Gaza is in Desperate need of real help

Gaza power station to shut down this weekend

By Saed Bannoura

January 26 2010
Gaza’s only power station will close by the end of this week following a European Union decision to stop buying fuel for the plant. According to the power station’s director, Rafeeq Maliha, “Since last November the EU has stopped funding the purchase of diesel for us.” This means, he added, that without some external intervention between now and this weekend, the densely populated Gaza Strip will have no central power source to operate many basic services.

Engineer Imad Canaan, the vice president of the Palestinian Power Authority explained that the power authority is unable to continue providing adequate energy resources to the citizens of Gaza. “The Israeli blockade and the suspension of EU support have reduced the output of the station by 50%,” he said.

The Gaza Power Station has been bombarded repeatedly and deliberately by Israel, most notably during the assault and invasion a year ago when the Israelis targeted the civilian infrastructure. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has prevented vital repair materials being imported; these are essential if the power station is to return to full operational capacity. Source

Sewage Collapse threatens the health of Palestinians in Gaza

January 27 2010

Palestinians in Gaza have a lot to contend with, especially since the war launched by the Israeli Occupiers just over a year ago. With the loss of more than 1,400 Palestinian lives, most of whom were women and children, the near total destruction of whatever little infrastructure that remained and the general pillaging of the territory, Palestinians are once again faced with the prospect of rebuilding their lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.

However, because of the ongoing Israeli blockade on essential materials, the Palestinians have not been able to carry out any reconstruction of their houses, hospitals, schools and the local infrastructure, including the power station and sewage treatment plants. Sewage disposal has become a huge problem all over Gaza, with leaks onto farmland and into nearby water sources leading to pollution and less fertile soil, which in turn has led to poor harvests. Sewage and waste material from cities and refugee camps with limited access to sewage treatment plants is ending up in water sources which lead to the beaches of Gaza and the sea. This has resulted in severe water pollution and the contamination of fish,  as well as a variety of acute and chronic water-borne diseases.

For entire story and photos go HERE

Israelis impose “financial punishments” on Palestinians

January 26 2010

Israeli prison staff impose financial punishments on Palestinian prisoners.

A human rights organisation has claimed that Israeli prison staff are imposing financial punishments on Palestinian prisoners. In a statement, the Prisoners’ Centre for Studies said that guards and administrators in Israeli prisons force Palestinian detainees to pay for the water and electricity that they consume as a form of additional punishment.

According to the centre, prisoners are also “fined” for trivial reasons, such as reading the Qur’an or praying during the prison’s daily roll call (if officers enter when it is the time for prayer); if the imam, while giving the Friday sermon, utters a word that the guards don’t like; when a prisoner doesn’t manage to get out of the bathroom in the time specified by the guards; and for other similar reasons when the guards abuse their positions and use any excuse to penalise prisoners.

The centre’s director, Raafat Hamdouna, claims that prison administrators withdraw the “fines” from prisoners’ personal bank accounts without informing prisoners. If anyone doesn’t have a bank account, the administration imposes a future fine against his name, provoking the prisoner even further.

Mr. Hamdouna called upon human rights and humanitarian organizations to intervene to stop this unreasonable behaviour. “The Israelis treat prisoners like tenants and force them to pay for water, electricity, food and accommodation,” he added. Source

Members of Congress sign letter urging Obama to stop the siege of Gaza

Fifty-four members of Congress urging the president to pressure Israel to treat Gazans like human beings is a positive development, albeit a VERY small one.  Critics may content that the letter protects Israel’s image. I understand that. But I still think it’s encouraging.

Names of the 54 are at the above link. Just so we know who actually cares about the people of Gaza.

Considering 344 voted to condemn the Goldstone report I do not see this going to far.

Even the UN has tried to get the blockade removed.

Gaza is in desperate need of materials to repair rebuild. Soon they will have no hydro. So just imagine if you had no hydro. This will affect evrything from hospitals to  bussiniesses and storage of food and the list goes on an on.

Aid money was promised to help rebuild Gaza and little to none has been received by them. The blockade keeps everything out. This is also in the face of a recent flood in Gaza which has done even more damage. This of course was never in the main stream media.  How typical.

Of course much of what we should be told is never in the main stream media.

Shame on them. Shame on the world leaders who do nothing but talk about it.

That is all they do is talk. Of course that makes it into the media and fools the public at large that they are actually doing something, when in fact they are really doing nothing.  What has changed for those in Gaza or the West bank in the last year. NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

Their lives go from bad to worse is all. Every day their lives are more difficult.  Thanks to the world leaders who pretend to do something. That is all they do is pretend. They are doing little to help ease the pain and suffering of the Palestinians.

Seems the EU and Western Countries have done little to nothing to help those in Gaza.

Due to the lack of real help people are suffering beyond imagination. Ignored by the Main stream media and World Leaders.  Tiger Woods got more air time then people who are suffering and dieing. Well that says it all doesn’t it.

How coincidental the Gaza flood took place during the Haiti Crisis.

Guaranteed it would be ignored by all the main stream media.

Gaza is in crisis and no one seems to notice. The 54 who signed the letter to Obama at least care enough to try.  Will Obama listen I hardly thing so he is helping Egypt built the wall of shame and it is a shame. He has done nothing to ease the desperation of those in Gaza and if any time he says he is doing something I know as many other do it is pure BS. His actions  and those of the US Government speaks volumes. They want to destroy the people of Gaza.

The blockade is killing Gaza, say NGOs and UN agencies

January 22 2010

One year after Israel’s military offensive on Gaza, United Nations agencies and the Association for International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing over 80 NGOs, are highlighting the impact of the blockade on Gaza on the health of its population and on health services – and are calling for an immediate opening of Gaza’s crossings.

Max Gaylard, the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said on Wednesday 20 January 2010 that “the continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is undermining the functioning of the health care system and putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people in Gaza.”

He continued: “It is causing on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialised treatment outside Gaza”

The economy of Gaza is in virtual collapse with rising unemployment and poverty which will have long term adverse effects on the physical and mental health of the population. The environment is also in decline, including water quality, sewage and waste disposal and other environmental hazards (including munitions and medical waste) which may lead to long term effects on health.

More than 750,000 children live in Gaza. The humanitarian community is gravely concerned about the future of this generation whose health needs are not being met. The decline in infant mortality, which has fallen steadily over recent decades, has stalled in the last few years.

The lack of building materials as a result of the blockade is affecting essential health facilities: the new surgical wing in Gaza’s main Shifa hospital has remained unfinished since 2006. Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during operation ‘Cast Lead’, have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into Gaza.

Operation ‘Cast Lead’ damaged 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals and 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities were either damaged or destroyed.

Supplies of drugs and disposables have generally been allowed into Gaza – though there are often shortages on the ground. However, certain types of medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment and electronic devices are very difficult to bring in. Clinical staff frequently lack the medical equipment they need. Medical devices are often broken, missing spare parts, or out of date.

Health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world. Since 2000, very few doctors, nurses or technicians have been able to leave the Strip for training necessary to update their clinical skills or to learn about new medical technology. This is severely undermining their ability to provide quality health care.

Many specialised treatments, for example, complex heart surgery and treatment for certain types of cancer, are not available and patients are therefore referred for treatment to hospitals outside Gaza. But many patients have had their applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli Authorities and have missed their appointments. Some have died while waiting for referral.

Tony Laurance, the Head of Office for the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the West Bank and Gaza, declared: “An effective health care system cannot be sustained in isolation from the international community. Open borders are needed to ensure the health of the 1.4 million people in Gaza”

The humanitarian community believes the health sector would face serious problems in dealing with another emergency on the scale of last year’s Operation Cast Lead, said AIDA yesterday. “The Government of Israel has a legal duty to guarantee the right to health for people in Gaza. The humanitarian community calls for the crossings into Gaza to be reopened.”

Source

Survey of Palestinian Refugees & IDPs 2008-2009

More than 61 years since the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) and 42 years after Israel’s belligerent occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the issue of forced displacement of Palestinians from their homeland remains an ongoing phenomenon that fails to receive the attention it deserves.

At the end of 2008, at least 7.1 million Palestinians, representing 67 percent of the entire Palestinian population (10.6 million) worldwide were displaced persons. Among them are 6.6 million refugees and 427,000 IDPs. This makes Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) the largest and longest-standing case of displaced persons in the world today.

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Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm  Comments Off on Gaza is in Desperate need of real help  
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Vietnam War Veteran on Hunger Strike in Protest of Afghanistan War

Vietnam War Veteran on Hunger Strike in Protest of Afghanistan War

November 20 2009

He’s starving himself for peace. A Vietnam veteran is fasting in Washington trying to bring about an end to the Afghan war which he sees as putting unbearable pressures on American soldiers.

Thomas Mahany hasn’t eaten in 7 days.

Stand by Thomas Mahany say “No to War”!

“Playing For Change: Peace Through Music”, comes the first of many “songs around the world” being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe.

So if your in the area go out and Stand by Thomas Mahany say “No to War”! Bring your friends, Bring your neighbors, Bring everyone you can and Say No to War? Bring a Whole Lotta Love. Bring the Whole Country!

Write the papers write the TV media, it’s time for the US to say no more war.

Get Out Of My Country


This is a must listen –  Interview With Malalai Joya

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Mining is one of Afghanistan’s few economic bright spots. Significant deposits of copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal — as well as precious gems such as emeralds and rubies — are largely untapped.

The US is whining it is not getting mining contracts. They are screaming corruption. Source

Personally the US  should clean up the corruption in their own back yards before  accusing others.  The US is a leader of taking bribes especially at election time. Their politicians are bought and sold by big oi, gas, phama and the Israeli lobby groups.  They should take a look in the mirror before accusing others.

Why would the Afghans want to award them contracts considering, they destroyed their country, murdered their citizens,  left a deadly trail of radioactive poison etc etc.

Seems to me the US has corruption mastered.

The US should, Get out of Afghanistan.

Those who sent them there under false pretenses, should be tried for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 6:00 pm  Comments Off on Vietnam War Veteran on Hunger Strike in Protest of Afghanistan War  
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Pro-Obama Haitian-Americans want help

Pro-Obama Haitian-Americans want help
December 30 2008

LAUDERHILL, Fla.,

Haitian-American leaders who turned out the vote for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in Florida say they expect him to help ease crises in their homeland.

Members of a Broward County, Fla., branch of Haitians for Obama, which worked hard to canvass ethnic communities for the president-elect, say that while immigration and the economy are big issues for them, they also expect Obama’s administration to work more closely with Haitian leaders to help their impoverished native country, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

“Our country is in a permanent crisis,” group member Aude Sicard told the newspaper. “We’re not simply asking for humanitarian aid, but we want this country to send technicians and engineers and see a true path for development in Haiti.”

Saying they’ll continue to build on the activism established to elect Obama, the Haitian-Americans have vowed to continue to lobby for temporary protected status, which would grant undocumented Haitian immigrants in the right to work in the United States legally until their homeland becomes more stable, the Sun-Sentinel said.

Source

U.S. Haiti policy senseless, deadly
By Myriam Marquez
December 31, 2008

Two years ago, Louiness and Sheryl Petit-Frere were newlyweds celebrating their good fortune. Both from Haiti, they had found love and each other in Miami.

Today, Louiness, a 31-year-old baker, waits at the Glades detention facility in Central Florida to be sent to a country he hasn’t seen in a decade, where no one waits for him.

His 27-year-old bride in Miami tries to make sense of a senseless immigration law that would deport an otherwise law-abiding, working man because he had an old asylum petition denied.

Never mind that he is married to a U.S. citizen, that he had, in good faith, filed for legal status and had shown up for the interview at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office when he was hauled away like a common criminal.

Petit-Frere’s mother and five siblings are all permanent U.S. residents, including his brother, Sgt. Nikenson Peirreloui, a U.S. Marine with a war injury to show for his two tours in Iraq. But none of that matters.

The U.S. government deems it imperative to deport Petit-Frere, who has no criminal record, to a place decimated by four back-to-back storms this summer, with thousands of starving, dehydrating children left homeless and adults facing no prospects for jobs.

“It seems terrible,” his mother, Francina Pierre, told me Saturday while she waited for her daughter-in-law to get off work as a grocery store clerk.

“He has nobody left in Haiti,” she said. “My mom died, my dad died, my sister died. And my two brothers live here. One is a U.S. citizen and the other is a permanent resident. We have no more family living in Haiti, no more.”

The Bush administration had sensibly put deportations to Haiti on hold after a succession of hurricanes and tropical storms destroyed parts of the island, leaving thousands without work or home. But the president stopped short of granting temporary protected status, or TPS, to Haitians living in the United States without proper documentation.

Natural disasters generally qualify for TPS consideration — as Central Americans with TPS can attest. But Haitians can never seem to catch a break.

U.S. immigration officials decided recently that it would be just dandy to deport Haitians while recovery efforts on their part of Hispaniola proceed in spurts and stops, as children die of malnutrition and mudslides continue to impede reconstruction.

“How can this nation in good conscience send children and families to face the terrible conditions that exist in Haiti?” Cheryl Little, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center’s executive director, said in a statement. “People could die because of this decision.”

She’s not crying wolf.

The conditions in Haiti cry out for solutions — not asinine deportations that only exacerbate an already untenable situation.

As President Bush looks through his list of pardons to wipe the slate clean for criminals, he should move to do more for the common man, people like Louiness Petit-Frere. Why not grant TPS for Haitians who have no criminal record, so they can stay and work here until conditions improve in their country?

Those who do have family in Haiti can send money and goods back to help the reconstruction and rev up the economy.

TPS was designated for catastrophic situations like Haiti’s. There’s no reason to deny Haitians TPS. Only racist excuses.

Source

Thrice-built house embodies Haiti aid shortfalls
By JONATHAN M. KATZ
December 30 2008

GONAIVES, Haiti

The farmer camps in a crude tent of broken sandbags as he guards the foundation of his destroyed home and his last possessions: a pickax, a hoe and some charcoal.

This is the third time Olisten Elerius is preparing to build his tiny cinderblock house. Four years ago, Tropical Storm Jeanne flooded it and drowned his father, sister and nephew. Then, late this summer, Tropical Storm Hanna swallowed it along with his daughter and another sister. It could happen again.

After Jeanne struck in 2004, more than $70 million in aid went to immediate relief such as food, medical aid and jobs, but little went to flood control, according to an Associated Press review of relief spending. Despite pledges to prevent such devastation in the future, few projects to build drains, fix roads and stop erosion were even attempted.

In other parts of Haiti, U.S. officials launched an ambitious flood control project. But it took 3 1/2 years to plan and was not placed in Gonaives because of a lack of funding.

So when four major storms hit within a month this year, nothing stopped the La Quinte River from roaring over its banks again. It inundated farmers like Elerius on its way to the center of Gonaives, where men, women and children swam for miles through swirling waters to escape. The storms killed 793 people and caused $1 billion in damage.

“The authorities were always coming here to take pictures and measure things,” Elerius said. “The words in their mouths said they would help, but they never did anything.”

Top officials agree that efforts fell short.

“I think we were very successful in getting Gonaives back on its feet,” Alexandre Deprez, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said of the work after Jeanne. “But it is true that we didn’t put the time and the resources to do what needs to be done in the longer term.”

___

Haiti’s floods are not natural disasters, but a direct result of widespread deforestation, erosion and poverty. Farmers cut trees for charcoal and plant shallow-rooted crops. Rains that would be forgotten elsewhere can kill thousands.

In 2004, Elerius was working in the neighboring Dominican Republic when Tropical Storm Jeanne came twisting like a wounded animal out of the northern sky, sending a wall of water through his cinderblock home and sweeping away his father, sister and nephew. Gonaives residents fled to their rooftops as rivers broke their banks, overflowing morgues with bloated corpses.

A horrified world pledged to help. Elerius returned home just as the money and the white SUVs of non-governmental organizations began flowing into Gonaives, in the north of Haiti.

The U.N. appealed for $37 million in flood relief. Washington would donate more than $45 million, first for emergency food and supplies and then through USAID for the two-year, $34 million Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program.

Disaster officials, newspapers and aid workers called for well-planned, well-financed, long-term aid. Haitian officials told the agencies to spend the money on projects that would save lives: secure rivers, fix roads, design better canals, build homes with better drainage to the sea.

But the U.N. member states, distracted by the Indian Ocean tsunami four months later, raised less than half their funding target.

Work was hampered by violence and insecurity. The Inter-American Development Bank provided about $10 million in loans, mostly for construction of a small drainage system. That project was abandoned by Haitian contractors after bandits stole the cement and steel, IDB representative Philippe Dewez said.

Washington sent money mostly for short-term projects: cleanup, restoration and repair of basic services such as schools, health clinics, roads, bridges and homes. In 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that U.S. organizations cleared more than 2 million cubic feet of mud and restored the livelihoods of 48,000 people. But the GAO said they failed to meet an already reduced target for houses and completed no roads or bridges.

Elerius rebuilt his family’s flimsy home at Mapou, a flat plain on the outskirts of the city, just 50 feet from the La Quinte River after it descends from barren mountains toward the sea.

On the denuded hillside, USAID said projects to grow plant cover and build terraces have restored 3,700 acres of the La Quinte watershed — 2 percent of the basin. But few trees are visible, and local officials said most saplings were eaten by goats.

Corruption watchdogs with Transparency International said public funds — nobody seems to know exactly how much — were distributed with little oversight by the U.S.-backed interim government.

Soon after Jeanne, USAID commissioned a study of Haiti’s watersheds, which led to an ambitious $18 million effort to reduce flooding. Work did not begin until February 2008.

The report recommended action in high-risk flood areas, including Gonaives. But the U.S. Congress only gave enough money for the agency to start in two smaller, less populated watersheds — Limbe in the north and Mountrouis in the west, both more than 40 miles away from Gonaives. Some money went to a project on a Port-au-Prince river this year.

“With the funding that we were given we said to ourselves, ‘Why go into a place where you’re not going to make a difference?’ ” Deprez told The Associated Press. “Go into a place where you can focus and make a difference and test the approach that was recommended.”

It will take five years to know the effects of the pilot flood-control programs. Officials then hope to replicate them elsewhere.

But the storms didn’t wait.

___

Starting in mid-August, Tropical Storm Fay hit Haiti, followed by Gustav, Hanna and Ike. They destroyed thousands of homes, devastated crops and set the country back decades. Starving families, whose plight had fueled April riots, got even hungrier.

On the dark afternoon of Sept. 2 in Gonaives, there was no warning as mountain run-off began to gather in ravines. Officials were not given orders to evacuate, and in any case no plan was in place. There was nobody to clear fallen trees that had jammed a bridge on the La Quinte River and caused it to divert the day before.

Elerius was in town getting supplies when he heard radio reports about a new storm. Even as rain fell in Gonaives, radio broadcasts in Port-Au-Prince, the capital, repeated predictions that it would veer to the north, away from Haiti.

It was only word of mouth that sent Elerius running home. There he found the river had again become an ocean, his family submerged and his house disintegrating.

He dived into the water and pulled his mother and 4-year-old son Jonslay to safety. Then he yelled for his 6-year-old daughter, Joniska, and his 21-year-old little sister, Jimele.

Neither called back.

This time, without a network of roads that could withstand the flooding, Gonaives was trapped. A Haitian-funded causeway needed to connect it to the capital, 80 miles away across the cactus plain of Savanne Desolee, was left half-finished, denying scores of families a way out. Refugees climbed its scaffolding to escape the rising waters.

Others were stranded on their rooftops. It took four days for the U.N. to bring in ample food aid by ship.

Some development workers say the reduced death toll this year — in the hundreds instead of thousands — validates their efforts. But survivors and local officials say more survived this time because the memory of Jeanne sent them running for higher ground.

Today in Gonaives, homeless families crowd tent neighborhoods. Men scrounge for fish in stagnant floodwaters. Schoolgirls wear sunglasses and surgical masks to block the clouds of dirt that cover the city. The road to Port-au-Prince is still blocked by an enormous lake.

As former Gonaives disaster management coordinator Faustin Joseph said, “Everybody failed.”

The craggy roads of Gonaives are filled again with white SUVs. The U.N. issued a $107 million appeal, of which it has raised about half, and is now requesting $20 million more. The World Food Program has delivered more than 11,000 tons of food. The Haitian government has set aside $198 million for rebuilding roads, fortifying river beds and restoring agriculture.

The U.S. government pledged more than $30 million in immediate relief. Another $96 million from Congress is on its way.

President Rene Preval told the U.N. General Assembly in September he feared that “once this first wave of humanitarian compassion is exhausted, we will be left as always, truly alone, to face new catastrophes and see restarted, as if in a ritual, the same exercises of mobilization.”

Some in Gonaives have become restless.

“If things go like they did after Jeanne again, and it looks like people are doing nothing, we might get up and start burning things down,” said Odrigue Toussaint, 40, who has not worked since he lost his motorcycle to Hanna. “We will let the authorities know it can’t happen again.”

Elerius sent his son, mother and siblings to live with neighbors. He never found the bodies of his sister and daughter.

He sleeps on the dirty ground under the plastic tent. Inside it’s stiflingly hot during the day but cooler at night.

The La Quinte River gouged a shallow canyon through what was once his farmland, where he planted onions, plantains and potatoes. The topsoil washed to the streets of Gonaives, encasing the city in mud.

Haitian construction crews put the river back into its bed a week after Hanna, just as they did after Jeanne, and built temporary levies with gravel and sandbags that Elerius pilfered to make his tent. The bags were falling apart anyway, he said.

The farmer who keeps losing everything is resigned.

“Whatever they do now we’ll accept it,” Elerius said. “I just wish they would have already done more.”

Source

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Haiti’s road to ruin

Starvation slams Haiti: Kids dying after 4 storms ravage crops, livestock

Haitian children died from severe malnutrition