence after an airstrike at the Indo-Myanmar border and emphasised the resolution of the situation through constructive dialogue.

“Our position on the ongoing situation in Myanmar is very clear. We want secession of the violence and the resolution of the situation through constructive dialogue. We reiterate our call for the return of peace, stability and democracy in Myanmar,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday in a weekly briefing.

Bagchi further emphasised that, as a result of fighting in the Rikhawdar area, which is opposite Zokhawthar on the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram, in the Chin state of Myanmar, “there has been a movement of Myanmar nationals to the Indian side. We are deeply concerned with such incidents close to our border.”

“We reiterate our call for the return of peace, stability and democracy in Myanmar,” Bagchi stressed.

According to Reuters, Myanmar’s military junta is facing its biggest test since taking power in a 2021 coup after three ethnic minority forces launched a coordinated offensive in late October, capturing some towns and military posts.

Last week, the military-installed president said that Myanmar was at risk of “breaking apart” because of an ineffective response to the rebellion. As per Reuters, the new combat will be another blow for the junta, which is increasingly stretched amid mounting armed opposition, fuelled by anger over the coup and crackdown. (ANI)

Myanmar Nationals in India Fear Going Back

Myanmar nationals who fled from their country following the recent airstrike by the Myanmar army in the bordering areas of Myanmar are now taking shelter in the Zokhawthar area in the Champhai district of Mizoram.

Despite losing everything, the people of Sekan village who are taking refuge in India are hopeful to return to their native country.

Around 500 people from Sekan village crossed over the border and entered the Zokhawthar area, which is the nearest village in Champhai district and shares an unfenced border with Myanmar.

According to the villagers of Sekan village, almost all houses in the village were burnt down by the Myanmar army and they lost everything.

Most of the villagers are marginal farmers and some are construction workers. They have been living in different refugee camps in the Zokhawthar area since September 2021.

Following the recent airstrike by the Myanmar army in the bordering areas of Myanmar, the refugees are now afraid to go back to their own country.

Lalremruati, a mother of a 3-month-old child and resident of Sekan village of Chin State, who is now living with her family members at a refugee camp in Zokhawthar, told ANI that she was in China when the military coup happened in her own country.

“My family had faced so many problems. The military came to our village and went one by one, knocked on the doors and asked them to come out. Some people were very scared. The military broke out the doors and let them come out. At that time was very bad. Last year, the military burned down the houses. The second time, they also burnt many houses in our village. Our village is almost finished. We have lost everything,” Lalremruati said.

She further said that, in Zokhawthar, the people of Mizoram, YMA, NGOs are taking care of the refugees.

“They are helping us to stay here. They are providing us with food. Many people in our village are now residing in the Zokhawthar area and some people are living in other parts of Champhai district. We want to go back to our own village. But, there is nothing. People are crying. We have lost everything, we have lost our house. We fear….. we are very sad. All the people cry inside the camps. We have no future anymore. We can’t work here. People of other villages also faced similar problems. Our village was badly affected,” Lalremruati said.

Vanhningcer, another refugee of Sekan village and a mother of two child said that, the present situation in Myanmar is very bad.

“My home was also burnt down. In this situation, we can’t go back to our village. Many people died, there was no work for us and we hadn’t money, so we come to India. We want to go back, but can’t, because my village is no more. We had lost everything, we have no home to live,” Vanhningcer said.

Hrangnothanga, a villager of Sekon village who is now residing along with his family at a refugee camp in the Zokhawthar area, said that he also lost everything and now he is now thinking about the future of his children and his family. (ANI)

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