2-year-old Yemeni boy whose mother sued US to see him has died

Shaima Swileh, of Yemen, holds her dying 2-year old son Abdullah Hassan at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland. (AP)
Updated 29 December 2018
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2-year-old Yemeni boy whose mother sued US to see him has died

CALIFORNIA: The 2-year-old son of a Yemeni woman who sued the Trump administration to let her into the country to be with the ailing boy has died.
Abdullah Hassan died Friday in UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, where his father Ali Hassan brought him in the fall to get treatment for a genetic brain disorder.
Ali Hassan is a US citizen who lives in Stockton, California. He and his wife Shaima Swileh moved to Egypt after marrying in Yemen in 2016. Swileh is not an American citizen and remained in Egypt while fighting for a visa.
“We are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives,” Ali Hassan said.
Swileh held her son for the first time in the hospital 10 days ago.
A funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Swileh had been trying to get a visa since 2017, so the family could move to the United States.
Citizens from Yemen and four other mostly Muslim countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, are restricted from coming to the United States under President Donald Trump’ s travel ban.
When the boy’s health worsened, the father went ahead to California in October to get their son help, and Swileh remained in Egypt hoping for a visa. As the couple fought for a waiver, doctors put Abdullah on life support.
“My wife is calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold her son for the one last time,” said Ali Hassan, choking up at a news conference earlier this month.
He started losing hope and was considering pulling his son off life support to end his suffering. But then a hospital social worker reached out to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which sued on Dec. 16, said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the group in Sacramento.
The State Department granted Swileh a waiver the next day.
“With their courage, this family has inspired our nation to confront the realities of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban,” said Saad Sweilem, a lawyer with the council who represents the family. “In his short life, Abdullah has been a guiding light for all of us in the fight against xenophobia and family separation.”


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 20 September 2019

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.