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2006 Hunger Alerts

INDIA: Children dying of starvation due to uninterested government officials

Nine-month-old Seema Musahar died this morning, July 28 in Belwa village, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh after desperate attempts of her mother, 35-year-old Laxmi Musahar to get help for her infant at the local health centre and other places. As the AHRC mentioned in a statement issued yesterday July 27 (AS-180-2006), Laxmi had to pawn her two saris to a neighbour to get some money with which to take her child to get treatment, but still this was not enough to save her.

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INDIA: The 'blame game' continues between state officials and local authorities over the starvation deaths of 8 persons

The victims; Moral Hembram, Bidoy Hembram, Mongla Mardi, Som Besra, Sundari Hembram, Malati Kisku, Dharni Murmu and Ghasirena Tudu; were all members of the so-called "backward classes" of caste-conscious India.

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PAKISTAN: Government neglect in drought-affected region leaves thousands malnourished in Tharparkar District

The current drought in Tharparkar has left many villagers suffering from malnutrition and other hunger-related illnesses. The villagers rely on the consumption of milk from livestock as their primary source of food but the drought has killed off a larger number of animals, and milk production has severely dwindled. Livestock comprises of almost 80 percent of the district's economy, and the shortage of animals has also significantly decreased the villagers' purchasing power. Thus, the victims can neither rely on animal husbandry and farming in the village as a source of food, nor can they afford to buy food in the markets. Potable water also does not exist in the area anymore as most of the ground wells have gone dry. This has increased the incidence of malnutrition and the young, elderly and pregnant being more susceptible.

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AUSTRALIA: Asylum seekers denied the right to health

The right to health is a fundamental human right, however thousands of asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their homelands and seeking asylum in Australia are denied the right to adequate medical facilities by the Australian Government. Under Australia¡¦s harsh refugee policy, thousands of asylum seekers are forced to live in the community on a Bridging Visa E (BVE) whilst they await the outcome of their Protection Visa Application, a visa that requires the determination of the refugee status of the applicant under section 36 of the Migration Act 1958. Bridging Visa E¡¦s deny asylum seekers the right to work, free or subsidised Government-sponsored medical services (Medicare), and access to income. As a result of this, when an asylum seekers falls ill, they have neither the financial means to seek medical treatment or access to the country¡¦s Medicare services. This is resulting in many asylum seekers, who are suffering from health related illnesses, being forced to suffer in silence.

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INDIA: Failure of Public Distribution System in Barabanki District, Uttar Pradesh

The 200 villagers from Nindura congregated in response to a promise made by local block officials to resolve the problems of the PDS shop and its functionality by April 19, 2006. The group additionally called on the local authorities not only to provide ration cards to those who are not receiving any assistance, but to also allot new Ration Shops in the Dadera and Odoria villages (gram panchayat). Furthermore, the villagers also complained that the local village council leaders (gram pradhan) and Secretary were demanding bribes for the distribution of Anntoyoda, Annapurna, and Below Poverty Line ration cards in those villages, as well as in Munimpur. To date, no ration cards of any kind have been provided to the victims, who are all suffering from the lack of food, despite their eligibility.

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AUSTRALIA: Asylum seekers denied the right to food

The right to food is a fundamental human right, however thousands of asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their homelands and seeking asylum in Australia are denied the right to food by the Australian Government. Under Australia¡¦s harsh refugee policies, thousands of asylum seekers are forced to live in the community on a Bridging Visa E (BVE) whilst they await the outcome of their Protection Visa Application, a visa that requires the determination of the refugee status of the applicant under section 36 of the Migration Act 1958. Bridging Visa E¡¦s deny asylum seekers the right to work, free or subsidized Government-sponsored medical services (Medicare), and access to income.

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UPDATE (Pakistan): Violence imminent over Lyari Expressway construction in Karachi

As reported in our January appeal (HA-01-2006) the Lyari Expressway, which will be 16 kilometres long and is expected to bring in Rs. 400 million of revenue, was originally proposed to alleviate several problems including the erosion of the Lyari riverbeds and traffic congestion in the area. But at what cost? Owing to the construction of the expressway, thousands of people have already been forcibly evicted from their homes, with few having received appropriate alternative living arrangements or compensation for their loss. As a result, thousands have been forced onto the streets without adequate food, shelter, heating or water.

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UPDATE (India): More starvation deaths, more lies in Murshidabad, West Bengal

Mr. Jayram Singh, from the Pakurdiar Village, had been suffering from severe malnutrition and was in critical condition when his wife, Ms. Bisni Mal, died in late January from starvation. His son, Bhadu Singh, had been away from the home when Bisni passed away. Bhadu returned home a few days later to find his father rapidly deteriorating in health. In an attempt to get help for his father, Bhadu approached the Block Development Office (BDO) in Jalangi and the head of the village administration for some food assistance and a Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration card. However, he received no help and his father died from the lack of food three days later.

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INDIA: Starving Musahar community face exploitation in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh

The AHRC requests that you to write letters to the local administration, asking them to immediately address the hunger concerns of this community and ensure that all assistance schemes are functioning to prevent further starvation deaths from occurring. Moreover, persons, police officers and other concerned government authorities who have been found to be exploiting and torturing villagers of the Musahar community must be charged and punished.

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UPDATE (India): River erosion continues to swallow lives and livelihoods in Jalangi, MurshidabadUPDATE (India): River erosion continues to swallow lives and livelihoods in Jalangi, Murshidabad

In late January, a mass petition was signed by 95 people living in Dayarampur village who had protested against the lack of government action to halt the erosion of the Padma River. The petition suggested that the government plan to build a 1.5 kilometre embankment, from Dayarampur to Taltali villages, will yield no beneficial result in halting the erosion as such a small embankment will be washed away during the coming monsoon season. Currently, the river has eroded 18 kilometres of river bank, encroaching 10 kilometres into the village of Dayarampur. The government plan also fails to consider the other villages affected by the erosion, such as Sitanagar, Undayanagar, Suryanagar, and others.

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UPDATE (India): Basic assistance provided by government insufficient in maintaining the livelihoods of indigenous quarry workers in Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh

On September 24, 2005 the District Magistrate (DM) of Mirzapur, Mr. Umesh Kumar Mittal, and the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) visited the Kodwari village, under direction from the National Human Rights Commission, to meet with the victims and discuss their concerns. Soon after their visit, 95 AAY (Anthyodaya Anna Yojana) cards, given to families living below the poverty line, and 10 Annapurna cards (ration cards for senior citizens) were distributed among the villagers. Twenty-five families were also given Rs. 800 each to build houses and two families were promised Rs. 5,000 in compensation. The village was also visited by the Circle Officer and SHO (Station House Officer) of Police. Subsequently, after their visit, the Public Distribution Shops in the area were reviewed and the shops are now open regularly, finally providing rations to those who have cards.

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PAKISTAN: City government forces eviction leaving thousands homeless and without food in Karachi

On January 2, 2006, several police officers and Karachi City Government officials renewed demolitions to make way for the Lyari Expressway Project. Until January 11, several communities lying adjacent to each other in parts of the Rehmatya Colony endured the continuous demolition of over 2,000 homes. The destruction was at times brutal as screaming men, women and children watched bulldozers rip apart their homes. Police and city officials were reportedly laughing and abusing the victims while they ran to salvage whatever could be saved from the rubble. They were also armed with tear gas, batons and used force to ensure that no objections or protests would occur.

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