Trapped refugees ‘starving to death’ – Besieged Palestinians cry for help

Tawfiq HassanBEIRUT: Gaunt, ragged figures fill the streets for as far as the eye can see in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk outside Damascus, where some 40,000 are said to be slowly starving to death. The United Nations distributed shocking images this week of thousands of people, their faces emaciated, desperately flocking to receive food aid that only a few were lucky enough to collect.

“We live in a big prison,” said Rami Al-Sayed, a Syrian activist living in Yarmuk, speaking to AFP via the Internet. “But at least, in a prison, you have food. Here, there’s nothing. We are slowly dying.” “Sometimes, crowds of children stop me on the streets, begging me: ‘For the love of God, we want to eat, give us food.’ But of course, I have no food to give them,” Sayed said. After months of shelling and fierce fighting in and around Yarmuk between rebels and President Bashar Al-Assad’s troops, the camp’s population has shrunk from more than 150,000 to 40,000. Among them are 18,000 Palestinians.

Since last summer, the area has been under choking army siege, creating inhumane conditions for its inhabitants. “We’ve been living off herbs, but these herbs are bitter. Even animals won’t eat them,” said Sayed. “And if you go to the orchards to pick herbs from there, to use them to cook soup, you’ll get sniped.” “The situation is really tragic. On the streets, all you see are emaciated people, their faces drained of any life. Sadness is everywhere,” said Sayed. Even the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinians was overwhelmed by the drama. Since January, the agency has only been able to carry out limited, intermittent food distribution in the camp.

‘Let us out, or let us die’
“Gaunt, ragged figures of all ages fill the streets of the devastated camp for as far as the eye can see,” UNRWA said, adding that such scenes were the agency’s “daily reality.” “Humanitarian need has reached profound levels of desperation. Hunger and anxiety are etched on the faces of the waiting multitudes.” Since January, UNRWA has distributed only 7,500 food parcels in Yarmuk, describing that as “a drop in the ocean compared with the rising tide of need.” One parcel feeds a family of between five and eight for 10 days. “Yesterday only 10 percent of people here received assistance,” said Sayed.

Ali Zoya, a Palestinian living in Yarmuk, said “the aid will only last a few days.” Much of the camp has been reduced to rubble by shelling, fighting and occasional aerial bombardment. The distribution only began after rebels from outside the camp agreed to withdraw, following a deal reached with Palestinian factions. The lack of food in Yarmuk is compounded by medical shortages. “In the hospitals, there are wounded people who cannot be treated because there are no doctors or medicines,” said Sayed. “I saw a young man with a shrapnel wound to his leg. He won’t get better until he is able to leave the camp,” which is still under siege even though the rebels have withdrawn.

Since October, more than 100 people have died from food and medical shortages, says to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. After a visit on Tuesday, UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi described the “shocking” conditions of life he witnessed in Yarmuk. He compared the people flocking to the distribution point as “the appearance of ghosts.” Their despair echoes that of families who were trapped in rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs for more than 18 months, also under a tight army siege imposed to turn people against Syria’s nearly three-year revolt. “People here are completely exhausted,” said Sayed. “They feel tortured. They say: ‘Let us out, or let us die.’”- AFP

 

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Kuwait Kerala Islahi Center holds Islamic seminar

local2KUWAIT: The third Islamic seminar organized by Kuwait Kerala Islahi Center (KKIC) was inaugurated by Sheikh Dawood Al-Asousi, Assistant Undersecretary, Ministry of Awqaf at the Farwaniya Garden Ground Tuesday. The quadrennial seminar, under the patronage of the Ministry of Awqaf concluded yesterday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sheikh Dawood Al-Asousi, shared the good wishes of the Minister of Awqaf, Sheikh Naif Al-Ajmi and congratulated the organizers for the “great service they have been doing for the Malayalam speaking Indian community in Kuwait.”

The deputy undersecretary further added that KKIC is noted for the propagation of Islam and other charitable works, “exemplifying itself as a role model for other organizations.” An exhibition presenting various aspects of the faith and highlighting the negative aspects of social evils was inaugurated by Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the ambassador said the exhibition is highly educative and undercuts societal problems such drinking and smoking among others. The ambassador compared the moral teachings in various faiths stressing the importance of these values in human life. The ceremony also saw the launch of the souvenir presented by Khalid Falah Al-Mutairi of revival of Islamic Heritage Society to the Deputy GM of Al-Muzaini Exchange, Ali Fajhan.

President of KKIC, Abdul Lateef Madani, for his part said the seminar intends to drive home the importance of adhering to divine laws for the moral uplift of the society. Based on the overwhelming response in the previous years, the organizers decided to hold the exhibition for five days.

Other main events during the seminar had 4 sessions, with special programs for children, teenagers and women, and a friendly interaction between leaders of different faiths. The highlight of the evening was the speech by renowned Indian scholar and orator Hussain Salafi, who spoke on the topic “Religion for Human Good.”

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Kuwaiti embassies continue national days celebrations – Praise for good relations

local1CAPITALS: The Kuwaiti diplomatic missions around the world continued celebration of Kuwait’s 53rd National Day and 23rd Liberation Day yesterday. In Manila, Kuwait’s Ambassador to Philippines Waleed Al-Kanderi hosted a reception to mark the national days, which gathered a number of senior official and political attendants in the country.

During the reception, Ambassador Al-Kanderi congratulated His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and the Kuwaiti government and people on this occasion, lauding at the same time close Kuwaiti-Filipino ties in various levels of bilateral cooperation.

In Ho Chi Minh City, Consulate-General of Kuwait in Vietnam hosted a reception to mark the national days and was attended by a number of significant figures and senior officials in the country.

For his part, Kuwait’s Consul General Omar Suleiman Al-Qenai congratulated His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, as well as the Kuwaiti people and all residents in Kuwait on this occasion.

Kuwait’s Ambassador in Moscow Abdulaziz Al-Adwani held a reception attended by head of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the Foreign Ministry, Director of International Relations Department at the Federal Council and Chairman of the Media Committee at the Duma, the lower house of parliament.

The reception was also attended by Arab and Western diplomats, journalists, religious figures and businessmen. Al-Adwani congratulated His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti people on the occasion of these national days.

Al-Adwani, at a news conference on this occasion, said Kuwait and Russia enjoyed good relations at the political, economic, trade and investment levels. He said the two countries, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations last year, have cultural and academic potentials in common.

He said the recent strategic dialogue session between Russia and the GCC was important and constructive. Al-Adwani underlined the role of Russia in international affairs, and also said Kuwait was playing a key role in spreading the culture of peace and narrowing gaps between the conflicting parties in many areas. He congratulated Russia for organizing the winter olympic games in Sochi.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s embassy in Baghdad congratulated His Highness the Amir on the occasion of the national days. In a statement, the embassy also congratulated the Kuwaiti people, wishing lasting stability and security in Kuwait. Kuwait’s embassy in Brazil also held a reception to mark the national days. The reception, held last night, was attended by government officials, lawmakers, diplomats and public figures.

Ambassador Ayada Al-Saeedi congratulated His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince and the Kuwaiti people on these occasions. Al-Saeedi commended the bilateral relations with Brazil, saying the two countries were keen on developing these ties in all domains particularly in economy and trade. — KUNA

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