The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has today continued with efforts to relocate families on the island of Maafilaafushi in Lhaviyani Atoll, local media has reported.
MNDF officers began assisting with the transfer of families to the island of Naifaru yesterday (July 10) at the request of Lhaviyani Atoll Council.
MNDF officials have told Sun Online that the ongoing transfer of the estimated 80 people living on Maafilaafushi was expected to continue on Saturday (July 13). The military also thanked islanders for their cooperation.
Local media has reported that the decision to transfer residents to nearby islands in Lhaviyani Atoll had been taken after the government declared Maafilaafushi an inhabited island.
The office of Lhaviyani Atoll Council and MNDF Media Officer Captain Abdulla Ali were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
In 2011, the former government began discussions on transferring the population of Maafilaafushi – then estimated at around 100 residents – to other islands.
Local Newspaper Haveeru reported at the time that residents on Maafilaafushi, which was used by the MNDF for training, had demanded to be relocated due to military exercises conducted on the island.
An Israeli agricultural delegation from Teshuva Agricultural Products that was supposed to arrive on Filadhoo cancelled the visit after the islanders warned that they would not let the delegation go further than the jetty.
Island Council Member Mohamed Vijan today told Minivan News that almost all the citizens of the island were at the beach on Saturday to stop the Israel delegation from entering the island.
‘’But they never arrived, and no one informed the council that day that the visit has been cancelled,’’ Vijan said.
He said now the island was calm and everything was “as usual”.
‘’We have heard nothing from the Atoll Council or any other institution about the Israel delegation,’’ he added.
On its website Teshuva claims its advanced agricultural methods “allow for fresh culinary herbs to be grown in soil-less hydroponic systems.”
Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s new political party, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), meanwhile issued a press statement thanking the islanders of Filadhoo for protesting against the Israeli agricultural delegation.
In the statement, the PPM said that the Filadhoo islanders have “shown the feelings of the Maldivian people at a time when the Palestinians are trying to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”
The PPM went on to claim that the relationship established with the Middle East during Gayoom’s reign was now crumbling “due to the foreign policy of the current government”.
The religious Adhaalath Party meanwhile called on other islands to follow the example of Filadhoo and block the delegation from visiting any other island in the Maldives.
In the statement Adhaalath Party said that although the government has claimed the Maldives would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Palestine at the UN, the government was “an ally of Israel”, and that even if the Maldives voted in favor of Palestinian statehood “that will be done out of the embarrassment they would face if they did not.”
Cabinet will hold a discussion on Tuesday regarding a proposal to repopulate Maafilaafushi in Lhaviyani atoll.
Maafilaafushi is used by the military and has around 100 residents, reported Haveeru, adding that residents protested after President Nasheed visited yesterday to inaugurate two military schools on the island.
Islanders demanded to be relocated to Male’ or Hulhumale, because of the military exercises, Haveeru reported.