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Eastern Aleppo likely to face Mass Starvation this Winter, if UN Aid Agencies are Blocked from Distributing Food Supplies to 250,000 trapped Civilians

United Nations has presented a new proposal for averting a humanitarian catastrophe this winter

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A man eats food that was distributed as aid in a rebel-held besieged area in Aleppo, Syria, Nov. 6, 2016. "The last food rations are being distributed as we speak,” a U.N. official says.. VOA
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The United Nations warns that besieged eastern Aleppo in northern Syria faces mass starvation this winter if U.N. aid agencies are blocked from distributing desperately needed food supplies to 250,000 trapped civilians.

The United Nations says it fears winter will be a killer in too many places throughout Syria. The international body says it has not been able to pre-position food and other relief supplies in besieged areas because of fighting and administrative hurdles.

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U.N. special adviser Jan Egeland says there is particular concern about how one quarter of a million people in eastern Aleppo will survive the harsh winter months.

FILE - People remove belongings from a damaged site after an air strike Sunday in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 17, 2016.
People remove belongings from a damaged site after an air strike Sunday in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 17, 2016. VOA

FILE – People remove belongings from a damaged site after an air strike Sunday in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 17, 2016.

“The last time east Aleppo was reached with significant humanitarian supplies was in the beginning of July, in the middle of the summer. The report we have now from within east Aleppo is that the last food rations are being distributed as we speak.”

Egeland says the United Nations has presented a new proposal for averting a humanitarian catastrophe this winter. The initiative calls for the Russian-Syrian side and opposition groups to allow food and other urgent relief supplies into eastern Aleppo.

It also calls for the medical evacuation out of Aleppo of some 300 wounded and sick patients with their families, while permitting medical supplies and medical personnel to enter the besieged city.

Map showing control areas around the Syrain city of Aleppo, as of Oct. 13, 2016
Map showing control areas around the Syrain city of Aleppo, as of Oct. 13, 2016. VOA

Map showing control areas around the Syrain city of Aleppo, as of Oct. 13, 2016

Bracing for escalation

A pause in Russian-Syrian airstrikes over eastern Aleppo continues, although ground fighting continues unabated; but, Russia has moved heavy weaponry, including cruise missiles, off the coast of Syria and says it plans to use these weapons in the battle for Aleppo.

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Egeland tells VOA he is worried about the possibility of a dangerous escalation of the war.

“I do indeed fear it could become much, much worse. It is terrible as we speak. It could get much worse…. I am hopeful that we could get our U.N. initiative going again…. I cannot see anyone wishing to see… so many civilians bleed to death in both east and west Aleppo because of indiscriminate war.”

FILE - A man reacts on the rubble of damaged buildings after losing relatives to an airstrike in the besieged rebel-held al-Qaterji neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 11, 2016.
A man reacts on the rubble of damaged buildings after losing relatives to an airstrike in the besieged rebel-held al-Qaterji neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 11, 2016.. VOA

FILE – A man reacts on the rubble of damaged buildings after losing relatives to an airstrike in the besieged rebel-held al-Qaterji neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 11, 2016.

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Regarding the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, Egeland says he believes U.S.-Russian engagement and cooperation in tackling humanitarian and political issues in Syria will continue. He says progress has always been made in reaching besieged areas with humanitarian aid whenever the United States and Russia have pushed for this together. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google, Facebook face greater scrutiny in Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?