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Day: 20 June 2022

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US ban on imports from China's Xinjiang region takes effect

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesTough new US regulations on the import of goods from the Xinjiang region of China have come into effect.Under the rules, firms have to prove imports from the region are not produced using forced labour.US officials have said members of the minority Uyghur community in the region, who are predominantly Muslim, have been detained and made to work.China has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is holding Uyghurs in internment camps in Xinjiang.Several imports from the resource-rich region, including cotton and tomatoes, have already been banned from the US.The restrictions will be extended to all imports under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which took effect on Tuesday.In a statement late last week, US lawmakers said the law sends "a clear message that we will no longer remain complicit in the Chinese Communist Party's use of slave labour and egregious crimes against humanity"."Congress stands ready to work with President Biden and his administration to ensure this historic law is fully and rigorously implemented," US Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley and two other lawmakers said.Who are the Uyghurs? Xinjiang cotton: How do I know if it's in my jeans? According to the US Congress, China has detained more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang since April 2017.It believes tens of thousands of detainees have worked "at a fraction of minimum wage or without any compensation" in Xinjiang and other provinces "under the guise of poverty alleviation and industrial aid programmes".It said China also "interferes with audits and traditional due diligence efforts to vet goods and supply chains in Xinjiang... including by intimidating potential witnesses and concealing relevant information".China has denied the use of forced labour and said the camps in Xinjiang were "re-education" facilities used to combat terrorism.Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin recently called forced labour accusations "an out-and-out preposterous lie concocted by certain external forces".But leaked files and first-hand accounts from inside the camps, which were obtained by the BBC, have detailed an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture of ethnic minorities.Human rights groups have also accused the Chinese government of gradually stripping away the religious and other freedoms of Uyghurs through mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination and even forced sterilisation.What does it mean for brands?Scott Nova, executive director of the independent Workers Rights Consortium in Washington DC, said the UFLPA "will likely substantially reduce the practice of forced labour in Xinjiang" by "eliminating a large part of the market" for its goods."A crucial question is whether brands selling goods in the US will try to take advantage of the weaker protections in other consumer markets by directing goods with content from Xinjiang to those markets," Mr Nova said."Our coalition will be working to identify and publicly expose any brands and retailers that engage in this practice," he added.Laura Murphy, a human rights professor at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, said the European Union (EU) should impose a similar import ban on goods from Xinjiang."I think that citizens of the EU would be shocked to know that a ban on products known to be made with forced labour does not already exist," Prof Murphy said."But the EU also needs to be a leader in passing mandatory human rights due diligence. Both these tools are necessary to ensure that companies address the forced labour and other abuses in their supply chains," she added.Japanese retailers Uniqlo and Muji are among brands that have been scrutinised over materials from Xinjiang.In January last year, the US blocked a shipment of Uniqlo men's shirts over concerns that it violated a ban on cotton products from the region.Responding to a query from the BBC last week, a Uniqlo spokesperson did not state whether or not the brand uses cotton from Xinjiang."We continue to work with [US officials] to implement measures for the smooth importation of our products, and are awaiting new guidelines scheduled for release on 21 June," the spokesperson said.Meanwhile, Japanese retailer Muji has been criticised for launching a collection of Oxford shirts "made of organic cotton delicately and wholly handpicked in Xinjiang" in 2019.A spokesperson at Ryohin Keikaku, which operates the Muji brand, told the BBC it was not currently exporting products from Xinjiang to the US. However, the company declined to comment on whether it was selling products from Xinjiang in other countries."In our business activities, we comply with the laws and regulations of each country and region, and we are taking all necessary steps to respect human rights and labour standards," the spokesperson said.Early last year, the administration of former US President Donald Trump announced a ban on cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.The wider-reaching UFLPA was approved by the Senate last July, and Congress in December. It was subsequently signed into law by current US President Joe Biden.From Tuesday, US Customs and Border Protection officials will stop all shipments from Xinjiang that arrive at American ports. Cargo will be stopped from entering the country unless the importer can "prove by clear and convincing evidence that the goods were not produced with forced labour," the US Department of Homeland Security said.You may also be interested in:This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyWho are the Uyghurs?US Congress passes Uyghur 'forced labour' billUS Senate passes bill to ban Xinjiang importsXinjiang cotton: How do I know if it's in my jeans?Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

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BBC News – Business RSS Feed – World News

US ban on imports from China's Xinjiang region takes effect

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesTough new US regulations on the import of goods from the Xinjiang region of China have come into effect.Under the rules, firms have to prove imports from the region are not produced using forced labour.US officials have said members of the minority Uyghur community in the region, who are predominantly Muslim, have been detained and made to work.China has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is holding Uyghurs in internment camps in Xinjiang.Several imports from the resource-rich region, including cotton and tomatoes, have already been banned from the US.The restrictions will be extended to all imports under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which took effect on Tuesday.In a statement late last week, US lawmakers said the law sends "a clear message that we will no longer remain complicit in the Chinese Communist Party's use of slave labour and egregious crimes against humanity"."Congress stands ready to work with President Biden and his administration to ensure this historic law is fully and rigorously implemented," US Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley and two other lawmakers said.Who are the Uyghurs? Xinjiang cotton: How do I know if it's in my jeans? According to the US Congress, China has detained more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang since April 2017.It believes tens of thousands of detainees have worked "at a fraction of minimum wage or without any compensation" in Xinjiang and other provinces "under the guise of poverty alleviation and industrial aid programmes".It said China also "interferes with audits and traditional due diligence efforts to vet goods and supply chains in Xinjiang... including by intimidating potential witnesses and concealing relevant information".China has denied the use of forced labour and said the camps in Xinjiang were "re-education" facilities used to combat terrorism.Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin recently called forced labour accusations "an out-and-out preposterous lie concocted by certain external forces".But leaked files and first-hand accounts from inside the camps, which were obtained by the BBC, have detailed an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture of ethnic minorities.Human rights groups have also accused the Chinese government of gradually stripping away the religious and other freedoms of Uyghurs through mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination and even forced sterilisation.What does it mean for brands?Scott Nova, executive director of the independent Workers Rights Consortium in Washington DC, said the UFLPA "will likely substantially reduce the practice of forced labour in Xinjiang" by "eliminating a large part of the market" for its goods."A crucial question is whether brands selling goods in the US will try to take advantage of the weaker protections in other consumer markets by directing goods with content from Xinjiang to those markets," Mr Nova said."Our coalition will be working to identify and publicly expose any brands and retailers that engage in this practice," he added.Laura Murphy, a human rights professor at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, said the European Union (EU) should impose a similar import ban on goods from Xinjiang."I think that citizens of the EU would be shocked to know that a ban on products known to be made with forced labour does not already exist," Prof Murphy said."But the EU also needs to be a leader in passing mandatory human rights due diligence. Both these tools are necessary to ensure that companies address the forced labour and other abuses in their supply chains," she added.Japanese retailers Uniqlo and Muji are among brands that have been scrutinised over materials from Xinjiang.In January last year, the US blocked a shipment of Uniqlo men's shirts over concerns that it violated a ban on cotton products from the region.Responding to a query from the BBC last week, a Uniqlo spokesperson did not state whether or not the brand uses cotton from Xinjiang."We continue to work with [US officials] to implement measures for the smooth importation of our products, and are awaiting new guidelines scheduled for release on 21 June," the spokesperson said.Meanwhile, Japanese retailer Muji has been criticised for launching a collection of Oxford shirts "made of organic cotton delicately and wholly handpicked in Xinjiang" in 2019.A spokesperson at Ryohin Keikaku, which operates the Muji brand, told the BBC it was not currently exporting products from Xinjiang to the US. However, the company declined to comment on whether it was selling products from Xinjiang in other countries."In our business activities, we comply with the laws and regulations of each country and region, and we are taking all necessary steps to respect human rights and labour standards," the spokesperson said.Early last year, the administration of former US President Donald Trump announced a ban on cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.The wider-reaching UFLPA was approved by the Senate last July, and Congress in December. It was subsequently signed into law by current US President Joe Biden.From Tuesday, US Customs and Border Protection officials will stop all shipments from Xinjiang that arrive at American ports. Cargo will be stopped from entering the country unless the importer can "prove by clear and convincing evidence that the goods were not produced with forced labour," the US Department of Homeland Security said.You may also be interested in:This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyWho are the Uyghurs?US Congress passes Uyghur 'forced labour' billUS Senate passes bill to ban Xinjiang importsXinjiang cotton: How do I know if it's in my jeans?Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

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Asahi Shimbun Digital

パチンコで13時間放置 生後4カ月の子、乳幼児突然死症候群の疑い

 北海道釧路市の住宅で生後4カ月の次男と2歳の長男を13時間余り放置したとして、10代の母親と会社員の夫(35)が保護責任者遺棄の疑いで逮捕された事件で、病院に運ばれたものの死亡が確認された次男を道警が司法解剖した結果、乳幼児突然死症候群(SIDS)で死亡した疑いがあることがわかった。捜査関係者が取材に明らかにした。道警は、長時間の放置が死亡につながったといえるか慎重に調べている。 道警は今月10日、母親と夫を同容疑で逮捕した。2人の容疑は、8日午前8時半ごろから午後10時ごろにかけて、長男と次男だけを自宅に残して外出したというもの。パチンコをするために外出したという。2人が帰宅した際、次男は居室内で意識がない状態で、病院で死亡が確認された。長男は健康状態に問題はなかった。 捜査関係者によると、司法解…この記事は有料会員記事です。残り320文字有料会員になると続きをお読みいただけます。

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Asahi Shimbun Digital

高校生らが署名集め、陳情 「心動かされた」市長がとった行動とは

 東京五輪で注目を集めたスケートボード。その練習場の建設計画が高知県須崎市で進んでいる。きっかけは地元高校生らの署名だった。大型公共工事が控える中で、市と議会が若者の熱意に心を揺さぶられた。 駐車場で4人の若者がスケートボードの練習に励んでいた。スピードを上げて、デッキ(板)を踏み、跳ねる。技が成功すれば歓声が沸く。練習の合間に、高橋諒さん(20)がつぶやいた。「本当はコンクリートでやりたい」 駐車場のアスファルトは表面に細かい凹凸があるため、路面とウィール(車輪)との摩擦が激しくなり、滑りにくく音が響く。近くの介護施設に迷惑がかからないか気にもなる。 「専用練習場が早く須崎にできてほしい。思う存分スケボーをやりたい」。高校生の田部絢大(けんだい)さん(17)が話した。 市は2024年度末にも市内にスケートパークを建設する計画だ。今年度、調査事業費として194万円を予算に計上した。県内外にあるパークの視察や基本構想を作る委託料に使う。ここから続き 建設計画のきっかけは、田部…この記事は有料会員記事です。残り1088文字有料会員になると続きをお読みいただけます。

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Assam: India floods destroy millions of homes and dreams

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharing "There was water everywhere, but not a single drop to drink."That is how Ronju Chowdhary described the scene outside her house on Saturday. She lives in Udiana, a remote village in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, which has been hit by severe floods.It had been raining incessantly, she remembers. The water rose so quickly that the streets were completely submerged within hours. When the water entered their home, she says the family huddled together in darkness trying to keep themselves safe.Two days on, the family is still marooned in their house - now resembling a lonely island - amid a sea of water."We are surrounded by flood water from all sides. There's hardly any water to drink. Food is running short too. And now I hear that the water levels are further rising," Ms Chowdhary says. "What will happen to us?" Unprecedented rainfall and flooding has left behind a trail of destruction in Assam and other states, as well as parts of neighbouring Bangladesh - submerging villages, destroying crops, and wrecking homes. Authorities in Assam say that 32 of its 35 districts have been affected, killing at least 45 people and displacing more than 4.7 million over the last week.Millions displaced in India and Bangladesh floodsHeavy rains have also lashed neighbouring Meghalaya state, where 18 people have died over the last week. In Assam, the government has opened 1,425 relief camps for the displaced, but authorities say their job has been complicated by the sheer intensity of the disaster. Even the rescue camps are in a dismal state. "There is no drinking water in the camp. My son has a fever but I am unable to take him to the doctor," says Husna Begum, also a resident of Udiana. When water reached her home on Wednesday, the 28-year-old swam through the torrent in search of help. She is now sheltering in a rickety plastic tent with her two children."I have not seen something like this before. I've never seen such huge floods in my life," she says. Floods routinely wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions living near the fertile riverbanks of the mighty Brahmaputra river, often called the lifeline of Assam. But experts say that factors like climate change, unchecked construction activities and rapid industrialisation have increased the frequency of extreme weather events.This is the second time this year that Assam is grappling with such fierce floods - at least 39 people were killed in May. The state has already recorded rainfall 109% above average levels this month, according to the weather department. And the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at many places. Residents and authorities the BBC spoke to describe the latest deluge as one of "biblical proportions" - one that has altered the social and economical fabric of the state. "The situation is particularly alarming this time. Apart from the team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), we have also deployed the army to aid the rescue operations," says Javir Rahul Suresh, a sub-divisional officer in Rangiya city. "At this point, our priority is to save lives."Entire settlements have been engulfed by rushing waters, almost resembling a huge river that had formed overnight.In Guwahati, the main economic centre of Assam, neighbourhoods have been reduced to rubble. Lush fields where rice and paddy normally grew have turned into vast swamps of mud and debris. Back in Udiana, there are no schools, hospitals, temples or mosques in sight - just water. People travel by boats made of banana leaves and bamboo sticks. Others just swim through the brown, green brackish waters despondently, their eyes lighting up at the sight of rescuers, whose bright orange uniforms are visible from a distance.The damage is particularly alarming in Kamrup Rural district, where hundreds of people are still reportedly trapped in their houses.Siraj Ali, 64, says that when the water swept into his village and destroyed everything, he was scared for his life. Yet he stayed on, in a house which is now partly submerged under water, to guard his belongings and "a life-time of memories". He said he sent his children to a roadside shelter camp, while he waited for help to reach him. But no one has come so far."I am surrounded by water but I have no water to drink. I don't have food. I have been starving for three days. What to do and where do I go?" he asks, his eyes welling up with tears. Mr Ali now finds solace in the company of his neighbour Mohammad Rubul Ali, a daily-wage worker, who also decided to stay back to protect his house - a small hut that he painstakingly built. "Every purchase was like a milestone for me - the cycle, the bed and the chairs. But now nothing is left. The flood took everything away from me," Mr Rubul says.Authorities admit that they have been unable to provide drinking water and food to every flood victim. "It is still a challenge for us to reach some areas which have been completely cut off. Our road network reaching there has been completely ruined in the water," Mr Suresh says. Experts say that while climate change has complicated the state's longstanding efforts to improve its response to flooding, there are several other factors at play. "There is no doubt that the flood situation this time is very serious and the frequency of rains is increasing significantly," says Jayashree Rout, an environmental science professor at Assam University. "But before linking it entirely to climate change, we need to take into account human-related factors like deforestation."Prof Rout says there's an urgent need to stop the felling of big trees, especially near rivers as the roots of these trees have a lot of capacity to hold water.But people like Ms Chowdhary have no time to analyse the reasons. On Saturday, as the sun dripped over the cloudy horizon in Udiana and dusk crept over the sky, she sat outside her half-submerged house, visibly worried. "Till now, no one has given us anything in the name of relief," she says. "Is anyone even coming?"This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyMillions displaced in India and Bangladesh floodsWhy mushrooms are killing India tea garden workersIs India's weather becoming more extreme?

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Assam: India floods destroy millions of homes and dreams

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharing "There was water everywhere, but not a single drop to drink."That is how Ronju Chowdhary described the scene outside her house on Saturday. She lives in Udiana, a remote village in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, which has been hit by severe floods.It had been raining incessantly, she remembers. The water rose so quickly that the streets were completely submerged within hours. When the water entered their home, she says the family huddled together in darkness trying to keep themselves safe.Two days on, the family is still marooned in their house - now resembling a lonely island - amid a sea of water."We are surrounded by flood water from all sides. There's hardly any water to drink. Food is running short too. And now I hear that the water levels are further rising," Ms Chowdhary says. "What will happen to us?" Unprecedented rainfall and flooding has left behind a trail of destruction in Assam and other states, as well as parts of neighbouring Bangladesh - submerging villages, destroying crops, and wrecking homes. Authorities in Assam say that 32 of its 35 districts have been affected, killing at least 45 people and displacing more than 4.7 million over the last week.Millions displaced in India and Bangladesh floodsHeavy rains have also lashed neighbouring Meghalaya state, where 18 people have died over the last week. In Assam, the government has opened 1,425 relief camps for the displaced, but authorities say their job has been complicated by the sheer intensity of the disaster. Even the rescue camps are in a dismal state. "There is no drinking water in the camp. My son has a fever but I am unable to take him to the doctor," says Husna Begum, also a resident of Udiana. When water reached her home on Wednesday, the 28-year-old swam through the torrent in search of help. She is now sheltering in a rickety plastic tent with her two children."I have not seen something like this before. I've never seen such huge floods in my life," she says. Floods routinely wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions living near the fertile riverbanks of the mighty Brahmaputra river, often called the lifeline of Assam. But experts say that factors like climate change, unchecked construction activities and rapid industrialisation have increased the frequency of extreme weather events.This is the second time this year that Assam is grappling with such fierce floods - at least 39 people were killed in May. The state has already recorded rainfall 109% above average levels this month, according to the weather department. And the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at many places. Residents and authorities the BBC spoke to describe the latest deluge as one of "biblical proportions" - one that has altered the social and economical fabric of the state. "The situation is particularly alarming this time. Apart from the team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), we have also deployed the army to aid the rescue operations," says Javir Rahul Suresh, a sub-divisional officer in Rangiya city. "At this point, our priority is to save lives."Entire settlements have been engulfed by rushing waters, almost resembling a huge river that had formed overnight.In Guwahati, the main economic centre of Assam, neighbourhoods have been reduced to rubble. Lush fields where rice and paddy normally grew have turned into vast swamps of mud and debris. Back in Udiana, there are no schools, hospitals, temples or mosques in sight - just water. People travel by boats made of banana leaves and bamboo sticks. Others just swim through the brown, green brackish waters despondently, their eyes lighting up at the sight of rescuers, whose bright orange uniforms are visible from a distance.The damage is particularly alarming in Kamrup Rural district, where hundreds of people are still reportedly trapped in their houses.Siraj Ali, 64, says that when the water swept into his village and destroyed everything, he was scared for his life. Yet he stayed on, in a house which is now partly submerged under water, to guard his belongings and "a life-time of memories". He said he sent his children to a roadside shelter camp, while he waited for help to reach him. But no one has come so far."I am surrounded by water but I have no water to drink. I don't have food. I have been starving for three days. What to do and where do I go?" he asks, his eyes welling up with tears. Mr Ali now finds solace in the company of his neighbour Mohammad Rubul Ali, a daily-wage worker, who also decided to stay back to protect his house - a small hut that he painstakingly built. "Every purchase was like a milestone for me - the cycle, the bed and the chairs. But now nothing is left. The flood took everything away from me," Mr Rubul says.Authorities admit that they have been unable to provide drinking water and food to every flood victim. "It is still a challenge for us to reach some areas which have been completely cut off. Our road network reaching there has been completely ruined in the water," Mr Suresh says. Experts say that while climate change has complicated the state's longstanding efforts to improve its response to flooding, there are several other factors at play. "There is no doubt that the flood situation this time is very serious and the frequency of rains is increasing significantly," says Jayashree Rout, an environmental science professor at Assam University. "But before linking it entirely to climate change, we need to take into account human-related factors like deforestation."Prof Rout says there's an urgent need to stop the felling of big trees, especially near rivers as the roots of these trees have a lot of capacity to hold water.But people like Ms Chowdhary have no time to analyse the reasons. On Saturday, as the sun dripped over the cloudy horizon in Udiana and dusk crept over the sky, she sat outside her half-submerged house, visibly worried. "Till now, no one has given us anything in the name of relief," she says. "Is anyone even coming?"This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyMillions displaced in India and Bangladesh floodsWhy mushrooms are killing India tea garden workersIs India's weather becoming more extreme?

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BBC News – World RSS Feed – World News

Assam: India floods destroy millions of homes and dreams

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharing "There was water everywhere, but not a single drop to drink."That is how Ronju Chowdhary described the scene outside her house on Saturday. She lives in Udiana, a remote village in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, which has been hit by severe floods.It had been raining incessantly, she remembers. The water rose so quickly that the streets were completely submerged within hours. When the water entered their home, she says the family huddled together in darkness trying to keep themselves safe.Two days on, the family is still marooned in their house - now resembling a lonely island - amid a sea of water."We are surrounded by flood water from all sides. There's hardly any water to drink. Food is running short too. And now I hear that the water levels are further rising," Ms Chowdhary says. "What will happen to us?" Unprecedented rainfall and flooding has left behind a trail of destruction in Assam and other states, as well as parts of neighbouring Bangladesh - submerging villages, destroying crops, and wrecking homes. Authorities in Assam say that 32 of its 35 districts have been affected, killing at least 45 people and displacing more than 4.7 million over the last week.Millions displaced in India and Bangladesh floodsHeavy rains have also lashed neighbouring Meghalaya state, where 18 people have died over the last week. In Assam, the government has opened 1,425 relief camps for the displaced, but authorities say their job has been complicated by the sheer intensity of the disaster. Even the rescue camps are in a dismal state. "There is no drinking water in the camp. My son has a fever but I am unable to take him to the doctor," says Husna Begum, also a resident of Udiana. When water reached her home on Wednesday, the 28-year-old swam through the torrent in search of help. She is now sheltering in a rickety plastic tent with her two children."I have not seen something like this before. I've never seen such huge floods in my life," she says. Floods routinely wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions living near the fertile riverbanks of the mighty Brahmaputra river, often called the lifeline of Assam. But experts say that factors like climate change, unchecked construction activities and rapid industrialisation have increased the frequency of extreme weather events.This is the second time this year that Assam is grappling with such fierce floods - at least 39 people were killed in May. The state has already recorded rainfall 109% above average levels this month, according to the weather department. And the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at many places. Residents and authorities the BBC spoke to describe the latest deluge as one of "biblical proportions" - one that has altered the social and economical fabric of the state. "The situation is particularly alarming this time. Apart from the team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), we have also deployed the army to aid the rescue operations," says Javir Rahul Suresh, a sub-divisional officer in Rangiya city. "At this point, our priority is to save lives."Entire settlements have been engulfed by rushing waters, almost resembling a huge river that had formed overnight.In Guwahati, the main economic centre of Assam, neighbourhoods have been reduced to rubble. Lush fields where rice and paddy normally grew have turned into vast swamps of mud and debris. Back in Udiana, there are no schools, hospitals, temples or mosques in sight - just water. People travel by boats made of banana leaves and bamboo sticks. Others just swim through the brown, green brackish waters despondently, their eyes lighting up at the sight of rescuers, whose bright orange uniforms are visible from a distance.The damage is particularly alarming in Kamrup Rural district, where hundreds of people are still reportedly trapped in their houses.Siraj Ali, 64, says that when the water swept into his village and destroyed everything, he was scared for his life. Yet he stayed on, in a house which is now partly submerged under water, to guard his belongings and "a life-time of memories". He said he sent his children to a roadside shelter camp, while he waited for help to reach him. But no one has come so far."I am surrounded by water but I have no water to drink. I don't have food. I have been starving for three days. What to do and where do I go?" he asks, his eyes welling up with tears. Mr Ali now finds solace in the company of his neighbour Mohammad Rubul Ali, a daily-wage worker, who also decided to stay back to protect his house - a small hut that he painstakingly built. "Every purchase was like a milestone for me - the cycle, the bed and the chairs. But now nothing is left. The flood took everything away from me," Mr Rubul says.Authorities admit that they have been unable to provide drinking water and food to every flood victim. "It is still a challenge for us to reach some areas which have been completely cut off. Our road network reaching there has been completely ruined in the water," Mr Suresh says. Experts say that while climate change has complicated the state's longstanding efforts to improve its response to flooding, there are several other factors at play. "There is no doubt that the flood situation this time is very serious and the frequency of rains is increasing significantly," says Jayashree Rout, an environmental science professor at Assam University. "But before linking it entirely to climate change, we need to take into account human-related factors like deforestation."Prof Rout says there's an urgent need to stop the felling of big trees, especially near rivers as the roots of these trees have a lot of capacity to hold water.But people like Ms Chowdhary have no time to analyse the reasons. On Saturday, as the sun dripped over the cloudy horizon in Udiana and dusk crept over the sky, she sat outside her half-submerged house, visibly worried. "Till now, no one has given us anything in the name of relief," she says. "Is anyone even coming?"This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyMillions displaced in India and Bangladesh floodsWhy mushrooms are killing India tea garden workersIs India's weather becoming more extreme?

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Ghana's Pan African Heritage Museum seeks to reclaim Africa's history

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Pan African Heritage MuseumIn our series of letters from African writers, media consultant and trainer Joseph Warungu writes about plans to build a huge museum in Ghana to reflect the history and heritage of Africans.A new migration of Africans is about to happen. The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania, the Himba of Namibia, the Somali of the Horn of Africa, the Zulu of southern Africa and the Mbenga of the West Congo Basin - among many other communities - could soon be on the move to a new home in Ghana.The most significant mass movement of peoples within Africa started more than 4,000 years ago, when huge populations of Bantu-speakers left their original dwellings in southern West Africa, to settle in other parts of the continent.The new migrants will be travelling in the opposite direction. Like their predecessors, they will not require visas or travel documents. Their relocation is not physical but cultural and spiritual. It is their history, their philosophy, their beliefs and their story that is about to find a new home.The new dwelling is located at Pomadze Hills in Winneba. The 10-acre site in Ghana's Central Region is about 60km (40 miles) west of the capital Accra. It's a site to behold, with rolling terrain, covered in greenery. If all goes according to plan, by August next year this location will give rise to an impressive six-storey structure - the Pan African Heritage Museum.Image source, Pan African Heritage MuseumThe location in Winneba, through which the "migrants" will enter their new home in Ghana, is just over an hour's drive to the Door of No Return at Cape Coast Castle, from which millions of Africans were forced to leave the continent and into slavery. The museum, which is under construction, has one key goal - to curate and tell the story of Africa using African voices, tools and culture. The great minds behind the project say this is necessary because for a long time the African story has been told by others. They argue that when someone else tells your story, they tell it from their perspective so that they look good.The museum therefore seeks to own the African narrative by bridging what the founders say is a gap that has widened among people of African descent for over 400 years.It's a museum that seeks to teach, heal, and inspire. Image source, Pan African Heritage MuseumGhana's President Nana Akufo-Addo says the museum will "provide a natural residence and resting place for all the looted cultural artefacts of our continent, which are housed in foreign museums and which will be returned to us".This is the latest museum to be built on the continent, following those in Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, and comes at a time when there's a growing acceptance in Europe that the items seized from Africa during the colonial era should be returned.Judging by the digital version that was recently launched, the museum will be a stunning structure that will stand tall and be visible from far away - a monument of Pan-Africanism.As a passionate Pan-Africanist myself, I went on a tour of the virtual museum.As you enter, your eyes are treated to beautiful contemporary works of art produced by great artists of African descent. Soothing saxophone sounds, accompanied by gentle piano notes, put you at ease. As if on cue, I'm immediately grabbed by this wonderful painting by Nigerian artist Doba Afolabi. Image source, AfriKin/Doba AfolabiThe work, titled Nite Voltron, depicts a passionate musician joyfully emptying the contents of his lungs into his saxophone.A few virtual steps on and I'm staring at Tangled Trickster - an intriguing work by American visual artist, Aisha Tandiwe Bell, who is famous for using mixed media to create myth and ritual.According to her, the woman portrayed as a trickster "sums up our modern fragmented, hyphenated identities and multiple consciousnesses". Image source, AfriKin/Aisha Tandiwe BellThe idea of targeting our collective African identity and history by harnessing, celebrating and curating African culture in a unique Pan-African museum came about in 1994.The man behind it is Kojo Acquah Yankah, a former editor of Ghana's Daily Graphic newspaper and who previously served as an MP and cabinet minister in the government of the late President Jerry Rawlings.He tells me the inspiration came to him as he attended the 375th anniversary commemoration of the forced arrival of the first 20 Africans on the coast of Jamestown, Virginia, in the US - the birthplace of American slavery."The event was attended by over 5,000 people of African descent from all over the world, celebrating their historical memoir," says Mr Yankah. "This inspired me to create the Pan African Heritage Museum to unite Africans and people of African descent and raise the self-confidence of Africans as a people with a rich history and heritage." But why this museum when there are many others in Africa? "There are less than 2,000 museums on the continent as opposed to over 30,000 in Europe and in the US," says the man who also founded the African University College of Communications in Ghana."The museum is special because it's the only one bringing all African heritage together under one roof." The principal architect for the project is James Inedu-George, a Nigerian famous for capturing the spirit of African cultures and infusing it into his designs. The symbol chosen for the museum is a horn, a communication tool announcing Africa's renaissance.Image source, Pan African Heritage MuseumThe project is funded through donations and is estimated to cost about $50m (£40m). But its key supporters, including President Akufo-Addo, believe it will be worth the bill."It will not only benefit all the peoples of the world, but it will also imbibe in all of us a deep consciousness and understanding of the goals and ideal of Pan-Africanism".Apart from the artefacts and research materials, the museum will also have a garden of sculptures, a herbal garden and space for festivals, concerts, film shows and exhibitions from across the Pan-African world.The innovation and creativity hub of the museum will be a space for young people to build on new ideas for the future after touring the facility. The museum will set aside a two-acre plot where it will replicate a selected number of African kingdoms, ancient and modern. It will showcase their history, their art, their culture and learn from their skills, craftsmanship and indigenous knowledge, which has sustained Africans until today.This is where the big stream of African "migrants" will find a home. Mr Yankah hopes his vision will redress our distorted heritage."Our legacy was stolen, and our confidence dimmed by paralysing accounts of our past and even our present, hence we disregard the wise sayings and indigenous knowledge of our own people and quote eloquently from sources alien to us for our daily living."Indeed, as the late Nigerian literary giant Chinua Achebe observed: "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."Well, we Africans now have the pen, a paint brush and a large canvas - it's time to tell our story. More Letters from Africa:Why music stars are rallying young Nigerians to vote'What I've learnt about Africa living in MarseillesThe Nigerian boss who applied to be Queen's footmanWhy a Darfur sultan regrets a twist of colonial fateHow food for the poor reached the presidential tableFollow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica

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