Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα refugees. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα refugees. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Κυριακή, Νοεμβρίου 23, 2014

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife met Sunday with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, during the last day of his visit to Turkey.

The Bidens visited the Church of St. George, a Greek-Orthodox cathedral in Istanbul, before heading to the historic Suleymaniye Mosque, the largest in the city.

Biden arrived in Istanbul on Friday for talks with Turkish leaders on the crisis in Syria.

Biden said Saturday that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed a Syrian transition of power away from the Bashar al-Assad regime during a four-hour meeting earlier in the day.

He said they also talked about denying Islamic State militants a safe haven in Iraq and Syria.

In the past, Erdogan has insisted if the U.S. wants Turkish help, it must focus less on fighting IS extremists and more on toppling the Assad regime. On Saturday, he said Turkey will continue working closely with the United States, and he called Biden's visit "very meaningful."

Biden said the United States will continue to help Turkey cope with the humanitarian crisis created by 1.6 million Syrian refugees flooding into Turkish refugee camps.

Meanwhile the White House announced the U.S. will give $135 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help Turkey and other nations care for refugees fleeing violence in Syria.

Most of that funding is slated for the World Food Program, to be used for household food rations and food vouchers for refugees. Nearly $11 million of the funds will go to support the World Food Program in Turkey.


Δευτέρα, Νοεμβρίου 10, 2014

Gaza: Ban Ki-moon forms independent panel to investigate recent conflict

UN,  10 November 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the formation of an internal inquiry aimed at reviewing “certain incidents” reported at United Nations facilities in the Gaza Strip during the recent summer conflict there between Palestinian factions and the State of Israel.

During his visit last month to the war-ravaged enclave, the Secretary-General called for a thorough investigation into incidents where UN facilities – including schools run by the UN agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) – sustained hits resulting in the deaths of numerous innocent civilians and UN staff members.

In a statement attributable to his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, the Secretary-General declared that he had established the “internal and independent” UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry to review and investigate “a number of specific incidents in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done to United Nations premises.”

In addition, added Mr. Dujarric, the Board will also “review and investigate incidents in which weapons were found to be present on United Nations premises.”

The fighting – which raged from 8 July to 26 August – saw entire neighbourhoods in the Strip flattened, and almost one-third of Gaza’s population uprooted. The violence killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and more than 70 Israelis while also damaging or destroying over 100,000 homes.

While in Gaza last month, Mr. Ban voiced horror at the extent of the destruction, stating that “nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed.”

The Board of Inquiry will be led by Patrick Cammaert of The Netherlands and will include Maria Vicien-Milburn of Argentina, Lee O’Brien of the United States, Pierre Lemelin of Canada and K.C. Reddy of India.


Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 08, 2014

Turkey: 18 killed in Kurdish protests

At least 18 people have been killed in pro-Kurdish protests in southeast Turkey, the Anadulo news agency reported on Wednesday.
The protesters were angry at Ankara’s lack of action to protect Kurdish population of the Syrian border town of Kobane from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Eight of the deaths came in Turkey’s main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir where the most intense rioting took place overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, a local security official told AFP.

The clashes with police caused extensive damage in the city with shop fronts burned-out and buses set on fire.

The other deaths were reported in violent protests in Mardin, Siirt, Batman and Mus, all cities in the southeast of Turkey.

In a measure unprecedented in the last years, the Turkish army has deployed in the streets of the cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van to impose a curfew.

Schools were closed in Diyarbakir and fights were cancelled, reports said. The protests had first broken out on Monday night but Tuesday’s clashes were more severe.

Police also used tear gas and water cannon to disperse angry pro-Kurdish protests in Istanbul and Ankara.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has so far not intervened militarily against ISIS militants fighting to seize majority-Kurdish border town of Kobane, to the fury of Turkey’s Kurds.

More than 160,000 have fled Kobane since the Islamist militants began their assault on the city three weeks ago.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the Kurdish protests supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “invite terror and chaos to Turkey,” the Anadulo news agency reported.
“Nobody has the right to disturb the peace and stability in Turkey using developments in a foreign territory as a pretext,” Kurtulmus added.
Turkey considers the PKK as a terrorist organization and refuses to support the PKK-offshoot fighting ISIS in the town of Kobane.
(With AFP)

Τρίτη, Οκτωβρίου 07, 2014

Turkey asks US to ramp up air strikes against Islamic State

Turkey has asked the United States to step up air strikes to keep Islamic State militants (ISIS/ISIL) from seizing a key Syrian Kurdish border town, a senior Turkish official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

"Our government and our related institutions have emphasized to US officials the necessity of immediately ramping up air bombardment in a more active and efficient way," Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said, according to comments published on the website of the television channel AHaber.

Islamic State fighters advancing into the southwest of Kobani has increased pressure on Ankara to intervene in the conflict. Criticism is moutning from Turkey's own Kurdish community, who accuse it of inaction.

NATO member Turkey has so far taken in more than 180,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees fleeing Kobani. But it has not joined a US-led coalition against Sunni insurgents, saying the campaign should aim to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad.


Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 02, 2014

Turkish government gets OK for military operations in Syria, Iraq. The mandate to begin tomorrow will last for one year.

A comprehensive motion authorizing the government to deploy the Turkish army into Iraq and Syria and to allow the deployment of foreign troops on Turkish soil was approved Oct. 2 in Parliament, providing the necessary legality for Turkey’s potential contribution to the international coalition’s efforts to destroy jihadists.

The motion, based on Article 92 of the Turkish Constitution, received 298 votes in favor and 98 against.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers voted in favor of the motion while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the People’s Democracy Party (HDP) voted against the mandate.

  • The Iraq-Syria motion gives a green light for the use of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria, as well as for foreign forces to be deployed on Turkish military bases and to transit through Turkish territory in operations against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. The mandate to begin tomorrow will last for one year. The government merged two existing motions on Syria and Iraq into one, arguing that the threats and risks posed by terrorist organizations are using both countries’ territories. 

“The threat against Turkey has gained a new dimension. It’s our obligation to take measures against this threat and to protect our citizens in the frame of international law,” Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told Parliament. Yılmaz cited the efforts of the international coalition to battle against extremist jihadists in Syria and underlined that Turkey was also part of these efforts.

But just hours before the parliamentary session, Yılmaz stressed that the adoption of the motion did not mean that Turkey would take immediate steps in line with the scope of the motion. The three priorities Turkey has already outlined are to establish safe havens inside Syria to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrians in their own country, establish no-fly zones for the protection of these zones and train and provide logistics to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Turkey. Turkey is yet to decide what measures it will take in this framework but it has made it clear that all such potential measures to be carried out with the participation of coalition forces should also target the Syrian government. 

‘Assad is the main source of unrest’

“The main source of ISIL is the Syrian regime,” Yılmaz said, adding that Damascus had increased its oppression against dissidents in the country, committing massacres against its own citizens in various ways. “The developments in Iraq have proven that there is a need of a holistic and comprehensive strategy to respond to the regional clashes and humanitarian tragedy. The region will be dragged into further conflict in the event the international community does not take a decisive step,” he added.

Mehmet Şandır, a deputy parliamentary group leader of the MHP, stressed that they were voting in favor of the motion because of their sensitivity to national causes and security while adding that that did not mean that it approved the ruling party’s foreign policy line. “If there is a possibility of an attack against our country, we should take measures to defend our country,” Şandır said.

CHP: Motion is a battle cry

Akif Hamzaçebi, deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP, described the motion as a “battle cry” and stressed that it was not aimed at fighting against ISIL but the Bashar al-Assad regime, which could drag Turkey into war with Syria. “Where is ISIL in this motion? Mr. President was caught red-handed yesterday with his address to Parliament as he outlined that their main objective was to topple the regime,” Hamzaçebi said. “We simply do not want to draw Turkey into this fire.”

Faruk Loğoğlu, speaking on behalf of the CHP, termed the point Turkey arrived at a crossroads that would negatively affect the future of Turkey and the region. “This motion is the result of an adventurous foreign policy. And we should all vote against it,” Loğoğlu said.

HDP: Gov’t still supporting ISIL

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, a lawmaker from the HDP, argued that the Turkish government did have any concerns over ISIL’s existence in Iraq and Syria and that the motion was just an attempt to show off on behalf of Turkey for its regional ambitions. “You were bystanders to the ISIL massacres. You had no such issue until Barack Obama targeted ISIL,” Kürkçü said. “You were the ones who supported ISIL, and you are still supporting it.”

Linking the ongoing Kurdish resolution process to the clashes between ISIL and the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Kobane region of northern Syria, Kürkçü said, “If Kobane fails, the resolution process will also fail.” 


Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 30, 2014

Turkey’s ISIL mandate includes 'military action abroad, opening bases to foreign troops'

The mandate the Turkish government is seeking from the Parliament to authorize the army to send troops into Iraq and Syria to deal with growing threat of extremist jihadists does also include opening its bases to foreign troops, a senior government official has said, signalling about potential Turkish contribution to the international military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“The motion we are about to send the Parliament is going to be comprehensive and to deal today’s and tomorrow’s threats,” deputy Prime Minister and spokesperson of the government, Bülent Arınç told reporters Sept. 30 following weekly cabinet meeting.

Upon a question whether the motion to be sent to Parliament will include sending troops to foreign countries to establish security zones, to allow deployment of foreign troops and to open Turkish military bases to foreign troops, Arınç said “Let me include one more option: All. The motion will refer to all of these points you have asked.”

“We are a determined government. We perfectly know what’s going on inside and outside Turkey. This issue of security zone and other issues all have diplomatic and military reflections,” he added.

After another question, Arınç said that the ISIL militants are advancing on Suleyman Shah Tomb in northern Syria, which Turkish soldiers continue to guard.

  • Turkey is insisting to establish safe havens in Syria for the protection of Syrian refugees inside the country. Apart from a security zone, it does also ask coalition members led by the United States to establish no-fly zones over Syrian airspace.   

The motion is based on Article 92 of Turkey's Constitution that stipulates parliamentary authorization for sending troops to another country or to allow deployment of foreign troops on Turkish soils.

Arınç said the motion has two parts, its reasoning and demands from the Parliament, and underlined that it will be as comprehensive as possible so that the government will not need a fresh parliamentary mandate.

“We were planning to extend already existing motions on Iraq and Syria that will expiry in October. Their validity could be extended in a routine way but we have thought to work on a text merging these motions that would address all threats and risks Turkey is facing in its region,” Arınç stressed.

The motion is expected to be voted at the Parliament on Oct. 2 following a closed session due to sensitivity of the issue.


Τετάρτη, Ιουνίου 04, 2014

Kerry urges Assad's allies to end Syria war

BEIRUT: US Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Syria's election as a "great big zero" on Wednesday, urging President Bashar al-Assad's allies Iran, Russia and Hezbollah to end the country's three-year war.

His remarks during a surprise trip to Beirut came ahead of the publication of official results from the election, dubbed a "disgrace" by Washington.

Kerry also announced US$290 million in humanitarian aid for Syria and neighbouring countries hosting refugees, key among them Lebanon.

Assad is expected to win in a poll that was not even held in the roughly 60 percent of the country out of government control.

"With respect to the elections that took place, the so-called elections, the elections are non-elections," Kerry told journalists in the Lebanese capital.

"The elections are a great big zero. They're meaningless, and they're meaningless because you can't have an election where millions of your people don't even have an ability to vote, where they don't have an ability to contest the election, and they have no choice."

He said that "nothing has changed" as a result of the poll, adding: "The conflict is the same, the terror is the same, the killing is the same."

Syrian state media has trumpeted a high turnout, with pro-government newspaper Al-Watan saying "millions" had cast ballots and estimating 70 per cent participation in some provinces, a figure dismissed by activists who charged that people voted out of fear rather than conviction.

Nationwide violence, however, killed 209 people on polling day, including 71 civilians, a monitoring group said.

  • Despite the criticism from Kerry and other senior American officials, Syrian opposition activists have slammed Washington for failing to take more decisive action on the years-long conflict.
Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford joined in the criticism, telling CNN he had retired last month after almost three years working with the opposition because he could no longer defend US policy.

Kerry urged key backers of the Syrian president to end the war.

  • "I particularly call on those nations directly supporting the Assad regime ... I call on them -- Iran, Russia, and I call on Hezbollah, based right here in Lebanon -- to engage in the legitimate effort to bring this war to an end."
The trio have been repeatedly criticised by Western countries for backing Assad, with Moscow in particular coming under fire for vetoing draft resolutions in the UN Security Council four times in defence of its ally Damascus.

Russia earlier called for the speedy appointment of a new UN envoy after Lakhdar Brahimi, who brokered two rounds of abortive peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition, stepped down over the weekend saying his mediation had reached a stalemate.

  • Brahimi had infuriated Damascus by criticising Tuesday's election as an obstacle to his peace efforts.
Kerry meanwhile pledged to boost humanitarian aid to people affected by the Syrian war.

"Today, I am pleased to announce on behalf of the American people and on behalf of President Obama another US$290 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected by the conflict, both inside Syria and the communities throughout the region where they have taken refuge," he said.

"With the newest contribution that I've announced today, the United States has now committed more than US$2 billion to support refugees and the nations that have opened their doors to them," he added.

"A large portion of the assistance that I just announced today, US$51 million, will go directly to refugees in Lebanon and the communities that I just mentioned that host them here," he said.

  • At more than one million, Lebanon hosts the highest number of Syria's nearly three million refugees.
"It's important for all of us to recognize the human catastrophe that is unfolding before our eyes, and that is why we in the United States have worked so hard to try to push for a political solution, which is the only real solution to this conflict," Kerry said.

A peaceful revolt demanding political change broke out in Syria in March 2011, but the crackdown by the Assad regime was so brutal that protesters later took up arms.

The war that ensued has killed more than 162,000 people and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.


Δευτέρα, Μαΐου 12, 2014

Commissioner Malmström deplores loss of life in boat tragedy between Libya and Lampedusa

European Commission, Statement, Brussels, 12 May 2014/Anna Cecilia Malmström (European Commissioner for Home Affairs):
"I am deeply shocked by the new tragedy that took place in international waters between Libya and Lampedusa, resulting in at least a dozen deaths. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Let me thank the Italian authorities for their huge efforts in putting in place the Mare Nostrum operation, also supported by the European Commission, which has saved and continues to save tens of thousands of lives. 

Unfortunately all the efforts in place could not avoid a new appalling loss of life. It is the clear responsibility of all Member States of the European Union to now show concrete solidarity in order to reduce the risk of such tragedies from happening again. I therefore call on all Member States to give concrete and effective follow up to the actions identified in the Action Plan designed by the European Commission, and in particular to engage in resettling refugees directly from the camps outside the EU and opening new legal channels to come legally. 

By bringing these people safely to the EU, we could prevent them from falling in the hands of traffickers and smugglers who put migrants' lives at risk to cross the Mediterranean. If each Member State would resettle even just a few thousand people, this would make a huge difference for hundreds of thousands of people who are in need of shelter and it would significantly reduce the pressure of migratory flows in the Mediterranean. 

It is time for Member States to put their words into action, this is why I call for a formal discussion at the next Home Affairs Council on how Member States intend to concretely contribute to address the migratory and asylum challenges in the Mediterranean."

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 02, 2014

Multiple emergencies pose great test of the global humanitarian system, UN official says

2 January 2014 – An unprecedented number of people are beginning the New Year either internally displaced or as refugees, the United Nations humanitarian chief warned today, urging sustained support in 2014 for millions who have been driven from their homes by violence and bloodshed or uprooted by devastating natural disasters.

“2013 was a real test of the global humanitarian system, and there is no indication that 2014 will be any different,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, briefing reporters in New York on the past year, which was marked by the international community’s massive efforts to ease suffering in war-torn Syria and typhoon-hit Philippines, and the year ahead, which has opened amid sectarian fighting in both Central African Republic and South Sudan. 

“It is clear that the United Nations and its partners will be needed more than ever,” she said, noting that just a little more than two weeks ago, the Organization had launched its largest ever funding appeal – nearly $13 billion – to reach millions of people with life-saving aid in 2014, with half of that sought for those affected by the deepening crisis in Syria.
Tragically, since then, inter-communal fighting has shattered the world’s youngest nation – South Sudan – and bloody violence has spread throughout the Central African Republic, where a worrying crisis has been unfolding against a backdrop of abject poverty and a collapsing State. The world’s collective response capacity and resources are being stretched to the limit,” she said, stressing that more funds will be needed to address emerging needs. 



Πέμπτη, Δεκεμβρίου 26, 2013

UN agency condemns Israeli demolition of Arab homes, urges adherence to international law

26 December 2013 – The United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees today condemned Israel’s latest demolitions in the West Bank which have displaced 68 people, including 32 children, in the depths of winter, saying it is violating international law and calling on it to abide by its obligations.
“Because of these demolitions, which violate international law, these historically self-sufficient communities have been forced to endure the pitiless seasonal weather in inadequate housing, entirely dependent on international assistance,” the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said of the demolitions which took place on Christmas Eve in Ein Ayoub near Ramallah and Fasayil Al Wusta near Jericho in the Jordan valley.

“We call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law, most particularly to ensure the humane treatment and protection of the civilian Palestinian population at all times, including through an immediate halt to administrative demolitions,” it added, noting that to date at least 1,103 Palestinians have been displaced throughout the West Bank in Area C, and East Jerusalem, exceeding the numbers for 2012.
Area C, where Israel still retains control over security, planning and building, represents over 60 per cent of the West Bank.
The majority of those displaced most recently, 46, are Palestinian refugees, including a five-year-old girl who is paralyzed from the waist down. They are now being sheltered in tents distributed by the Palestinian Red Crescent, with night-time temperatures plunging to around zero Celsius, while some 750 head of sheep and goats are without shelter at this crucial lambing season.

“These are Bedouin communities who managed to weather the recent snow storms,” UNRWA said. “On this day, many people around the world are celebrating family life with their children. But thanks to the ‘administrative demolitions’ these families have lost their homes and their livelihoods are severely threatened.”

The Agency stressed that administrative demolition is not a solution for Palestinians in Area C and are a common trigger of forced displacement, possibly amounting to a forcible transfer and forced eviction under international humanitarian law and human rights law.
It reiterated a statement in September by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that “mass demolitions raise serious concerns about the prohibition on forced eviction under international human rights law, and Israel’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of Palestinians to adequate housing and freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family and home.”
Of the 1,103 Palestinians displaced so far this year, about a third are refugees, and at least 558 are children, including 195 refugees.
Furthermore, a total of 1,813 Palestinians, including 497 refugees, have been affected by the loss of non-residential structures such as animal pens that support livelihoods. In total, 663 structures, including 259 residential units, were recorded demolished since the start of this year in the West Bank. At least 175 structures belonged to registered refugees.

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 04, 2013

Syria: UN humanitarian chief says no progress made on access to hard-to-reach areas

3 December 2013 – Reporting “modest progress” with the Syrian Government on speeding up visa issuance and increasing the number of relief distribution hubs, a top United Nations official said today that with perhaps 250,000 Syrians cut off from aid in besieged communities across the war-torn country, greater efforts are needed to ensure real gains on the humanitarian front.
“I advised the Security Council that we have seen some modest progress in terms of administrative procedures that had been put in place over time,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, as she spoke to reporters after briefing the 15-member body on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

This is her second closed-door meeting with the Council since it adopted, on 2 October, a Presidential Statement urging the Syrian Government to immediately allow humanitarian access to relieve the plight of civilians trapped by heavy fighting, including cross-line aid deliveries.
The statement, which called on all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting, with special attention to key delivery routes, also deplored the escalating violence in a conflict that has killed more than 100, 000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since opposition protesters first sought to oust the Government of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.
On the implementation of the statement, Ms. Amos cited progress, for example, in the Government’s decision to grant some 50 visas on an individual basis.
Damascus has also given the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) permission to open three additional relief hubs, “but only two of these will actually be helpful to us, because the third being proposed – Al Sweida – will not allow us access into Western Dera'a, which is where the hard-to-reach communities are.”
She also noted that both the Government and the opposition had indicated who the interlocutors are for the UN to try to facilitate humanitarian access.
“However, I did remind the Council that on some of the more difficult areas – protection of civilians, de-militarization of schools and hospitals, access to besieged communities and also cross-line access to hard-to-reach areas – we have not seen any progress.
“I need the Council to continue to make it absolutely clear that targeting civilians is against international humanitarian law and that we need to do greater work to ensure that the recommendations in the Presidential Statement are achieved,” she declared.
Responding to questions, Ms. Amos said that an estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped in besieged communities, while perhaps some 2.5 million were in hard-to-reach areas – places that aid workers have been able to reach but not frequently enough to make any real headway against the overall needs.
Asked if a Council resolution – which carry legal obligations for UN Member States ¬– would improve the situation, Ms. Amos said: “My focus is on how what has already been agreed can be put into effect. Should the Council agree on a resolution, then we will operationalize that.”
Indeed, while the UN and its partners have made gains in reaching civilians across the strife-riven country, in the context of the scale of the crisis, “this is far too few to meet the needs of the people. Of course the issue is what is the best means to reach people in need? For me, the unity of the Security Council is the key here.”
Meanwhile, UN agencies continue pressing ahead with relief efforts, now rushing to fortify desperate civilians against the oncoming winter season.
Briefing the press in Geneva today, Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned: “The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented, as the number quadrupled as compared to the previous year.”
She explained that in December 2012, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
As the conflict approaches its fourth year, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively. UNICEF has been working since early October to equip children as quickly as possible for the cold. Blankets, plastic sheeting, winter clothing and hygiene kits are being distributed, along with winterized tents and fuel to heat classrooms.
For its part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commenced an emergency airlift of urgently needed winter supplies to reinforce its stockpile in northern Iraq with relief items for up to 50,000 vulnerable Syrians. A UNHCR-chartered Boeing 777 landed at Erbil airport on Monday carrying 90 metric tons of relief items to help 4,400 families over the winter months, including plastic tarpaulins, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets.
“While UNHCR has adequate stocks inside Iraq to meet the immediate needs, we want to ensure that sufficient items are on-hand to address any developments,” said UNHCR's Amman-based Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amin Awad. "The relief items we are airlifting will reinforce the UNHCR-led winterization regional response as temperatures are starting to drop across higher altitude areas in the Syria region.”
Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), told reporters that the agency dispatched enough food for over 3.4 million people inside Syria in November, mainly to internally displaced families in 13 governorates, and had reached eight more locations, which had been inaccessible in recent months.
However, she said WFP remains gravely concerned about the fate of many Syrians still trapped in conflict zones throughout the country, including around Damascus and in Al Hassakeh, where some areas have been without food assistance for six consecutive months.
WFP aims to reach 4 million people inside Syria every month, as well as to provide assistance for nearly 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

Τρίτη, Νοεμβρίου 12, 2013

Black Market in Lebanon: Syrian Refugees Selling Organs to Survive.

In the shadow of the Syrian civil war, a growing number of refugees are surviving in Lebanon by illegally selling their own organs. But the exchange comes at a huge cost. 

The young man, who called himself Raïd, wasn't doing well. He climbed into the backseat of the car, in pain, careful not to touch any corners. He was exhausted and dizzy. A large bandage looped around his stomach, caked with blood. Despite that, the 19-year-old Syrian wanted to tell his story.  

Seven months ago, he fled the embattled city of Aleppo, in Syria, to Lebanon with his parents and six siblings. The family quickly ran out of money in the capital, Beirut. Raïd heard from a relative that the solution could be to sell one of his kidneys, and then he spoke to a bull-necked man, now sitting in the passenger seat, smoking and drinking a beer.
His acquaintances call the man Abu Hussein. He said he's employed by a gang that works in the human organ trade - specializing in kidneys. The group's business is booming. About one million Syrians have fled into Lebanon because of the civil war in their home country and now many don't know how they can make a living. In their distress, they sell their organs. It's a dangerous and, of course, illegal business. That's why the gang has its operations performed in shady underground clinics.
Abu Hussein's boss is known in the poor areas of Beirut as "Big Man." Fifteen months ago, Big Man gave the 26-year-old a new assignment: find organ donors. The influx of Syrian refugees from the war, Abu Hussein's boss argued, made it more likely people would be willing to sell organs.

'More Sellers Than Buyers'
Lebanon has a tradition of illegal organ trading. The country has immensely rich people and a huge number of people living in poverty. And organ traffickers don't need to worry about government controls. Those are exactly the ideal conditions for organ trafficking, said Luc Noel, transplant expert at the World Health Organization in Geneva.
Every year, tens of thousands of rich Arabs from around the region come to Beirut for treatment in the country's excellent hospitals. The authorities don't pay attention whether a patient flies home with a new nose -- or with a new kidney.
Previously, it was mostly destitute Palestinians who sold their organs. Then came the war in Syria, and then the refugees. Now the groups are in competition and the prices are falling.
"When it comes to kidneys, we now have far more sellers than buyers," said Abu Hussein. He added that four of the Big Man's other recruiters have brokered the sales of 150 kidneys in the past 12 months. According to Abu Hussein, other gangs are doing similarly well.
Experts estimate that 5,000 to 10,000 kidneys are illegally transplanted per year worldwide. "Many of our products go abroad to, for example, the Persian Gulf," said Abu Hussein. But Big Man also has customers in the US and Europe, he said. 

Enough to Survive On Until Spring
Raïd had no trouble selling his left kidney because he was fit and didn't smoke. He played for the Syrian national youth soccer team. During the examinations doctors told him lies evidently meant to calm him down. With a little luck, the kidney would grow back, he was told, and there wouldn't be any after-effects. In truth, live donors need to undergo check-ups for years after the operation, and people like Raïd can't afford that kind of treatment.
He got $7,000 (€5,200) for his kidney. "While I drove Raïd and his mother to the clinic, a colleague of mine was shopping with the father," says Abu Hussein. The family lacked everything: Raïd's father bought mattresses and winter clothing, a fridge and an oven, and took it all to the one room the family of eight lives in today. They have enough left over to get through the winter. And then? "I don't know," says Raïd.
Abu Hussein says everyone benefits from the organ trade. The Syrians get money and the sick -- who pay up to $15,000 for a new kidney -- get a new life. He himself wins too, he added. He gets $600 to $700 commission for every sale he arranges. That's as much as a Lebanese teacher earns in a month. 

'I Don't Care If You Die'

Abu Hussein said that in the last few months he has driven 15 or 16 kidney donors - all of them Syrians aged between 14 and 30 - to the secret clinic masquerading as a residential building. The clinic has the most modern medical equipment and doesn't want to limit itself to kidneys. "I'm currently looking for someone who has an eye for sale." Later that evening it became evident not everyone benefits from this trade. Raïd, sitting in the back of the car, was feeling unwell. His kidney had been cut out from the front, seven days ago. "I need the drugs. You said you would get me the drugs," he said to Abu Hussein who just minutes earlier had been bragging how well his organization took care of the Syrians.
But when Raïd asks for painkillers, Abu Hussein shouts at him: "Shut up. I don't care if you die. You're finished anyway."

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