Aid group warns of crisis in Syrian opposition enclave

A photo taken on February 8, 2018 shows smoke plumes rising following a reported regime air strike in the rebel-held enclave of Jisreen in the Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Aid group warns of crisis in Syrian opposition enclave

BEIRUT: Relentless bombardment by the Syrian military of the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta is hampering vital relief operations, an international aid group warned on Friday.
The intensity of the airstrikes, which have killed more than 220 civilians in just four days, has made it extremely difficult for relief workers to assist the estimated 400,000 people who live in the enclave under siege, CARE International said. “Our partners are having a hard time moving around, so how can they reach vulnerable people?” the group’s communications director for Syria, Joelle Bassoul, asked.
A CARE-supported community center in the town of Douma was among the buildings hit, forcing those using it into underground shelters.
More than 4,000 families in Eastern Ghouta are living in basements and bunkers, according to Save the Children.
The enclave, just east of the capital, is supposed to be one of four “de-escalation zones” declared last year in a bid to reduce the bloodshed.
But Damascus has intensified its bombing of the district’s towns and is also conducting a major offensive in another of the zones — Idlib in the northwest.
UN aid officials appealed for a month-long humanitarian truce to allow aid to be delivered and the sick and wounded brought out for treatment. But on Thursday the Security Council failed to back the proposal which regime ally Moscow described as “not realistic.”
Bassoul warned that without a truce, the consequences for civilians would be disastrous. “If there is no cease-fire, if this is all left unheard, we cannot imagine the scale of the humanitarian disaster,” she said.


Paraguay president inaugurates embassy in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he stands next to Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes at Netanyahu's office Monday. Reuters
Updated 22 May 2018
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Paraguay president inaugurates embassy in Jerusalem

  • Israeli forces killed nearly 60 Palestinians in clashes along the border
  • Several European countries summoning the Israeli ambassadors to their foreign ministries for questioning

JERUSALEM: Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes inaugurated his country’s Israel embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, making it the third nation to make the deeply controversial move after the US and Guatemala.
Cartes and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the inauguration of the new embassy in a Jerusalem office park.
The Paraguayan leader called it a “historic event.”
“This act has profound significance in the sense that it expresses Paraguay’s sincere friendship and full solidarity with Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu said cooperation between the two countries would become “greater,” naming areas such as agriculture, security and technology.

Consensus
The South American nation of some seven million people follows in the footsteps of the US which broke with decades of international consensus when it declared Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December.
Washington followed up on the declaration by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14.
The US Embassy opening was accompanied by mass protests and clashes along the Gaza border that saw 62 Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire.
Israel has sought to persuade other countries to follow the White House move, but so far only Paraguay and Guatemala have done so.

Capital
Guatemala opened its new embassy in the same Jerusalem office park as Paraguay’s on May 16.
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.