A team of 40 Rohingyas today went to Bhashan Char Island in Hatiya of Noakhali where the government has built an accommodation facility for one lakh Rohingyas.

"The Rohingya majhis [leaders] from Cox's Bazar camps went to Bhashan Char under the supervision of Bangladesh Army and Navy. They will stay there for three days before returning to Cox's Bazar on September 8," Refugee Rehabilitation and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mahbub Alam Talukder told The Daily Star today.

"If everything is right, we will start relocating one lakh Rohingyas after the monsoon," he said.

Additional RRRC Mohammad Shamsuddoza Noyon said the 40 Rohingyas from 34 camps were mobilsed at a transit camp at Kutupalong of Ukhiya last night. Early today, they were taken to Chattogram and then to Bhashan Char in a Bangladesh Navy ship, reports our Cox's Bazar Correspondent.

"This is part of a motivational programme," he said.

The government has built 120 cluster villages on the 40 sqkm island under a Tk 2,312 crore housing project for accommodating one lakh of the nearly 1 million Rohingyas sheltered in cramped camps in Cox's Bazar.

According to government officials, the houses have been built four feet above the ground with concrete blocks. The entire housing site is protected by a 13 km long flood embankment. There are also 120 cyclone shelters, which are planned to be used as schools, medical centres and community centres.

The officials also said there are large swathes of land that could be used for livestock and fish farming if the Rohingyas were relocated there. The refugees in the Cox's Bazar camps have very little work to do now.

UN and aid agencies have been insisting that the island was isolated, flood-prone and would be hazardous for the Rohingyas because of cyclones and tidal surges.

Amid such a situation, the government in February this year had considered shelving the idea of relocating the Rohingyas because the international organisations have not agreed to it.

Without cooperation from those organisations, the government would face difficulties in arranging food, healthcare and other necessary items for one lakh people on Bhashan Char, Md Enamur Rahman, state minister for disaster management and relief, had told The Daily Star after a visit to the island on February 13.

After the visit, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen had said if the Rohingyas were shifted to Bhashan Char, they might not agree to leave the place in future. He also had said the government wanted the Rohingyas to go back to Rakhine and repatriation was high priority.

Asked about the future of the housing project if the government changes the relocation plan, he had said they were yet to decide on it, but he thought homeless people from other parts of the country could be accommodated on the island that is safe for human habitation.

The idea of shelving the relocation plan seemed to have reversed now. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen at a webinar on August 24 said the government has arranged adequate health, sanitary facility and vaccination, with referral system for complicated health conditions in Bhashan Char.

Besides, it created temporary work and livelihood options (salt-tolerant paddy, horticulture, fisheries, poultry and animal husbandry) and arranged primary -- non-formal and formal -- education which can be extended to secondary education. Vocational education and skill development facility may be established in due course.

He said the mighty cyclone Amphan has attested to the durability of the island and quality of the structures built.

He also highlighted the congestion, demographic imbalance, risks of mudslides and criminal activities in Cox's Bazar camps.

"Detractors should now stop their propaganda on Bhashan Char and examine how to relieve pressure off the highly congested Cox's Bazar area where locals are outnumbered at a ratio of 2:1," he said.

Masud Bin Momen also said the 306 Rohingyas rescued in the Bay of Bengal and sheltered in the island were doing well and hinted of the "go-and-see visit" for relatives of sheltered Rohingyas and other representatives to Bhashan Char.

"If they find the place better than the cramped camps in Cox's Bazar, we expect to commence initial transfer of Rohingyas there after the Monsoon season," he said.

UN Teams are expected to visit Bhashan Char and prepare UN system's assistance response, he said.

Meanwhile, UNHCR said it is aware of reports of a go-and-see visit, but has neither been involved in this visit nor requested to support it.

"Go-and-see visits are one important part of ensuring refugees can make an informed choice about voluntary relocation to the island. The safety and protection of refugees are the most important considerations, as is the need for any relocation to be voluntary," said Mostafa Mohammad Sazzad Hossain, assistant communication officer at the UNHCR in Dhaka today.

The UN continues to emphasise the need to be able to undertake thorough protection and technical assessments before any relocations to Bhasan Char, to ensure that the island is a safe and sustainable place for refugees to live.

The UN informed the government that it would be prepared to undertake a protection visit to Bhashan Char and terms of reference have been shared.

"We are continuing to await feedback. Several months have passed since the refugees were transferred to Bhashan Char, and it is now urgent for the UN to have access to them," the UNHCR officer said in a statement.

A comprehensive technical and protection assessment to evaluate the safety and sustainability of life on Bhashan Char are essential before any relocation to the island, the statement said.

"Any relocation should be voluntary. The UN has long been prepared to proceed with this onsite assessment work," the UNHCR said.


Turkish security forces have neutralized 320 terrorists in the ongoing Operation Claw-Tiger in northern Iraq, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

In a statement, the ministry said search and screening activities part of Operation Claw-Tiger have been completed in northern Iraq.

As part of the operation, launched in Haftanin region on June 16, Turkish commandos carried out intensive search and screening activities backed by air support, the ministry said.

The operation has progressed successfully as planned, it added.

Turkish forces seized and destroyed weapons, ammunition, and other materials from 269 shelters and 53 caves in Haftanin region.

These included 265 improvised explosive devices, 11 mines, four mortars, 10 RPG-7 rocket launchers with 238 rounds, 125 hand grenades, a drone, 26 heavy weapons with 22,331 rounds of ammunition, 143 light weapons with 27,693 rounds of ammunition, 8 AT-4 anti-tank missiles, 244 artillery and mortar rounds, four suits to hide from thermal cameras, and six radios, according to the statement.

Turkey’s Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle operations were launched in June to ensure the safety of the Turkish people and borders by neutralizing the threat of PKK and other terrorist groups that often use northern Iraq to plan cross-border attacks.

Turkish authorities use the term “neutralize” to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants./aa

VAN, Turkey

A total of 65 irregular migrants were held in Turkey’s eastern province of Van on Saturday.

In a statement, the provincial security directorate said security forces stopped a suspicious minibus in the Ipekyolu district.

The 15-person minibus was carrying 24 Afghans, 20 Pakistanis, seven Syrians, 12 Bangladeshis, and two Myanmar nationals, all of whom entered the country illegally.

The minibus driver, identified as M.G., was arrested.

The irregular migrants were later referred to the provincial migration directorate.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry, and over 336,000 have been held so far this year./aa


Sudan has declared a nationwide three-month state of emergency as massive floods are expected to continue, officials said Saturday. 

The declaration comes after the nation’s death toll from floods rose to 99, Lina Alshiekh, the labor and social care minister, said after an emergency meeting of the defense and security council.

Around half a million people have been affected by the floods, while more than 100,000 houses are fully or partially destroyed, she added.

The floods are the highest in the country since 1946 and may continue as the rain has not stopped in various areas, she said.

Sudan warned last week that the Nile River is the highest in a century, topping 18 meters (59 feet) in some areas./aa

As US-China relations reach a boiling point, Washington has started to screen Chinese students at airports for technology theft.

When Boston Logan International Airport's announcement asked Keith Zhang to come to the boarding desk, he thought it was a regular boarding check.

But when he saw two armed American officers expecting him there, his heart sank.

"They questioned me under the premise that I am here to steal technology," Keith Zhang - not his real name - tells the BBC.

Zhang, a 26-year-old PhD student from China, was a visiting researcher at Brown University's department of psychological sciences for a year.

He had not expected to spend his last two hours on US soil being interrogated about his potential ties with the Chinese Communist Party.

So what might have happened?

FBI director Christopher Wray recently said, in response to Beijing's "far-reaching campaign" of economic espionage, the FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours.

In July, Washington closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, calling it a "spy centre".

As the US tightens its scrutiny of Chinese nationals over espionage concerns, screening selected departing Chinese students and researchers appears to be Washington's new measure to counter economic espionage. Some of the students' electronic devices were taken away for further examination and not returned for weeks.

Zhang describes the screening as "pure harassment".

"If I were to steal any data or intellectual property, I could send it through cloud storage. Taking away my laptop and phone for examination does nothing more than harassment," Zhang says.

China's foreign ministry accuses Washington of "abusing" the judicial power to interrogate and arrest Chinese students in the US "under fabricated allegations".

However, a series of indictments against Chinese researchers suggest the suspicions of US authorities have some grounds.

In August, Haizhou Hu, a 34-year-old Chinese visiting scholar at the University of Virginia, was arrested when he attempted to board a flight to China at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

The Department of Justice said "a routine screening" revealed that his laptop contained research-related software code, which he was not authorised to possess. The code has military applications, according to a federal indictment.

Separately, the US recently captured multiple Chinese researchers who are accused of concealing their ties with the Chinese military in visa applications. A scientist had allegedly fled to China's consulate in San Francisco, before she was arrested. Another Chinese researcher threw away a damaged hard drive and was later charged with destroying evidence to obstruct an FBI investigation.

US Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell tells the BBC that, for students who come to the US with the intent of learning, America's doors are "wide open".

"But if you are here masquerading as (students)," he says, "we have to defend ourselves."

Sheena Greitens, associate professor of public affairs at University of Texas, Austin, says there's an "intensification of concerns" over technology transfer from the US to China through academic channels.

"Given that these are investigations into espionage, it's unlikely that we'll see full details for every case, but it's hard to make informed judgements on the nature of the threat to national security based on the handful of cases we've seen made public so far," Prof Greitens says.

Unlike Hu, Zhang was allowed to board his flight at the last minute, but he says the airport screening was "a traumatic experience".

He recalls the two armed officers repeatedly accused him of lying. "I was under great pressure and almost had a mental breakdown," he says.

Zhang did not ask for the officers' names or identities, nor did he request to speak to a lawyer, Brown University or the Chinese Embassy in the US.

"I knew I had these rights but I didn't want to risk missing my flight," Zhang says.

Boarding his flight was Zhang's absolute priority, as he was eager to go home to reunite with his wife. They got married a year ago but have spent most of the time apart due to his study in the US.

During the pandemic, it is difficult to travel from the US to China, as international flights are curtailed sharply by both countries. Zhang spent weeks and nearly $5,000 to secure flight tickets to his hometown Shanghai via Amsterdam.

In general, US law enforcement agents have to get a warrant to search electronic devices, but airports are an exception. US border agents only need "reasonable suspicion" to search travellers' electronic devices at airports.

According to the South China Morning Post US border agents carried out over 1,100 searches of Chinese nationals' electronic devices in 2019, recording a 66% increase from the previous year.

Prof Greitens says airports are also "a choke point for the physical outflow of information", where legal, physical and personnel infrastructure for the screening are concentrated and where most passengers transit to depart the US.

John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General, recently said that the airport screening is "more targeted than it may first appear".

He revealed the screening decision is based on the students' schools in China and fields of study. Visiting scholars of an advanced scientific field and from institutions related to the Chinese military, are more likely to be targeted.

"What we are trying to do is to write with a fine-pointed pencil, as opposed to a big magic marker," Mr Demers said at a public think-tank event in Washington DC.

Both Hu and Zhang received scholarships provided by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) for their research in the US.

CSC is an organisation under China's Ministry of Education, providing financial support for educational exchanges between China and other countries.

According to a recent research conducted by Georgetown University, CSC sponsors around 65,000 Chinese overseas students, accounting for 7% of Chinese nationals studying aboard. It also funds roughly the same number of foreign students in China.

During his exchange study in America, Zhang received a monthly stipend of $1,900 (£1430) from CSC. He was also required to submit a research report every six months, which his collaborator at Brown University would read and sign.

China's higher education and research systems are mostly state-owned. Though not all researchers are Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, the party could cast a shadow of influence on research.

CCP has installed representatives and informants in education institutions, and some universities even revised their charters to emphasize unswerving loyalty to the party.

At the airport, Zhang told the American law enforcement officers that the CCP has no direct influence on his research in cognitive psychology, which is "highly theoretical". But the officers didn't seem convinced due to the government funding.

"It's normal for all governments to fund scientific research. America also funds public universities and labs," Zhang says, "There's no way for me to convince them, if in their views, government funding equals to the Communist Party's direct influence on every single research project."

CSC is now under intense scrutiny in the US, as it is considered as an avenue by which Beijing could exert influence over overseas students.

On 31 August, the University of North Texas terminated its exchange program with 15 Chinese visiting researchers receiving CSC funding, effectively revoking their US visas. This appears to be the first case of an American university severing ties with CSC.

Prof Greitens expects some increased scrutiny of Chinese nationals studying science and technology in the US, especially those who received Chinese government funding, to continue regardless of the outcome of the US election.

"Both (Trump and Biden) administrations are likely to take the potential threat of illegal technology transfer between the US and China very seriously," she says.

Though Zhang was impressed by the academic rigour in America and enjoyed working with colleagues at Brown University, he says he won't consider ever visiting the country again due to the screening experience.

"It was very scary. I felt my safety could be harmed at any time," he says.

Worrying for a gloomy prospect of US-China relations, Zhang has started to lobby his Chinese friends in America to consider returning home.

"The New Cold War has started," he says. "There's no turning back, no matter who is going to be America's next president."

Footage of a Zionist soldier throwing a Palestinian activist to the ground and kneeling on his neck has sparked outrage in the Palestinian territories and beyond.

The protester, named as Khairi Hanoun, a man in his late 60s, took part in demonstrations on Tuesday near Tulkarm, in the north of the West Bank, against moves to extend a neighbouring Israeli settlement.

Footage taken by AFP in recent weeks at different protests has shown him shouting at Zionist soldiers.

Hanoun was also involved in Tuesday's demonstration at a road bordering the village of Shufah, between Nablus and Tulkarm.

He was seen waving a Palestinian flag, along with dozens of other protesters, and watched by several journalists.

In video footage, Hanoun appeared to touch an Zionist soldier, who then pushed him to the ground, putting his knee on his neck as he secured his hands with a plastic tie.

Edited footage of the incident has been circulating on social media and Palestinian television channels.

Several are posted with the hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter.

They compare the image with George Floyd, an unarmed African American killed in police custody, who was photographed with police kneeling on his neck.

Saeb Erakat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday about the images condemning the "aggression".

The Islamist movement Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, said "such acts" were among the "main causes" of tensions in the region.

However, Zionist's army said the images did not show the extent of the confrontation.

"We emphasise that the videos on social media are partial, heavily edited and do not reflect the violent riot nor the violence against IDF (Zionist) troops that happened prior to the apprehension," the army said.

Zionist's army said "a Palestinian known as an inciter" had "shoved" a soldier "a number of times".

According to the army, soldiers "showed restraint" but "were forced to apprehend the suspect that repeatedly assaulted them".

Soldiers provided medical care after his arrest, the statement added.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two men who prosecutors say are members of an anti-government extremist group, who toted guns on Minneapolis streets during unrest following the death of George Floyd and spoke about shooting police, blowing up a courthouse and killing politicians, have been charged with federal terrorism counts.

Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of New Brighton, Minnesota, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Hampstead, North Carolina, are members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” authorities say.

They are charged with conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, for allegedly building firearms suppressors that they believed they sold to Hamas, and for allegedly offering to fight as “mercenaries” for the group.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement that people who seek to engage in terrorist activity will be held accountable, “no matter what witch's brew of ideological motivations inspire" them.

Solomon and Teeter made their first court appearances via videoconference Friday in U.S. District Court. They were both appointed federal defenders, but attorneys were not immediately assigned to comment on their behalf.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes, as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. His death, captured on bystander video, sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond.

Authorities began investigating the Boogaloo Bois after learning that some members were discussing violence and were armed during the unrest in Minneapolis. Boogaloo supporters, who use the movement’s name as a slang term for a second civil war or collapse of civilization, frequently show up at protests armed with rifles and wearing Hawaiian shirts.

According to an FBI affidavit, Solomon posted a message on Facebook on May 26 asking people to contact him on an encrypted platform. That same day, Teeter publicly posted: “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off.” His public posts show he then traveled from North Carolina to Minnesota.

A witness told the FBI that Solomon was seen openly carrying a firearm and said he was part of a Boogaloo Bois subgroup called the “Boojahideen," and was willing to protect the witness from police, white supremacists and looters. Solomon allegedly said his mission was to get police out of the city. Later, the witness invited Solomon, Teeter and another person to stay at the witness's house, where they spoke about committing acts of violence against police and other targets, the affidavit says.

The witness said Solomon and Teeter talked about attacking a National Guard Armory to steal weapons and bombs. A paid informant, whom Teeter and Solomon believed to belong to Hamas, later recorded a conversation in which Solomon, Teeter and another person talked about shooting police.

During many conversations, Solomon and Teeter told the informant that the views of Hamas — a Palestinian Islamic political party — aligned with their own anti-government views and that they wanted to work as “mercenaries” on behalf of Hamas' armed wing so they could earn cash for the Boogaloo movement. They said they needed money to recruit members and buy land for a Boogaloo training compound.

According to the affidavit, they came up with a plot to blow up a historical county courthouse in northern Minnesota so they could “make a statement," but then delayed that plan. Solomon later said: “I want to murder a bunch of U.S. politicians. That’s the statement I want to make.”

Solomon and Teeter met an undercover FBI employee, whom they believed to be a more senior member of Hamas, and offered to build firearms suppressors and other weapons for the group. They believed the suppressors they sold went to Hamas to be used overseas to attack Israeli and U.S. forces, the affidavit said.

When the undercover FBI employee asked to explain killing politicians, Solomon said he would “build a gallows ... in front of the Congress building in D.C. and just start hanging politicians left and right.” When discussing possible security, Teeter said he can shoot from a distance and, “you can't stop threats that you can't see,″ the affidavit said.

•             Archaeologists in Mexico discovered a huge collection of mammoth skeletons buried under an airport construction site.

•             At least 200 skeletons have already been unearthed, and many more await excavation.

•             Paleontologists think that studying these mammoths could offer new insight into why the species went extinct 10,000 to 13,000 years ago.

•             Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Two hundred ancient mammoth skeletons have been discovered beneath an airport construction site north of Mexico City — the largest collection of mammoth bones ever found.

Archaeologists at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History first realized the area might hide mammoth remains after they found two human-dug mammoth traps in November as part of routine excavations to clear land for the airport site.

The traps, in an area intended for use as a garbage dump in the town of Tultepec, contained the bones of at least 14 Columbian mammoths.

Mammoth bones at an excavation site in Tultepec, north of Mexico City.

Meliton Tapia/Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History via AP

The construction site of the Felipe Ángeles International Airport is just 12 miles from those traps. There, excavation teams discovered in May that the dried-up bed of Lake Xaltocan held at least 60 mammoth skeletons. The total uncovered has since reached 200 — with more bones still waiting underground.

"There are too many. There are hundreds," Pedro Sánchez Nava, an archaeologist at the institute, told The Associated Press.

Now an observer accompanies every bulldozer at the construction site, just in case one digs up new mammoth bones, according to The AP.

The previous largest mammoth site discovered, in Hot Springs, South Dakota, held the remains of about 60 mammoths.

The discovery could shed light on why mammoths went extinct

Columbian mammoths arrived in North America about 1 million years ago. They stood up to 14 feet tall and lived about as long as humans: 70 to 80 years.

Unlike their woolly counterparts in Europe, these mammoths likely didn't have much hair — an adaptation to North America's warmer climate. Their range extended from Canada to Nicaragua and Honduras.

A paleontologist works to preserve the skeleton of a mammoth on September 3.

Marco Ugarte/AP

Columbian mammoths went extinct between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago, and many paleontologists think prehistoric human hunters played a major role.

That's one of the aspects of this site that researchers hope to investigate. Humans clearly killed the mammoths in the pits discovered in Tultepec, but it's not yet clear whether they played a role in driving the 200-plus mammoths into the lake bed.

Researchers think the mammoths might have gotten stuck in mud along the lake's shore, then died of starvation or drowning. That could have happened naturally, since the lake's grasses and reeds would have attracted the mammoths to feed. But the huge number of skeletons could also indicate that humans cleverly used the lakeshore's stickiness to their advantage, according to Sánchez Nava.

"It's possible they may have chased them into the mud," he told The AP in May.

The site on September 3.

Marco Ugarte/AP

If that's true, it would mean humans were capable of killing larger numbers of mammoths than previously thought. It could also be evidence that ancient people ate mammoth meat as a staple part of their diets — not sporadically, as researchers had assumed before.

However, the bones found at the airport site haven't yet shown any marks that would indicate humans butchered the animals.

If humans were involved in the creatures' deaths, however, that would add support to the idea that people contributed to or caused Columbian mammoths' extinction in the Americas. The other prevailing theory suggests the beasts perished because of habitat loss caused by warming weather as the ice age ended.

Or it could be a combination of both factors, according to paleontologist Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, who works at the anthropology institute.

"I think in the end the decision will be that there was a synergy effect between climate change and human presence," he told The AP.

Humans may have made tools out of mammoth bones

Even if humans didn't kill the mammoths in the lake bed directly, evidence is emerging that ancient civilizations around the area used the animals' bones for tools. Archaeologists have so far discovered dozens of tools around the site that were at least partially made from mammoth bones, like knives with mammoth-bone shafts.

But they're not sure the bones in the tools came from the mammoths found in the lake bed. They could have come from other mammoths, like the ones in the nearby Tultepec pits.

Further laboratory tests could help paleontologists determine what relationship, if any, humans had with the mammoth bones in the lake bed — whether they killed them, ate them, used them for tools, or all three.

Business Insider

•        Hundreds of bags of cannabis were dropped from a drone as it flew over Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv on Thursday.

•        The aerial stunt was by a group called "Green Drone" that advocates for the legalization of marijuana in Israel.

•        Surprised pedestrians rushed to scoop up the illicit bounty.

•        According to The Jerusalem Post, two people suspected of operating the drone were arrested.

Cannabis fell from the sky over Israel, after a drone released hundreds of bags of the drug over central Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Dozens of surprised people rushed out into the busy street to collect the packets, which were dropped by a group called "Green Drone," according to the Jerusalem Post.

Green Drone advocates for the legalization of marijuana in Israel, where the substance is still largely illegal, except in certain medical situations.

Just before the drop, the group posted a message on the messaging app Telegram, warning of what they were about to do.

"It's time my dear brothers. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the green drone, handing out free cannabis from the sky... Enjoy my beloved brothers, this is your pilot brother, making sure we all get some free love," the message read.

The Jerusalem Post said that the police arrested two people suspected of operating the drone, and said that they were being interrogated.

However, Green Drone has promised to continue dropping a kilo of marijuana a week, over different parts of the country.

Zionist legislators are currently debating one bill that would decriminalize cannabis and another that would legalize it for adult use, according to the website Marijuana Moment.


Scientists have calculated how many mammals might be lost this century, based on fossil evidence of past extinctions.

Their predictions suggest at least 550 species will follow in the footsteps of the mammoth and sabre-toothed cat.

With every "lost species" we lose part of the Earth's natural history, they say.

Yet, despite these "grim" projections, we can save hundreds of species by stepping up conservation efforts.

The new research, published in the journal Science Advances, suggests that humans are almost entirely responsible for extinctions of mammals in past decades.

And rates will escalate in the future if we don't take action now.

Despite this "alarming" scenario, we could save hundreds if not thousands of species with more targeted and efficient conservation strategies, said Tobias Andermann of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre and the University of Gothenburg.

In order to achieve this, we must increase our collective awareness about the "looming escalation of the biodiversity crisis, and take action in combatting this global emergency".

"Time is pressing," he said. "With every lost species, we irreversibly lose a unique portion of Earth's natural history."

The scientists compiled a large dataset of fossils, which provided evidence for the timing and scale of recent extinctions.

Their computer-based simulations predict large increases in extinction rates by the year 2100, based on the current threat status of species.

According to these models, the extinctions that have occurred in past centuries only represent the tip of the iceberg, compared with the looming extinctions of the next decades.

"Reconstructing our past impacts on biodiversity is essential to understand why some species and ecosystems have been particularly vulnerable to human activities - which can hopefully allow us to develop more effective conservation actions to combat extinction," said Prof Samuel Turvey of ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

Last year an intergovernmental panel of scientists said one million animal and plant species were now threatened with extinction.

Scientists have warned that we are entering the sixth mass extinction, with whatever we do now likely to define the future of humanity.