Over 1,000 need urgent medical evacuation from Syria’s Ghouta: UN

Children are seen in a shelter in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria March 11, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 March 2018
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Over 1,000 need urgent medical evacuation from Syria’s Ghouta: UN

BEIRUT: More than 1,000 people, mostly women and children, are in urgent need of medical evacuations from the besieged Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the United Nations said on Monday.
Rebel-held parts of Ghouta are under a crippling government siege that has made food and medicine difficult to access for its estimated 400,000 residents.
“There are more than 1,000 people who require medical evacuations. The majority of them are women and children,” said Linda Tom, from the UN’s humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) in Damascus.
According to numbers provided on Monday by OCHA, they include more than 77 “priority cases.”
Since February 18, Syrian troops have been waging a fierce offensive on rebels in Eastern Ghouta, the last opposition bastion on the outskirts of Damascus.
OCHA said 28 health facilities in Eastern Ghouta had been hit in the assault, and nine health workers killed.
Rebels have also fired rockets onto the capital.
According to OCHA, five hospitals and 26 schools in Damascus have been hit.
The UN Security Council on February 24 demanded a month-long cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta that would allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
Since the cease-fire resolution was passed, two convoys of humanitarian assistance have entered the besieged area, but no medical evacuations have taken place.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has said that children are at more risk than ever in Syria's devastating conflict, the UN said Monday as the war approached its eighth year.
The UN children's agency UNICEF reported a 50 percent increase in the number of children killed in the conflict last year compared to the previous year.
"In 2017, extreme and indiscriminate violence killed the highest ever number of children -- 50 percent more than 2016," it said, adding that 2018 was off to an even worse start.
More than 200 children have been killed in bombardment of the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta by Syrian regime and allied forces since February, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

Updated 12 min 25 sec ago
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Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

  • Saturday’s ruling by the Court of Cessation dashed any hope that Gamal Mubarak could run for public office.
  • Mubarak’s two sons are currently on trial for insider trading.

CAIRO: Egypt's highest appeals court on Saturday rejected a motion by former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to overturn their conviction on corruption charges.
The ruling by the Court of Cessation, Egypt's final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, dashed any hope that Gamal, Mubarak's younger son and one-time heir apparent, could run for public office. A senior newspaper editor and confidant of Egypt's current president had recently suggested that banker-turned-politician Gamal may have been contemplating the move.
The Mubarak trio was sentenced to three years each for embezzling funds meant for maintenance of presidential palaces but which they spent on upgrading or building private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while their father was freed last year. They repaid the funds, a total of 125 million pounds (about $7 million).
Mubarak's sons are currently on trial for insider trading. They are free on bail after a judge on Thursday overturned a surprise Sept. 15 ruling to detain them. The case's next hearing is on Oct. 20.
The rejection of their appeal Saturday and Gamal Mubarak's subsequent ineligibility to run for office came in the wake of recent comments by the chief editor of state-run Al-Akhbar publications, Yasser Rizq, who suggested that frequent public appearances by the younger Mubarak could be a prelude to a future presidential run.
Rizq first warned Gamal Mubarak against harboring presidential ambitions in an article published in May. He repeated the warning in a television interview aired earlier this week.
"His real crime is insulting the dignity of the Egyptian people," Rizq said, alluding to Gamal's one-time intention to succeed his father. It violated the constitution and amounted to the toppling of republican rule, he explained. He said it was not improbable that he would strike a political deal with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to secure the group's return to politics in exchange for its support in a presidential bid in 2022, when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi's second term ends.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was among the main drivers of a 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak's 29-year rule, as well as the military's support for it. The years that followed saw Mubarak regime heavyweights tried on corruption or abuse of power charges. Most have since walked free, while second-string regime loyalists found their way back to public life under El-Sissi.