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12 I ORLD NEWSW Passion Islam I August 2009
Families returning to Swat
face hunger this Ramadan
Islamic Relief aid workers are warning are unsure how they will support their
that people returning home to Swat families over the coming months.”
in North West Pakistan are facing According to Islamic Relief
serious shortages of food. Pakistan, around 90 percent of the
After three months of living with population of Swat left their homes
host families or in camps, some of due to the fighting and the majority
the three million displaced people travelled to Mardan District where
have started to return to their homes. they found refuge with local families
Many have found that their houses or in schools and hospitals. Around
and livelihoods have been destroyed 50 per cent of the displaced people
and the infrastructure of the region The ongoing curfew means all the in Lower Swat have now returned to
devastated. The damage to the shops and markets are still closed, their homes and many more will return
agricultural sector and the continuing while others in larger towns such in the coming weeks as the start of the
curfew in the region means they will as Mingora have been destroyed or holy month of Ramadan draws near.
struggle to feed their families this damaged. People are unable to buy “People in Swat are still very
Ramadan. even basic food items. scared that the fighting might start
Around 60 per cent of those who Islamic Relief aid worker Sultan again but came back because they
were forced to flee their homes make Mahmood said, “I have just visited desperately missed their homes and
a living from farming. During the Swat and I believe that progress their relatives,” said Sultan Mahmood.
conflict they were unable to go home there has gone back ten years. Swat “They have returned to find the curfew
to harvest their crops and fruit, or to was once a progressive and bustling still in place and the agriculture sector
plant rice for the forthcoming season. economic centre. Many people would devastated. This means they are
This has created shortages of food make their living from the abundant approaching Ramadan with the very
and has also left farmers with no orchards in the region, but the last real threat of food shortages hanging
source of income. harvest has all been lost and people over them.”
Israel abusing Palestinian
female prisoners
A Palestinian human rights group contribute to the exacerbation and the
slammed Israeli treatment of development of health problems such
Palestinian female prisoners in a UN- as skin diseases, anaemia, asthma,
sponsored report saying pregnant prolonged stomach aches, joint and
women are often shackled on their back pains.”
way to hospitals to give birth. In addition, the majority of the mothers once their children reached
The women prisoners are held in prisoners were “subjected to some the age of six.
“Israeli prisons and detention centres form of mental pressure and torture Female prisoners with a husband
which were designed for men and through the process of their arrest,” or other relatives also in jail were
do not respond to female needs,” including beatings, insults, threats, “accorded the right to family visits...
said a report by the Addameer sexual harassment and humiliation after months of delays.”
Prisoner Support and Human Rights techniques. In addition, the Israeli prison
Association, which was sponsored The vast majority of Palestinian authorities do not provide gender-
by the United Nations Development women in Israeli prisons are young -- sensitive rehabilitation programmes,
Fund for Women (UNIFEM). some 13 percent of those arrested in it said.
Pregnant detainees “do not enjoy 2007-2008 were under the age of 18 The report was based on interviews
preferential treatment in terms of diet, and 56 percent were between 20 and with 125 Palestinian women who
living space or transfer to hospitals,” 30 years of age. were arrested, detained or imprisoned
it said. “Pregnant prisoners are also The detainees are often denied in Israeli jails between November
chained to their beds until they enter means to study, which violates their 2007 and November 2008. Of those,
delivery rooms and shackled once rights to a higher education and suffer some 65 remain in prison -- part of
again after giving birth. from restrictions on visits. some 9,000 Palestinians currently
“The unbalanced diet, insufficient In September 2008, some 60 incarcerated in Israel.
amounts of protein-rich foods, lack percent had at least one family A spokesman for the Israeli prison
of natural sunlight and movement, member who was not allowed to visit authorities said he was not aware of
poor ventilation and moisture all them. Open visits were restricted to the report and could not comment.
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