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Geopolitics

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing


A R A B I C A
ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


KILLERS IN SYRIA
The situation in Syria appears to be worsening further as intellectuals and doctors are being assassinated. Opposition activists blame the government for the deaths they say are an attempt to stoke sectarian tensions while the government continues to blame unnamed "armed terrorist groups funded by an external conspiracy." Among those who have been assassinated in the past two weeks are a thoracic surgeon, a nuclear engineer and the deputy dean of the architecture school at Homs University. In the latest incident, a professor from Aleppo University, Mohammed al-Amr, was gunned down while in his car. With him was the 21-year-old son of the Grand Mufti of Syria, the highest Sunni religious authority in the country.

DEFENDERS IN EGYPT
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council currently ruling Egypt, is defending testimony he gave to the court in the trial of ex-President Hosni Mubarak. The former president is on trial for the deaths of more than 850 protesters during the January 25th revolution. Tantawi testified that no one ordered the army to fire on protesters, and that no Egyptian soldier fired on protesters. Tantawi said the military's role now is to keep the country on track so that parliamentary elections can take place in November as scheduled, followed by presidential elections next year. "No one will stop us from completing our mission and moving forward," Tantawi said Monday. "We are a united people." He defended martial law currently in place "not because we want it, but because security conditions in Egypt require it."

DOCTORS IN BAHRAIN
Nada Dhayf is a Bahraini doctor sentenced last week to 15 years in prison for treating injured protesters during a wave of unrest earlier this year. The government tried her and 20 other medical professionals in a closed security court for "plotting to overthrow the regime." Dr. Dhayf is speaking out publicly, saying her torturers used electric shocks on her ears and face, adding the explosive claim that a member of the ruling Al Khalifa family "personally supervised my torture."

PUMPKINS IN JORDAN
A video of a session of parliament is making the rounds in Jordan because lawmakers are paying closer attention to a bag of pumpkin seeds being passed around than the matters at hand. A man speaking at the session is widely ignored as smoking lawmakers focus their attention on a man walking around with a bag of seeds, or bizr, in Arabic. Hands are held out and men line up for their helping of bizr, while the larger debate is for the most part ignored. Most commenters mock the parliamentarians as an embarrassment. One commenter writes, "where is the Pepsi and dessert?" Another writes, "It reminds me of high school."


October 3, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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