Gaza children, who survived off animal feed, going without food for days as inhuman Israel blocks aid convoys

News Network
February 10, 2024

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People living in the isolated north of Gaza have revealed that children are going without food for days, as aid convoys are increasingly denied permits to enter thanks to Israeli army’s inhuman blockade. Some residents have resorted to grinding animal feed into flour to survive, but even stocks of those grains are now dwindling, they say.

People have also described digging down into the soil to access water pipes, for drinking and washing.

The UN has warned that acute malnutrition among young children in the north has risen sharply, and is now above the critical threshold of 15%.

The UN's humanitarian coordination agency, Ocha, says more than half the aid missions to the north of Gaza were denied access last month, and that there is increasing interference from Israeli forces in how and where aid is delivered.

It says 300,000 people estimated to be living in northern areas are largely cut off from assistance, and face a growing risk of famine.

A spokesman for the Israeli military agency tasked with coordinating aid access in Gaza said in a briefing last month that there was "no starvation in Gaza. Period." The agency, Cogat, has repeatedly said it does not limit the amount of humanitarian aid sent to Gaza.

The BBC spoke to three people living in Gaza City and Beit Lahia, and viewed footage and interviews filmed by local journalists in Jabalia.

Mahmoud Shalabi, a local medical aid worker in Beit Lahia, said people had been grinding grains used for animal feed into flour, but that even that was now running out.

"People are not finding it in the market," he said. "It's unavailable nowadays in the north of Gaza, and Gaza City."

He also said stocks of tinned food were disappearing.

"What we had was actually from the six or seven days of truce [in November], and whatever aid was allowed into the north of Gaza has actually been consumed by now. What people are eating right now is basically rice, and only rice."

The World Food Programme (WFP) told the BBC this week that four out of the last five aid convoys into the north had been stopped by Israeli forces, meaning a gap of two weeks between deliveries to Gaza City.

'Serious risk of famine'

"We know there is a very serious risk of famine in Gaza if we don't provide very significant volumes of food assistance on a regular basis," said the WFP regional chief, Matt Hollingworth.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said there had been a sharp increase in the number of aid missions denied access to northern Gaza: with 56% of deliveries denied access in January, up from 14% in October to December.

It also said the Israeli military "at times required justifications" for quantities of fuel destined for health facilities, and "imposed reductions on the volume of assistance, such as the quantity of food".

A famine risk assessment, carried out by several UN agencies, estimated that almost a third of residents in northern areas could now be facing a "catastrophic" lack of food, though restrictions on accessing the area make real-time measurements very difficult.

Families in northern areas are also struggling to find reliable water supplies.

"Many of us are now drinking unpotable water. There are no pipes; we have to dig for water," explained Mahmoud Salah in Beit Lahia.

Video filmed in the Jabalia neighbourhood north of Gaza City shows residents sitting among the rubble of bombed out streets, digging down into the earth to tap large underground water pipes.

"We get water here once every 15 days," Yusuf al-Ayoti said. "The water is dirty. Our children are inflamed and their teeth are eroded from the dirty water. There is sand in it, and it's very salty."

After four months of war, the makeshift solutions for bridging the hunger gaps are wearing thin. And there are few ways to restock Gaza's larder.

The territory was reliant on food aid before the war; now much of its agricultural industry has been ruined or abandoned.

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News Network
February 23,2024

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Bengaluru: The BJP has reportedly offered five Lok Sabha segments to the JD(S) as part of a seat-sharing deal that may also feature candidate-swapping, sources close to the party's legislature leader H D Kumaraswamy said, as the two parties get battle-ready to take on the Congress.

The JD(S) is free to choose from Hassan, Mandya, Kolar, Bangalore Rural and Tumkur, sources said. 

Kumaraswamy and his son Nikhil airdashed to New Delhi and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday to discuss the nuts and bolts of the agreement. 

The seat-sharing deal is also likely to involve swapping of candidates.

"It will be a JD(S) candidate in Hassan, Mandya and Kolar. From Bangalore Rural, the JD(S) candidate is likely to contest on the BJP's symbol. In Tumkur, it might be a BJP candidate on the JD(S) symbol," a source explained. 

If the candidate-swapping happens, then the JD(S) will effectively get four seats where its symbol will be on the ballot. 

Facing an existential threat after getting routed in the Assembly polls, the JD(S) formally joined the BJP-led NDA in September 2023 and forged an alliance with the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. 

The JD(S) already has its MP in Hassan, considered to be its stronghold. In Vokkaliga heartland Mandya, BJP-backed Independent Sumalatha Ambareesh is the MP. Kolar has a BJP MP. 

According to sources, the BJP top brass wants noted cardiac surgeon Dr C N Manjunath to contest. Speculation is rife that Dr Manjunath, who is JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda's son-in-law, will contest on the BJP's symbol from Bangalore Rural, which is currently held by Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar's brother, DK Suresh.

In Tumkur, there is speculation that senior BJP leader V Somanna will be the candidate on the JD(S) symbol.

The thinking is based on caste calculations and other poll math involving caste-wise and party-wise vote share in the previous elections, winnability and individual identity of the candidate. 

Kumaraswamy left for New Delhi on Wednesday all of a sudden with his son. Initially, the visit was to pay tributes to eminent jurist Fali S Nariman. On Thursday, the father-son duo met Shah and discussed seat-sharing modalities. 

Sources also said the BJP was slated to hold talks with JD(S) towards the end of this month. But Kumaraswamy expedited this to meet Shah following reports that the BJP wanted to keep Mandya.

"JD(S) workers in Mandya are upset with reports that BJP will keep Mandya with Sumalatha as the candidate. Our leaders are firm about the Mandya seat," the JD(S) source said. 

There is speculation that Kumaraswamy will contest from Mandya but he said that he has "not decided yet on contesting the Lok Sabha polls".

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News Network
February 27,2024

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Bengaluru: The ruling Congress in Karnataka won three seats and the BJP one in the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka on Tuesday.

Those who were elected to the Upper House are Ajay Maken, G C Chandrasekhar and Syed Naseer Hussain, all belonging to the Congress, and Narayansa K Bhandage of the BJP.

Five candidates were in the fray for the four seats in the elections, including JD(S) contestant D Kupendra Reddy.

The elections were marred by cross-voting. While one of the BJP MLAs, S T Somashekar, voted for the Congress's Maken, the other, A Shivaram Hebbar, abstained.

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News Network
February 19,2024

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Chennai, Feb 19: The Tamil Nadu government on Monday presented its budget for the year 2024-25, premising the exercise on the "7 grand Tamil dream," that included social justice and women's welfare at the core.

Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu presented the budget and made a slew of announcements.

This included the 'Kalaignarin Kanavu Illam,' a housing scheme named after the late DMK patriarch and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. As per the scheme, 8 lakh concrete houses will be constructed in rural areas across the state to make it 'hut-free' by 2030, he said.

Social justice, welfare of the marginalised, making Tamil youth global achievers were among the 7 goals, Thennarasu said in his budget speech.

Among others, he announced allocating Rs 300 crore in budget for civic amenities including roads for areas nearby city corporations.

Thennarasu said the state has made very significant progress in poverty reduction through its welfare schemes.

The NITI Aayog has said that people below poverty line in Tamil Nadu was only about 2.2 per cent, he added.

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