420,000 in Homs desperate for aid

Updated 02 February 2013
0

420,000 in Homs desperate for aid

GENEVA: Some 420,000 people — half of them children — in the hard-hit Syrian region of Homs are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, the UN’s children’s agency said yesterday.
“These people need life-saving assistance,” UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told AFP, pointing out that many of the 420,000 people most in need of help were living in “shelters with blasted-in windows.”
“It’s extremely cold, and you have 20 to 25 families in a room ... These are harsh conditions for kids,” she lamented, stressing that an acute lack of access to safe water and hygiene facilities coupled with children missing vaccinations was a recipe for disaster.
UNICEF staff took part in a UN joint mission to the devastated area last month, which determined that in addition to those most in need of aid, another 280,000 people were severely affected by the conflict.
Nearly one in three people in Homs, or some 635,000 people, had been displaced, Mercado said, adding that two-thirds of the displaced were below 18.
Elisabeth Byrs of the UN’s World Food Programme meanwhile told AFP that 85 percent of the people the agency helps across Syria have been displaced.
Mercado also lamented that the conflict was taking a heavy toll on children’s access to education in the area, describing kids so eager to learn that they “fearlessly make their way through rubble” to makeshift schools.
Across Syria, one in four schools have been damaged, destroyed or are being used for shelter, according to UNICEF.
The UN’s refugee agency also decried Friday the deteriorating situation in Syria.
“It is an appalling situation in Syria today,” said Yacoub El Hillo, the head of UNHCR’s Middle East and North Africa bureau, who also took part in the joint UN mission last month. The country is “facing systematic destruction,” he told reporters in Geneva.

 


Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

Updated 24 April 2018
0

Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

BAGHDAD: Daesh has threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during parliamentary elections next month.

In a message posted to the Telegram messaging app on Sunday, Daesh spokesman Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir called on Sunni Iraqis to boycott the May 12 polls, the first since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory over Daesh in December.

Extremist groups in Iraq have targeted every election since the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein and paved the way for Shiites to dominate every government since.

Under a system of checks and balances designed to avoid a return to dictatorship, the winner of the May 12 elections will have to form alliances with other Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lists to secure a majority.

An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating Daesh are the three favorites vying for Iraq’s premiership.

Two of the favorites topping the lists were among the architects of victory against Daesh, which in 2014 seized a third of Iraq’s territory in a lightning offensive.

The incumbent prime minister, 66 year-old Abadi, took over the reins from Nuri Al-Maliki in September 2014 at the high watermark of the security crisis.

The fightback which allowed Abadi to declare Iraq’s victory over Daesh in December, has silenced critics of his lack of military experience.

An engineering graduate and holder of a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain, Abadi is from the same Dawa party as his predecessor Maliki.

As the official head of Iraq’s military, Abadi has bolstered morale by drafting in foreign trainers, who have helped professionalize tens of thousands of soldiers.

Under his watch and backed by a US-led international coalition, the army has banished Daesh from all its urban strongholds in Iraq. 

The Iraqi military has also pushed back the Kurds in the north’s oil-rich Kirkuk province, bolstering Abadi’s status as frontrunner going into the election.

“He has a popular base which transcends confessional and ethnic lines. He offers a narrative as a statesman and he is not tarnished by corruption,” said Iraqi political scientist Essam Al-Fili.

Haddad said: “Abadi remains the single strongest contender but not strong enough to win anything close to a majority.”

His main contender is Hadi Al-Ameri — a leader of Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating Daesh.

During Maliki’s 2010-2014 term as premier, Ameri was a lawmaker and then transport minister, but he was blocked in a bid to head the Interior Ministry by an American veto.