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Suspected Mosul Mustard Gas Victims Recovering; Foul Smells Remain

Weeks after the chemical attack incident in Mosul, the smell is still rancid and neighbors complain of watering eyes and skin problems

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Locals say the smell of suspected chemical weapons is strongest when it rains, but the scent of this house is still pungent at all times — even weeks after the bombings — in Mosul, Iraq, March 22, 2017 (VOA)

Iraq, May 25: “Some soldiers said the house has to be destroyed,” said Dhia Deen, a taxi driver on the street next to the site of the alleged worst chemical attack in Mosul. “Even our cows are getting sick.”

The home that was bombed in early March does not have to be pointed out. Weeks after the incident, the smell is still rancid and neighbors complain of watering eyes and skin problems.

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Regardless of the apparent danger, a crowd of children burst into the home of their neighbor, Natham Hamad, eager to show us the hole in the ceiling and the bomb now planted in the floor.

They are smart enough to cover their mouths and noses with their shirts, and avoid touching anything. The inside of the home is coated with something that looks like yellow sulfur powder.

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The smell inside is overwhelming. The neighbors soon scurry out of the house and away from the door. “The smell is better than it was,” said Ahmed Farah, a carpenter. “But when it rains, it gets really bad.”

Shortly after the attack early this month, local officials said the Hamad home and at least four other civilian houses in eastern Mosul were bombed by Islamic State militants with weapons containing homemade chemical poisons. International Committee of the Red Cross doctors said patients’ symptoms indicated mustard gas.

Some Iraqi officials later said that they had not seen evidence IS has the capacity to deploy chemical weapons. Others in Mosul qualified that statement, saying IS has only the capacity to use crude homemade chemical weapons that emit non-deadly poisons.

In the neighborhoods that were hit, families say they care less about what hit them than about getting it cleaned up. But chemical cleanup requires some expertise, and cannot be done with soap and water, says Yahya Kassim, a 51-year-old father of seven who was hospitalized after a bomb emitting foul-smelling black oil fell in his yard in early March.

“They should come to my house and smell it,” he said in the yard. The smell is less pungent than it was last week because a neighbor paid for the removal of some of the poisoned bricks scattered in the attack. But the sickening odor returns in the rain, he said.

“Or tell them to call me,” he added. “I’ll explain what happened.”

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‘Contingency planning’

At an Irbil hospital on Friday, Hamad’s wife and five children are recovering and are planning to be released Saturday.

The family is better but they still have damaged immune systems, said Dr. Johannes Schad of ICRC.

At least 15 patients have been treated in Irbil in recent weeks for symptoms consistent with chemical attacks, including blistering skin, and respiratory and eye problems. Near the bombings in Mosul, dozens of people tell us they have experienced symptoms but have very little access to health care.

And while there have been no new reports of suspected chemical weapons in recent weeks, international organizations continue to build capacity, preparing for more victims of chemical weapons.

“You can see this is some kind of chemical agent,” Schad said. “We are contingency planning. The situation is getting more tense.”

Iraqi forces say the battle for Mosul has never been fiercer than now, as it moves in on the last quarter of the city held by IS. In previous months, militants often fled as Iraqi forces moved in. Now, they are surrounded and fighting back with everything they can.

As the fighting gets more intense, the humanitarian crisis surrounding the war has become overwhelming, with nearly 275,000 people displaced since operations began in October. Trauma centers have seen at least 5,000 civilian patients.

And among the displaced could soon be Hamad and his family, as his home is no longer livable.

“I don’t know where we will go,” he said, standing by the hospital room door. “Even if we go to friends or relatives, we can stay only for a few days.”

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Test results

In Mosul, patients released weeks ago show us ICRC documents that call them “suspected victim[s] of mustard gas,” but no one we speak to has received formal test results.

The ICRC says they have not received results of tests taken in early March. In Mosul, local police confirm the presence of chemicals in the bombs, but locals have not been told exactly what hit them.

“First they told me it would be a few hours for the results,” Kassim said. “Then they told me the United Nations will get the results.”

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The United Nations said it is not mandated to carry out an investigation of the suspected IS chemical weapons in Iraq, although it has condemned the attacks.

At the hospital, Hamad says his family expects to receive the information after they are released.

“Thank God,” he said. “At least my children are better.”

(VOA)

 

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Free Wife, Daughter of Dr Allah Nazar : American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Appeals to UN and other International bodies to act against Enforced Disappearance of Women and Babies in Pakistan

At least 8,000 Baloch are still victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan while 1500 such victims were killed and dumped, according to human rights organizations.

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The enforced disappearance of women and babies is a sequel to disappearances of the Baloch leaders, activists,  lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists and people from all walks of life who demand justice for Balochistan. Facebook
Washington DC, Oct 31, 2017: The DC-based American friends of Balochistan has appealed to the United Nations, US State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Unicef, International service for Human Rights and other international bodies to step in to free four women and three babies from the illegal captivity of Pakistan security forces.
Fazila Baloch, wife of Balochistan freedom leader Dr Allah Nazar Baloch and his adopted daughter Popal Jan, 4; Fazila’s friend Bibi Salma and her one-and-half years old son named Irfan;  Ayaal and her two years old daughter Zairak and a fourth woman Gohar Jan, were abducted Monday afternoon from Bibi Salma home in Quetta, capital of Balochistan.
According to details, Dr Nazar’s wife, who was badly injured in the bombing on Dr Nazar’s village in December 2012 was in Quetta for medical treatment. The bombing had killed 44 close relatves of Dr Nazar dead.

AFB
Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch. Facebook

The AFB said the enforced disappearance of women and babies was clear violation of the Geneva conventions and shows Islamabad is committing violations of the laws of war with impunity in Balochistan.
“Enforced disappearances of women and babies show unconscionable acts of state terror is being perpetrated on Baloch civilians. The United Nations and human rights organizations should immediately hold Pakistan accountable for its actions in Balochistan. We regret that enforced disappearances in Balochistan has not received the attention of the world community, further emboldening the Deep State of Pakistan to throw the Geneva conventions to the winds in Balochistan.”
The enforced disappearance of women and babies is a sequel to disappearances of the Baloch leaders, activists,  lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists and people from all walks of life who demand justice for Balochistan.
“In the backdrop of a genocidal situation, mass graves have been found, villages have been bombed, burned and destroyed and the means of livelihood of citizens have been snatched in the length and breadth of France-sized Balochistan. All these actions of Pakistan security and intelligence services constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, while ethnic cleansing is continuing on a daily basis to pave way for the multi-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.”
“In the United States when a child is abducted by any criminal we have what is called an “Amber ” alert. Within minutes across the entire United States is broadcast on television, radio, even on flashing signs on highways across the interstate. Unfortunately in Balochistan the security forces are the criminals who are doing these abductions,” the AFB said.
The AFB said two days earlier, Pakistan security forces raided Baloch homes in the Gulistan-i-Johar area of Karachi and forcibly disappeared nine youngsters, including an eight year old  boy Aftab, son of Yunus.
“No words are enough to condemn these despicable acts of the security and intelligence services against the hapless Baloch populace. We urge immediate action by the State Department and ending all dealings with the Southern Command of Pakistan army that calls the shots in Balochistan, the Inter Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Frontier Corps in deference for the Leahy Amendment,” the AFB statement concluded.
At least 8,000 Baloch are still victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan while 1500 such victims were killed and dumped, according to human rights organizations.

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India to host UN Global Wildlife Conference in 2020

The CMS COP is held once in three years.

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CMS COP is the only international treaty devoted exclusively to migratory animal species. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 28, 2017 : India will host the next UN global wildlife conference in 2020, it was announced on Saturday.

“#India to be the host of the next CMS Conference of the Parties #CMSCOP13! Officially announced at the closing #CMSCOP12 plenary, in Manila,” the UN for Environment Programme tweeted.

ALSO READ World likely to lose 68 Percent of its Wildlife by 2020, 6th mass Extinction on cards: WWF

An announcement in this regard was made in the Philippine capital on the last day of the six-day 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, or CMS COP12, the only international treaty devoted exclusively to migratory animal species.

Delegates from over 120 countries had gathered there.

The CMS COP is held once in three years. (IANS)

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been named the new Goodwill Ambassador by WHO

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health

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Robert Mugabe
President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the African Union Robert Mugabe. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 21, 2017 : The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador to help tackle non-communicable diseases.

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health, BBC reported on Saturday.

But critics say Zimbabwe’s health care system has collapsed, with the president and many of his senior ministers going abroad for treatment.

They say that staff are often unpaid and medicines are in short supply.

Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO and replaced Margaret Chan, who stepped down from her 10-year post in June.

He was elected with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.

The WHO head praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.

But US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mugabe given his record on human rights.

“If you look at Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s corruption, his utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services there,” said executive director Kenneth Roth.

“Indeed, you know, Mugabe himself travels abroad for his health care. He’s been to Singapore three times this year already. His senior officials go to South Africa for their health care.

“When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities.”

The idea of hailing Mr Robert Mugabe “as any kind of example of positive contribution to health care is absolutely absurd”, he added.

President Robert Mugabe heard about the award while attending a conference held by the WHO, a UN agency, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Montevideo.

He told delegates how his country had adopted several strategies to combat the challenges presented by NCDs, which the WHO says kill about 40 million people a year and include cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“Zimbabwe has developed a national NCD policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a cervical cancer prevention and control strategy,” Mugabe was reported by the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper as saying.

ALSO READ Countries with best Health Care in the world

But the President admitted that Zimbabwe was similar to other developing countries in that it was “hamstrung by a lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people”.

Zimbabwe’s main MDC opposition party also strongly criticised the WHO move.

“The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult,” said spokesman Obert Gutu.

“Robert Mugabe trashed our health delivery system. He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse.” (IANS)