Children go hungry as flow of aid at standstill in Pakistan

THATTA, Pakistan – Agence France-Presse
Thousands remain trapped by floodwaters in the hardest-hit southern provinces of Pakistan without food or water, and some are being forced to live in the rubble of their ruined homes. The UN says the flow of international aid has almost stalled
Pakistani flood affected victims struggle for water from a water tank in Thatta in southern Sindh province. The UN warns farmers urgently need seeds. AFP photo
Pakistani flood affected victims struggle for water from a water tank in Thatta in southern Sindh province. The UN warns farmers urgently need seeds. AFP photo

Relief efforts in flood-ravaged Pakistan are being stretched by the “unprecedented scale” of the disaster, with the flow of international aid almost at a standstill, according to the UN.

Thousands remain trapped by floodwaters in the hardest-hit southern province of Sindh, while others are complaining of going without food or water for days and some are being forced to live in the rubble of their ruined homes.

Although the initially slow pace of aid had improved since a visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in mid-August, the U.N. said it had “almost stalled” since the beginning of last week, rising from 274 million dollars to 291 million dollars – about two thirds of funding needs.

The deluge has engulfed an area the size of England, affecting more than 18 million people, including eight million who are dependent on aid handouts to survive. “Given the number of those in need, this is a humanitarian operation of unprecedented scale,” Manuel Bessler, head of the U.N.’s coordination agency OCHA, said in a statement. “We need to reach at least eight million people, from the Karakoram Mountain Range in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south.”

The floods have ruined 8.9 million acres of rich farmland, and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, or FAO, said farmers urgently needed seeds to plant for next year’s crops.

The World Food Program has warned that Pakistan faces a triple threat to food supplies – with seeds, crops and incomes hit. Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.N. Abdullah Hussain Haroon on Thursday called for an investigation into claims that wealthy landowners diverted flood waters towards villages to protect their crops.

“It is suggested in some areas, those to be protected were allowed, had allowed, levees to be burst on opposite sides to take the water away. If that is happening the government should be enquiring,” Haroon told the BBC’s HardTalk program.

In southern Pakistan, hundreds of hungry and desperate families from a relief camp in the city of Thatta blocked the highway to Karachi for three hours Wednesday, demanding the government provide more food and shelter.

“No food or water has been provided to us for the past two days,” Mohammad Qasim, a 60-year-old resident of the flooded town of Sujawal, said. Meanwhile the international Red Cross, or ICRC, said growing resentment among flood victims about the pace of aid delivery was hampering the relief effort.

Jacques de Maio, the head of operations for South Asia for ICRC, said it had to halt two distributions recently due to unrest. “What we are detecting is a very worrying trend of areas where … people are so in need, so resentful of not getting enough aid, that they turn understandably aggressive and this is bad because it doesn’t help in our efforts to reach more of them,” he said. “We are worried because if this trend extends, propagates,” it could hinder the aid effort, he said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, whose government has come under fire for its handling of the country’s worst ever humanitarian crisis, said Wednesday the flooding had caused economic losses of $43 billion.

He said Pakistan faced inflation of up to 20 percent and slower economic growth, warning of job losses and social unrest. The World Bank on Thursday raised flood aid to Pakistan to one billion dollars while the IMF approved 450 million dollars in emergency financing to help the nation cope.

After World Bank chief Robert Zoellick met Pakistan’s Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh Shaikh in Washington, the bank pledged to help Pakistan set up systems for tracking aid flows and monitoring the process to tackle waste and corruption.

Flood waters moving south through Sindh province are now 28 kilometers from the Arabian Sea, officials said, and will likely take another week to flow away. But the waters have already reached the town of Jati and are threatening nearby Choohar Jamoli town – the last two sizeable human populations under threat on the east bank of the swollen Indus.

Sindh is the worst-hit province, with 19 of its 23 districts ravaged as floodwaters have swollen the Indus to 40 times its usual volume. One million people have been displaced over the past few days alone, while the government’s official death toll from the floods has reached 1,760.

Initial relief efforts are still underway in the country’s militant-troubled northwest, nearly two weeks after torrential rains stopped in the region. Khalid bin Waleed, a resident of Charsadda, said most of the 350 homes in the village had been destroyed and no government help was forthcoming. “Now people are living on the rubble of their houses and those better off are camping on their roofs,” Waleed said, adding that his village had so far had no help from the government.

Anthrax Attack On NATO/US Soldiers In Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Agence France-Presse

Six U.S. soldiers and a Turk have been quarantined in an Istanbul hospital after a suspicious powder was found in a parcel at the city’s main airport, Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

Laboratory experts were to analyze the substance on suspicion that it might be anthrax, Anatolia said, adding that the result was expected to be released during the weekend.

One of the U.S. soldiers discovered the powder when he opened a parcel, part of a cargo that the group had been assigned to pick up at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on Thursday, the agency reported.

The U.S. soldiers and the Turk were serving at a NATO mission in Turkey, it said.

Mariner Energy Has Dubious Safety Record

Mariner Energy Has Dubious Safety Record

by Gordon Wilcox

Mariner Energy (NYSE: ME), the independent oil and gas producer that owned a platform that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, has been involved in more than a dozen accidents in the Gulf of the last four years. Regulators say those mishaps include at least four fires and a well blowout.

One 2008 accident led to serious injuries for one employee, the Los Angeles Times reported. Earlier this year, Mariner paid $55,000 in fines for safety violations, the Times reported.

Mariner’s history is an interesting one to be sure. The company was on the brink of extinction because it was former unit of Enron. Private equity buyers scooped up Mariner on the cheap when Enron was shedding assets during its bankruptcy proceedings.

Now Apache (NYSE: APA), the largest U.S. independent oil and gas producer, is supposed to be acquiring Mariner for $3.9 billion, but there is speculation that deal could be in doubt thanks to Thursday’s accident.

Apache said it is monitoring the situation closely.

Here.

12 killed, over 40 injured in Pak terror attacks

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12 killed, over 40 injured in Pak terror attacks

PTI

Smoke billows around as an explosion was triggered targetting a Shiite procession in Quetta, Pakistan on Friday.
Smoke billows around as an explosion was triggered targetting a Shiite procession in Quetta, Pakistan on Friday.

At least 12 people were killed and over 40 others injured on Friday in a suspected suicide blast at a procession organised by Shia students at Quetta in Pakistan’s southwest and two other terror attacks in the northwest, the latest in a wave of strikes targeting religious minorities.

Several reporters and TV cameramen were among those injured when the blast ripped through the rally of Shia students at Meezan Chowk, a busy square in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, shortly before 3 p.m. local time.

Geo News, ARY News and Dawn News channels said their reporters and cameramen were among over 40 injured in the powerful blast that left 10 people dead.

The procession was organised by the Imamia Students’ Organisation to mark al-Quds Day and express solidarity with the people of Palestine.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police told the media that the procession may have been targeted by a suicide bomber.

Witnesses said the powerful blast was heard from several kilometres away. They also said they had seen blood and body parts at the site of the explosion.

Angry members of the procession opened fire after the blast.

There were reports that some marchers and police exchanged fire. A mob set on fire several shops and buildings near the site of the blast.

Footage on television showed thick black smoke rising over the area as people rushed the injured to hospitals in private vehicles.

The explosion caused widespread tension across Quetta, which has been affected by ethnic and sectarian tensions over the past few months.

Shia Muslims organise rallies across Pakistan on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan to show solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Earlier in the day, militants targeted a police van with a roadside bomb on the outskirts of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan, killing a constable and injuring three others.

One person was killed and two more were injured when a suicide bomber targeted an Ahmedi mosque at Mardan, also in northwest Pakistan.

No group claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Today’s attacks were the latest in a wave of assaults targeting religious minorities.

Tajikistan–American Diplomats Come Bearing Anti-Terror Centers and “Islamists” Follow

[One day after the American Ambassador announces the opening of a NATO anti-terror training center in Tajikistan, a “suicide-bomber” of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) strikes (SEE: Tajikistan drawn into the fight against terrorism).   It is no coincidence.  American diplomacy always open the doors for America’s “Islamists.”]

Anora Sarkorova

Russian service Bi-bi-si, Dushanbe

Before the main building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dushanbe arranged special barriers

Tajik Interior Ministry verifies the involvement of supporters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) to perfect Friday blast in the city of Khujand, the administrative center of Sughd.

A powerful explosion occurred at 8 am local time (3:00 GMT) in the building RUBOP – regional department for combating organized crime of the country.

At least 30 people were wounded, the death toll confirmed. Killed a man who was driving a Volga, packed with explosives. It is alleged that this is the first in the history of Tajikistan’s case, when the explosion occurred bomber.

EXPLOSIONS IN TAJIKISTAN

  • January 2005 – exploded a car parked next to the MOE
  • June 2005 – at the building of MOE exploded trolley with fruit
  • June 2008 – explosion front of the Supreme Court of Tajikistan, in the blast, Tajik authorities accused the Uzbek security services

Area cordoned off the incident by law enforcement agencies, working on the site operatives.Power explosive device installed, but according to eyewitnesses, the explosion was so powerful that could be heard within a radius of five kilometers.

To investigate in Khujand flew a special committee headed by the Secretary of Security Council countries Amirkul Azimov, at the same time, there is enhanced protection of law enforcement agencies.

Before the main building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan in Dushanbe, the center arranged a special fence. The last time this kind of barriers were placed in front of ministries in the 1990’s, in the midst of civil war in Tajikistan.

The Interior Ministry believes that the explosion is linked to the case of a perfect August 30 murder Homidzhona Karimov, director of the market in the town of Isfara, located on the north, on the border with Uzbekistan. 45-year old who was killed was suspected of having links with criminal circles.

“On suspicion of murder Homidzhona Karimov were detained five suspects, supporters who wanted to arrange for them or escape, or interfere with the course of investigations,” – said in a statement the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan.

Fires Spring-Up in Southern Russia

http://help-map.ru/

[The location of these fires makes them suspicious, since they are so close to the Chechen front.  According to the search parameters defined by the given dates in the snapshot above, there were no fires in the Volgograd region before now, to flare-up.  Large-scale movement of Russian troops would look largely the same, whether they were going to fight fires or for other purposes.

Doubt everything that come out of Russia.  Beware of the “Neo-Soviet Union.”]

5 Dead as Forest Fires Flare Up Again in Southern Russia

Five people have died as forest and bush fires flared up again in Russia’s southern farmlands, burning down 532 homes and buildings, officials said on Friday.

“The bodies of five people were found in the fire, but this is preliminary information,” Mikhail Murzayev, the head of the investigative committee in the Volgograd region, told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Strong winds stoked fires that destroyed 532 buildings, including 400 homes, in about 20 villages in the Volgograd and Saratov regions, an emergency ministry spokeswoman said Friday. The Volgograd region lies some 1,000 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

“Thousands of people are without shelter,” the spokeswoman, Irina Andrianova, was quoted by the agency as saying.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered authorities to mobilize all means to fight the fires as the emergency ministry warned the fires risked spreading to other southern regions.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday pledged the two fire-struck regions would receive one billion rubles (25.4 million dollars, 19.8 million euros) in emergency aid to rebuild after fire storms that have raged for months, the government said in a statement.

A state of emergency was also declared overnight to Friday in the Urals city of Tolyatti to the east as fires devoured some 200 hectares (nearly 500 acres) of forest nearby, Mayor Anatoly Pushkov was cited by RIA Novosti as saying.

Temperatures have fallen in Moscow since an unprecedented heatwave this summer, but in recent days they have still topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the southern regions.

Forest fires ravaged about a million hectares in Russia in recent months, destroying whole villages and leaving more than 50 people dead, according to official tallies. Fires also threatened to engulf several nuclear plants.

An emergency alert was lifted on August 23 in the last of the seven regions affected by the fires.(AFP)

In fact fires in the Volgograd region, which killed six people, authorities instituted a legally-five criminal cases.

According to the regional prosecutor’s office, four criminal cases brought under the Criminal Code “Destruction of or damage to property through negligence, one – on the article” Destruction of or damage to forest plantations, “ITAR-TASS.

Explosions Shake Suspected Hizbullah Arms Cache in Shehabiyyeh

Explosions Shake Suspected Hizbullah Arms Cache in Shehabiyyeh

Several explosions caused a large fire at a building in the southern town of Shehabiyyeh on Friday amid reports that the blasts went off at a Hizbullah weapons depot.

“Three explosions went off in a house in Shehabiyyeh” near the southern coastal city of Tyre, an army spokesman told Agence France Presse.

“The nature and cause of the explosions are not yet clear,” he added.

The army cordoned off the area and was awaiting bomb disposal experts, he said.

Beirut media said, however, that the blasts went off at a weapons cache belonging to Hizbullah.

The media reports also said that firefighters and ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosions which continued to be heard well after the first sounds reverberated across the area around 1:00 pm.

Al-Arabiya satellite TV network said one person was injured in the explosions, adding that Hizbullah threw a security dragnet around the three-storey building.

According to Voice of Lebanon radio, the building is owned by a man from the Salloum family.

Shehabiyyeh is south of the Litani River, an area patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers and Lebanese soldiers that is supposed to be free of weapons.(Naharnet-AFP-AP)