UN relief agency’s at least 99 staff massacred by Israel in besieged Gaza

News Network
November 10, 2023

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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) commissioner Philippe Lazzarini said at least 99 of its staff have been killed in besieged Gaza strict due to Israeli aggression since October 7.

The commissioner added that severely limiting food, water and medicine in Gaza is “collective punishment," saying that the killing of thousands of children “cannot be collateral damage.”

He said pushing one million people to leave their homes and concentrate them in areas that lack adequate infrastructure constitutes “forced displacement." 

Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, 15 Palestinians were killed and at least 20 others injured by Israeli forces in a latest raid on Jenin city and refugee camp and in other Palestinian towns, the Palestinian health ministry said on Thursday.

Israel's military said it was conducting raids in Jenin, but gave no further details.

At least 178 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the deadly Oct. 7 operation from the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian health ministry figures.

Students at 28 universities across the UK are staging a walkout on Thursday and Friday to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. They are also demanding the immediate lifting of the siege on Gaza.

Universities taking part include King’s College London, London School of Economics and Edinburgh University. 

Students walked out of their classes, seminars and lectures on Thursday, calling on their institutions to demand an “immediate ceasefire" and an “end to UK complicity in, and funding for, Israel’s genocide in Gaza”. 

Thirty Palestine societies from universities across Britain released a joint statement saying that “the hostile environment that is being encouraged by university administrators has effectively banned Palestinians from their right to publicly grieve the catastrophe befalling their people in Gaza”.

Belgium’s deputy prime minister called on the government to adopt sanctions against Israel and investigate the bombings of hospitals and refugee camps in Gaza.

“It is time for sanctions against Israel. The rain of bombs is inhumane," Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter told Nieuwsblad newspaper. “It is clear that Israel does not care about the international demands for a ceasefire."
 

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News Network
June 13,2024

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Kuwaiti authorities have identified the bodies of 45 Indians and three Filipino nationals killed in the tragic fire incident in a building housing foreign workers in the Gulf Kingdom, a top official said on Thursday. Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah was quoted as saying by Arab Times that efforts are still underway to determine the identity of one remaining body.

According to the Department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs of State of Kerala, the number of people from Kerala who died in the Kuwait fire tragedy has risen to 24. 

The blaze, which started in the kitchen, erupted around 4 am on Wednesday while most of the 195 migrant workers were asleep. The fire incident in southern Kuwait’s Mangaf area claimed 49 lives and injured 50 others.

Meanwhile, an Indian Air Force aircraft is on standby to bring back the mortal remains of Indians killed in the incident. Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya assured full support to the Indians affected in the fire and vowed to promptly investigate the tragedy, hours after meeting Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh.

Kerala govt to provide Rs 5 lakh

The Kerala government said it will provide Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the families of the people from the state who died in the Kuwait fire tragedy that claimed 49 lives and left 50 others injured.
The decision was taken at an emergency Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the morning, a statement issued by his office said. The cabinet also decided to provide Rs 1 lakh financial assistance to those injured in the incident, it said.
The statement also said prominent businessmen M A Yusuff Ali and Ravi Pillai have informed the CM that they will provide Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh, respectively, to each of the families of the Keralites who died in the fire.

Probe ordered

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has ordered a probe into the fire incident at the apartment building, which housed foreign workers with mostly Indians. At least 49 people have died, and the Emir has instructed the officials to investigate the cause of the fire and hold those responsible in the incident as accountable for it.

PM holds meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the fire incident as "saddening" and held a meeting with external affairs minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, and Principal Secretary to the PM PK Mishra to review the situation. 

The fire in the Al-Mangaf building was reported to authorities in Al-Ahmadi governorate at 4:30 am yesterday, with most of the deaths attributed to smoke inhalation. Kuwaiti media reported that the fire started in a kitchen. Kuwait's interior ministry confirmed that the death toll had reached 49.

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News Network
June 19,2024

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At least 68 Indian nationals have been confirmed dead during this year's Hajj pilgrimage, according to a diplomat in Saudi Arabia. Several Indians are reported missing too. This comes amid record-high temperatures in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, and the deaths of 550 pilgrims this year.

"We have confirmed around 68 dead... Some are because of natural causes and we had many old-aged pilgrims. And some are due to the weather conditions, that's what we assume," the diplomat told news agency AFP about the death of Indians on the condition of anonymity.

The diplomat also said that many Indian nationals are also reported missing, but he declined to give their exact numbers.

"This is a recurring occurrence every year," he stated, informing us that the situation is similar to previous years, with further details expected soon.

The Hajj pilgrimage, a central part of Islam, brings millions annually to Makkah, during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah. Each Muslim has to fulfil this religious obligation at least once in their lifetime.

This year's pilgrimage also saw intense heat and rising temperatures, which are the highest in recent decades.

A Saudi study even revealed how the temperatures in the pilgrimage area have increased by 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade. In 2023, over 200 pilgrims died during Hajj, and over 2,000 people suffered from heat-related stress as temperatures touched as high as 48 degrees Celsius.

Deaths have been reported of other nationals as well: Iran, Indonesia, Tunisia, Senegal, and Iraq's Kurdistan region. There have been no comments on the deaths by the authorities of these countries.

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News Network
June 12,2024

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Kuwait: At least 49 people, including many Indians, were killed in a massive fire in a six-storeyed building at Mangaf block in Kuwait's Ahmadi Governorate on Wednesday. 

According to reports, the casualties also include people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. 

Out of the 35 placed under intensive care, the condition of seven is understood to be critical. At least five people are on ventilator support.

The Indians, who were killed in the fire are Umarudheen Shameer, 33, from Kollam's Oyoor,  Ranjith, Shibu Varghese, Thomas Joseph, Praveen Madhav, Lukose Vadakkott Unnoonni, Bhoonath Richard Roy Anand, Kelu Ponmaleri, Stephen Abraham Sabu, Anil Giri, Muhammad Shareef, Saju Varghese, Dwarikesh Patnaik, P V Muraleedharan, Viswas Krishnan, Arun Babu, Sajan George, Raymond, Jesus Lopez, Akash Sasidharan Nair and Denny Baby Karunakaran.

The building, which accommodates over 195 labourers from the nearby commercial area, housed people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and North India. The building belongs to NBTC group owned by Malayali businessman KG Abraham. Employees at NBTC's supermarket also lived in the building.

Deputy PM orders action

Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister Fahad Yusuf Al-Sabah visited the site and ordered a police inquiry in the matter. He has instructed the police to detain the owner of the building, its janitor, and the employer of the workers living there until the conclusion of the criminal investigation into the fire. He has also directed the Kuwait Municipality and the Public Authority for Manpower to take immediate action to address similar violations, where a large number of workers are crowded into residential buildings. 

The incident was reported to authorities at 6:00 am local time (0300 GMT), Major General Eid Rashed Hamad said."The building in which the fire occurred was used to house workers, and there was a large number of workers there. Dozens were rescued, but unfortunately there were many deaths as a result of inhaling smoke from the fire," another senior police commander told state TV. "We always alert and warn against" cramming too many workers into housing accommodation," he said, without providing details on the workers' type of employment or place of origin.

Embassy opens helpline

"In connection with the tragic fire-accident involving Indian workers today, Embassy has put in place an emergency helpline number: +965-65505246. All concerned are requested to connect over this helpline for updates. Embassy remains committed to render all possible assistance," the Indian Embassy in Kuwait said in a post on X.

"Deeply shocked by the news of the fire incident in Kuwait City. There are reportedly over 40 deaths and over 50 have been hospitalized. Our Ambassador has gone to the camp. We are awaiting further information," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a post on X.

"Deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives. Wish early and full recovery to those who have been injured. Our Embassy will render the fullest assistance to all concerned in this regard," he added.

The incident

The fire originated from a kitchen in one of the lower floors within the labour camp at 4.30 am on Wednesday. Preliminary investigation suggests that a short circuit led to the fire. According to sources, the fire quickly spread to all the rooms in the apartment. The presence of gas cylinders aggravated matters.

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