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10 I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS Passion Islam I December 2008
Israel using food, medicines
as weapons, says UK charity
Leading British charity, Christian Christian news
Aid, accused the Israeli regime service, Ekklesia
of collectively punishing innocent reported that with
civilians by withholding and controlling 80 percent of the
food and medicine to Gaza. population dependent
For almost one and a half years, upon food aid, the
1.5 million Palestinians have endured situation is critical but
collective punishment as a result of that the crossings into
Israel’s inhumane siege of Gaza. Gaza, the only points
“With the recent upsurge in of entry for people
violence it is Palestinian and Israeli and goods, remain tightly closed.
community should be blamed for it.
civilians who will pay the price of “There is a huge concern for
We are not given hope,” Dabbagh
failure and silence, and lose hope November food supplies. UNRWA
itself,” Christian Aid’s middle-eastern only works with registered refugees, Despite an agreement on cessation
advocacy officer William Bell said. but what about non-refugees?” it
of violence since June 2008, Gazans
Despite repeated calls from the quoted a Christian Aid partner saying
were kept isolated from the world and
international community, Gaza has in Khan Younis.
continue to live in abject poverty.
remained closed to food and medicine, Costa Dabbagh, from Near East
Although getting food supplies into
while the situation has again further Council of Churches, which also
deteriorated in recent weeks. works with the British charity, warned
Gaza is a vital first step, Christian Aid
UNRWA, the agency responsible that simply letting food into Gaza was
said it believed steps must be taken
for assisting Palestinian refugees, “not enough.”
to resolve the political crisis before
announced that it had run out of food “We are fed and kept alive
people will see a real change in their
to distribute. without dignity and the international lives.
New law to clamp down on
forced marriages introduced
Britain introduced a new law bolstering absorbed immigrant cultures. In a sought by a victim, a friend or the
rules against forced marriages, after newspaper article, Miliband said police – could face jail.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband Britain was taking a tougher stand “This new law is a powerful tool
highlighted a case in Pakistan ahead against forced marriage, describing that will help ensure that no-one is
of a visit to the south Asian country. the practice as “a stain on those who forced into marriage against their will
The new law allows courts to carry it out, those who condone it and and those already in such marriages
stop forced marriages and provide also those who ignore it.” will receive protection,” junior justice
protection to those who have been He recounted the tale of British minister Bridget Prentice said.
married against their will. diplomats rescuing a 15-year-old girl “Our policies reinforce that hope and
It also gives judges the power from a village near Mirpur in northern send a clear message that we are
to require individuals to reveal the Pakistan, where she was being held committed to providing support and
whereabouts of people thought to be prisoner and beaten by her father to help to victims and that violence of
at risk of being forced into marriage, get her to agree to marriage. any kind will not be tolerated.”
stop potential victims from being So far this year, the FMU has A spokeswoman for the justice
taken abroad, and seize passports. handled more than 1,500 reports of ministry acknowledged that while
According to Britain’s Forced forced marriage and diplomats across the “primary purpose of the act is
Marriage Unit (FMU) 85% of all the world have helped more than preventative” the same protection will
victims are women and a third of 400 people facing possible forced be made available to women already
victims under the age of 18. marriage or being made to sponsor forced into marriage.
Distinct from mutually-accepted an immigration visa after marriage “Where a forced marriage has
arranged marriages, forced marriages has taken place, Miliband said. taken place, they (the courts) would
have led to suicides and “honour killing” Under the new laws, those who do also be able to make orders to protect
murders in Britain, shocking a nation not comply with court orders related the victim and help remove them from
widely deemed to have successfully to forced marriage – which can be that situation,” she said. – AFP
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