UNITED NATIONS: An increasing number of children are “at imminent risk of injury or death”, two senior UN officials have warned, citing a surge of aggression in crisis-torn Libya.
General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls much of eastern and southern Libya, has waged a two-week military campaign to take Tripoli, the capital, from fighters loyal to the UN-recognized Government.
Calling the escalation in fighting “the worst in years”, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a statement reminding all of Libya’s warring parties that they are obliged “to protect children at all times in full compliance with international law”.
“Killing, injuring and recruiting children, and attacks on education, medical and water facilities are all grave violations of children’s rights and must cease immediately”, they stated, reminding that in line with Security Council resolution 2427, “prevention measures must be put in place to better protect children”.
Together they also urged for “safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all children in need, and for a ceasefire to allow civilians to safely leave areas under conflict”.
Nearly 1,800 children are among the civilians who need urgently to be evacuated from frontline fighting, as the raging violence has already displaced 7,300 others, the two UN officials said. Moreover, around 500,000 children are estimated to be affected by violence across the country’s west.
“Children trapped in conflict areas are at risk of running out of food and losing access to medical care” they explained. “Unable to leave these areas, they cannot safely seek protection or assistance”.
Pointing out that the violence has also left nearly 1,000 refugee and migrant children held in detention centres “in grave danger”, Ms Fore and Ms Gamba stressed that “they should be immediately released and provided with safe shelter until their asylum claims can be processed or they can be provided with safe repatriation assistance for reunification with their families”.
Saudis volunteer to aid Makkah pilgrims during Ramadan
ISLAMABAD: Saudis are volunteering in Makkah to help pilgrims, dealing with their health issues and any other requirements they may have so their Umrah can be performed with ease.
Doctors, teachers, engineers and government employees are among those giving their time and energy during the holy month of Ramadan to help the millions of Muslims who are in Makkah.
The head of Nabad, a volunteer group, talking to Arab news said medical professionals and other specialists were focusing on nationals and residents through events in malls, hospitals and health centers.
“Nabad has contributed to promoting knowledge among members of civil society and focused on serving widows, divorcees, low-income people, people with special needs and the elderly through events carried out in conjunction with government bodies,” Dr Yasser Al-Sharif said.
He added that 1,400 doctors and medical students were volunteering, hoping to make a difference and to serve their country.
Al-Sharif said the events were aimed at raising awareness about several programs, including one about health empowerment ambassadors, for guests of the Grand Mosque. Pilgrims are provided with information upon arrival at the airport in different languages, he said.
Rania Shodari is part of a volunteer program for pilgrims, offering them gifts and introducing them to Makkah landmarks, and described the experience as special.
“Volunteering should come from the heart and not be a means to show off,” she told Arab News. “We focus on bringing smiles to pilgrims’ faces and intensifying efforts to reflect real Saudi hospitality, from the moment they arrive until their departure.
Russia air strikes kill 10 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor
KAFRANBEL: Air strikes by Syrian regime ally Russia have killed 10 civilians including five children in a northwestern jihadist bastion, a monitor said Monday, hours after Moscow announced a ceasefire there.
Clashes between regime forces and militants raged Monday on the edge of the region held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, following the deadly air raids overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Idlib region controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is supposed to be protected from a government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but regime and Russian bombardment has increased there since late April.
The Observatory said Russian air strikes overnight killed five children, four women, and one man in the town of Kafranbel in Idlib province.
The air strikes hit near a hospital in the town, knocking it out of service, the Britain-based monitor said.
Saudi Arabia to host 14th OIC summit in Makkah on May 31
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will host the 14th session of the Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah on May 31, Saudi Press Agency said on Monday.
The summit will be chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The summit, which will be held under the theme “Makkah Summit: Together for the Future” aims to develop a unified stance on current issues and events in the Islamic world, SPA said.