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 ROHINGYA EXODUS FROM MYANMAR HITS 500,000

Over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state for Bangladesh since new violence erupted there last month. In a statement on Wednesday, UN Refugee Agency Spokesman Joseph Tripura said Bangladesh authorities are building a massive new camp near the border with Myanmar to accommodate them.

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Western powers urge Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to push for end to violence

NEW YORK (Reuters)  18 Sep, 2017: Britain, France and Australia urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to push for an end to military violence against Rohingya Muslims, while her national security adviser said those who had fled could return but the process had to be discussed. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hosted a ministerial meeting to discuss ways to resolve the Rohingya crisis, which included ministers from Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Australia, Indonesia, Sweden, Bangladesh, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and a representative of the European Union.  ‘Reuters’

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‘The violence must stop’: Diplomats see only devastation in Rohingya villages

By: Lindsay Murdoch : Bangkok: Australian ambassador to Myanmar Nicholas Coppel and 19 other diplomats have described the humanitarian situation in Rakhine as “dire” after Myanmar authorities allowed them to briefly tour parts of strife-torn state.

But the diplomats failed to condemn atrocities committed by the country’s security forces and vigilante Buddhist mobs against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority there. The United Nations has described the violence as ethnic cleansing and Human Rights Watch said it amounts to crimes against humanity.

The exodus is the largest movement of a civilian population in Asia in decades and has created an emergency in squalid refugee camps just over the border in Bangladesh. In a statement after the one-day government-sponsored tour,  Mr Coppel and the other diplomats called on Myanmar authorities to fully investigate allegations of human rights violations and allow unimpeded humanitarian access to Rakhine.  “We saw villages that had been burnt to the ground and emptied of inhabitants,” the statement said. Survivors have described rapes and indiscriminate shooting of Rohingya trying to flee. The statement expressed “our deep concern about violence and mass displacement” of people in the state. ‘Sydney Morning Herald’

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Sikhs come to aid of Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Burma for Bangladesh

By : Jon Sharman (Indipendent)

 Sikh volunteers say they have begun handing out food and water to Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Burma. The Khalsa Aid charity said volunteers from its India arm were “working in tough conditions on the border areas” in Bangladesh to provide aid. The group, which is registered within the UK, had reportedly reached the village of Teknaf in the Cox’s Bazar area, which has become a crossing point for tens of thousands of Rohingya. Amarpreet Singh, managing director of Khalsa Aid India, told “We had come prepared for providing relief to some 50,000 people . They are living without water, food, clothes and shelter. They are sitting wherever they can find a corner.”

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Bangladesh border guards ‘burning Rohingya boats

(By : Kathleen Prior, Cox’s bazar )

(22 Sep 2017): Bangladeshi border guards are setting fire to boats used to carry Rohingya refugees in an effort to stop the influx of people fleeing from Burma, human rights groups have warned. Boat owners in southeast Bangladesh have made significant profits by picking up refugees and ferrying them across the border to safety, but Bangladeshi security forces are now trying to deter the practice by torching boats. From the beach at Shahpuri, on the border with Burma, also known as Myanmar, Telegraph saw several fires burning and later saw the charred remains of wooden hulls strewn across the beach. “Local people told me boatmen caught dropping Rohingya people here are having their boats burned as a punishment and warning. It’s deemed necessary as border control,” said Ashiqur Rahman, from Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human rights group.

‘Courtesy Telegraph’

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60 Rohingya dead as boat capsizes off Bangladesh

(Friday 29 Sep, 2017)  At least 60 people, among them women and children, are likely to have lost their lives following an incident in which a boat carrying Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar capsized in rough waters off Bangladesh.Witnesses and survivors said the incident took place on Thursday, when the vessel overturned in waters close to Patuwartek, some eight kilometers off Inani Beach in Cox’s Bazar District, after it was lashed y torrential rain and high winds.

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Top Kashmir Militant, Abu Ismail, Is Killed by Indian Forces

SRINAGAR, (14 Sep, 2017) India  Indian security forces said that they had killed one of the most wanted militants in the Kashmir Valley, a man they said was responsible for a recent attack on pilgrims who were visiting a religious shrine. The authorities said they had fatally shot the militant, Abu Ismail, who was connected to several recent attacks, and a man whom they called a fellow “terrorist” who was with him, after a brief gun battle on the outskirts of Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar. “It was a very brief and crisp encounter,” said Munir Khan, the Kashmir police chief.

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Amnesty calls for ban on pellet shotguns in Indian-held Kashmir

SRINAGAR: The Amnesty International  reiterated its call for a ban on pellet-firing shotguns used by Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir to quell civilian protests. In a report, the rights group said it had interviewed 88 people whose eyesight had been damaged by the metal shot from the pump-action guns. Two of the victims had been completely blinded.

“The injuries and deaths caused by this cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is,” Akar Patel, executive director at Amnesty International India, said in a statement. “There is no proper way to use pellet-firing shotguns. It is irresponsible of the authorities to continue the use of the shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do.”

Government forces in Indian-held Kashmir have been using pellet guns since 2010 as a ‘non-lethal’ weapon following wide-scale civilian protests against Indian occupation. After a spate of gruesome injuries last year that earned the title ‘epidemic of dead eyes’, Amnesty and other rights groups called for a complete ban on the use of the shotguns. A single cartridge fired releases at least 500 high-speed metal pellets. These lodge in any available body part and are difficult to remove. “In some cases, those injured by pellet-firing shotguns still have the metal pellets lodged in their skulls, near their eyes,” said Dr Zahoor Wani, the lead campaigner in the group. In its report, Amnesty said it interviewed people aged from nine to 65. Among them was nine-year-old Asif Ahmad Shiekh, whose eyes were damaged by the pellets.

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At least 8,500 refugees drowned on way to Europe since death of Alan Kurdi

( Sep 02 2017): Overall refugee and migrants arrivals have fallen, but the UNHCR has warned the Mediterranean is as deadly as ever At least 8,500 refugees and migrants have drowned while crossing the Mediterranean since the death of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi two years ago, according to the latest figures from the UNHCR. Ahead of  second anniversary of Kurdi’s death body lying face down on the sand near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on 2 September 2015 dominated front pages worldwide. The UN relief agency said that although the number of arrivals in Europe has decreased significantly since he washed up on a Turkish beach, many refugees and migrants continue to attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Italy and elsewhere. UNHCR goodwill ambassador, has been an advocate for refugees since 2006, travelling to Afghanistan, Chad, Iraq, Jordan and Uganda. The new mortality figures, released late show that 4,337 people are believed to have died since September 2016 while attempting to reach Europe. Most departed from Libya bound for Turkey or from Turkey bound for Greece.

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Air Freight between Afghanistan and India

On 31 July 2017, a number of traders from Afghanistan said tons of fresh fruit has gone to waste at the Hamid Karzai international Airport because of the delay in cargo flights to India. The traders said 42 tons of fresh fruit was transported to the airport on 28 July 2017 and was scheduled to have been flown out on 28 July 2017. However this did not happen. Ariana Afghan Airlines, that runs the cargo service to India, said they rent a plane from another company but do not have control over flight schedules. It might be a pressure tactics by India to further pressurize Afghan government, which is dilly dallying to formally invite Indian forces to contribute in security setup of the country i.e. like NATO forces. U.S is pushing Afghanistan government for that but Afghanistan is still resisting the move.

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INDIA WON’T DEPLOY TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 | IANS | New Delhi

“There shall not be boots from India on the ground in Afghanistan,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a joint media conference with visiting US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis after talks with him. The minister was replying to a question about India’s contribution in Afghanistan and whether it would deploy its troops there. Mattis is the first high ranking official of the Trump administration to visit India and the US has been wanting Indian military presence in Afghanistan. Sitharaman said India’s contribution to Afghanistan has been there for a very long time in development activities like building dams, schools, hospitals, roads and any institution which the war-torn country may require. “We are also at the moment training their officials in good governance… India’s contribution has been there and we shall expand if necessary,” she said.

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India must be prepared for conflict on western and northern fronts: Indian Army Chief

( 06 Sep 2017): New Delhi [India], Sept. 6 (ANI): Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that India should be prepared for conflict on its borders, considering the prevailing situation on the western and northern fronts of the country. Speaking at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) on the Future Contours and Trends of Warfare, General Rawat said that no scope of reconciliation can be seen on the western adversary (Pakistan) because the military, the polity and the people of the region are made to believe that India is all out to bring their nation into pieces.

“The kind of propaganda that is prevailing on the west makes them believes that India is their long term adversary and will continue to remain. Therefore, while they have launched this proxy war against us, how long will the country (India) will be able to bear this proxy war or when will the country decide that the threshold level has been crossed that is something very difficult to predict and because of this proxy war there is always scope for conflict on the western side,” he said.

Taking about the northern adversary of India (China), he said that “flexing of muscles has started” and added that “testing India’s limit for threshold is something we have to be worried about and remain prepared for situation emerging which would gradually emerge into conflict.”

General Rawat further said that a nation should always be prepared for war as when one starts believing or are made to believe that there will be no war then the kind of budgetary support that the military forces deserve starts dwindling. He also pressed on the importance of fighting the war in an integrated manner, with all the three forces fighting together.

 (Courtesy  Asian News International ANI)   This story has not been edited. It has been published as provided by ANI

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Saab to join hands with Adani to manufacture Gripen fighter jets in India

New Delhi (1-9-2017) : Swedish defence giant Saab and Indian conglomerate Adani group on Friday announced a collaboration in defence manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment, mainly eyeing a contract for single-engine fighter jets for the Indian Air Force. Announcing the deal, the two companies said the project would encompass design, development and production of Gripen jets for India in line with the Make in India initiative. The government is set to procure a fleet of single-engine fighters for the IAF and US defence firm Lockheed Martin will be a major competitor for Saab for the deal. The CEO and President of Saab, Hakan Buskhe, said the partnership is aimed at producing single engine fighter jets and other defence products for India under the country’s recently unveiled “strategic partnership” model.

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Indian Navy gets first surface-to-air missile jointly developed with Israel

1-9-2017: NEW DELHI  The first Indian produced Long Range Surface to Air missile by Israel Aerospace Industries has been given to the Indian Navy, according to Jerusalem Post. The delivery was made by Indian Minister of Defense Arun Jaitley earlier this week after the missile was presented to him by IAI and Indian business officials in Hyderabad. The LRSAM, or Barak-8 naval air defense system, is jointly developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in close collaboration with Israel’s Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI). The production lines integrated Israeli-made and Indian-made assemblies for the weapon. IAI said the missile features advanced phased-array radar and command-and-control system, launchers and missiles with advanced RF seekers for protection against a variety of aerial, naval and airborne threats. The LRSAM is operational with the Indian air force, Indian navy and Israel Defense Forces.

India is Israel’s top destination for arms exports, buying 41 per cent of export between 2012 and 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent global conflict and arms-research institute. Israel is India’s third-largest source of arms, with a 7.2 per cent share of imports between 2012 and 2016, next to the US (14 per cent) and Russia (68 per cent).

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TRUMP ADMIN STRONGLY SUPPORTS SALE OF F-16, F-18 JETS TO INDIA

 07 September 2017 | PTI | Washington

Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary of state for the South and Central Asian Affairs, told a Congressional Subcommittee in a written submission that defence cooperation with India would be an important pillar in the bilateral relationship as it needs the country to be a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific region. In this context, the Trump administration has informed the Congress that it “strongly supports” the sale of F-18 and F-16 fighter proposals put forward by Boeing and Lockheed Martin respectively. These proposals have the potential to take India US defence relationship to the next level, the official said. She highlighted that the region serves as the fulcrum of global trade and commerce, with nearly half of the world’s 90,000 commercial vessels, many sailing under the US flag, and two-thirds of traded oil travelling through the region. Wells is also scheduled to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on “Maintaining US Influence in South Asia: The FY 2018 Budget”.

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Las Vegas shooting death toll rises to 58

No apparent connection to international terror

LAS VEGAS: (Oct 1 , 2017) At least 58 people were killed and 515 were injured in Las Vegas Sunday night when a gunman opened fire on a music festival crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. A 64-year-old man ‘Stephen Paddock’ armed with more than 10 rifles rained down gunfire on a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday.

The “nonstop gunfire,” according to one witness, sent more than 22,000 country music fans scrambling for their lives. Two sources familiar with the investigation said there was a combination of rifles and handguns at the scene, and one of the sources said there were 19 weapons in the room.

Terrified bystanders ducked, ran and then sprang into action, frantically caring for the wounded. Concertgoers who had just been enjoying the final night of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, which was taking place across the street from Mandalay Bay, made makeshift stretchers out of police barricades.

Officials said this morning they have found no connection between the shooting and any international terrorist group. Officials added that the suspect was not known to law enforcement.

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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may have caused up to $200 billion in damage, comparable to Katrina

The U.S. has been hit by two giant hurricanes.

By KARMA ALLEN, MAIA DAVIS ( Sep 11, 2017): Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused between $150 billion and $200 billion in damage to Texas and Florida, comparable to the costs from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, a according to a preliminary estimate from Moody’s Analytics. Hurricane Harvey battered Houston with record amounts of rain and flooding last month while Irma slammed Florida and other southeastern coastal states. But Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said rebuilding from the back-to-back storms will boost the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of this year and into 2018. “While at this point it’s hard to know how much [damage there is], the storms seem likely to have caused $150 billion to $200 billion in total damage to homes and furnishings, vehicles, commercial real estate, and public infrastructure. This is comparable to the property loss resulting from Hurricane Katrina,” Zandi’s analysis states.

The Moody’s economist added that a critical factor in determining the effect on the economy is “how much insurance money and government aid flows to the impacted regions, and how quickly these funds get there … As with most natural disasters in recent years, we anticipate that the combination of insurance money and government aid with roughly cover the full cost of the property damage and the lost economic output.”

AccuWeather President Joel Myers said in a statement  that his firm estimates Irma’s damages to cost about $100 billion and Harvey’s $190 billion for a total of $290 billion. Myers said the economic costs include disruptions to businesses, increased rates of unemployment, damage to infrastructure, crop losses, property damage and higher fuel prices. ‘Courtesy ABC News’

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Angela Merkel wins 4th term as chancellor of Germany

Sep 24, 2017: A far-right party just surged into third place. German politics is no longer politics as usual. Chancellor Angela Merkel clinched an historic fourth term in Germany’s election on Sunday, but her victory was clouded by the hard-Right AfD party winning its first seats in parliament. Angela Merkel, who after 12 years in power held a double-digit lead for most of the campaign, scored around 32.9 per cent of the vote with her conservative Christian Union (CDU/CSU) bloc. Its nearest rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD) and their candidate Martin Schulz, came in a distant second, with a post-war record low 20.8 per cent.

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North Korea Tested a Hydrogen Bomb Meant for Missiles

(02 Sep 2017) : North Korea lauded its sixth and strongest nuclear weapons test yet as a “complete success.” Pacific Rim leaders rushed to condemn North Korea as the isolated nation boasted in a televised address that it had developed a hydrogen bomb outfitted for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Photos of Kim Jong Un personally inspecting a supposed thermonuclear weapon preluded the test, which the U.S. Geological Survey detected through a 6.3-magnitude earthquake at around 12:30 p.m. local time.

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North Korea Overflies Japan With Another Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile: Early Analysis

September 15, 2017:  On Friday morning, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) from a launch site at Sunan, near Pyongyang International Airport, into the northern Pacific Ocean.  According to data released by the South Korean military, the missile flew to a range of approximately 3,700 kilometers while reaching an apogee of 770 kilometers over a flight time of 17 minutes. Japan warned civilians on Hokkaido of a missile overflight, activating sirens and issuing electronic alerts.

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North Korea says seeking military ‘equilibrium’ with U.S.

Reuter : North Korea said  it aims to reach an “equilibrium” of military force with the United States, which earlier signaled its patience for diplomacy is wearing thin after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan for the second time in under a month. “Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. And make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was quoted as saying by the state news agency, KCNA. Kim was shown beaming as he watched the missile fly from a moving launcher in photos released by the agency, surrounded by several officials.

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 A fire at an Islamic school in Malaysia killed at least 21 teenage boys

As the flames engulfed the building, the boys cried for help. The teens pressed their faces to the windows of their school dormitory, begging for rescue. They couldn’t escape the three-story building, witnesses said, because there were bars on most windows.  “The children were crying for help, but I couldn’t help them as the door was already on fire,” one neighbor told Reuters. At least 21 boys, ages 13 to 17, and two teachers were killed in the blaze Thursday at the Darul Koran Ittifaqiyah school in Kuala Lumpur, according to media reports.

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MEXICO: POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE TOPPLES BUILDINGS, Death toll tops 300

(19-9-2017): The toll is preliminary and could rise, as rescue operation is underway. In Mexico, at least one hundred and forty people have been killed after a powerful, 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Capital Mexico toppling buildings forcing thousands of people into the streets in panic. According to authorities, the toll is preliminary and could rise, as rescue operation is underway in the city of 20 million people.

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1 million Catalans march for independence in Barcelona on National Day

(Spain) : The rally marked the anniversary of the loss of Catalan independence to Spain in 1714 when Barcelona was captured by troops of Philip V of Spain. Over three hundred years later waving red and yellow striped flags, Catalonians poured onto the streets of their regional capital demanding the return of their autonomy. Chanting pro-independence slogans, the crowd carried massive ‘Si’ banners to convince people to vote ‘Yes’ in the planned referendum despite objections from the central government in Madrid.

 Oct 1 , 2017: Catalonia showdown: police storm polling stations, fire rubber bullets to halt independence vote. Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended the vote and the central government says it’s illegal.

Spanish national police moved to shut down a banned independence referendum in Catalonia on Sunday, confronting crowds of angry voters at some polling stations in a showdown that has raised fears of unrest across the wealthy northeastern region. Catalonia’s government spokesman says that the disputed independence referendum is still underway in 73 per cent of about 6,000 polling stations, despite the police crackdown.

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 Kurds Voted for Independence

IRAQ : Several million Kurds in Iraq have taken a symbolic step toward achieving a dream deferred since the end of World War I: establishing a homeland of their own. Often described as the world’s largest ethnic group without a distinct state, more than 30 million Kurds are spread across five countries. After decades of repression, millions of Kurds have generally thrived within their autonomous region in Iraq over the past two decades. But their step toward trying to declare an independent Kurdistan has angered the region’s biggest powers to the point of military action being threatened. And even the Kurds’ staunchest ally, the United States, has said it will not support independence.

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Kurdistan referendum results: 93% of Iraqi Kurds vote for independence, say reports

The results announced on Wednesday 27-9-2017 evening by election officials in Irbil, the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)’s capital. A total of 92.73 per cent said ‘yes’ in response to the question, “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the administration of the Region to become an independent state?”, head of the electoral commission Hendrin Mohammed told reporters.  Turn out had been high, with approximately 72 per cent of the 8.4 million strong population taking part.

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Iran, Iraq hold exercises near Iraqi Kurdistan

SULAIMANIYAH – Oct 2, 2017: Iranian and Iraqi forces conducted joint military exercises near the border with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, a Kurdish official said, following tensions over the Kurds’ independence vote.

Iraqi Kurds voted 92.7 percent in favour of independence on September 25 in a non-binding referendum held in defiance of the central government, which hit back in retaliation. Following the vote, Iraq, Iran and Turkey – which all have sizeable Kurdish minorities – took a series of measures to isolate Iraqi Kurdistan, including the suspension of international flights to and from its two main airports.

“Iraqi and Iranian units began exercises  with tanks and infantry only 250 metres (yards) from the border,” Shwan Abu Bakr, the Kurdish customs chief at the Bashmakh border post. “Iraqi forces are dressed in black and there is a large number of Iranian forces,” he said, the black uniforms indicating that the Iraqi forces were from the country’s elite Counter Terrorism Service.

The Iranian military on its website announced joint military exercises with units of the Iraqi army involving armour and artillery units as well as drones and other aviation. It appeared the manoeuvres were the first joint military exercises between Iran and Iraq since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. An Iranian military official announced on Saturday that the two countries would hold a joint military exercise in response to the referendum. Baghdad declared the ballot illegal and suspended flights in retaliation.

Turkey and Iran, which fear the vote will embolden their own sizeable Kurdish minorities, also threatened action against the Iraqi Kurds.

‘Courtesy AFP’

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 Severe Flooding in South Asia Has Caused More Than 1,200 Deaths This Summer

Most recorded deaths were in India, but many also died in neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal. A spokesperson for the Red Crescent Societies  (IFRC) tells that nearly a million houses have been damaged or destroyed in the three most affected countries. The U.N. estimates that more than 41 million people have been affected by the downpour. The monsoon season typically lasts from June to September. Poor areas of Nepal have been particularly hard-hit; more than 210,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by floods or landslides, and 143 people have died. In Bangladesh, roughly 8.6 million were affected, 142 died and enormous areas of farmland suffered damage, the IFRC said. In India, the flooding has affected more than 30 million people, while the financial capital Mumbai is reportedly paralyzed by the waters.

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