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3/5/2017

Solmali Famine

somalia-famine

After withdrawing from Mogadishu earlier this month, Al Qaida-inspired Al Shabaab is placing more restrictions on the movement of people, particularly men, in areas under its control.

In Somalia’s Al Shabaab-controlled Kismayu, witnesses said malnourished children were dying due to the lack of food aid.

Gulf of Aden: A dangerous gateway

Yemen is host to the second largest Somali refugee population, with nearly 192,000. About 15,000 of those have arrived since in January.

They cross the Gulf of Aden on what are often unseaworthy and overcrowded boats. Many do not survive the dangerous crossing.

The agency said it expected more refugees to arrive in Somalia over the next months, but thought they were waiting for calmer seas. The route is also often used by migrants who pay smugglers to get them to Yemen, seen as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East.

At least 6.2 million people in Somalia — or just about half the country — are grappling with the prospect of an acute food shortage due to deepening drought. And on Saturday, Somalia’s prime minister made it clear that the conditions are exacting a stark human cost.

Over a two-day span, at least 110 people died of hunger in just a single region, Hassan Ali Khaire said Saturday during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee.

“I can confirm that Bay region in the south and other parts of Somalia are deteriorating rapidly,” Khaire said, “and my estimation is that half of the country’s population has felt the impact of this drought.”

The country already declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. As Somalia has dried up, Khaire says the lack of clean water has increased the risks of waterborne diseases, while the ability of malnourished people to fight off those diseases has plummeted.

“It is a difficult situation for the pastoralists and their livestock. Some people have been hit by [hunger] and diarrhoea at the same time,” Khaire’s office said in a statement. “The Somali government will do its best, and we urge all Somalis, wherever they are, to help and save the dying Somalis.”

The United Nations is putting out urgent calls for aid, saying as many as 5 million people need aid in the shadow of a looming famine.

“Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies,” the news service reports. “Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.”

If a full-blown famine should descend on Somalia, the World Health Organization says it would be the country’s third famine in a quarter-century — and the second in less than a decade.

Citing a joint report by the U.N. and the United States Agency for International Development, famine killed about 258,000 people in Somalia between 2010 and 2012.

The U.N. is currently appealing for $864 million in humanitarian aid, while “the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.” The country has been hit by a severe drought that has affected more than 6.2 million people who are currently facing food insecurity and lack of clean water because of rivers that are drying up and recent years with little rain. Earlier in the week, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, warned the drought could lead to famine. “If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key state-building and peace-building initiatives,” he warned, adding that a drought — even one this severe — does not automatically have to mean catastrophe. According to the United Nations, “Somalia is in the grip of an intense drought, induced by two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall. In the worst-affected areas, inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive.” The United Nations adds that “the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) — managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — have found that over 6.2 million, or more than half of the country’s population, are now in need of assistance, up from 5 million in September.”

“We estimate that almost half of the Somali population, 3.7 million people, are affected by this crisis and a full 2.8 million people live in the south, the most seriously affected area. It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of these being children.”

The United Nations says a lack of rain over the past few years has created a famine in two areas in southern Somalia: Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Officials say the famine could spread to other areas.

This is the first time since nineteen ninety-one that the UN has declared a famine in Somalia. The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in sixty years. UN officials have said more than eleven million people are in need of food aid. Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when the former government was toppled by clan militias that later turned on each other. For decades, generals, warlords and warrior types have reduced this once languid coastal country in Eastern Africa to rubble. Somalia remains a raging battle zone today, with jihadists intent on bringing down a transitional government which relies on African Union peacekeepers and Western funding for survival.

No amount of outside firepower has brought the country to heel. Not thousands of American Marines in the early 1990s. Not the enormous United Nations mission that followed. Not the Ethiopian Army storming into Somalia in 2006. Not the current peacekeepers, who are steadily wearing out their welcome.

Somalia continues to be a caldron of bloodshed, piracy and Islamist radicalism. There are currently 6,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers in Mogadishu, but they are struggling to beat back Islamist fighters, who are rallying around Al Shabab, a brutal group that is aligned with Al Qaeda and has turned Somalia into a focal point of American concerns on terrorism .

In 2011 Somalia experienced a full-blown famine in several parts of the country, with millions of people on the brink of starvation and aid deliveries complicated by the fact that militants control the famine zones.

The Islamist militants controlling southern Somalia forced out Western aid organizations in 2010, yanking away the only safety net just when one of the worst droughts in 60 years struck. When the scale of the catastrophe became clear, with nearly three million Somalis in urgent need and more than 10 million at risk, the militants relented and invited aid groups back. But few rushed in because of the complications and dangers of dealing with the militants.

American government rules banning material aid to the Shabab complicate aid efforts. Aid officials have worried that paying so-called taxes to the militants who control needy areas could expose them to criminal prosecution.

3/3/2017

Unreported War Crimes: Yemen Famine

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The lack of immediate and unhindered access to people who urgently need food assistance – compounded by a shortage of funding – means that millions of people are in Yemen are on the brink of famine.

Almost 18.8 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes more than 7 million people that are food insecure; that is one in five of the country’s population. The rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world.

The nutrition situation continues to deteriorate – and an estimated 3 million women and children need nutrition support. According to WFP market analysis, prices of food items spiked in September 2016 as a result of the escalation of the conflict. The national average price of wheat flour was found to be 55 percent higher compared to the pre-crisis period.

Humanitarian organizations need to be able to move freely and safely in order to reach all those in urgent need before they fall deeper into crisis.

WFP requires nearly US$950 million in 2017 to provide much-needed food assistance and carry out nutrition interventions in Yemen. It takes four months from the time WFP receives funds until food reaches the country and into the hands of families in need.

For almost two years, the United States has backed—with weapons, logistics and political support—a Saudi-led war in Yemen that has left over 10,000 dead, 40,000 wounded, 2.5 million internally displaced, 2.2 million children suffering from malnutrition and over 90 percent of civilians in need of humanitarian aid.

A recent UN report on the humanitarian crisis and near-famine conditions in Yemen (that encompassed South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia as well) has led to a rare instance of Western media taking notice of the war and its catastrophic effect. But missing from most of these reports is the role of the United States and its ally Saudi Arabia—whose two-year-long siege and bombing have left the country in ruins.

UN’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien has warned that the conflict-driven food crisis in Yemen could become a full-blown famine this year.

O’Brien told the UN Security Council that two million people need emergency food aid to survive and child malnutrition has risen 63 per cent in a year. He said a child under five dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes. Severe poverty, war damage, and a naval embargo by the Saudi-led coalition have all hit food security. Yemen has been devastated by nearly two years of war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

This man made famine in Yemen is directly caused by a cruel embargo, which is stopping food from entering the west side of the country where most of the 25 million Yemenis live. The loading cranes at the port of Hodeida are unusable as they were bombed by hostile forces in 2015, and road and bridges that allow distribution of food have also been destroyed. Thousands of farms, warehouses including one run by Oxfam, grain silos, food factories, markets, water pumps, have been destroyed in a systematic manner over the last year. Also many lorries attempting to distribute food have also been bombed. Last week there was a 3 day truce in order to deliver humanitarian supplies – on the day before the truce began, the airports of Sanaa and Hodeida were yet again bombed, so that no aircraft carrying humanitarian supplies could land. Fishermen have been repeated bombed off the coast, making it far too dangerous for them to attempt to go to sea. Over 3.5 million people are displaced and living in makeshift tents caused by the aerial bombardment of their homes, aggravating problems caused by the lack of food and clean water.

This has caused a famine, particularly severe in the area of the Tihama, which borders the Red Sea, but a large part of the western area of Yemen is suffering badly. This has been worsened by the decision to move Yemen Central Bank out from Sanaa, the capital, a strategic decision made by Hadi, whom the world describes erroneously as a democratically elected president of Yemen – in fact he was elected in an uncontested election in February 2012 for a fixed two year term as interim president, and it was the ending of his term that started a major power struggle inside Yemen that precipitated a civil war, the Yemen army sided moved against the deeply unpopular Hadi who called in his neighbours to help him gain control of Yemen. Hadi was warned that moving the bank – that had been heroically paying salaries to all ‘sides’ in the conflict that was in itself delaying catastrophe in Yemen – would precipitate starvation of Yemeni people. Nonetheless Hadi moved the bank and salaries to those in the west of Yemen have now stopped. Bank notes that remain in circulation are tattered and becoming unusable.

Horrific pictures of starving men, women and children are now circulating on the Internet. Almost certainly tens of thousands of small children, maybe hundreds of thousands, have already died. These deaths are not included in war statistics and indeed are not being collected. Cholera is now sweeping Yemen as the water supply is drying up and deteriorating, causing further deaths. All of this with little attention from the world’s media, although there have been programmes late in the evenings on BBC and ITV in the last few weeks, and occasional stories in the British press. Despite the desperate situation amazing and inexplicably there has been no official charity appeal in UK. The man made starvation of Yemen is being done silently but steadily, and is now reaching crisis proportions, apparently with the cooperation of world governments.

It is made worse by the deterioration of the health services in Yemen caused by aerial bombardment and embargo. So many hospitals in Yemen have been destroyed (including four MSF hospitals) that many hospital staff are too frightened to go to work, and patients to terrified to attend. Over 58% of Yemenis now have no access to health care. Additionally, around 200 nutritional centres are not functioning due to the war. Many hospitals that are still admitting starving children can only do so if the patients can pay for care because of their desperate economic plight. When treated patients are discharged, they return to starvation conditions in their homes or temporary accommodation. It is hard to describe the terror of experiencing that chilling sound but not knowing where the bomb will land. The people of Yemen live with that horror and uncertainty every day.

The bald statistics state that 14 million people are hungry while nearly 19 million (70% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance. It broke my heart to see so many undernourished children. Their skin worn thin and barely covering their bones, they could only make their distress known with thin, reedy cries. They were so weak they could barely stand. For almost two years, the United States has backed—with weapons, logistics and political support—a Saudi-led war in Yemen that has left over 10,000 dead, 40,000 wounded, 2.5 million internally displaced, 2.2 million children suffering from malnutrition and over 90 percent of civilians in need of humanitarian aid.

2/22/2017

Another Sudan Famine

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On 20 February 2017, the United Nations declared a famine in parts of former Unity State of South Sudan and warned that it could spread rapidly without further action. The World Food Programme reported that 40% of the South Sudanese population (4.9 million people) needed food urgently, and at least 100,000, according to the UN, were in imminent danger of death by starvation. UN officials said President Salva Kiir Mayardit was blocking food deliveries to some areas, though Kiir said on 21 February that the government would allow “unimpeded access” to aid organizations.

In addition, parts of South Sudan have not had rain in two years. According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Representative Serge Tissot, “Our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive. The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.

The reports also warned that about 5.5 million people, half of South Sudan’s population, are expected to suffer food shortages and insecurity by July 2017. According to Jeremy Hopkins, the South Sudan representative for the UN children’s agency, more than 200,000 children are at risk of death from malnutrition in the country.

http://cdn.wfp.org/donate/

12/18/2016

larsen

9/1/2016

Violent lead-pellet crackdown

Filed under: government,human rights,india,military,police,violence — admin @ 8:46 am

pellets

Srinagar hospital reports at least 100 eye surgeries after four days of violent crackdown on protesters.

Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir – Despite appeals by rights groups to stop the practice, Indian armed forces have continued to use pellet guns to quell protesters, injuring at least 100 people in the recent violence that broke out in Indiand-administered Kashmir.

Inside the capital Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital, doctors said that they had performed 100 eye surgeries in the past four days.

First introduced to Kashmir by duck-hunting British expeditions, pellet guns send in one shot nearly 600 high velocity ball bearings made of lead.

In Kashmir, pellet guns have been used to quell protests for a long time.

Police say it is a non-lethal weapon that helps breaking protests without casualty, but rights groups reject the assertion, saying it blinds people and must be banned.

In the latest tensions, the youngest victim was a four-year-old girl.

Fearing profiling and reprisals of injured youths by police, hospital officials have assigned serial numbers to pellet gun victims to hide their identity. This development came after it emerged that undercover police officers have been roaming in hospitals hunting for injured protesters.

“I was out to get medicine for my mother when a group of soldiers appeared suddenly and fired on me. There were no protests at that time,” an 18-year-old student of Budgam district said.

Nine-year-old Tamana Ashraf of Ganderbal district is another victim being treated at the Srinagar hospital.

She was sitting at the window in her house when pellets whizzed by, hitting her left eye, her mother Shamima said.

“I saw a small iron ball in her eye. When we tried to hospitalise her, police stopped us and beat us up. I was crying to see what they had done to my daughter. Luckily we managed to reach here,” she said.

Srinagar hospital reports at least 100 eye surgeries after four days of violent crackdown on protesters.

Despite appeals by rights groups to stop the practice, Indian armed forces have continued to use pellet guns to quell protesters, injuring at least 100 people in the recent violence that broke out in Indiand-administered Kashmir.

First introduced to Kashmir by duck-hunting British expeditions, pellet guns send in one shot nearly 600 high velocity ball bearings made of lead.

In Kashmir, pellet guns have been used to quell protests for a long time.

Police say it is a non-lethal weapon that helps breaking protests without casualty, but rights groups reject the assertion, saying it blinds people and must be banned.

Fearing profiling and reprisals of injured youths by police, hospital officials have assigned serial numbers to pellet gun victims to hide their identity. This development came after it emerged that undercover police officers have been roaming in hospitals hunting for injured protesters.

“I saw a small iron ball in her eye. When we tried to hospitalise her, police stopped us and beat us up. I was crying to see what they had done to my daughter. Luckily we managed to reach here,” she said.

Hospitals in Kashmir’s summer capital are packed to capacity these days, their wards overflowing with pellet gun victims injured during violent clashes with government forces.

Sixteen-year-old Kaisar Ahmad Mir has been in hospital since July 9. As X-ray films dangle near his bed, Kaisar stares with haggard eyes at each passerby. Doctors had to amputate three fingers on his right hand after pellets were fired at him from close range during one of the demonstrations. “After the autopsy was done, there were 360 pellets found in [my brother’s] body.”
“I felt some electric current when the pellets hit my right hand. Then the blood started oozing out, followed by intense pain,” Mir said.

Deadly clashes between protestors and government forces engulfed this Himalayan region – India’s only Muslim majority state – on July 8, a day when the army gunned down militant leader Burhan Wani during a three-hour gun battle in the remote south Kashmir region of the state.

The government quickly instituted a curfew across the Kashmir valley, severing internet and phone service. But people defied government restrictions and came out in hordes to protest in cities, towns and remote hamlets of the state. Since July 8, 52 protesters have been killed and more than 2,500 injured, around 600 of them due to pellets. Many of the victims are children.

Aaqib Mir, Kaisar Mir’s younger brother, said that Kaisar was preparing for his class 10 exams this year. “My brother is now crippled for life,” Aaqib said. Eleven-year-old Umer Nazir received more than 12 pellets in his face that damaged his both eyes. He was shot during anti-government protests in the Indian state of Kashmir.

Eleven-year-old Umar Nazir received more than 12 pellets in his face that damaged his both eyes. He was shot during anti-government protests in the Indian state of Kashmir.

The pellets are loaded with lead and once fired they disperse widely and in huge numbers. Pellets penetrate the skin and soft tissues, with eyes especially vulnerable to severe, irreversible damage.

Pellets were introduced in Kashmir as a “non-lethal” alternative to bullets after security forces killed nearly 200 people during demonstrations against Indian rule from 2008 to 2010.The state government’s reasoning was that when fired from a distance, shotgun pellets disperse and inflict only minor injuries.

During this summer’s protests, pellets were extensively used against the protesters, injuring hundreds. According to figures issued by Kashmir’s SHMS hospital, out of 164 cases of severe pellet injuries, 106 surgeries were performed in which five people lost one eye completely.

Riyaz Ahmad Shah, 21, was killed on Aug. 2 after being hit by pellets. An ATM security guard, Shah was returning home when, according to his family, state forces fired pellets at him from close range, killing him on the spot.

“After the autopsy was done, there were 360 pellets found in his body,” said Shakeel Ahmad, Riyaz Shah’s brother.

At least nine people have been killed in the region since pellet guns were introduced in 2010.

“Pellets are not being used against rioters in other parts of the country, but here in Kashmir they are being used quite openly without any remorse from the government,” said human rights activist Khurram Parvez, who is also a program coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

To protest against the use of pellets, the coalition has created posters with text written in braille to make the world aware of the suffering in Kashmir. “When you don’t see eye to eye with the brutal occupation in Kashmir, this is how they make you see their point,” reads a campaign poster.

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