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Gaza fears the worst as Israel ratchets up its siege | News



Gaza City – Fears are mounting for the safety of people with health issues as already-strained hospitals are largely without power and the Palestinian territory faces a coronavirus outbreak.

Two million residents are surviving on only four hours of electricity a day after Israel cut off the fuel supply, leading to the shut down of Gaza’s sole power plant last week.

Israel made the move after the continuous launch of incendiary balloons from the coastal enclave towards Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip by activists demanding the easing of the crippling 13-year blockade.

At 5:30am local time, Salwa al-Bitar, 40, arrived at al-Shifa hospital to start her four-hour dialysis treatment in central Gaza City, which she requires once a week, before the arrival of other patients for the life-saving treatment.

“The situation is harder than before in addition to the precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19 infections. We are afraid from the effects of the fuel shortage on hospitals,” al-Bitar told Al Jazeera.

“My body is very sensitive. With only four hours of electricity, it’s like experiencing death in life. I can’t breathe as I can’t operate a fan, air conditioning, or use any substitution to deal with the electricity shortage.”

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said the power cuts have “dangerous repercussions” for hospitals with 120 premature babies needing incubators, 100 patients in intensive care, and 950 people with kidney failure requiring haemodialysis sessions every week.

“In addition, the electricity crisis endangers the daily surgeries, caesarean deliveries, and the laboratories … as the old generators can barely cover the electricity needs during this crisis,” al-Qidra told Al Jazeera.

Salwa al-Bitar at al-Shifa hospital receiving her four-hour dialysis treatment [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

‘Dilapidated health system’

On Monday night, a total lockdown was imposed on the besieged Gaza Strip after authorities confirmed the first coronavirus infections.

“The announcement of COVID-19 cases within the community in Gaza puts the dilapidated health system due to the blockade at a dangerous new juncture, and it is difficult to withstand without regional and international support,” said al-Qidra.

Mohamed al-Qawwas, 55, needs to visit the dialysis unit three times a week, and he expressed concern at the arrival of COVID-19 in Gaza. He has diabetes and heart disease, which make a potential infection extremely dangerous.

“I go to the hospital three times a week and due to fuel and equipment shortage, I wait for about two hours to start my four-hour session,” al-Qawwas told Al Jazeera. “This is exhausting my heart and spirit.”

On August 11, Israel halted the entry of some materials into Gaza, but days later banned all transfers through the only commercial crossing except for food and medicine. The sea was also made inaccessible to fishermen on August 16.

[Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

Mohamed al-Qawwas expressed concern over COVID-19 because of his diabetes and heart disease [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

‘Ignoring crimes’

Fawzi Barhoum – a spokesman for Hamas, the rulers of Gaza – called Israel’s move “a crime against humanity”.

“If the occupation thinks that this siege will undermine the determination and persistence of our people and its resistance, and that it will achieve security for them, that is delusional,” Barhoum said in a statement.

He urged intervention by the international community. “We call on human rights and humanitarian institutions and the international community – and decision-makers in the region – to break their silence and work to curb the Zionist aggression and end the blockade of Gaza.

“The absence of deterrent decisions to the occupation, but rather ignoring its crimes and normalisation with it is the main reason for its persistence in its crimes and violations against Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Businessmen Association in Gaza announced on Monday that nearly 2,000 companies have been completely or partially affected by the power station’s stoppage.

“Preventing the entry of various materials necessary for the activity of the industrial and health sectors threatens to have dangerous repercussions on the strategic stock of basic needs, threatening food insecurity, high unemployment, and poverty rates,” Ali al-Hayek, head of the association, told Al Jazeera.

[Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

The price of bread is soaring because of the intensified siege on Gaza by Israel [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

Food shortages

Walid al-Efranj, sales manager of a bakery chain, said fuel shortages were already affecting food production in the territory.

“The food industry in Gaza has been affected negatively by the lack of fuel as there is a decrease in production. And because of the coronavirus crisis, consumers rushed to stockpile food for the home quarantine period, which forced us to work longer hours using fuel generators that increase the cost of production for us,” he said.

Ahmed Labib al-Helou, head of the Association of Owners of Oil and Gas Companies in Gaza, warned of “disastrous consequences” on fuel supplies if the closure of the Karem Abu Salem (known as Kerem Shalom to Israelis)commercial crossing with the Israeli side continues.

Gaza’s power station shuts down as Israel cuts off diesel imports

Fishermen, too, are voicing concern.

“We depend on daily wages from selling the fish catch. If we don’t work we can’t afford food for our families, and for the 13th day in a row there is no source of income because of the ban on fishing,” said Khaled al-Habil, 40, a fisherman from the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.

“In addition to the implications of COVID-19 and precautionary measures that decreased our fish supply during the past three months, now Israel has shut down the sea. Two enemies against us – that is too much.”

Palestinian politician Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of the National Committee to Confront the Siege against Gaza, said the reopening of the commercial crossing was imperative with Gaza now facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic enters Gaza in the most difficult humanitarian, health and environmental conditions, in light of the tightening of the occupation’s siege,” he said in a statement.

Palestinian sources confirmed the Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, was in the enclave on Wednesday as part of mediation efforts to alleviate tension between Israel and Hamas and fears of another all-out war.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

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