Nearly 21,000 children are missing in Gaza

In a report published on Monday, Save the Children says that nearly 21,000 children are missing in Gaza.

Behind this shocking statistic are thousands of Palestinian children believed to be trapped beneath rubble, buried in unmarked graves, harmed beyond recognition by explosives, detained by Israeli forces or lost in the chaos of conflict.

The group said that it was nearly impossible to collect and verify information under the current conditions, but at least 17,000 children are believed to be unaccompanied and separated and approximately 4,000 children are likely missing under the rubble, with an unknown number in mass graves.

The plight of the children of Gaza has also been highlighted by UNICEF in a report earlier this year. It says that many of those who have survived the terror of the constant bombardment are suffering from severe malnutrition and do not “even have the energy to cry.”

Jeremy Stoner, Save the Children’s regional director for the Middle East, has called for an independent investigation into the situation surrounding Gaza’s missing children and for there to be accountability for the actions that have caused such suffering.

“Families are tortured by the uncertainty of the whereabouts of their loved ones. No parent should have to dig through rubble or mass graves to try and find their child’s body. No child should be alone, unprotected in a war zone. No child should be detained or held hostage”, he added. (MT)

More than a match for Sir Keir – NEU General Secretary, Daniel Kebede

A strike is about “taking back control of an education system from a brutally racist state….It is much more than about the issue of pay, it is about reorganising society, where we are free from racism and free from oppression.” Daniel Kebede, National Education Union (NEU) General Secretary, socialist, Marxist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter. His election demonstrates that radicalism and socialism are still very much alive in the teaching profession. Kebede and his team have issued and circulated A Manifesto for Education. This shows just how much is needed to establish a sound education system for all our children. 

This month Kebede warned the likely incoming Labour administration of the need for a “radical shift” in policy and an increase in funding for education. Otherwise they will be facing a “rough time”. He reminded Labour that a third of children living in poverty do not receive free school meals. Teachers who regularly feed the children may go hungry themselves. He is calling for a full restoration of teachers’ pay as this has been eroded for over a decade. The NEU has said the government needs to spend £12.2 billion next year to start reversing cuts. Labour has promised that 6,500 more teachers will be recruited, but an extra 33,000 teachers are needed to address the recruitment and retention crisis.

Kebede has attacked Labour too for deciding to retain the “shameful” two-child benefit cap. It would cost £1.3 billion to lift it – “small change” in government spending terms. “These are political choices. If we have a prospective government not even committing to make that sort of investment in our children, it’s highly problematic.” Do not expect an easy ride, Sir Keir. (JB)

Lacklustre draw leaves fans frustrated

“Are you the best we’ve got” a disgruntled fan shouted as the players walked dejectedly off the pitch following a lacklustre draw.

It was 90 minutes that could so easily have been spent more productively watching grass grow and the players knew it. Not that they would ever admit it.

In fact, right-winger Rishi Sunak claimed that he had won by a country mile. Whilst the man who thinks playing on the right wing means being in the stands cheering on the other side was reduced to telling a ‘funny story’ about the day his Great Dane received a knighthood. At least I think that was the point of the story but must confess I drifted off at the third mention of the word ‘knighthood’.

Back to the debate though. This was a rematch of previous bouts and, if the players were told to go out and entertain the paying public, they quickly reverted to type, passing the rhetorical ball safely along the half way line. If open goals were few and far between it was because neither team looked like they wanted to win enough to venture that far upfield.

The highlight of the night was provided by the crowd. Not those in the highly-prized front row seats but those refused admission who, rejecting both teams, kept up a chant of ‘Palestine will be free’, which sound engineers failed to turn into ‘Vote for Farage’, despite instructions from the Board to ‘keep Gaza off the agenda’.

In best sporting fashion the players completely ignored what the crowd wanted and did what they had planned anyway. A display that felt like a half-hearted game of keepyuppy that  lacked anything to get the crowd off their feet. In the end it was as predictable as it was depressing. 

Apologies for the mixed metaphors. Any resemblance to the English football team is purely deliberate. (DM)

Bolivian workers see off coup attempt

Bolivian President Luis Arce thwarted an attempted coup on Wednesday, as Army General Juan Jose Zuniga was arrested, hours after he led troops and tanks to storm the presidential palace in the capital, La Paz.

President Arce from the left-wing Movement for Socialism (MAS) party has hailed the failed coup bid, calling it a victory for Bolivia’s democracy. “Many thanks to the Bolivian people. Long live democracy,” he said, after asserting control over the military and arresting the ringleaders.

Bolivia remains a country in crisis. Although extreme poverty has been coming down over the last 20 years, most of the gains were made under Morales’ period in office from 2005 to 2020 and now the situation is worsening. Bolivia depends on the export of raw materials like gas and lithium for its foreign reserves, which are used to subsidise prices for basic necessities like fuel and food. But the vagaries of the world market have severely reduced its reserves and caused the split between Morales and Arce.

Unusually the generals acted without any open political support from right-wing politicians. Perhaps they hoped to exploit the divisions in the ruling party ahead of next year’s election. But Morales, who intends to stand against Arce, called on his supporters to oppose the coup and the unions called for an all-out general strike to defend democracy.

We are used to being told that we need left politicians to protect us. But when push comes to shove, as happened in Bolivia, it is the politicians who rely on the working class mobilising to protect them. Now they have to return the favour by delivering significant reforms. Otherwise the next coup might not be seen off quite so easily. (MS)

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