US going from Police State, To Military State

Every America needs to know this.

Make sure you give a copy to all your friends out there.

The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State

February 11, 2013 

On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.

Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.

“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’

Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.

But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.

Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.

The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”

Loeb did not explain to the court who defines an “independent journalist.” I have interviewed members of al-Qaida as well as 16 other individuals or members of groups on the State Department’s terrorism list. When I convey these viewpoints, deeply hostile to the United States, am I considered by the government to be “independent”? Could I be seen by the security and surveillance state, because I challenge the official narrative, as a collaborator with the enemy? And although I do not drive black vans for people Loeb does not like, I have spent days, part of the time in vehicles, with armed units that are hostile to the United States. These include Hamas in Gaza and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

I traveled frequently with armed members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua during the five years I spent in Central America. Senior officials in the Reagan administration regularly denounced many of us in the press as fifth columnists and collaborators with terrorists. These officials did not view us as “independent.” They viewed us as propagandists for the enemy. Section 1021(b)(2) turns this linguistic condemnation into legal condemnation.

Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a co-founder of the US Day of Rage, learned after WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, that Stratfor operatives were trying to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and sympathetic websites as well as jihadist ideology. If that link were made, she and those in her organization would not be immune from detention.

Afran said at the Culture Project discussion that he once gave a donation at a fundraising dinner to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. A few months later, to his surprise, he received a note of thanks from Sinn Féin. “I didn’t expect to be giving money to a group that maintains a paramilitary terrorist organization, as some people say,” Afran said. “This is the danger. You can easily find yourself in a setting that the government deems worthy of incarceration. This is why people cease to speak out.”

The government attempted in court last week to smear Sami Al-Hajj, a journalist for the Al-Jazeera news network who was picked up by the U.S. military and imprisoned for nearly seven years in Guantanamo. This, for me, was one of the most chilling moments in the hearing.

“Just calling yourself a journalist doesn’t make you a journalist, like Al-Hajj,” Loeb told the court. “He used journalism as a cover. He was a member of al-Qaida and provided Stinger missiles to al-Qaida.”

Al-Hajj, despite Loeb’s assertions, was never charged with any crimes. And the slander by Loeb only highlighted the potential for misuse of this provision of the NDAA if it is not struck down.

The second central argument by the government was even more specious. Loeb claimed that Subsection 1021(e) of the NDAA exempts citizens from detention. Section 1021(e) states: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

Afran countered Loeb by saying that Subsection 1021(e) illustrated that the NDAA assumed that U.S. citizens would be detained by the military, overturning two centuries of domestic law that forbids the military to carry out domestic policing. And military detention of citizens, Afran noted, is not permitted under the Constitution.

Afran quoted the NDAA bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said on the floor of the Senate: “In the case where somebody is worried about being picked up by a rogue executive branch because they went to the wrong political rally, they don’t have to worry very long, because our federal courts have the right and the obligation to make sure the government proves their case that you are a member of al-Qaida and didn’t [just] go to a political rally.”

Afran told the court that Graham’s statement implicitly acknowledged that U.S. citizens could be detained by the military under 1021(b)(2). “There is no reason for the sponsor to make that statement if he does not realize that the statute causes that chilling fear,” Afran told the judges.

After the hearing Afran explained: “If the senator who sponsored and managed the bill believed people would be afraid of the law, then the plaintiffs obviously have a reasonably objective basis to fear the statute.”

In speaking to the court Afran said of 1021(e): “It says it is applied to people in the United States. It presumes that they are going to be detained under some law. The only law we know of is this law. What other laws, before this one, allowed the military to detain people in this country?”

This was a question Judge Lohier, at Afran’s urging, asked Loeb during the argument. Loeb concurred that the NDAA was the only law he knew of that permitted the military to detain and hold U.S. citizens.

Via Truth-Dig Source

Chris Hedges: NDAA Lawsuit Update

Bad enough Americans already have people being Entrapped.

Inside the FBI’s ‘Terror factory’

You could be sent to anyone of these Countries.

CIA used 54 countries for detaining prisoners for toture

The 54 governments identified in this report span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen,

and Zimbabwe. Must not forget Cuba. Cuba did not help, but did have the US prison there. Guantánamo Bay. Source

Now the Military can help with all of this.

You can bet many of those countries still help the CIA.

Like many who were sent to prison from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries of course.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, administered by the United States Department of State offers monetary compensation for individuals who volunteer information that leads to the location, capture, and trial of suspected terrorists. The program also seeks information relevant to finances, assets, and plans of terrorist organizations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) work closely with the Department of State to investigate all information garnered through the Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program. In 1998, after the bombing of United States embassies in East Africa, the Department of State raised the maximum reward for information to $5 million.

The rewards program not only offers monetary rewards for information aiding anti-terrorism operations, but also promises confidentiality and anonymity for the informant. The United States government further promises to aid and relocate informants whose disclosure of information places themselves, and their family, in jeopardy.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program is now a part of a larger anti-terrorism operation, the Rewards for Justice Program. The program pays for information relevant to the arrest and capture of wanted terrorists, both domestic and foreign. As part of the Patriot Act of 2001, the secretary of state can pay rewards greater than $5 million for information leading to the arrest of suspected terrorists. To date, the program has paid $9.75 million to 24 individuals who aided government antiterror investigations.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, as part of Rewards for Justice, has had several key successes. Information received through the program led to the arrest and eventual conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef. The highest current priority of the rewards program is information leading to the capture of al-Qaeda front man, Usama bin Laden, and others with suspected involvement in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Source

Have a beef with one of your neighbours.
Turn them in and get a reward. They will of course be tortured until they confess, not to worry.
By the way how do your neighbours feel about you?  You could be sent to a black hole never to return.
If the NDAA is accepted you will have  no rights at all.
This is what a witch hunt looks like.
Rather reminds me of what is done to Palestinians in Gaza and especially the West Bank. They live under the same rules as the NDAA.
Here is a must read Article.

Max Blumenthal: How Israeli Occupation Forces, Bahraini Monarchy Guards Trained U.S. Police For Coordinated Crackdown On “Occupy” Protests

New York – In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.

At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.

The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.

“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

Changing the way we do business

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.

Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.

During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.

Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”

Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.

PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.

Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz

Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”

Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.

The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”

Fighting “crimiterror”

Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.

Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving at the time as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”

A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Demographic Unit

For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officerto Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.

Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”

Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”

The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”

Shop ‘til you’re stopped

At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselvesfor five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.

Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.

“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.

“Occupy” meets the Occupation

When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.

Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much it will inform police repression of future upsurges of street protest. But already, the Israelification of American law enforcement appears to have intensified police hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, common criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”

“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”

This article is cross-posted from Al-Akhbar.com with permission from the author Max Blumenthal.

You can read more of Max Blumenthal at MaxBlumenthal.com. He is the author of Republican Gomorrah, published by Nation Books.

Source

 

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Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic could top 60,000 cases

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic could top 60,000 cases next week, UN figures showed on Friday, putting pressure on rival parties to form a government to tackle the humanitarian crisis.
January 24 2009

Robert Mugabe's denial of Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic was sarcasm

A young cholera patient is wheeled in a wheelbarrow to clinic in Harare’s suburb of Budiriro Photo: EPA

Zimbabwe has little hope of easing the cholera epidemic, which has killed nearly 2,800 people, and averting economic collapse without a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition.

Both Mr Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have shown no sign of compromise ahead of next week’s regional summit aimed at breaking the deadlock in negotiations.

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is “far from under control” and could exceed 60,000 cases over next week, the Red Cross said in Geneva on Friday.

Mr Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has come under pressure from Western powers, who want him to step down and are pushing for a democratic government to embrace economic reforms before millions of pounds in aid is offered.

The European Union announced on Friday that it is broadening its sanctions against supporters of Mr Mugabe by adding over 25 individuals and 36 companies with suspected links to human rights abuses to a list of those banned from the 27-member bloc.

The sanctions list will for the first time include companies registered in the bloc, including in Britain, two EU diplomats said, without naming the firms.

The move, due to be finalised at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, will add new government members and relatives of Mugabe allies to an existing list of around 170 individuals banned from travelling in the bloc.

Source

Sanctions will not help the situation, it will only make it worse. That has been proven time and time again. All sanctions do is cripple the country starve the people and does little, if anything else.

If the west and European countries care so much about the people they would help the people. They are not doing that of course.

Maybe they should Sanction Israel as well.

Zimbabwe: MSF Sees Spike in Cholera Cases in Kadoma

Report: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Epidemic continues to spread in rural areas and remains serious in Harare

January 22, 2009

Some 207 new admissions to a cholera treatment center (CTC) near the Zimbabwean capital Harare were received in a 24-hour period yesterday.

A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team at the CTC in the urban area of Kadoma saw the number of patients increase to 368 by the end of the day, January 21.

This number outstripped capacity and MSF is currently assessing new sites for an additional CTC.

Earlier this week, MSF sent medical supplies for the treatment of 1,000 severe cholera cases, along with 50 cholera beds, 50 buckets, and 8,000 packets of oral rehydration salts from UNICEF. More MSF medical supplies for the treatment of 600 severe cases were sent on January 22. One medical team will be stationed permanently in Kadoma to support the cholera response.

With the exception of the surge of cases in Kadoma, the cholera epidemic recently has been spreading mainly in rural areas of Zimbabwe. The numbers of new cases have been decreasing in Harare, although the numbers remain significant.

The spread of the disease in rural areas is a serious concern because some of these places previously had very low or no cases of cholera. As is often seen in rural outbreaks, deaths occur before an intervention can start, and MSF is concerned that the peak has not yet been reached in many of these areas.

In the suburbs, the lack of sanitation services continues to be a problem and could result in higher case numbers again, as was seen in November and December 2008.

Cholera cases are also being found in neighboring countries and MSF is responding as needed. It is believed that these cases are the result of the normal cholera season and are not related to Zimbabwe.

Source

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic could top 60,000 cases  
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IoS Christmas Appeal: In Zimbabwe, porridge once a day makes you a lucky girl

At an early childhood centre children play, learn and, most importantly, eat. But for many, this will be their only meal

Children eat at the centre supported by Save the Children in north-western Zimbabwe

Children eat at the centre supported by Save the Children in
north-western Zimbabwe

December 21 2008

The 36 children attending an early childhood centre in north-west Zimbabwe were lucky, and they knew it. They were wearing their best clothes – even if, as in the case of three-year-old Milesh, this meant a shirt that, while clean, was shredded at the back.

Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean children the same age are on the brink of starvation, and millions are losing their education as the collapse in government services closes school after school. All are at risk from the cholera epidemic. But Milesh and friends were looking forward not only to playing and learning together, but to getting what for many of them would be their only meal of the day – a plate of porridge.

The children waited patiently under a tree, clapping and singing while the food was prepared. They could not have been more orderly as they came forward, were given a plate and carried it carefully back into the shade. As soon as they were sitting down, the porridge – a special formula called corn-soya blend, or CSB, fortified with minerals and sweetened with sugar – disappeared in seconds.

Save the Children is helping more than 1,000 pre-school children in Zimbabwe in this way, but such is the chaos in the country that it is having to feed the centre’s helpers, too. “It would be very difficult for me to travel here on an empty stomach,” said one. She was scanning the pupils to see who was missing, and was not surprised that Godgave, four, was absent.

“Godgave is an orphan, and lives with his widowed grandmother,” said the helper. “They are very poor. He is often too weak from hunger – he comes for one or two days, then he is away sick. We go and check on him, but we have no food to carry to him.” In such a state any childhood disease, let alone cholera, could take his life.

Some of the children at the centre showed signs of malnutrition. While most rushed around once they had eaten, playing on the slide and the climbing frame, Milesh’s six-year-old sister Zineth hovered near those with food, until an adult gave her a half-eaten portion of CSB. She made instant work of it. When workers later checked the children’s weight-to-height ratio, Zineth was one of seven who fell into the red zone on the chart, showing she was malnourished. Milesh and 12 others were in the green zone, indicating normal development. Another 16 came up yellow, which meant that of the 36 children at the centre that day, 23 were either suffering from malnutrition or were close to it.

It is not uncommon in Africa for boys in a family to be favoured over girls at times of hardship, but when we accompanied Zineth and Milesh home, their grandfather Mathias denied it was intentional. “We want to treat the children the same,” he said. “But when we have very little food, we give it to the youngest. It’s not because he is a boy.”

Mathias and his wife Mary have brought up their daughter’s three children since she died five years ago and her husband deserted them soon afterwards. “We haven’t had sadza [a mash, made from maize meal, that is Zimbabwe’s staple food] for three days,” he said. “We’ve been eating wild fruits and begging a little maize meal from our neighbours. We got a few cupfuls, which we gave to the children to eat. We had nothing for ourselves.”

The United Nations estimates that more than five million Zimbabweans, roughly half of them children, urgently need food aid. Save the Children is preparing to set up emergency feeding centres for children under five, where even the severely malnourished can be rescued with a special food called Plumpynut. Neither of these programmes will benefit Mathias and his family, however, because they have livestock, and others are worse off.

“We have three donkeys, which we use to plough our field,” he said. “We didn’t get any seeds when they were given out, but we managed to barter some with a neighbour, in exchange for ploughing his field. We’re living each day as it comes. It’s hard for the children – they see others getting food and toys at Christmas, but we have nothing.” His wife added: “When they ask us about the situation, we have no answers. We feel very helpless.”

This story is being repeated across Zimbabwe. Millions are suffering, through no fault of their own, as the nation falls into chaos. Unless we help them, they have no cause for hope.

Source

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Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 7:38 pm  Comments Off on IoS Christmas Appeal: In Zimbabwe, porridge once a day makes you a lucky girl  
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Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera

Death toll tops 1,100 from Zimbabwe cholera
December 18 2008
By Nelson Banya

HARARE

The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

South African ruling African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma ruled out military intervention and backed a diplomatic push as the way to end political deadlock and prevent a total collapse of the once relatively prosperous nation.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Jendayi Frazer also backed a political rather than military solution but was far from hopeful about talks between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition on forming a unity government.

“We certainly think that the power sharing deal is on life support, it’s close to dead,” Frazer said in Mozambique.

That cast doubt on comments from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe that he hoped for agreement this week.

The latest cholera figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva included a new outbreak in Chegutu Urban, west of Harare, where more than 378 cases and 121 deaths were recorded, it said in a statement.

It added that more than 20,580 people had been affected by cholera since August.

The spread of the disease, which causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration and is normally easy to treat, has increased international pressure on Mugabe. Western countries have renewed calls on the veteran leader to step down.

Prominent figures, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Mugabe to go or for peacekeeping troops to be sent to Zimbabwe.

When asked in an interview with South Africa’s 702 Talk Radio whether he favoured sending troops to Zimbabwe, ANC leader Zuma said: “No. Why military intervention when there is no war? We should be pressurising them to see the light.”

MEDIATION

South Africa’s ANC-led government, however, has continued to back the regional SADC group’s efforts to mediate an end to the crisis. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is leading the mediation of the power-sharing talks.

Mugabe, 84, agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September, raising hopes that a unity government could reverse the country’s economic meltdown and rebuild basic services.

Inflation in Zimbabwe has spiralled out of control. Prices are doubling every 24 hours and unemployment is above 80 percent. Millions have fled to South Africa and neighbouring countries is search of work and food.

South African President Motlanthe announced on Wednesday that Zimbabwe’s neighbours would launch an urgent humanitarian campaign. Motlanthe’s spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said on Thursday it would focus on agricultural aid and would be non-partisan to ensure it could not be used as a political weapon.

The amount of the aid had yet to be finalised and was likely to depend on how much countries could give, he said.

Negotiations between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change are deadlocked over who should control key ministries, and there are growing fears the agreement will unravel and lead to violence.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March presidential election but without an absolute majority. He pulled out of the run-off in June, saying scores of his supporters had been killed.

The opposition says attacks have picked up again. They say more than 20 people have been abducted from their homes and offices in the past two weeks. The government has denied the accusations.

Source

Zimbabwe: MSF/Doctors Without Boarders, responds to worst cholera outbreak in years
More than 11,000 patients seen by MSF/Doctors without Boarders

December 12 2008

MSF/Doctors without Boarders, has seen more than 11,000 patients since August in Zimbabwe’s worst cholera outbreak in years and has opened dozens of cholera treatment centres throughout the country. Cases have been found in nearly all provinces. More than 500 national and international MSF staff members are working to identify new cases and to treat patients in need of care.

Harare has been the center of the outbreak; MSF has treated more than 6,000 people in the densely populated capital. A town on the border with South Africa, Beitbridge, has also been hard hit. MSF has provided care to more than 3,000 people with suspected cases of cholera.

Zimbabwe has had major outbreaks of cholera before – it is endemic in certain rural areas – but until the last few years it has been relatively rare in urban areas.

“The scale and the sheer numbers of infection especially in Harare is unprecedented,” says an epidemiologist for MSF who has worked periodically in Zimbabwe for the past seven years. He explains that the key reasons for the outbreak are the inability to access clean water, burst and blocked sewage systems and uncollected garbage overflowing in the streets. “The fact that the outbreak has become so large is an indication that the country’s health system can’t cope.”

MSF is working in two cholera treatment centers (CTCs) which are located in existing health facilities in Harare. The two main CTCs saw in total more than 2,000 people with cases of suspected cholera in the first week of December.

An MSF emergency coordinator in Harare describes the situation: “Imagine a cholera ward with dozens of people under the most basic conditions. For instance, there is only a little electricity so there is hardly any light. It is difficult for the doctors and nurses to even see the patients they are treating. The nurses have to monitor multitudes of IV bags to make sure they don’t run dry which is also difficult to do in the dark and when there are so many patients.”

In Beitbridge, MSF has set up cholera treatment centers run mainly by MSF staff using supplies shipped in from all over the world. The peak of the emergency was unusually early in Beitbridge, which resulted in a high mortality rate within the first couple of days of the severe outbreak in the town. By the fourth day, however, MSF had established a cholera treatment centre and the mortality rate eventually dropped from 15% to less than 1%.

Because MSF has been in the country since 2000 running HIV programs, it has been able to react from the ground and quickly bring in emergency cholera response units.

The outbreak is particularly worrying as it began well before the rainy season. A major concern is that once the heavy rains start, unprotected water sources will become contaminated, causing the further spread of cholera. The rainy season normally starts in November and continues through March, although the heavy rains have yet to be seen in some areas.

An additional challenge has been that government health workers in certain areas, particularly in Harare, are on strike. This has required MSF to rapidly recruit hundreds of nurses and other staff to handle the influx of cholera cases. Significant time and energy is needed to train the new staff, adding considerably to the workload of the existing staff.

MSF has also conducted exploratory missions in rural communities and responded to scattered reports of cholera cases. Low numbers of cases have been found in a number of small villages; MSF established small cholera treatment units (CTUs) where necessary. MSF has eight CTUs in five districts spread over the Manicaland and Mashvingo provinces in the eastern part of Zimbabwe and treated more than 770 patients.

A town on the border with Mozambique, Nyamapanda, also has been affected. When MSF arrived in early November the team found about 150 cholera patients and helped set up one cholera treatment center in the town, as well as four others with the Ministry of Health in the surrounding areas. In total, 1,600 patients have been seen in Mudzi District.

MSF will continue to monitor the situation and treat people in the most affected areas, as well as send emergency staff and supplies to various locations in Zimbabwe where new cases arise.

“A cholera outbreak of this proportion usually continues for several months,” the MSF epidemiologist says. “MSF expects to be caring for cholera patients in Zimbabwe for some time to come.”

Source

CARE Fights Cholera in Zimbabwe
Humanitarian group says as little as $10 could save a life

December 12 2008

Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

Children play with stagnant raw sewage at the Machipisa suburb in Harare November 28, 2008. Fast-spreading cholera is “the tip of the iceberg” of what stands to be a major health crisis in Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies said on Friday. Nearly 400 Zimbabweans have died from the disease. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

HARARE, Zimbabwe

CARE is ramping up food aid and sanitation programs in Zimbabwe as part of the international effort to combat one of the worst cholera outbreaks the world has seen in recent years. The humanitarian organization also is calling on the public to help. As little as $10 could save a life. That’s what it takes to provide a household with a bar of soap, a water container and two months worth of aqua-tabs for water purification.

The epidemic has already killed more than 780 people and infected at least 16,400. Almost half the country’s population will be dependant on food aid by January, humanitarian officials project. Unfortunately, because they require large gatherings, food distributions are a perfect conduit for the spread of cholera. So CARE, one of the World Food Program’s largest partners in Zimbabwe, is providing sanitation training and improved access to water, too, in an effort to serve at least 900,000 people.

“More than five million people in the country need food aid right now,” said Fridah Kalumba, CARE’s assistant country director in Zimbabwe. “But with the cholera outbreak, we need to ensure people are protected during distributions, so the disease doesn’t
spread further.”
Click photo to view an enlarged version (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))

A girl collects drinking water from a stream in Glen Norah, Harare November 27 2008. Zimbabwe, which is battling a serious cholera outbreak amid a worsening economic crisis, is set to get vaccines from China to fight the disease, state media reported on Thursday. (REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE))
The crisis is about to enter a pivotal stage. Health workers fear
that the coming rainy season, combined with families traveling
home from urban centers for Christmas, could cause cholera cases to soar in rural districts.

“Cholera outbreaks are usually localized,” said Teresa Chiesa, a
CARE health expert working to stem the crisis in Zimbabwe. “I have never before seen one like this with so many communities over
such a wide area being affected at the same time. It’s a horrific situation.”

CARE, which has been working in Zimbabwe since 1992, employs nearly 600 staffers in the provinces of Masvingo and Midlands. That has allowed CARE to coach people on proper sanitary measures in food distribution centers, schools, orphanages and seniors homes. CARE is supplying families with water jugs, chlorine, water
treatment tablets and soap. And the humanitarian group is building
hand-washing stations at critical sites.

In the longer term, if CARE can raise sufficient funds, it will launch a program to develop a secure supply of clean water. CARE needs $750,000 to carry out its preventative education program and a plan to drill new wells in water-starved communities. Drilling one borehole alone costs approximately $25,000.

“If we do not secure the water supply for these people in the long term,” Chiesa said, “the country will be looking at another outbreak next year, and the year after that, and so on.”

Source

Save the Children, )


Zimbabwe cholera epidemic ‘worsening’ says aid agency

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is not under control, Save the Children said today.

December 12 2008
Speaking from the agency’s HQ in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare today, Rachel Pounds, a Save the Children country director said: “If anything is certain in the chaos of Zimbabwe today it is that the cholera outbreak is not under control. According to the latest figures 775 people have died so far. Save the Children knows this is an underestimate – not least because the figures do not include areas in which we work and where we know there have been many unrecorded deaths.

“Also, the percentage of people who are dying having contracted cholera in the first place is way higher than normal for this disease, in some areas. With even the most basic health care on hand, you would expect to see a death rate of only one or two percent. In some areas of Zimbabwe a third of those who have contracted the infection are dying.”

Ms Pounds added that said that the crisis was almost certainly worsening. “Reliable figures are hard to come by, but there is much evidence out there that this crisis is growing, not diminishing, especially as we know there are many people can’t get to cholera centres. Given that this is a disease spread by unclean water and exacerbated by hunger which weakens victims, this problem has clearly not gone away. Water and health services have collapsed and more than half the 10 million population needs emergency food aid. This deadly disease will continue to spread unless we get more money and more resources to halt the contamination and treat victims promptly.”

Save the Children urged the international community to listen to aid agencies working in Zimbabwe and to Zimbabweans themselves living with the horror of hunger and cholera. “It is ordinary families who are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and it is to them the world must listen,” said Ms Pounds. “They should listen to the mothers whose babies have died, and to the children waiting outside health clinics to see if their mothers or fathers will come out alive. That’s the reality here.”

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 200,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.
For more information
Please contact the Save the Children media unit on +44 207 012 6836 / +44 7831 650 409

Notes to Editors

The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has now reached unprecedented proportions. A cholera epidemic is already crippling the country, which has killed over 775 people.

Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year, over half the country’s population. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

Save the Children’s 200-strong team in Zimbabwe is helping to provide drugs to treat cholera and educating communities how to avoid infection, as well as providing food so that safe cholera treatment camps can be set up to prevent further contamination.

The aid organisation is feeding close to 700,000 people and helping families prepare for the future by distributing seed, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens. Save the Children has worked in Zimbabwe for 25 years.

Source

Zimbabwe’s meltdown in figures
December 18

2008The death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has soared to 1,111, the United Nations said on Thursday, adding to pressure for a quick solution to the crisis in the southern African country.

Below are some details of Zimbabwe’s decline in figures:

* INFLATION

Inflation reached 231 million percent a year in July, the latest month for which a figure has been announced. Economists think it is now much higher and say prices are doubling daily.

* GDP

Gross domestic product has fallen every year since 2000, down 10.4 percent in 2003 alone. The IMF estimated that the economy shrank 6.1 percent in 2007.

Per capita GDP was estimated at $200 in 2007, from nearer $900 in 1990. Zimbabwe has the world’s fastest shrinking economy for a country not at war, according to the World Bank.

* INCOME

An estimated 83 percent of the population was living on below $2 a day by 2005. Since then, the situation has only worsened.

* EXPORTS

Exports averaged 33.5 percent of GDP between 1997 and 2001. UBS forecast this would decline to 9.9 percent in 2007.

* AGRICULTURE

Once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now needs to import maize. The U.N. agricultural production index for Zimbabwe fell from nearly 107 in 2000 to just over 74 in 2005.

Official figures show maize production at 800,000 tonnes last season against national demand of 2 million tonnes.

* GOLD

Gold output, which accounts for a third of export earnings, hit a low of 125 kg in October, from a peak of 2,400 kg, as the economic crisis forced mines to close.

* UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of work and food.

* AID

Aid agencies say 5 million people — almost half the population — might need food aid by early 2009.

* IMF ARREARS

Zimbabwe fell into arrears with the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In February 2008, it owed $88 million, of which nearly $80 million has been in arrears for three years or more. While Zimbabwe has averted expulsion, the IMF has suspended financial and technical assistance.

* LIFE EXPECTANCY

Average life expectancy fell from 63 years in 1990 to 40.9 years in 2005, according to U.N. figures.

The mortality rate for children under five rose to 132 deaths per 1,000 in 2005 from 76 deaths in 1990.

* CHOLERA

The official death toll from a cholera epidemic since August is at least 1,111 with over 20,581 infected, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe.

* HIV/AIDS

In 2007, HIV prevalence was 15.6 percent among adults aged 15 to 49 — the fourth highest in the world. It causes the death of about 3,200 people per week in the country of 13.3 million.

HIV prevalence among pregnant women at clinics actually fell from 26 percent in 2002 to 18 in 2006, but some put that down to high mortality and emigration rather than prevention measures.

* ANTHRAX

Save the Children said this month that an anthrax outbreak in the south west had killed three people and could wipe out at least 60,000 livestock.

Source

They left out Sanctions of course. Which has enhanced Zimbabwe’s problem substantially.

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax

Our special correspondent reports from Mashonaland West, where Zimbabwe’s hard-pressed doctors are doing all they can to stop the spread of disease

December 7 2008

Kitty, 19, on the one usable bed in the Mashonaland West clinic where she is being treated for cholera. Zimbabwe's desperate food shortage has made the outbreak even more lethal than usual

RACHEL DWYER

Kitty, 19, on the one usable bed in the Mashonaland West clinic where she is being treated for cholera. Zimbabwe’s desperate food shortage has made the outbreak even more lethal than usual

The folding bed on which the cholera patient lay was the only piece of furniture in the room. The bag of 5 per cent dextrose fluid going into her arm had to be tied to the metal window frame, in which half the panes were broken, because the isolation camp had no drip stands. But 19-year-old Kitty was fortunate, in more ways than one.

The high-school student was the only cholera patient in the camp, set up in two derelict brick houses in a remote area of the Zambezi River valley, to have a bed. Other patients had to lie on the floor, with just a blanket between them and the bare concrete. Save the Children had donated two special cholera beds, which can easily be disinfected between patients, but a 60-year-old woman had died in the other one earlier in the day. Her body lay on the floor in another room, wrapped in blankets.

Cholera is extremely infectious – Kitty and her grandfather, also a patient in the camp, had both contracted the disease at the funeral of another victim – but easily treatable if caught in time. “I feel better already,” said the young woman, just over 12 hours after she was admitted. Nobody had the heart, however, to tell her that her grandfather was not expected to last the day. Like many older patients, he had suffered kidney failure, caused by acute dehydration.

It is a measure of Zimbabwe’s collapse under President Robert Mugabe that cholera has been allowed to get out of control. Last week his government finally stopped playing down the worst epidemic in decades, and declared a national emergency. More than 12,000 people have been infected, and nearly 600 have died, according to official figures, but health professionals believe the real totals are much higher. Food shortages and economic collapse have crippled the country’s health services so badly that many unrecorded deaths are thought to have occurred in remote areas, beyond the reach of treatment.

Nor is that the only reason why the disease has taken hold. In several cases, starving rural people have failed to report suspected cases of cholera, because they know that the authorities will immediately ban public gatherings, and wrongly believe that this will extend to food distributions. Only when victims start dying does the news get out, and by then infection has spread far and wide.

Cholera is endemic in parts of Mashonaland West, and there are well-established procedures for dealing with the disease, which usually makes its appearance much later in the rainy season, in March or April. Isolation camps are immediately set up at the scene of an outbreak, and are not closed until 14 days after the last case is declared over. But one rural doctor said there was simply not enough food for the staff, let alone the patients, to set up the number of camps required in his area. “We are just firefighting,” he said.

Steady rain was falling as we arrived at Kitty’s isolation camp, set up next to a clinic that had never been completed, because desperate local people had stolen building materials to sell for food. Before entering, we had to retie our shoelaces to ensure they did not brush the floor, and afterwards our shoes were disinfected. Only a timely donation of maize meal from Save the Children had allowed this camp to stay open, but Kitty’s luck did not end there.

Unlike one family, in which a woman lost her mother and three of her four children in two days, the 19-year-old had recognised her symptoms straight away, and when she arrived, the camp had enough intravenous fluids and antibiotics to treat her. The doctor said he knew of at least two cases of patients dying because supplies of fluid had run out, and after the first few cases, the local laboratory had exhausted its supply of the reagents needed to test patients for cholera. “I must be the most frustrated doctor in Zimbabwe,” he said.

If anything, conditions are even worse in the urban areas. Roughly half the deaths have been in the capital, Harare, where sewage runs down the streets in many poor districts. The water supply has been cut off to much of the city, because the municipality cannot pay for the chemicals to treat it. With monthly salaries for medical staff barely covering the cost of a single day’s bus fare to and from work, all Harare’s hospitals have ceased functioning. Last week riot police broke up a demonstration by doctors and nurses demanding better pay and conditions.

Even if a massive infusion of international aid brings the cholera outbreak under control, however, doctors fear that an equally fatal epidemic of malaria will soon follow. In a tropical country such as Zimbabwe, some cases of malaria can be expected every year. But in the low-lying Zambezi Valley there used to be a network of modestly paid community health workers who would cut the grass in which mosquitoes breed, and spray each house ahead of the summer rains, helping to keep the disease under control. That system broke down a couple of years ago, and the number of cases shot up last summer. With this year’s rains, the situation is expected to be even worse.

Another deadly disease, anthrax, has already made an appearance in north-western Zimbabwe, and has spread from animals to humans, because hungry villagers have eaten the meat of infected cattle. At least three people have died in the worst anthrax outbreak since the liberation war of the 1970s. More deaths are likely, because administrative disarray means the strict quarantine and slaughter system needed to defeat the disease is unlikely to be implemented. Inoculation of livestock against the disease all but stopped five years ago.

All these health disasters are on top of the ravages of HIV/Aids. Zimbabwe has one of the highest infection rates in the world, but progress was being made. Thanks to huge efforts by the Global Fund, anti-retroviral drugs have been widely distributed, but they are ineffective unless the person taking them is adequately fed.

In every case it is the children who are most vulnerable. David and Tambu’s nine-year-old daughter Sarah showed symptoms of cholera at 4am, and by the same evening she was dead – probably, according to a doctor, because she was undernourished and had latent malaria as well. “She had been playing with children from a village where there was cholera,” said David, who carried Sarah on his back for three hours to reach the nearest clinic. “We all went to church on Sunday, and on Monday she was dead. If the clinic here had still been running, perhaps she might have lived, but it closed a long time ago.”

For Tambu, who was heavily pregnant with another child, the cruelest blow was that her daughter’s body was returned to them encased in heavy plastic, to prevent infection. “If I had at least been able to see her one more time, it would have helped me grieve,” she said. “I don’t know how to tell the other children what has happened.” Her fears for the family are growing, because they are dependent on food handouts. “We have traded our cooking pots for something to eat, and have nothing left to barter with,” she said. “If no more food comes, we will die.”

The doctor, who had been unable to save Sarah’s life, said: “Cholera, malaria and deaths in childbirth are all easily preventable. Save the Children is a very strong pillar for us – compared with other districts, we lose far fewer people to these causes.” Never, though, have the ordinary people of Zimbabwe been in greater need than now, and we are their only source of hope.

Some names have been changed

Anatomy of a killer

* Cholera, a bacterial infection, results from poor hygiene and contaminated water or food. It is common in crowded, insanitary environments, such as pre-20th-century London.

* One of the earliest breakthroughs in public health came when a cholera outbreak was traced to an infected well in Soho, London, in 1854.

* The disease causes massive diarrhoea and vomiting in its most virulent form, leading to dehydration and kidney failure. It can kill in as little as three hours if not treated.

* Cholera is easily treated by oral rehydration and antibiotics. But the disease will kill more than half those infected if left to run its course.

How you can help

Our Christmas Appeal has already raised over £10,000, but much more is still needed.

£5 will buy a mosquito net to protect a child from malaria.

£40 will buy a kit to treat a cholera patient with a drip, fluid and drugs.

£66 will build a safe toilet to prevent disease spreading.

£230 will fund a borehole and water pump so a village has clean water.

£660 will set up an isolation camp to treat cholera victims safely, and stop the disease from being spread.

You can also pledge at www.independent.co.uk/iosappeal

Source

UN forced to cut food aid to Zimbabwe’s starving people

Half a million will go without emergency handouts this month, and more will be hungry in January. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown says it’s time to tell Mugabe ‘enough is enough’

By a special correspondent in Zimbabwe
December 7 2008

Zimbabwean villagers have resorted to selling wild berries by the side of the road to buy food

EPA

Zimbabwean villagers have resorted to selling wild berries by the side of the road to buy food

Half a million people in Zimbabwe will go without food handouts this month, the UN agency responsible for feeding more than two-fifths of the country’s population warned yesterday, as shortages of funds force further cuts in rations.

“We are still four months away from the [maize] harvest. We haven’t seen the worst yet,” Richard Lee, a spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Johannesburg, told The Independent on Sunday. “The situation has worsened more quickly than expected. We have reduced rations in December, and will have to do so again in January.”

The food crisis has contributed to the rapid spread of the cholera epidemic now ravaging the country. So far nearly 600 people have died and more than 12,000 have been infected, according to the authorities, but the real figures are believed to be much higher as the disease takes its toll among people weakened by hunger.

The WFP expects 5.1 million Zimbabweans – well over half the nine million people remaining in the country – to need food aid by January. The target for this month was 4.2 million, but rations for only 3.7 million are available. “Rather than excluding entire households from the distribution, we have decided to set a maximum of six rations per household,” Mr Lee said. “Families with more than that number of mouths to feed will have to share.” In November the monthly ration per person was cut from 12kg of maize meal to 10kg, and from 1.8kg of beans to 1kg.

Drought this year drastically increased Zimbabwe’s food deficit. The rains have been good so far this season, but the country’s economic collapse means the area planted with grain is well below what is needed to feed the population. The WFP says it needs an extra $100m (£68m) to cover the shortfall up to March 2009.

With millions of Zimbabweans starving and cholera raging, Gordon Brown called on the international community yesterday to tell President Robert Mugabe that “enough is enough”, saying: “The whole world is angry because they see avoidable deaths – of children, mothers, and families… This is a humanitarian catastrophe. This is a breakdown in civil society. It is a blood-stained regime that is letting down its own people.”

As cholera spills across Zimbabwe’s borders into neighbouring countries, Mr Brown said the crisis was an “international rather than a national emergency” that demanded a co-ordinated response. Since there was no administration willing or able to protect the people, Mr Brown said a “command and control structure” should be put in place in the capital, Harare, to manage aid efforts.

Mr Mugabe is not expected to heed Mr Brown’s call – if anything, he is likely to use it as proof of his claim that Britain is seeking to recolonise Zimbabwe. The population is constantly told that its problems are due to sanctions imposed by Britain and the US, though in fact these are targeted only at the leadership. But the Mr Brown’s strongest statement yet on Zimbabwe echoes growing anger in Africa at the death toll caused by the cholera epidemic and the political and economic breakdown from which it stems.

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace laureate, said last week that Mr Mugabe was “destroying a wonderful country” and should be deposed by force if he refused to step down. Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, said earlier: “It’s time for African governments to take decisive action to push him out of power.”

Mr Brown did not explicitly call yesterday for Mr Mugabe to step down, but on Friday the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said his departure from office was long overdue: “The fact is there was a sham election; there has been a sham process of power-sharing talks and now we are seeing not only political and economic total devastation… but a humanitarian toll of the cholera epidemic.”

Source

So did they really cut off aid because of a shortage or because they want to oust Mugabe?

Sanctions can and do kill innocent citizens in every country where they have been implemented. They cause extreme hardship to the people.  Sanctions cause numerous problems. Illness, poverty, starvation and the list goes on and on. They can and do cripple countries and the people in them.

Also Doctors  Without Boarder and Save the Children are taking Donations.  Both are also helping in Zimbabwe. Links to their sites are on posts below.

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Published in: on December 7, 2008 at 7:56 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe Appeal: First cholera. Now it’s malaria and anthrax  
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141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Sign Petition to Ban DU

What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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Zimbabwe declares national health emergency

By Angus Shaw, AP
December 4 2008

Zimbabwe has declared a national emergency over its cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health system due the country’s economic crisis.

“Our central hospitals are literally not functioning,” Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper today.

The Herald said Parirenyatwa declared the state of emergency at a meeting Wednesday of government and international aid officials in Harare. He appealed for money to pay doctors and nurses, and for drugs, food and equipment for Zimbabwe’s hospitals.

“Our staff is demotivated and we need your support to ensure that they start coming to work and our health system is revived,” he was quoted as saying.

The United Nations puts deaths from the cholera epidemic at more than 500. The outbreak is blamed on lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes in a country that once had a sophisticated infrastructure.

The deputy water minister, Walter Mzembi, who also attended Wednesday’s meeting, said his ministry had only enough chemicals to treat water for 12 more weeks.

The Herald said UN agencies, embassies and non-governmental organizations at the meeting pledged to help. The European Commission had said Wednesday it was providing more than $12 million for drugs and clean water while the International Red Cross was also releasing more funds to deal with cholera in Zimbabwe.

“We need to pool our resources together and see how best we can respond to this emergency,” Agostinho Zacarias, the UN Development Program director in Zimbabwe, was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe has been paralyzed since disputed elections in March. President Robert Mugabe and the opposition are wrangling over a power-sharing deal.

The country is suffering from the world’s highest inflation and Zimbabweans face daily shortages of food and other basic goods.

Source

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Zimbabwe: Cholera Hits Beitbridge, Exposes Major Health Risks

December 1 2008

Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stavropoulou / MSF

An MSF aid worker treats a cholera patient in Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa.

“I am feeling a little uncomfortable,” Henry, a middle-aged gentleman, says quietly as he looks up at Clara from where he is lying on the dirty floor. Henry is so dehydrated his cheeks are completely sunken and his eyes stand out from his closely cropped skull. Clara Chamizo, a nurse on her first MSF assignment in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, sees the extreme absurdity of this statement. She is standing in the middle of dozens of cholera patients lying on the dirt in the backyard of Beitbridge’s main hospital. Cholera has overwhelmed this border town of about 40,000 like contaminated wildfire.

“Normally, cholera starts with a few cases and then we have the peak after a few weeks,” says Luis María Tello, the MSF Emergency Coordinator who arrived a few days after the first cases were reported and is surprised to see such high numbers now. Though research still needs to be done, Luis’s theory right now is that “a lot of people got cholera from the same source at the same time.”

On Friday, November 14, when the Zimbabwean Health Authorities in Beitbridge first reported cholera to MSF, there were five cases. Two days later, there were already more than 500; by the end of the week, there were more than 1,500.
Overwhelmed, Undersupplied Hospital Cannot Fight Cholera Outbreak

Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stavropoulou / MSF

Cholera patients are treated on the ground at the main hospital in Beitbridge, which was overwhelmed with patients.

Patients were first placed inside Beitbridge’s main hospital, most lying on the cement floors, in very poor hygienic conditions. There is a lack of cleaning personnel as well as proper gear, chemicals, and water, not to mention all the hospital toilets have been blocked up for a long time.

On Sunday morning, the hospital had to make the decision to put all the patients out behind the buildings, on the dirt, so that body excretions could be absorbed into the ground. The sight was appalling: patients lying in the dust in the scorching heat; all asking for the life-saving drip (Ringer lactate IV fluid). There wasn’t even any water to give them, since the hospital, as everywhere in town, has its water supply cut on most days.

Clara and Veronica Nicola, the MSF doctor who is also the project coordinator at the Beitbridge project, were the only MSF expatriates in town when the emergency hit. Veronica, an Argentinean pediatrician who has been on several MSF missions, says she never has had to insert so many catheters in one day in her life.

“For me, the hardest thing was to be able to concentrate on one person,” said Veronica. “There was a man lying next to one of the trolleys under the sun. By the time I got to him, he was in shock. We tried to get a vein, like, ten times, but then he started gasping and he died right there in front of our eyes.” She pauses for a minute and then adds, “If I had seen him half an hour before, we might have been able to do something about it, but there were so many people lying there, people calling you. But still,” she adds thoughtfully, “we could have done something.” In her calm manner she summarizes, “It was very bad.”

In one week, 54 people died.

At the beginning of the crisis, the Beitbridge hospital did not have any IV fluid or oral rehydration salts (ORS) tablets in stock. MSF shipped over 800 liters of the Ringer’s fluid the first day of the intervention and since then there has been a continuous supply. Shipments of medical and logistical supplies arrived over ten days. A team of 16 expatriates, comprised of doctors, nurses, logisticians, and administrators were sent to Beitbridge. And more than 100 additional health workers, cleaners, and day workers have been hired locally.

In three days, a cholera treatment center (CTC) with 130 cholera beds—those with a hole in the middle under which a bucket is placed so that the diarrhea is released directly in the container—was set up.

Once the cholera bacteria enters the body, it releases a toxin which causes part of the intestines to suck all the water from the body. The intestines, unable to handle so much water, rejects it. The only thing that can be done is to give the body enough fluids to survive until the bacteria’s own life cycle expires, usually in about five days. If a person does not receive enough fluids, he or she can die within hours of contagion.

The only real way to prevent cholera is to have good hygiene and clean water. From the second day of the outbreak, an MSF car with two officers from the Zimbabwean Environmental Health Office (HEO) was dedicated to going around town, giving out information to the public on how to avoid getting cholera.
Town’s Problems Are Long-Term

Zimbabwe 2008 © Joanna Stavropoulou / MSF

The poor water and sanitation conditions in Beitbridge make it easier for the cholera bacteria to spread.

The town of Beitbridge is a shifting tide of migrants, truckers, sex workers, unaccompanied children, and desperate people trying to find a better life – mostly by attempting to cross the border into South Africa. With the current economic crises in Zimbabwe, basic services are lacking and especially so in a town with such uncontrolled growth. There is trash everywhere, and open sewage runs through most of Beitbridge’s streets. Almost everyday there are cuts in the water and power supplies.

As the MSF car moved slowly through the neighborhoods and the Zimbabwean EHOs tried to give their speeches through a loudspeaker, angry crowds would gather to shout, “How do you expect us to control cholera when there is no water!” and “Look at this sewage running here right next to us,” “Why don’t you clean up the garbage in the streets?”

On the main highway, which transverses Beitbridge, there is an area where all the truckers stop on their way to cross over the border. Sometimes it can take days to clear the paperwork to cross, so they camp here, together with passengers or relatives. When the MSF car stopped there, the truckers gathered around and were just as angry as local residents. They showed some cesspools where they come to wash their hands and pointed out a dusty field next to them, covered in human excrement. “Where are we supposed to go?” pleaded one man.

These problems are long-term. The water station doesn’t have the parts to properly repair its pumps. Even if it did, it depends on electricity to be able to pump water from the water tower to the city. Electricity depends on a coal mine that hasn’t been paid in over a year and can no longer supply coal. Then, there is no fuel to run the garbage trucks and there is no money to pay salaries for people to collect the garbage. There are no equipment or supplies to fix the sewage system, and no money to pay personnel to do it. MSF is working on meeting the emergency needs in the short-term, but real solutions are needed to prevent future outbreaks.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 7:18 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières  
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Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

December 3 2008
Save the Children New Zealand has announced that it will be sending NZD $60,000 to support the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

Following on from the disputed election run-offs between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe has been in a worsening state of decline.

10 million people, out of a population of 13 million live below the poverty line. Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

A deadly outbreak of anthrax is threatening to wipe out at least 60,000 livestock in Zimbabwe’s northern Zambezi Valley. 32 cases of human anthrax have been reported in the Binga district. This figure is expected to rise.

On top of the anthrax outbreak comes reports of increasing cholera infections which have already killed hundreds of people. Zimbabwe is also in the midst of an economic crisis due to hyperinflation. On 14 November 2008 the Cato Institute released a document estimating that Zimbabwe’s monthly inflation rate to be 79.6 billion percent. This is equivalent to prices doubling every 24 hours.

Save the Children launched a global appeal on 1 December 2008 to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. With increased resources, Save the Children’s emergency team will be responding to the anthrax and cholera outbreaks by helping to vaccinate cows from anthrax, training health workers, providing food so that safe treatment camps can be set up, and educating communities how to avoid infection.

As well as setting up food programmes the aid organisation is also helping families prepare for the future by distributing seeds, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens.

Philip Abraham, Acting Executive Director for Save the Children New Zealand says: “The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions which is why Save the Children has launched a global appeal for donations. We have been working in Zimbabwe for 25 years and have expertise in operating effective programmes within the country. We know we can save lives; we just need the resources to do it”.

To make a donation to support Save the Children’s work in Zimbabwe please: Visit www.savethechildren.org.nz or call our donation line 0800 167 168

Source

Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions.

A deadly outbreak of anthrax has been reported in the north of Zimbabwe, with three people and more than 160 cattle already dead.

British charity Save the Children says that, coming on top of the ongoing cholera epidemic and the desperate food shortage, the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions.

“Many families in the Zambezi valley are so hungry that they are taking meat from the carcasses of their dead animals, even if they know it’s diseased, and are feeding it to their children,” said Save the Children’s country director, Rachel Pounds. “If the animal has been poisoned by anthrax, those children could die.”

A quarantine zone has been declared in the affected areas of Matebeleland North. But traders have been seen taking potentially infected carcasses out of the restricted zones to trade in the Victoria Falls region. This risks the disease spreading across Zimbabwe and into Zambia.

Zimbabwe has had problems with Anthrax in the past, having experienced the worst-ever recorded outbreak of the disease in 1979/80, at the time of its civil war. More than 10,000 human cases were recorded and 182 human deaths. Some have suggested, but not proved, that biological warfare was involved.

Little anthrax vaccination has taken place in Zimbabwe during the past five years and the strain now found in the Zambezi valley has been identified as particularly virulent.

Anthrax can kill when infected meat is touched or eaten, or when infected spores are inhaled.

Save the Children has launched a big appeal for funds, which will be used to help vaccinate cattle and educate people about the dangers of anthrax.  In the UK For more information and to donate, click here

Source

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

December 2 2008

Water supplies to residents in Harare were cut by the authorities yesterday as Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic tightened its grip and the city witnessed its worst unrest for a decade.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority turned off the pumps in the capital after it ran out of purifying chemicals. With cholera cases soaring above 11,000 across the country, and an anthrax outbreak ravaging the the countryside, David Parirenyatwa, the Health Minister, urged Zimbabweans to stop shaking hands to avoid spreading disease.

Companies and government offices, especially those in high-rise buildings, were sending workers home by midday as lavatories became blocked. “My office stinks and the toilet is a disgusting site,” said Mary Sakupwene, a secretary. “I won’t go back until the water’s on again.”

The four-star Jameson Hotel stopped taking guests and other less exclusive ones closed. Restaurants provided buckets of water for hand-washing and flushing. There was a sharp increase in people turning up at the Harare Sports Club – served by boreholes – for their ablutions after their home taps ran dry. It notified members that from today they would be charged $US2 (£1.34) for a shower.

In Harare’s townships, some of which have been without water for two years, 20 litres of water from one of the thousands of backyard hand-dug wells can cost $1. All wells hold the danger of cholera. “What I am afraid of is now that the rainy season has come, the faeces lying in the bushes will be washed into shallow wells and contaminate the water,” said Mr Parirenyatwa.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) urged President Mugabe to accept international humanitarian help. “The country is reaching a catastrophic level, in terms of food, health delivery, education,” said Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader. “Everything seems to be collapsing around us.”

The seething anger felt by ordinary Zimbabweans exploded yesterday as hundreds of off-duty soldiers went on the rampage in the centre of Harare. Witnesses said that the violence erupted at a bus depot on the edge of the city centre where soldiers, frustrated at not being able to draw cash from banks, confronted illegal moneychangers. The dealers scattered and the soldiers turned on the city, followed by civilians spurring them on.

The mobs stoned cars and looted shops. In the panic, home-bound workers fled and traffic jammed as motorists tried to turn back from the scene.

It was the first serious public unrest since the riots over food price increases ten years ago. The disturbance brought a swift and brutal response from the authorities who swamped the area with heavily armed para-military police and troops. At least one man was shot.

Source

Doctors struggle to ‘hold back tide’

A man pushes his relative with cholera in a wheelbarrow in Zimbabwe

November 27 2008

A 28-year-old Zimbabwean medical student speaks to the BBC about the cholera outbreak that has killed more than 360 people in the country since August

He describes his visit to two areas in and around the capital, Harare, that have been worst affected by the crisis.

“I just came back from Budiriro suburb and the city of Chitungwiza near Harare, and the situation there is really desperate and critical.

At a clinic in Budiriro they were trying to treat hundreds of people.

There were so many that they had to lie them down outside.

While I was there perhaps 150 more people arrived looking for treatment.

The people arriving look extremely weak and dehydrated.

They could barely stand, and many came being wheeled in wheelbarrows.

They had to string up washing lines outside the clinic to hang the packets of intravenous fluid.

They lay on the floor while the tubes were inserted into their arms.

But these people were lucky.

Health workers at the clinic told me that until the day before they had no intravenous fluid.

The clinic had a delivery from an aid agency that day.

I don’t know how long their supplies will last.

‘Held to ransom’

In Chitungwiza we saw that sewer pipes had burst, releasing sewage into the street.

A public well in a Harare suburb

Sanitation systems have broken down, so wells are being dug to find water

It was like a river flowing through the town, it just went on and on.

The stink was like a disgusting toilet.

I worry especially for the children, they’re most at risk because they play in the street with all the sewage, and don’t know how bad it is for them.

The cause of these bursting pipes is the lack of maintenance and repairs.

As time has gone on the people who were meant to be doing this have not been paid, or have deserted their jobs to do other work that can get them foreign currency.

And so the sanitation system has broken down.

In Harare itself people have avoided the disease, so far.

In other part of Harare the sanitation systems are still working, for the time being, but it’s a very communicable disease and it is spreading quickly.

Doctors and nurses I speak to say they feel like they are being held to ransom by the government.

They’re not being paid, they must work voluntarily to deal with this disease.

They are really very disgruntled.

They say they are just a few people holding back a tide of disease.

If we don’t get some help soon it’s going to be very tough.”

Source

The Anthrax needs to be addressed quickly. They need a great deal of help.

The Sanctions need to lifted as well.

Both

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) And Save the Children

Are there helping. Donations would be gladly accepted.

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 10:38 am  Comments Off on Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing  
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Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

By Jeremy Laurance,
December 1 2008

To add to the peril of cholera, Zimbabwe’s beleaguered population is now facing anthrax. An outbreak of the deadly infection has killed two children and one adult and spread to 32 others. It is threatening to wipe out at least 60,000 livestock in the northern Zambezi Valley, aggravating the food crisis, Save the Children warned yesterday.

A quarantine zone has been declared in the affected areas of Matebeleland North but, because of the desperate hunger, some families are still eating infected meat. Traders have been seen taking potentially infected carcasses out of the restricted zones to trade in Victoria Falls, which risks the disease spreading across Zimbabwe and over the border into neighbouring Zambia. Symptoms lie dormant for 21 days and the death toll could be higher, the charity said.

Anthrax can kill when infected meat is touched, or eaten or when infected spores are inhaled. The disease has also killed 160 livestock, as well as two elephants, 70 hippo and 50 buffalo.

Rachel Pounds, country director in Zimbabwe, said: “This may be the biggest anthrax outbreak since the 1979-80 civil war and it could have appalling consequences for Zimbabwe. If it is not controlled, this outbreak could wipe out 60,000 cattle, goats, pigs and chickens that thousands of families are depending on to survive.”

Source

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 11:42 am  Comments Off on Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe  
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Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic is spiralling out of control, the United Nations has indicated after reporting a suspected 10,000 to 11,000 cases nationwide and rising.

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
December 1 2008

Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is spiralling out of control, the United Nations has indicated

Children play with stagnant raw sewage in a Harare suburb. The UN has said that the spread of cholera is “the tip of the iceberg” of a health crisis in Zimbabwe. Photo: Reuters

More than 425 people have died since the outbreak in August and the number is expected to rise due to poor sanitation worsted by the onset of the rainy season.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused the government of under-reporting the deaths, saying that he believed more than 500 people had died and half a million were affected by cholera.

Zimbabwe’s dilapidated infrastructure has made clean water a luxury, with many people relying on shallow wells and latrines in their yards.

Cholera spreads through dirty water causing vomiting and diahhreoa and while cholera has long posed a sporadic problem in rural Zimbabwe, the current epidemic is hitting the nation’s cities.

An anti-President Robert Mugabe protester has become the highest profile victim of the disease. Julia Chapeyama, 44, was repeatedly arrested and harassed by Mr Mugabe’s regime when riot police swooped on protests by Women of Zimbabwe Arise, of which Muss Chapeyama was a founding member.

She won an Amnesty International prize earlier this month for her pro-democracy campaigns.

Mr Mugabe has blamed western sanctions for the unprecented cholera epidemic.

The last significant cholera outbreak was in 1992 when 2 000 were infected.

Britain made £3 million available last week as part of a £10 million package for the unprecedented epidemic which has spread from Zimbabwe to South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.

Hopes for easing the humanitarian crisis have dimmed as President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been locked in a protracted dispute over how to form a unity government after controversial elections earlier this year.

Zimbabwe’s economy has collapsed under the weight of the world’s highest inflation rate, last estimated at 231 million per cent in July but believed to be much higher.

Once a food exporter, nearly half the population needs international food aid, while 80 per cent of Zimbabweans are living in poverty.

Meanwhile, a 74-year-old British woman was beaten to death and her husband left in a critical condition after a violent attack on the couple’s farm in Zimbabwe.

The body of Mary Austen was discovered two days after she was murdered in Kwekwe, in the country’s centre.

Her husband Neville, a 77-year-old Zimbabwean was found unable to move or speak.

Source

Leaders ‘yet to approve key amendment’

December 1 2008

HARARE

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have yet to approve a constitutional amendment critical to forming a unity government, state media said Sunday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Friday that “some shared understanding” had been reached over the amendment that will set out the powers of the prime minister.

Tsvangirai would become prime minister under a power-sharing deal signed on September 15, while 84-year-old Mugabe would remain as president.

Mugabe’s chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said in the state-run Sunday Mail that none of the leaders had signed off on the proposed law.

But he confirmed that negotiators had finalised the text for approval by the leaders.

“Negotiating teams are expected to report to their principals and political parties for clearance of the initialled document,” Chinamasa told the paper.

The amendment will create the new post of prime minister, bringing the country one step closer toward forming a unity government.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Friday that several other issues still needed to be resolved, despite the agreement on the amendment.

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first-round presidential vote in March, when the MDC won a majority in parliament for the first time.

But he pulled out of a run-off, accusing Mugabe’s party of coordinating deadly attacks against his supportrs.

Since signing the unity accord, the rivals have been locked in a bitter dispute on how to divide power among their parties.

Source

Zimbabwe Health Minister Appeals for More Help to Combat Cholera Epidemic

By James Butty
December 1 2008

Zimbabwe’s minister of health and child welfare says a quick resolution of the political and economic crises is needed in order to address the many challenges facing the country.

David Parirenyatwa spoke as a cholera epidemic has killed more than 400 people with more than 11 thousand cases reported across Zimbabwe since August.

City officials in the capital, Harare, have reportedly offering free graves for victims of the epidemic. With more than a 200 million-percent inflation rate, most Zimbabweans cannot afford the nearly 30 dollars it costs for a grave.

Parirenyatwa told VOA Zimbabwe’s crumbling medical system was doing all it can to combat the cholera epidemic.

“We’ve got 10 provinces in the country, and nine of the 10 have got cholera. But you see what’s happening now that as Minister of Health and Child Welfare, together with out partners, we are trying extremely hard to try and cope with the situation,” he said.

Parirenyatwa appealed for support from the international community to manage water and sanitation.

“The biggest challenge that we have is to get adequate resources to contain this outbreak, and we are trying to mobilize resources from within the country and from outside the country. We are therefore making it clear both locally and internationally that we do need these resources, particularly resources that make us have the first principal of containing cholera which is having adequate water and adequate sanitation,” Parirenyatwa said.

He said Zimbabwe was grateful for what the international community has done so far.

Parirenyatwa denied that the discrepancy between government and independent figures in terms of the numbers of people who have died from the disease was due to an information blackout in the early days of epidemic.

“We could never ever do that because what affects us here affects also the countries around us. Clearly the figures that we published, we worked together with the professional body, the WHO, the World Health Organization. Whatever figures we get here we push them to WHO and they crosscheck. That’s how we work. May be the figures may be not as precise as people want, but this is what we get from our provinces as we collect data,” he said.

He emphasized the need for clean water and good sanitation to fight the epidemic. But Parirenyatwa denied the scope of the disease was necessitated by Zimbabwe’s dilapidated infrastructure.

“What is happening here is that you can not be able to contain cholera as long as you cannot control and sanitation properly, and we all aware that for whatever reason the economic situation has got challenges. And we are saying to ourselves as a small country that we are trying the best we can to cater for our people in terms of the health delivery system in this country,” he said.

Parirenyatwa said a quick resolution of the political and economic crisis is needed in order to address the many challenges facing Zimbabwe.

“There’s no doubt that political solution is needed to adequately address the challenges that we face in this country. And I hope that sooner rather than later we will find the political solution in this country that would address the suffering of our people in this country. As long as we don’t have that, we will struggle and struggle,” Parirenyatwa said.

Source

Water Cut Off in Harare

By Antony Sguazzin

December 1 2008

Zimbabwe has cut water supplies to most parts of the capital, Harare, after the national water authority ran out of chemicals needed to treat the water, the Herald said, citing unidentified people at the organization.

The areas included in the water cuts included the city center, the Harare-based newspaper said.

Source

Zimbabwe: Cholera Feeds Off a Perfect Storm

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Zimbabwe: Cholera Feeds Off a Perfect Storm

Harare:

All but one of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces have reported fatalities as a result of a cholera epidemic sweeping the country, according to the UN.

The rapid spread of the waterborne disease is attributed to a confluence of events that have created the perfect storm, in which a disease described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “easily treatable”, is thriving.

The collapse of municipal services, such as potable water, refuse collection and sanitation in the past few years, a health service hamstrung by an annual inflation rate that the government has estimated at 231 million percent, and the onset of the rainy season, have all conspired to officially kill about 300 people and infect thousands more.

The eastern province of Manicaland is so far the only place not to have recorded any official cholera deaths. “The cholera outbreak has taken a national dimension. Newer outbreaks are reported from all the provinces,” said a situational report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The spatial distribution of outbreaks will most likely continue to expand, as well as the number of people infected as the water and sanitation [services] worsen, with severe water shortages, sewage and waste disposal problems reported in most densely populated areas. The starting of the rains further raises alarm levels,” the report said.

Warnings by the UN and other relief agencies that Zimbabwe was facing a humanitarian crisis, on top of acute food shortages – expected to peak in the first quarter of 2009, when nearly half the country’s 12 million population will require emergency food aid – were dismissed by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government.

“The situation is under control,” Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told an international news agency on 27 November, although the government was reportedly appealing to regional governments for body bags.

Efforts to contain the spread of the disease across international borders have failed, with victims seeking assistance from neighbouring countries, particularly the continent’s economic powerhouse, South Africa.

Neighbouring countries feel the effects

About 1,000 victims have received rehydration treatment at the South African border post of Beitbridge in recent weeks, according to local reports.

Barbara Hogan, South Africa’s health minister, told local media on 26 November that an emergency medical response team, including nurses, epidemiologists and medical supplies, had been sent to the Zimbabwe border.

“Given the scale of the outbreak, the weakened health system in Zimbabwe and the extent of the cross-border movement of people … all aspects or our interventions need to be scaled up, and a renewed sense of urgency [is required] to deal with this outbreak,” Hogan told a press briefing in Pretoria.

She dismissed claims by Zimbabwean authorities that the cholera situation was under control, as there was “no recognised government”.

Zambian authorities have put medical services in Southern Province, which borders Zimbabwe, on high alert, health ministry spokesman Canicius Banda told IRIN, although there have been no recorded incidents of cholera in the province.

“We are not leaving anything to chance. We are screening all Zimbabwean nationals crossing into Zambia and, should anyone be found with cholera, our health workers will treat them,” Banda said.

“We have health workers at all the three border posts [with Zimbabwe] … our health workers are very much alert in case of any possible [cholera] outbreak,” he said. “All the [10] districts in the province have epidemic preparedness committees which run all year round; these have also been put on alert.”

Zambia shares three border posts with its southern neighbour at Chirundu, Kariba and Kazungula, in the country’s tourism capital, Livingstone.

“We are also carrying out random inspections of all foodstuffs, such as meat at the market places, to ensure that the products sold are of high standards,” Banda said.

Since the onset of the rainy season, Zambia has recorded about 1,000 cholera cases in its northern regions and the capital, Lusaka; there have been nine confirmed fatalities.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), which advocates the right to care and protection from abuse, told media organisations on 26 November that the country’s cholera death toll was probably much greater as a consequence of the collapse of health services, because many hundreds of deaths were not recorded when people died in their homes.

One in ten fatality rate

ZADHR Chairman Dr Douglas Gwadziro said figures “are pointing towards a 10 percent death rate of those that have been affected by cholera”, although the waterborne intestinal infection causing acute diarrhoea and vomiting, which can cause death from dehydration within 24 hours, could be easily treated with dehydration salts.

Figures are pointing towards a 10 percent death rate of those that have been affected by cholera

According to the state-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, China had pledged to supply US$500,000 worth of cholera vaccines “as soon as consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were complete.”

However, when the vaccines arrive, distribution and administration may be complicated by industrial action in the health services. Health workers have defied a government order to return to work, and said they would only comply with government demands in 2009 if concerns about their remuneration were addressed.

Nurses are demanding better salaries to cope with hyperinflation estimated by independent economists to be billions of percent annually, and exemption from the Z$500,000 (US$0.25) daily maximum cash withdrawal from banks because they are “essential” personnel.

The average one-way commuter fare in the capital, Harare, is about Z$1 million (US$0.50), if there is cash available.

Doctors working in the public health services are also refusing to return to work unless the government pegs their salary to a monthly equivalent of US$2,500.

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest union federation, said the growing trend of government to sanction the use of foreign currency by retail outlets prejudiced both government employees and other workers, although less than 20 percent of people were employed in the formal economy.

“It does not make sense for the government to say traders can sell commodities in foreign currency, while it pays its workers in local currency which they cannot get from the bank,” Matombo told IRIN.

“Calls by workers that they should be paid in foreign currency are legitimate because almost all outlets are providing services using the US dollar denomination,” he said.

“If the government acknowledges that its currency is useless by allowing traders to sell in US dollars, why does it want the workers to receive the useless and worthless local currency?”

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

Source

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

As many of us well know , Zimbabwe is under Sanctions. By the US and EU among others as well.

This bit of information may give you a bit of enlightenment as to how Sanctions are used and most importantly are abused by those in charge.  This typical of what is done.  Everyone should be aware of how Sanctions really work and what is really happening.  Sanctions are just another “Weapon of Mass Destruction”.
By Joy Gordon

Economic sanctions as a weapon of mass destruction

In searching for evidence of the potential danger posed by Iraq, the Bush Administration need have looked no further than the well-kept record of U.S. manipulation of the sanctions program since 1991. If any international act in the last decade is sure to generate enduring bitterness toward the United States, it is the epidemic suffering needlessly visited on Iraqis via U.S. fiat inside the United Nations Security Council. Within that body, the United States has consistently thwarted Iraq from satisfying its most basic humanitarian needs, using sanctions as nothing less than a deadly weapon, and, despite recent reforms, continuing to do so. Invoking security concerns—including those not corroborated by U.N. weapons inspectors—U.S. policymakers have effectively turned a program of international governance into a legitimized act of mass slaughter.

Since the U.N. adopted economic sanctions in 1945, in its charter, as a means of maintaining global order, it has used them fourteen times (twelve times since 1990). But only those sanctions imposed on Iraq have been comprehensive, meaning that virtually every aspect of the country’s imports and exports is controlled, which is particularly damaging to a country recovering from war. Since the program began, an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five have died as a result of the sanctions—almost three times as many as the number of Japanese killed during the U.S. atomic bomb attacks.

News of such Iraqi fatalities has been well documented (by the United Nations, among others), though underreported by the media. What has remained invisible, however, is any documentation of how and by whom such a death toll has been justified for so long. How was the danger of goods entering Iraq assessed, and how was it weighed, if at all, against the mounting collateral damage? As an academic who studies the ethics of international relations, I was curious. It was easy to discover that for the last ten years a vast number of lengthy holds had been placed on billions of dollars’ worth of what seemed unobjectionable—and very much needed—imports to Iraq. But I soon learned that all U.N. records that could answer my questions were kept from public scrutiny. This is not to say that the U.N. is lacking in public documents related to the Iraq program. What is unavailable are the documents that show how the U.S. policy agenda has determined the outcome of humanitarian and security judgments.

The operation of Iraq sanctions involves numerous agencies within the United Nations. The Security Council’s 661 Committee is generally responsible for both enforcing the sanctions and granting humanitarian exemptions. The Office of Iraq Programme (OIP), within the U.N. Secretariat, operates the Oil for Food Programme. Humanitarian agencies such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization work in Iraq to monitor and improve the population’s welfare, periodically reporting their findings to the 661 Committee. These agencies have been careful not to publicly discuss their ongoing frustration with the manner in which the program is operated.

Over the last three years, through research and interviews with diplomats, U.N. staff, scholars, and journalists, I have acquired many of the key confidential U.N. documents concerning the administration of Iraq sanctions. I obtained these documents on the condition that my sources remain anonymous. What they show is that the United States has fought aggressively throughout the last decade to purposefully minimize the humanitarian goods that enter the country. And it has done so in the face of enormous human suffering, including massive increases in child mortality and widespread epidemics. It has sometimes given a reason for its refusal to approve humanitarian goods, sometimes given no reason at all, and sometimes changed its reason three or four times, in each instance causing a delay of months. Since August 1991 the United States has blocked most purchases of materials necessary for Iraq to generate electricity, as well as equipment for radio, telephone, and other communications. Often restrictions have hinged on the withholding of a single essential element, rendering many approved items useless. For example, Iraq was allowed to purchase a sewage-treatment plant but was blocked from buying the generator necessary to run it; this in a country that has been pouring 300,000 tons of raw sewage daily into its rivers.


Saddam Hussein’s government is well known for its human-rights abuses against the Kurds and Shi’ites, and for its invasion of Kuwait. What is less well known is that this same government had also invested heavily in health, education, and social programs for two decades prior to the Persian Gulf War. While the treatment of ethnic minorities and political enemies has been abominable under Hussein, it is also the case that the well-being of the society at large improved dramatically. The social programs and economic development continued, and expanded, even during Iraq’s grueling and costly war with Iran from 1980 to 1988, a war that Saddam Hussein might not have survived without substantial U.S. backing. Before the Persian Gulf War, Iraq was a rapidly developing country, with free education, ample electricity, modernized agriculture, and a robust middle class. According to the World Health Organization, 93 percent of the population had access to health care.

The devastation of the Gulf War and the sanctions that preceded and sustained such devastation changed all that. Often forgotten is the fact that sanctions were imposed before the war-in August of 1990-in direct response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. After the liberation of Kuwait, sanctions were maintained, their focus shifted to disarmament. In 1991, a few months after the end of the war, the U.N. secretary general’s envoy reported that Iraq was facing a crisis in the areas of food, water, sanitation, and health, as well as elsewhere in its entire infrastructure, and predicted an “imminent catastrophe, which could include epidemics and famine, if massive life-supporting needs are not rapidly met.” U.S. intelligence assessments took the same view. A Defense Department evaluation noted that “Degraded medical conditions in Iraq are primarily attributable to the breakdown of public services (water purification and distribution, preventive medicine, water disposal, health-care services, electricity, and transportation). . . . Hospital care is degraded by lack of running water and electricity.”

According to Pentagon officials, that was the intention. In a June 23, 1991, Washington Post article, Pentagon officials stated that Iraq’s electrical grid had been targeted by bombing strikes in order to undermine the civilian economy. “People say, ‘You didn’t recognize that it was going to have an effect on water or sewage,’” said one planning officer at the Pentagon. “Well, what were we trying to do with sanctions-help out the Iraqi people? No. What we were doing with the attacks on infrastructure was to accelerate the effect of the sanctions.”

Iraq cannot legally export or import any goods, including oil, outside the U.N. sanctions system. The Oil for Food Programme, intended as a limited and temporary emergency measure, was first offered to Iraq in 1991, and was rejected. It was finally put into place in 1996. Under the programme, Iraq was permitted to sell a limited amount of oil (until 1999, when the limits were removed), and is allowed to use almost 60 percent of the proceeds to buy humanitarian goods. Since the programme began, Iraq has earned approximately $57 billion in oil revenues, of which it has spent about $23 billion on goods that actually arrived. This comes to about $170 per year per person, which is less than one half the annual per capita income of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Iraqi diplomats noted last year that this is well below what the U.N. spends on food for dogs used in Iraqi de-mining operations (about $400 per dog per year on imported food, according to the U.N.).

The severe limits on funds created a permanent humanitarian crisis, but the situation has been worsened considerably by chronic delays in approval for billions of dollars’ worth of goods. As of last July more than $5 billion in goods was on hold.

The Office of Iraq Programme does not release information on which countries are blocking contracts, nor does any other body. Access to the minutes of the Security Council’s 661 Committee is “restricted.” The committee operates by consensus, effectively giving every member veto power. Although support for the sanctions has eroded considerably, the sanctions are maintained by “reverse veto” in the Security Council. Because the sanctions did not have an expiration date built in, ending them would require another resolution by the council. The United States (and Britain) would be in a position to veto any such resolution even though the sanctions on Iraq have been openly opposed by three permanent members—France, Russia, and China—for many years, and by many of the elected members as well. The sanctions, in effect, cannot be lifted until the United States agrees.

Nearly everything for Iraq’s entire infrastructure—electricity, roads, telephones, water treatment—as well as much of the equipment and supplies related to food and medicine has been subject to Security Council review. In practice, this has meant that the United States and Britain subjected hundreds of contracts to elaborate scrutiny, without the involvement of any other country on the council; and after that scrutiny, the United States, only occasionally seconded by Britain, consistently blocked or delayed hundreds of humanitarian contracts.

In response to U.S. demands, the U.N. worked with suppliers to provide the United States with detailed information about the goods and how they would be used, and repeatedly expanded its monitoring system, tracking each item from contracting through delivery and installation, ensuring that the imports are used for legitimate civilian purposes. Despite all these measures, U.S. holds actually increased. In September 2001 nearly one third of water and sanitation and one quarter of electricity and educational—supply contracts were on hold. Between the springs of 2000 and 2002, for example, holds on humanitarian goods tripled.

Among the goods that the United States blocked last winter: dialysis, dental, and fire—fighting equipment, water tankers, milk and yogurt production equipment, printing equipment for schools. The United States even blocked a contract for agricultural—bagging equipment, insisting that the U.N. first obtain documentation to “confirm that the ‘manual’ placement of bags around filling spouts is indeed a person placing the bag on the spout.”

Although most contracts for food in the last few years bypassed the Security Council altogether, political interference with related contracts still occurred. In a March 20, 2000, 661 Committee meeting—after considerable debate and numerous U.S. and U.K. objections—a UNICEF official, Anupama Rao Singh, made a presentation on the deplorable humanitarian situation in Iraq. Her report included the following: 25 percent of children in south and central governorates suffered from chronic malnutrition, which was often irreversible, 9 percent from acute malnutrition, and child—mortality rates had more than doubled since the imposition of sanctions.

A couple of months later, a Syrian company asked the committee to approve a contract to mill flour for Iraq. Whereas Iraq ordinarily purchased food directly, in this case it was growing wheat but did not have adequate facilities to produce flour. The Russian delegate argued that, in light of the report the committee had received from the UNICEF official, and the fact that flour was an essential element of the Iraqi diet, the committee had no choice but to approve the request on humanitarian grounds. The delegate from China agreed, as did those from France and Argentina. But the U.S. representative, Eugene Young, argued that “there should be no hurry” to move on this request: the flour requirement under Security Council Resolution 986 had been met, he said; the number of holds on contracts for milling equipment was “relatively low”; and the committee should wait for the results of a study being conducted by the World Food Programme first. Ironically, he also argued against the flour—milling contract on the grounds that “the focus should be on capacity—building within the country”—even though that represented a stark reversal of U.S. policy, which consistently opposed any form of economic development within Iraq. The British delegate stalled as well, saying that he would need to see “how the request would fit into the Iraqi food programme,” and that there were still questions about transport and insurance. In the end, despite the extreme malnutrition of which the committee was aware, the U.S. delegate insisted it would be “premature” to grant the request for flour production, and the U.K. representative joined him, blocking the project from going forward.

Many members of the Security Council have been sharply critical of these practices. In an April 20, 2000, meeting of the 661 Committee, one member after another challenged the legitimacy of the U.S. decisions to impede the humanitarian contracts. The problem had reached “a critical point,” said the Russian delegate; the number of holds was “excessive,” said the Canadian representative; the Tunisian delegate expressed concern over the scale of the holds. The British and American delegates justified their position on the grounds that the items on hold were dual—use goods that should be monitored, and that they could not approve them without getting detailed technical information. But the French delegate challenged this explanation: there was an elaborate monitoring mechanism for telecommunications equipment, he pointed out, and the International Telecommunication Union had been involved in assessing projects. Yet, he said, there were holds on almost 90 percent of telecommunications contracts. Similarly, there was already an effective monitoring mechanism for oil equipment that had existed for some time; yet the holds on oil contracts remained high. Nor was it the case, he suggested, that providing prompt, detailed technical information was sufficient to get holds released: a French contract for the supply of ventilators for intensive—care units had been on hold for more than five months, despite his government’s prompt and detailed response to a request for additional technical information and the obvious humanitarian character of the goods.

Dual-use goods, of course, are the ostensible target of sanctions, since they are capable of contributing to Iraq’s military capabilities. But the problem remains that many of the tools necessary for a country simply to function could easily be considered dual use. Truck tires, respirator masks, bulldozers, and pipes have all been blocked or delayed at different times for this reason. Also under suspicion is much of the equipment needed to provide electricity, telephone service, transportation, and clean water.

Yet goods presenting genuine security concerns have been safely imported into Iraq for years and used for legitimate purposes. Chlorine, for example—vital for water purification, and feared as a possible source of the chlorine gas used in chemical weapons—is aggressively monitored, and deliveries have been regular. Every single canister is tracked from the time of contracting through arrival, installation, and disposal of the empty canister. With many other goods, however, U.S. claims of concern over weapons of mass destruction are a good deal shakier.

Last year the United States blocked contracts for water tankers, on the grounds that they might be used to haul chemical weapons instead. Yet the arms experts at UNMOVIC had no objection to them: water tankers with that particular type of lining, they maintained, were not on the “1051 list”—the list of goods that require notice to U.N. weapons inspectors. Still, the United States insisted on blocking the water tankers—this during a time when the major cause of child deaths was lack of access to clean drinking water, and when the country was in the midst of a drought. Thus, even though the United States justified blocking humanitarian goods out of concern over security and potential military use, it blocked contracts that the U.N.’s own agency charged with weapons inspections did not object to. And the quantities were large. As of September 2001, “1051 disagreements” involved nearly 200 humanitarian contracts. As of last March, there were $25 million worth of holds on contracts for hospital essentials—sterilizers, oxygen plants, spare parts for basic utilities—that, despite release by UNMOVIC, were still blocked by the United States on the claim of “dual use.”

Beyond its consistent blocking of dual-use goods, the United States found many ways to slow approval of contracts. Although it insisted on reviewing every contract carefully, for years it didn’t assign enough staff to do this without causing enormous delays. In April 2000 the United States informed the 661 Committee that it had just released $275 million in holds. This did not represent a policy change, the delegate said; rather, the United States had simply allocated more financial resources and personnel to the task of reviewing the contracts. Thus millions in humanitarian contracts had been delayed not because of security concerns but simply because of U.S. disinterest in spending the money necessary to review them. In other cases, after all U.S. objections to a delayed contract were addressed (a process that could take years), the United States simply changed its reason for the hold, and the review process began all over. After a half-million-dollar contract for medical equipment was blocked in February 2000, and the company spent two years responding to U.S. requests for information, the United States changed its reason for the hold, and the contract remained blocked. A tremendous number of other medical-equipment contracts suffered the same fate. As of September 2001, nearly a billion dollars’ worth of medical-equipment contracts—for which all the information sought had been provided—was still on hold.


Among the many deprivations Iraq has experienced, none is so closely correlated with deaths as its damaged water system. Prior to 1990, 95 percent of urban households in Iraq had access to potable water, as did three quarters of rural households. Soon after the Persian Gulf War, there were widespread outbreaks of cholera and typhoid—diseases that had been largely eradicated in Iraq—as well as massive increases in child and infant dysentery, and skyrocketing child and infant mortality rates. By 1996 all sewage-treatment plants had broken down. As the state’s economy collapsed, salaries to state employees stopped, or were paid in Iraqi currency rendered nearly worthless by inflation. Between 1990 and 1996 more than half of the employees involved in water and sanitation left their jobs. By 2001, after five years of the Oil for Food Programme’s operating at full capacity, the situation had actually worsened.

In the late 1980s the mortality rate for Iraqi children under five years old was about fifty per thousand. By 1994 it had nearly doubled, to just under ninety. By 1999 it had increased again, this time to nearly 130; that is, 13 percent of all Iraqi children were dead before their fifth birthday. For the most part, they die as a direct or indirect result of contaminated water.

The United States anticipated the collapse of the Iraqi water system early on. In January 1991, shortly before the Persian Gulf War began and six months into the sanctions, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency projected that, under the embargo, Iraq’s ability to provide clean drinking water would collapse within six months. Chemicals for water treatment, the agency noted, “are depleted or nearing depletion,” chlorine supplies were “critically low,” the main chlorine-production plants had been shut down, and industries such as pharmaceuticals and food processing were already becoming incapacitated. “Unless the water is purified with chlorine,” the agency concluded, “epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur.”

All of this indeed came to pass. And got worse. Yet U.S. policy on water-supply contracts remained as aggressive as ever. For every such contract unblocked in August 2001, for example, three new ones were put on hold. A 2001 UNICEF report to the Security Council found that access to potable water for the Iraqi population had not improved much under the Oil for Food Programme, and specifically cited the half a billion dollars of water- and sanitation-supply contracts then blocked—one third of all submitted. UNICEF reported that up to 40 percent of the purified water run through pipes is contaminated or lost through leakage. Yet the United States blocked or delayed contracts for water pipes, and for the bulldozers and earth-moving equipment necessary to install them. And despite approving the dangerous dual-use chlorine, the United States blocked the safety equipment necessary to handle the substance—not only for Iraqis but for U.N. employees charged with chlorine monitoring there.


It is no accident that the operation of the 661 Committee is so obscured. Behind closed doors, ensconced in a U.N. bureaucracy few citizens could parse, American policymakers are in a good position to avoid criticism of their practices; but they are also, rightly, fearful of public scrutiny, as a fracas over a block on medical supplies last year illustrates.

In early 2001, the United States had placed holds on $280 million in medical supplies, including vaccines to treat infant hepatitis, tetanus, and diphtheria, as well as incubators and cardiac equipment. The rationale was that the vaccines contained live cultures, albeit highly weakened ones. The Iraqi government, it was argued, could conceivably extract these, and eventually grow a virulent fatal strain, then develop a missile or other delivery system that could effectively disseminate it. UNICEF and U.N. health agencies, along with other Security Council members, objected strenuously. European biological-weapons experts maintained that such a feat was in fact flatly impossible. At the same time, with massive epidemics ravaging the country, and skyrocketing child mortality, it was quite certain that preventing child vaccines from entering Iraq would result in large numbers of child and infant deaths. Despite pressure behind the scenes from the U.N. and from members of the Security Council, the United States refused to budge. But in March 2001, when the Washington Post and Reuters reported on the holds—and their impact—the United States abruptly announced it was lifting them.

A few months later, the United States began aggressively and publicly pushing a proposal for “smart sanctions,” sometimes known as “targeted sanctions.” The idea behind smart sanctions is to “contour” sanctions so that they affect the military and the political leadership instead of the citizenry. Basic civilian necessities, the State Department claimed, would be handled by the U.N. Secretariat, bypassing the Security Council. Critics pointed out that in fact the proposal would change very little since everything related to infrastructure was routinely classified as dual use, and so would be subject again to the same kinds of interference. What the “smart sanctions” would accomplish was to mask the U.S. role. Under the new proposal, all the categories of goods the United States ordinarily challenged would instead be placed in a category that was, in effect, automatically placed on hold. But this would now be in the name of the Security Council—even though there was little interest on the part of any of its other members (besides Britain) for maintaining sanctions, and even less interest in blocking humanitarian goods.

After the embarrassing media coverage of the child-vaccine debacle, the State Department was eager to see the new system in place, and to see that none of the other permanent members of the Security Council—Russia, Britain, China, and France—vetoed the proposal. In the face of this new political agenda, U.S. security concerns suddenly disappeared. In early June of last year, when the “smart sanctions” proposal was under negotiation, the United States announced that it would lift holds on $800 million of contracts, of which $200 million involved business with key Security Council members. A few weeks later, the United States lifted holds on $80 million of Chinese contracts with Iraq, including some for radio equipment and other goods that had been blocked because of dual-use concerns.

In the end, China and France agreed to support the U.S. proposal. But Russia did not, and immediately after Russia vetoed it, the United States placed holds on nearly every contract that Iraq had with Russian companies. Then last November, the United States began lobbying again for a smart-sanctions proposal, now called the Goods Review List (GRL). The proposal passed the Security Council in May 2002, this time with Russia’s support. In what one diplomat, anonymously quoted in the Financial Times of April 3, 2002, called “the boldest move yet by the U.S. to use the holds to buy political agreement,” the Goods Review List had the effect of lifting $740 million of U.S. holds on Russian contracts with Iraq, even though the State Department had earlier insisted that those same holds were necessary to prevent any military imports.

Under the new system, UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency make the initial determination about whether an item appears on the GRL, which includes only those materials questionable enough to be passed on to the Security Council. The list is precise and public, but huge. Cobbled together from existing U.N. and other international lists and precedents, the GRL has been virtually customized to accommodate the imaginative breadth of U.S. policymakers’ security concerns. Yet when U.N. weapons experts began reviewing the $5 billion worth of existing holds last July, they found that very few of them were for goods that ended up on the GRL or warranted the security concern that the United States had originally claimed. As a result, hundreds of holds have been lifted in the last few months.

This mass release of old holds—expected to have been completed in October—should have made a difference in Iraq. But U.S. and British maneuvers on the council last year makes genuine relief unlikely. In December 2000, the Security Council passed a resolution allowing Iraq to spend 600 million euros (about $600 million) from its oil sales on maintenance of its oil-production capabilities. Without this, Iraq would still have to pay for these services, but with no legal avenue to raise the funds. The United States, unable in the end to agree with Iraq on how the funds would be managed, blocked the measure’s implementation. In the spring of 2001, the United States accused Iraq of imposing illegal surcharges on the middlemen who sell to refiners. To counter this, the United States and Britain devised a system that had the effect of undermining Iraq’s basic capacity to sell oil: “retroactive pricing.” Taking advantage of the fact that the 661 Committee sets the price Iraq receives from each oil buyer, the United States and Britain began to systematically withhold their votes on each price until the relevant buying period had passed. The idea was that then the alleged surcharge could be subtracted from the price after the sale had occurred, and that price would then be imposed on the buyer. The effect of this practice has been to torpedo the entire Oil for Food Programme. Obviously, few buyers would want to commit themselves to a purchase whose price they do not know until after they agree to it. As a result of this system, Iraq’s oil income has dropped 40 percent since last year, and more than $2 billion in humanitarian contracts—all of them fully approved—are now stalled. Once again, invoking tenuous security claims, the United States has put in place a device that will systematically cause enormous human damage in Iraq.


Some would say that the lesson to be learned from September 11 is that we must be even more aggressive in protecting what we see as our security interests. But perhaps that’s the wrong lesson altogether. It is worth remembering that the worst destruction done on U.S. soil by foreign enemies was accomplished with little more than hatred, ingenuity, and box cutters. Perhaps what we should learn from our own reactions to September 11 is that the massive destruction of innocents is something that is unlikely to be either forgotten or forgiven. If this is so, then destroying Iraq, whether with sanctions or with bombs, is unlikely to bring the security we have gone to such lengths to preserve.

Source

The Cholera epidemic is just one of the problems of Sanctions. What happened in Iraq,  Afghanistan  and other countries that have been sanctioned is also happening in Zimbabwe.

Those behind the Sanctions, are in great part to blame.  They will let people die. They will deliberately withhold supplies needed for clean water, medical necessities and food. Their rational, of course is rather pathetic.

Those in charge don’t want anyone to know the truth. They don’t want anyone to know what they do and how they kill people.  They do however want natural resources among other things.

Some of the Minerals produced in Zimbabwe

Ammonia
Asbestos
Bentonite
Chromite
Cobalt
Copper
Feldspar
Ferrochromium
Gold
Graphite
Hydraulic Cement
Industrial Sand And Gravel (Silica)
Iron Ore
Lithium Minerals And Brine
Magnesite
Nickel
Perlite
Pig Iron
Platinum-Group Metals
Raw Steel
Silver
Vermiculite

Source

Today Zimbabwe received a bit more help.

ZIMBABWE

Byo receives 5 600 kgs of chlorine

November 28 2008
In the advent of high cholera alert in Bulawayo, the City Council has benefited from a consignment of 5 600 kilograms of chlorine donated by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and 600 litres of fuel from the Civil Protection Unit.

In the advent of high cholera alert in Bulawayo, the City Council has benefited from a consignment of 5 600 kilograms of chlorine donated by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and 600 litres of fuel from the Civil Protection Unit.

Due to the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the west the council, like other national institutions, is facing cash flow problems which are affecting service delivery.

As a result of the current financial crunch Bulawayo faces sewage reticulation challenges with a risk of a possible cholera outbreak.

Bulawayo is currently under water rationing due to the shortage of water chemicals and residents are concerned that this may worsen the cholera situation.

Commenting on the donation Governor and Resident Minister of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Ambassador Cain Mathema said government will continue to assist local authorites with resources to improve service delivery.

He said through ZINWA government is providing complementary resources to the local authority to contain a possible cholera outbreak.

Source

Help For Zimbabwe with Cholera Epidemic is on the Way

Published in: on November 28, 2008 at 11:45 pm  Comments Off on Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”  
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Help For Zimbabwe with Cholera Epidemic is on the Way

The Zimbabwe Government finally reached out for some help.

China has pledged vaccines worth $500 000 to fight cholera in Zimbabwe, the country’s Herald newspaper reported today.

China’s deputy head of mission in Zimbabwe He Meng said his government would bring the vaccines as soon as talks with the ministry of foreign affairs had been concluded.

“We are sympathising with the Zimbabwean people and we want to help as best as we can to stop the spread of the cholera disease that has killed many people in this country,” he was quoted as saying.

China would also give Zimbabwe food to help ease shortages.

World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Custodia Mandlhate said containing the outbreaks with the prevailing poor water supply and sanitation was difficult.

The WHO – a United Nations agency – was helping the government co-ordinate partner contribution, support case investigation and manage and set up cholera treatment centres.

Cholera kits worth more than $900 000 were handed to the ministry of health and child welfare before the outbreak as strategic stocks.

Mandlhate said the WHO would procure different items valued at $400 000 to replace the stocks that were running out.

The latest report from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs indicated that so far 366 people had died of cholera in Zimbabwe, 108 of them in Harare.

A further 8,887 cases were attended to countrywide, with Harare topping the list with 4,697 cases.

Cholera cases in South Africa and Botswana had also been reported.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president, Chief Fortune Charumbira, has called on the government to embark on “spirited” cholera awareness campaigns in the rural areas.

He said most rural people remained vulnerable to the disease because of lack of knowledge, the Herald reported.

Source

I did note that on just about every story I read the number of those who have died has varied from one to another. Seems the truth on that may never be known for sure.

The number of those infected also varied from one to another.

There are about 9,000 people infected give or take a few hundred one way or the other.

Those number can grow rapidly and those who are infected can die quickly if not treated.

The bacteria Vibrio cholerae is excreted by an infected person in the stools and vomit. It can then be spread directly to other people if they touch the patient and then fail to wash their hands before eating. The germ can also contaminate food or water supplies. In the latter case this will cause an explosive outbreak because many people will ingest the vibrion in a short period of time.

Once inside the intestine, the organism multiplies and produces a toxin. This toxin causes the cells lining the intestine to secrete massive volumes of fluid and leads to diarrhea and vomiting. A patient under treatment can lose more than 50 liters of fluid during a bout of cholera.

A person who is not treated will die of dehydration well before this. In fact, death usually occurs when 10 to 15 per cent of the total body weight is lost. In severe cases this may take only a couple of hours. From  Doctors Without Borders

SOUTH AFRICA, China and the United Nations and concerned Non-Governmental Organisations sympathetic to the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe are at the forefront of fighting cholera.

Yesterday the South African Limpopo Health Services Department — in partnership with Gift of the Givers Foundation, a non-governmental organisation — yesterday donated equipment worth R1,2 million to Beitbridge District Hospital for use in combating the cholera outbreak.

Gift of Givers Foundation is an independent African NGO established in August 1992. Since it was founded the NGO has delivered 200 Million Rand of aid in a 14 year period to 23 countries, and millions of people have benefited.It currently operates in over 15 countries including Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.

The NGO is involved in disaster relief, primary health care clinics, feeding schemes, water purification and waterwell provision, distribution of new blankets, new clothing and food parcels, bursaries, educational support, toy story, agricultural self help schemes, job creation, counselling services, a drug rehab, HIV/AIDS workshops, skills development and life altering workshops.

The equipment donated to Zimbabwe by Gift of the Givers Foundation spokesperson Mr Allauddin Sayed comprised 25 water tanks (each with a capacity of 10 000 litres), water treatment tablets, a generator and a consignment of medical and food supplies.

“We had to come in with this kind of assistance following appeals by the South African government on the problems faced by our brothers in Zimbabwe dealing with the cholera outbreak,” said Sayed.

“As an organisation, we are passionate about Africa, especially Zimbabwe being our neighbours and therefore we will continue to assist in whatever way so that we complement the efforts being made by their Government,” he added.

South Africa’s Department of Health and Social Development is also heavily involved in the fight against cholera in Zimbabwe after concerns raised during Sunday’s stakeholders meeting involving health officials from Zimbabwe and South Africa in Beitbridge.

The department will assist the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) in water purification and sewer treatment. Te two authorities say they will target water supply and sewer reticulation, particularly where effluent is flowing into the Limpopo River, which is the main source of water for both Beitbridge and Musina residents.

South Africa entered into an agreement with the Musina Municipality to help in transporting adequate clean water to Beitbridge.

Once the water treatment starts functioning properly, the water tanks would be connected to the Zinwa purification plant through the main pipeline.

This week the United Nations launched the consolidated appeal for 2009 for a total of $550 million, the highest appeal ever for Zimbabwe. Last year’s appeal was under $400 million and according to the U.N. had been “very well subscribed”, and was, at this point, 75 per cent funded.

Together with South Africa, the United Nations is part of a task force within Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health set up to coordinate the response to the cholera situation.

The U.N. World Food Program appealed in October for $140 million to help 4 million Zimbabweans. The agency said earlier this month that international donors had not responded, forcing it to start rationing cereal and beans. It warned that food aid will run out by January unless it gets new funds.

So far only China and South Africa have made pledges for food aid beyond 2008.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged all donors to disregard their political views on Zimbabwe and provide money for critically needed food and to help battle the cholera outbreak.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said on Tuesday “The secretary-general urges all parties (NGOs) to support and provide humanitarian assistance leaving political considerations aside.”

Food aid and humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe has been heavily politicized.

The Zimbabwean government in June this year temporarily banned all NGOs from carrying out relief work in the country accusing them of helping the opposition MDC to carry out political activities in remote areas.

The ban was lifted a month later. Very few NGOs, many of whom were calling for the lifting of the ban, have resumed work in the country.

A government official told the Zimbabwe Guardian that many of these NGOs had not been forthcoming during the outbreak of cholera and quietly waited for the crisis to deepen.

“Many NGOs that were at the forefront of calling for a lifting of the ban have not been forthcoming. Their statements were not altruistic but were meant to discredit the Government of Zimbabwe,” said the official adding that “our true friends, China and South Africa have been at the forefront of fighting the cholera outbreak”.

While South Africa, China and the U.N. are helping Zimbabwe to battle the cholera outbreak, Botswana on Wednesday called for neighbouring countries to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe to drive President Robert Mugabe out of power.

Speaking on BBC’s HardTalk programme, Botswana’s foreign minister called on neighbouring African nations to bring down the government of President Mugabe.

Phando Skelemani said mediation has failed to remove President Mugabe and African nations should impose sanctions to force that removal.

“If no petrol went in for a week, he can’t last,” Skelemani said on Wednesday.

CHOLERA OUTBREAKS

In less than a year Monrovia (Liberia), Conakry (Guinea), Bissau (Guinea Bissau), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Lusaka (Zambia) and now Luanda in Angola are dealing with cholera outbreaks.

Source
Sanctions however I think are a problem, sanctions can do as much human damage as war.
They do more harm to civilians then most realize. A point of interest. Zimbabwe is already being Sanctioned by the US and the EU.
Fortunately in spite of it all, finally they may get the help they so desperately need.
They need all the help they can get.

3,000 dead from cholera in Zimbabwe

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

3,000 dead from cholera in Zimbabwe

November 26 2008

By Basildon Peta

A man pushes his relative in a wheelbarrow to a Cholera Polyclinic, where victims of cholera are being treated in Harare, Zimbabwe

Getty

A man pushes his relative in a wheelbarrow to a Cholera Polyclinic,

where victims of cholera are being treated in Harare, Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s President, is trying to hide the real extent of the cholera epidemic sweeping across his nation by silencing health workers and restricting access to the huge number of death certificates that give the same cause of death.

A senior official in the health ministry told The Independent yesterday that more than 3,000 people have died from the water-borne disease in the past two weeks, 10 times the widely-reported death toll of just over 300. “But even this higher figure is still an understatement because very few bother to register the deaths of their relatives these days,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

He said the health ministry, which once presided over a medical system that was the envy of Africa, had been banned from issuing accurate statistics about the deaths, and that certificates for the fraction of deaths that had been registered were being closely guarded by the home affairs ministry.

Yet the evidence of how this plague is hurting the people of Zimbabwe is there for all to see at the burial grounds in this collapsing country. “When you encounter such long queues in other countries, they are of people going to the cinema or a football match; certainly not into cemeteries to bury loved ones as we have here,” said Munyaradzi Mudzingwa, who lives in Chitungwiza, a town just outside Harare, where the epidemic is believed to have started.

When Mr Mudzingwa buried his 27-year-old brother, who succumbed to cholera last week, he said he had counted at least 40 other families lining up to bury loved ones. He said: “That’s sadly the depth of the misery into which Mugabe has sunk us.”

Unit O, his suburb, has been without running water for 13 months. The only borehole in the area, built with the help of aid agencies, attracted so many people day and night that it was rarely possible to access its water. Residents were forced to dig their own wells, which became contaminated with sewage. The water residents haul up is a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria, including Vibrio cholerae, which causes severe vomiting and diarrohea and can kill within hours if not treated.

The way to prevent death is, for the Zimbabwean people, agonisingly simple: antibiotics and rehydration. But this is a country with a broken sewerage system and soap is hard to come by. Harare’s Central Hospital officially closed last week, doctors and nurses are scarce and even those clinics offering a semblance of service do not have access to safe, clean drinking water and ask patients to bring their own.

As the ordinary people suffer Mr Mugabe is locked in a bitter power struggle with the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over who should control which ministries in a unity government. The President has threatened to name a cabinet without the approval of the Movement for Democratic Change, which could see the whole peace deal unravel.

Talks were continuing between the two parties in Johannesburg yesterday with little sign of a breakthrough, but pressure is growing from around the region and beyond to strike a deal as the humanitarian crisis deepens. Hundreds of Zimbabweans have streamed into South Africa, desperate for medical care. Officials in the South African border town of Musina say their local hospital has treated more than 150 cholera patients so far. “[The outbreak] is a clear indication that ordinary Zimbabweans are the true victims of their leaders’ lack of political will,” the South African government’s chief spokesman Themba Maseko said.

Yesterday Oxfam warned that a million of Zimbabwe’s 13 million population were at risk from the cholera epidemic, and predicted that the crisis would worsen significantly in December, when heavy rains start. “The government of Zimbabwe must acknowledge the extent of the crisis and take immediate steps to mobilise all available resources,” said Charles Abani, the head of the agency’s southern Africa team. “Delay is not an option.”

The Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights has accused the government of dramatically under- reporting the spread of the disease. Doctors and nurses – whose salaries can just buy a loaf of bread thanks to hyperinflation – tried to protest last week against the health crisis, but riot police moved in swiftly.

It is not just cholera victims who are suffering. Willard Mangaira, also from Chitungwiza, described how his 18-year-old pregnant sister died at home after being turned away at the main hospital because there were no staff and no equipment to perform the emergency Caesarean operation she needed. Yet he added that if the situation in Chitungwiza was deplorable, what he had left behind in his village of Chivhu, 100 miles away, was beyond description. Adults and children alike were now living off a wild fruit, hacha, and livestock owners are barred from letting their animals into the bush to graze until the people have fed first.

Bought foodstuffs are beyond reach. The official inflation figure is 231 million per cent and the real level is higher: some estimates say basic goods double in price every day. Few can afford to give their deceased relatives a proper funeral. Death used to be a sacred time, with families taking a week to celebrate the life of the deceased before burial. Now the dead are buried instantly.

Lovemore Churi buried his father within an hour of his being confirmed dead. “I did not have the money to let mourners assemble and then start to feed them,” he said. “If mourners hear that someone is already buried, they don’t bother coming and one does not have to worry about how to feed them. That is the way we now live.”

The disease: Deadly, but preventable

* Cholera is caused when a toxin-producing bacterium, Vibrio Cholerae, infects the gut. It is carried in water containing human faeces.

* In its most severe form, and without treatment of antibiotics and rehydration, it causes acute diarrhoea and dehydration, and can kill within hours of symptoms showing.

* John Snow, a doctor in 19th-century London, was the first to link it with contaminated water when he studied an outbreak in Soho in 1854, which had killed more than 600 in a few weeks.

* Until then, it was thought to be spread by a mysterious “miasma” in the atmosphere. Snow showed the outbreak came from a single contaminated well in Broad Street. He had the handle of the well removed, and the epidemic stopped almost overnight.

* Preventing cholera relies on proper sewage treatment, sanitation and water purification.

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Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

Sanctions=Zimbabwe kids ‘eating rats’

Cholera Grips Zimbabwe’s Capital
MSF teams react to cholera outbreak in Harare

November 14, 2008

In Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to a major outbreak of cholera, which the local Ministry of Health has declared “the biggest ever in Harare.” MSF has set up cholera treatment centers (CTC) in Budiriro Polyclinic and Harare Infectious Diseases Hospital, where 500 patients have been treated to date and, on average, 38 new patients are admitted every day. About 78 percent of the patients come from two densely populated suburbs in the southwest of Harare— Budiriro and Glen View—which have a combined population of approximately 300,000 people. The outbreak has also affected people from the neighboring suburbs of Mbare, Kambuzuma, Kwanzana, and Glen Norah. Up to 1.4 million people are endangered if the outbreak continues to spread.

Since they were asked to assist with the outbreak in Harare, MSF has been providing human, medical, and logistic resources at both CTCs. MSF’s growing team is comprised of over 40 national staff nurses, logisticians, chlorinators, and environmental health workers. The latter perform an important role in reducing the spread of cholera in the community, by disinfecting the homes of those affected, following up with contacts of patients, and supervising funerals, where the traditional practice of body washing, followed by food preparation and eating without proper hand washing, is a recognized factor in the spread of cholera.

Medical Teams are Overwhelmed

MSF water and sanitation officer, Precious Matarutse, comments on the situation: “At Budiriro CTC things are getting out of hand. There are so many patients that the nurses are overwhelmed. In the observation area, one girl died sitting on a bench. The staff is utilizing each and every available room and still in the observation area patients are lying on the floor. A man came to the clinic yesterday for treatment. His wife had just died at home and that is what made his relatives realize this is serious, and they brought the man to the clinic. They wanted to know what to do with the wife’s body. People are concerned about catching cholera from others. Health education must be intensified to inform the population.”

The challenges MSF teams face in the CTCs are manifold. Vittorio Varisco, MSF logistician, describes the struggle: “It is a constant challenge to keep up with increasing patient numbers. We are running out of ward space and beds for the patients. Today patients at the Infectious Diseases Hospital are lying outside on the grass and we are setting up tents with additional beds as an overflow for the wards.” MSF doctor Bauma Ngoya explained how vital human resources are in order to effectively treat patients and contain the outbreak: “Patients need constant supervision to ensure adequate hydration, without which they will die. As patient numbers continue to increase we must continue to recruit and train nursing staff.”

A New Urgency

Cholera is no new phenomenon in crisis-shaken Zimbabwe. In some of the rural areas of the country cholera is endemic and occurs every year. However, until recent years cholera was relatively rare in urban areas of the country where treated, piped water and flush toilets exist in most homes. With the ongoing economic crisis and the constantly deteriorating living conditions these urban areas are increasingly affected. The disease is water-borne and transmitted by the oral-fecal route; hence it thrives in unsanitary conditions. Run-down infrastructure, burst sewage pipes and water cuts are mainly responsible for the outbreak, as they force people to dig unprotected wells and to defecate in open spaces. During the rainy season from November to March, heavy rains effectively flush standing sewage into unprotected wells. The fact that the recent outbreaks of cholera have commenced before the rains, is a clear indication of the deteriorating sanitary conditions and shortage of clean water, and a worrying precursor to the rainy season.

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In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

By Tichaona Sibanda

November 18 2008

About one hundred health workers were injured on Tuesday, some of them seriously, after heavily armed riot police baton-charged their peaceful protest march in central Harare.

The health workers from Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals had just embarked on a peaceful procession towards the Ministry of Health offices, to express concern against the total collapse of the health delivery system.

Dr Simba Ndoda, one of the protest organizers and a victim of the police brutality, told us the authorities went to extremes in dealing with the unarmed health workers. He said over one thousand health workers, including doctors, nurses, radiographers, administrators and pharmacists, had gathered at Parirenyatwa hospital for the protest march.

However hundreds of police in riot gear deployed outside the hospital and cordoned off all link roads. They stopped the health workers and unleashed a baton charge, which left dozens of members of the health fraternity injured.

The police flushed out leaders of the protest march and manhandled them before dragging some of them to waiting police vehicles. Unconfirmed reports say a number of protesters were hauled off to different police stations.

‘This was supposed to be a peacful demonstration. We were unarmed. We only had our uniforms and stethoscopes. We tried to reason with the police so that we could proceed with the march but like a lightining bolt they just set upon us, without warning and savagely beat us, inflicting serious injuries on many of our compatriots,’ Dr Ndoda said.

The strike action comes amid the failure of the government to contain the spread of cholera, which has so far killed hundreds of people, due to lack of medicines and drugs. The protesters were also demanding that the government review their salaries, which are not enough to even provide food for a family. ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Pay health workers properly’ were some of the banners carried.

The country’s health system, once among the best in Africa, collapsed under the weight of the world’s highest inflation rate, officially estimated at 231 million percent, but believed to be over 5 quintillion percent. Most hospitals are now unable to provide even basic medicines.

Dr Ndoda said conditions at state hospitals were ‘traumatising,’ explaining that he had personally seen some of his patients ‘die unnecessarily’ because of lack of drugs, medicines and basic equipment.

‘It is very disturbing. There are no drugs, no equipment and now there is no manpower. The country’s three major referral hospitals have been closed and the government has still not said a word about it.

So how are the ordinary citizens without money going to survive? Asked Dr Ndoda. He said the protest was also meant to show their outrage at the lack of political will by the government to resolve the health crisis.

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human rights strongly condemned the manhandling and ruthless thrashing of health workers at the hands of the police.A doctor who asked not to be named said it was strange the government had resources to deal with a peaceful march, but was doing nothing about the cholera pandemic that threatened the lives of up to 1.4 million people.

A statement from Doctors without Borders said the whole country is at risk if cholera continues to spread unchecked. Officially state media reports that only 73 people have died of the disease, but independent estimates put the figure closer to one thousand. Many tens of thousands have fallen ill.
In Beitbridge, cholera has killed 36 and 431 have been hospitalised at the border town since last week. Beitbridge medical officer Taikaitei Kanongara said they expected the number of victims to rise.

Source

Police violently disrupt  Protest

November 18, 2008

The police before they charged.

By Raymond Maingire

HARARE – Anti-riot police on Tuesday violently disrupted a protest march by hundreds of disgruntled workers from Harare hospitals as they sought to register with the authorities  their mounting concern over the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health delivery system.

The police blocked a peaceful march by more than 700 hospital workers who attempted to leave Parirenyatwa Hospital to present a petition to the Minister of Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa at his offices at Mukwati Building in the city.

The marchers comprised doctors, nurses, nurse aids and general workers from Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza hospitals.

According to Dr Simba Ndoda, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, there were representatives from Chinhoyi and Kadoma hospitals, which have also been forced to close down due to the crisis.

Relating the incident over the phone, Dr Ndoda said the police descended on the marchers in the hospital grounds and assaulted them.

“The police beat us thoroughly,” he said, “They stopped us as we were about to exit the grounds of Parirenyatwa and they beat us up and followed right into the nurses’ homes.

“As I am speaking, we are in hiding at Harare Hospital. We hear police are looking for us.”

He said police had initially informed the protestors not to proceed with the march “for political reasons” as they feared it had potential to grow into fully blown riots by disgruntled Zimbabweans.

Said Dr Ndoda, “We had asked for approval to go ahead with the march but the police denied us permission, citing political reasons. The police said they feared some people would join the march and the situation would become uncontrollable.

“We wanted people to now the real reasons why doctors are on strike. The State media is quick to misinform the public that doctors are insensitive to the plight of ordinary people who are dying in their thousands in hospitals because of the strike by doctors.

“We wanted people to know that while we have genuine reasons to go on strike because of perennially poor working conditions, it is still not possible for us to perform our duties as there is nothing to use.”

According to Dr Ndoda, almost 99 percent of Zimbabweans rely on government hospitals.

Primrose Matambanadzo, Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights co-coordinator said Tuesday’s march was more than a strike by hospital workers.

“This was more than a strike,” she said.

“A strike is where you stop going to work for one simple reason. This time we are decrying the total collapse of the whole health system.

“This is an issue where we have all reasons to be concerned. We cannot continue to watch helplessly while patients die in thousands.

“Doctors have been on strike for weeks but nothing is being done to address the situation.”

She said an earlier meeting with the permanent secretary of health to register their concerns did not bear any fruit as nothing was done to address the situation.”

By the time of going to press, there were no official reports of any arrests or casualties.

But baton-wielding anti-riot policemen continued to cordon off the whole Parirenyatwa hospital premises late into the afternoon. Police trucks were patrolling the grounds.

Zimbabwe’s government hospitals stopped operating nearly three weeks ago due to a strike by doctors over poor working conditions.

Critically ill patients have been turned away ever since. An emergency room is in operation at Parirenyatwa hospital.

Mpilo hospital, Bulawayo’s biggest hospital also closed last Wednesday, citing similar reasons.

Thousands of patients are being referred to private hospitals which charge for their services in US dollars.

Efforts to obtain comment from the Minister of Health Dr Parirenyatwa were fruitless.

But government still maintains the health situation in the country is still under control as the country’s central bank is being tasked to procure scarce drugs from abroad.

Source

Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

US and Zimbabwe were the only countries to vote against the Arms Treaty


Control Arms campaign demands urgent move to end the carnage

On Friday 31st October, 147 states voted overwhelmingly at the United Nations to move forward with work on an Arms Trade Treaty. This is an increase on the 139 states which voted to start the UN process in October 2006, showing increasing global support for the treaty. Support was particularly strong in Africa, South and Central America and Europe indicating high demand for global arms controls, both from countries severely affected by armed violence and from major arms exporters. Only the US and Zimbabwe voted against, ignoring growing global consensus on an ATT.

The Control Arms campaign, which represents millions of people around the world welcomes the vote but continues to call for more urgency from states to advance the process quickly and ensure a strong Treaty with human rights and development at its heart.

Every day, over 1000 people are killed directly with firearms and many thousands more die indirectly as a consequence of armed violence, or are driven from their homes, forced off their land, raped, tortured or maimed. Since the UN process started in December 2006, approximately 695,000 people have been killed directly with firearms, illustrating the urgent need for an Arms Trade Treaty. Any further delay means more lost lives.

Brian Wood from Amnesty International said:

This big vote today moves the world closer to an Arms Trade Treaty with respect for human rights at its heart, the only way such a treaty can really stop the carnage. Today’s decision is that the principles of the UN Charter and other state obligations must be considered central to the Treaty. It is shameful that the US and Zimbabwe governments have taken an unprincipled stand today against a Treaty that would save so many lives and livelihoods.

Anna Macdonald from Oxfam International, said:

Most governments now support an Arms Trade Treaty and they must now move forward with urgency. Today’s vote is one step closer to turning off the running tap of irresponsible arms transfers which have flooded the world’s conflict zones for decades, fueling death, injury and poverty, such as is happening now in DRC. However we need leaps forward not steps, as every day lost means hundreds more lives lost.

Mark Marge from the International Action Network on Small Arms said:

This vote is a victory for the millions of campaigners in countries around the world. But we cannot afford to rest. All those against the misuse of arms will continue to pressure their governments to move quickly to implement a strong, legally binding treaty.

Source

Half of the Zimbabwe population faces starvation

By Barry Mason
November 5 2008
Aid charities and the United Nations estimate that 5 million people in Zimbabwe, half the population, face starvation.

A USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) alert issued September 24 warned of insufficient cereal imports. It stated, “Zimbabwe could face a critical shortage or exhaustion of cereals as early as the first week of November… The current in-country supply of agricultural inputs for the upcoming planting season is insufficient… Late planting could aggravate the impact of forecast below-normal rainfall in the second half of the season (January-March 2009) in the country’s main crop producing regions, increasing the potential for a poor harvest and the continued need for imports in 2009.”

A Christian Aid press release on October 14 emphasised the stark social conditions facing millions in Zimbabwe. The dire statistics indicate that “over 85 percent of the population is unemployed, 90 percent are living on less than £1 a day and 15 percent of adults are living with HIV with some 3,500 dying every week of related diseases… (Zimbabwe) has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 34 years for men and 32 years for women.”

Speaking to the BBC News web site at the beginning of October, John Holmes, the United Nations humanitarian chief, described the situation as grave and deteriorating:

“Planting season for the next harvest starts in five or six weeks’ time, at least for maize, and there is a massive shortage of seeds and fertilizers in the country because of the economic situation…

“We’re looking to see whether we can accelerate even at this late stage and get some of those seeds and fertilizers and other imports into the hands of small farmers.”

An October 17 Africa Confidential newsletter quoted a senior UN World Food Programme (WFP) official describing the situation as “very, very bad,” noting that the next harvest was six months away. Africa Confidential continued, “The WFP reckons that 28 percent of children under five are malnourished and vulnerable to disease. Many rural families get one meal a day—typically sadza, maize-meal with no protein… The hungriest fill their stomachs with umtopi, baobab (tree) roots pounded into a paste.”

The article noted research by Professor Ian Scoones of Sussex University who showed that whilst it is small farmers on communal land who provide most of the food in rural areas, their productivity has been greatly reduced following several successive droughts and their inability to afford fertilizer, etc., to improve their land.

An October 24 article in the Times of London reported on the eastern province of Manicaland. The reporter said she found “a country whose reserves of food are exhausted and where the diseases of hunger—kwashiorkor, marasmus and pellagra—are appearing to a degree never seen in the country before.”

The Times described emaciated children dying in hospital. Greg Powell, chairman of the Zimbabwe Child Protection Society, said, “In the 32 years I have worked in Zimbabwe as a paediatrician I have never known a more serious situation. We can predict an exponential increase in cases of kwashiorkor and malnutrition over the next six months.”

Geoff Foster, a paediatrician at Mutare hospital, said, “Malnutrition is a silent emergency that affects young children… There is a famine situation prevailing and it is desperate.”

The threat of a cholera epidemic is also mounting. A UN IRIN news report carried by Reuters on October 20 stated there have been 120 deaths so far due to cholera, with most being in the Mashonaland Central province. The report blamed the collapse of health and municipal services, lack of potable water and no rubbish collection or proper sanitation system. People had to resort to digging shallow wells to obtain water, but these often became polluted by sewerage spills.

The report added: “The state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has pumped raw sewerage into Lake Chivero, one of the reservoirs providing Harare with water; residents with access to piped water often have to contend with a smelly greenish discharge from their taps.”

An Inter Press Service article carried on AllAfrica.com October 16 quoted a statement released by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA). It said: “The water and sewer management problems have seen some residential areas going for years, months and weeks without water and unattended sewer bursts respectively. The shortage of water dictates that residents fetch water from unprotected sources, thus diseases like cholera breed easily. CHRA has so far received countless cases of cholera and diarrhoea.”

A US GMA television news report of October 30 reported one person in Harare has died from cholera and 20 other people had succumbed to the disease. It quoted one resident of Eastern Harare who said that his neighbourhood had been without piped water for a year and described how the smell and smoke from the burning of uncollected rubbish was making people ill. People had to resort to digging their own wells, but he was concerned that “When the rains come all the filth will flow into our well.”

The dire social and economic situation is being exacerbated by the ongoing deadlock over the power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe is intent on controlling the important ministries, thus sidelining the MDC. The talks have been brokered by Thabo Mbeki, but his loss of the South African presidency has rendered him politically impotent.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for a larger regional summit to try to reach a deal.

Source