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20,000 Children and their families feared to be trapped in Fallujah

There are fears that the thousands of civilians who remain trapped could be used as human shields by IS

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  • Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting and separation from their families
  • Nearly 3,700 people, or 624 families, have managed to escape the fighting in Fallujah
  • Many Sunnis in Baghdad say they live in fear of the Shi’ite militias

BAGHDAD- Around 20,000 children are said to be trapped in Fallujah of Iraq as fight continues for control of the city which has been seized by Islamic State militants  two years ago

Since the Iraqi military operation began for Fallujah, 60 kilometers west of Baghdad, “very few families have been able to leave; most have moved to two camps while others have sought refuge with relatives and extended families,” according to the U.N. Children’s Fund. The U.N. agency also warns that children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting and separation from their families.

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Nearly 3,700 people, or 624 families, have managed to escape the fighting in Fallujah – a traditionally Sunni stronghold – since last week, said the U.N. There are fears that the thousands of civilians who remain trapped could be used as human shields by IS. Humanitarian agencies say those who have managed to escape describe a deteriorating situation where food and medicines are in short supply and the water unsafe for drinking.

Dressed in the black uniform of the Iraqi counterterrorism forces and flanked by Iraqi military commanders, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi urged the country’s armed forces to protect civilians as they fight to take the city.

Gunnery Sergeant Ryan P. Shane shot while trying to rescue wounded Marine in Fallujah.
Gunnery Sergeant Ryan P. Shane shot while trying to rescue wounded Marine in Fallujah. Image source: Wikipedia

Iraqi forces, including the army, counterterrorism units, special forces, local fighters and Hashd al Shaabi militias, have met with stiff IS resistance around the city.

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“A human catastrophe is unfolding in Fallujah. Families are caught in the crossfire with no safe way out,” said Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Egeland said he expects the situation to quickly worsen as summer approaches, with temperatures likely to hit or exceed 50 degrees Celsius.

Civilian men screened

Iraqi forces, meanwhile, are separating out and screening the men, concerned about the loyalties of those who are leaving the city after living under IS rule.

“Approximately 500 men and boys over 12 years old are held for security screening, which can take five to seven days,” said UNHCR spokesman William Spindler.

Shi’ite presence

Hashd al-Shaabi has taken an important role in the fight against IS, and some see the pro-Iran militias as better trained than the Iraqi army. Others, however, are worried that a strong Shi’ite presence in the war against IS — whose strongholds are in predominantly Sunni areas — will only further aggravate the deep sectarian divisions that already exist in the country.

Many Sunnis in Baghdad say they live in fear of the Shi’ite militias, and human rights organizations have flagged abuses by the militias in the past.

Former national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie  said “I believe the Hashd al-Shaabi should have, and is having, a pivotal role in the liberation of our occupied territories.”

-prepared by Bhaskar Raghavendran (with inputs from VOA), a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter:  bhaskar_ragha

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“Modern” Families in India, Today Adopting So Called “Old-Style” Habit of Cooking with Desi Ghee

They are, however, not alone

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Modern, Families, India
Three years ago, this family made a switch to "desi ghee" (clarified butter), again apparently because of its health benefits. Flickr

All the members of New Delhi-based S. Rahul’s family are health-conscious. That’s the reason why olive oil bottles, often perceived to be a healthier option compared to other cooking oils, made way to their kitchen. Three years ago, this family made a switch to “desi ghee” (clarified butter), again apparently because of its health benefits.

They are, however, not alone. More and more “modern” families in India today are adopting the so called “old-style” habit of cooking with desi ghee. What is more, even doctors and nutritionists agree that when consumed in limited quantity, it can strengthen your bone and boost immunity.

“Desi ghee is considered as one of the best immunity boosters in Indian society. It is beneficial for our eyesight, digestive system and even strengthens bones. Desi ghee also promotes healthy skin and hair,” Priyanka Rohtagi, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, told IANS.

“It is a great antibiotic and helps during cold and cough. It is also used on wounds to speed up healing. During pregnancy, desi ghee provides nourishment to both the mother and the child as they need more nutrients,” she said.

Modern, Families, India
All the members of New Delhi-based S. Rahul’s family are health-conscious. Flickr

Rahul, however, made the decision to switch to desi ghee not on the basis of recommendations of any doctor or nutritionist. He said some YouTube videos explaining the benefits of desi ghee influenced his decision.

“We relied on olive oil before, but we have switched to desi ghee now as it does not burn a hole in your pocket and is also good for health because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It has also eased my psoriasis symptoms,” Rahul claimed.

“After trying desi ghee, we found that it helped us reduce weight while my parents too have stopped complaining about joint pains,” he added.

Desi ghee is made by gently heating cow milk butter. The process becomes complete once the water is evaporated and the fat is separated from the milk solids.

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“Ghee primarily contains saturated fatty acids and is rich in vitamins A, E and K2. It is also rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Butyrate, both of which have powerful health benefits,” B.L. Agarwal, Associate Director, Cardiology, at Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.

“A normal adult can consume 1-2 table spoons of ghee per day. Apart from that, this quantity can be slightly changed depending upon the quantity of work out one is doing,” Agarwal said.

However, desi ghee should be consumed judiciously as it results in obesity and people suffering from any heart disease, kidney ailment or cholesterol should avoid or limit its consumption, Rohtagi stressed.

“Those who have vitamin A, D, E and K deficiency should take desi ghee in moderation. Consuming desi ghee regularly is excellent for joint health and can act as a lubricant,” said Shalini Bliss, Head Nutritionist and Dietician, Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurugram.

Modern, Families, India
That’s the reason why olive oil bottles, often perceived to be a healthier option compared to other cooking oils, made way to their kitchen. Flickr

“It is also helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis,” she added.

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However, consumers should keep in mind that desi ghee contains saturated fat and overdose for a long time can increase cholesterol level, which is not good for the body, experts said. (IANS)