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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
Kristen Gillespie


A R A B I C A
ارابيكا


IT'S ALMOST FRIDAY IN SYRIA
*Syria's community of online activists is organizing a "day of defiance" for Friday despite the military's ongoing arrests of hundreds, possibly thousands of who the Syrian government is calling "terrorists." The "Syrian Day of Anger" facebook group reminds supporters, "The people of Daraa are saying to us, "We want you to lift the siege on us, but do not forget that our primary mission is to free all of us from this criminal regime."

*The always-defiant "Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assad" group, with an unknown administrator operating from an unknown location, has a new logo ahead of the Friday protests. "Syria: Freedom is coming," the banner reads.

*A young Syrian girl, covered in a checked keffiya with only her eyes showing, posts a video on YouTube calling for people to continue taking to the streets to bring down the regime. After 50 years of repression, "we have to go out on the streets and we have to say no." She is part of a growing tide of young citizens, so long part of the acquiescing majority, who suddenly feel they deserve a say in Syria's destiny. "I'm a part of this country," she says.

EGYPTIAN EVOLUTIONS
*
An article in the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouq asks, "What does it mean to permanently open the Rafah crossing?" Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi announced that Egypt would soon permanently reopen its border with the Gaza Strip. What Gaza needs more than anything is building materials, said Mohammed Ali Salameh, a resident of Rafah. "We hope that there will be a trade route for the transport of construction materials legally from Egypt," he said.

The open border will also curb smuggling through hundreds of underground tunnels, Salameh said. An open border would restore jobs to hundreds of taxi drivers who regularly shuttled passengers back and forth. Poor families enter Egypt to buy goods not available in Gaza as well as visit relatives and seek medical treatment. The nearly two dozen comments below the article applaud the decision to open the border crossing, calling it "a national duty" for "our brothers, the Palestinians."

*Gemy Bashir tweets that in order to gain popularity, Egyptian presidential candidate Mohammed ElBaradei should do what other politicians do and "veil his wife."


May 5, 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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