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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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New Genetic Disorder Found in Human Patient

The original ODC1 mouse model was developed by Thomas G. O'Brien in 1995 at the Lankenau Medical Research Centre in Pennsylvania

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New genetic disorder identified in human patient. Pixabay

In a first, US researchers have identified a new genetic disorder, which was previously described in animal models, in a human patient.

Researchers from the Michigan State University found that the disorder is caused by mutations in a gene known as ornithine decarboxylase 1 (ODC1).

It is defined by a number of clinical features including large birth weight, enlarged head size, hair loss, reduced muscle strength, skin lesions, hearing loss and developmental delays.

“This remarkable case represents the first human example of a disorder that was described by researchers in a transgenic mouse model more than 20 years ago,” said Andre Bachmann, Professor at the varsity.

However, the disorder is, as of yet, unnamed, and its long-term effects, which include impacts on the neurological system, are not completely known.

The disorder was first identified on an 11-month-old baby girl in Michigan.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, blood samples for testing were drawn at age 19 months and 32 months.

gene
Gene (Representational image). IANS

Two developmentally normal, age/gender matched patients that were being sedated for outpatient same-day procedures served as controls.

Red blood cells obtained from the patient showed elevated ODC protein and polyamine levels compared to healthy controls.

“The ODC1 gene plays an important role in a number of physiological and cell developmental processes including embryo and organ development,” said Caleb Bupp, medical geneticist at Spectrum Health — a US-based health care company.

The study also showed that the ODC inhibitor DFMO — a water soluble — and US Food Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug may serve as a disease-modifying drug, and an early therapeutic trial in a new diagnosis may prevent some of the clinical symptoms.

Also Read- Breast Milk Boosts Brain Development in Premature Babies

DFMO has been used for many years in the treatment of trypanosomiasis — a tropical disease transmitted by biting insects and more recently entered clinical trials for pediatric neuroblastoma and colon cancer.

In mice, DFMO prevented hair loss and also partially restored hair growth and is considered a well-tolerated drug.

The original ODC1 mouse model was developed by Thomas G. O’Brien in 1995 at the Lankenau Medical Research Centre in Pennsylvania. (IANS)