Tag Archives: humanitarian

Exodus Is Reaching Critical Mass

 

Italian troops with the Uraniam Navy Ship rescue African migrants from Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Nigeria, from a rubber boat in the sea between Italy and Libya.
Sicilia, Oct 14th 2014 By Lynsey Addario diaporama for L’Instant Paris-Match

Across the Middle East and surrounding African countries, turmoil is raging.  The eyes of the world are watching videos of ethnic and cultural cleansing as it drives thousands of refugees outside of their homes, their cities, or their countries. They are forced to the roads, or onto  boats where they risk everything for one chance to escape with their lives.

Three days ago the  deadliest  Mediterranean migrants tragedy claimed  800 lives out of an estimated 850 passengers, according to  UN’s figures.  Meanwhile, yesterday the coast guard reported that  it saved some 638 migrants in six different rescue operations on Monday alone. Today, a further 446 people were rescued from a leaking migrant ship about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the Calabrian coast.

Migrating from a desperate situation to another is not recent for these lives on the run.  The unprecedented aggravation of the Syrian civil war,  the growing number of jihadist-death-worshippers-fanatics, like  Daech (Isil), Boko Haram,  Al-Shabab, and Al-Aqaida affiliates displaced population at a rate never seen since WWII.  Today,  51.2 million refugees haunt the world.

It’ s been four years now that the Island  of Lampedusa, in the Southernmost part of Italy, considers itself under siege, invaded by a swelling flow of migrants arriving from Africa, Middle East and Asia; creating a colossal and unmanageable humanitarian crisis. It  became overwhelming for little Lampedusa and Italy mainland to deal with the problem.  A majority of European Countries didn’t address the emergency, while overcrowded boats continued to capsize. In July 2013,  Pope Francis went to the island on his first official visit outside of Rome.  He prayed for migrants, living and dead, and denounced their traffickers, after a  boat carrying over 500 migrants sank off the coast of Lampedusa causing the death of some 366 migrants from Eritrea and Somalia.  After this episode Italy launched a robust and expensive search-and-rescue mission. The politically unpopular Mare Nostrum operation ended last year, replaced by the  European Mission Agency’s Frontex border patrol. Unfortunately,  its limited mandate and resources have prevented it from being effective in saving lives.

It ensues that traffickers  are not impress and thrive. To maximize their revenue they pack over the gills, ” from rubber Zodiac-type boats to wooden fishing vessels and even old cargo ships; charging  1,000 and 1,500 euros  for the crossing from Libya, where most trafficking operations originate.”

Although, some migrants are taking less risky pathways. ” Police in Ragusa, a Sicilian port town, said they arrested three Syrians who were in charge of a 83-foot Turkish-flagged luxury yacht, which charged passengers $8,500 a piece to travel from Turkey to Sicily.  Among the Syrian and Palestinian passengers were 23 children. Photos snapped by passengers helped police identify the crew of smugglers, police said in a statement. They estimated that the organizers were paid some $800,000 in total for the trip”,  reports AP

golf_mediterranean_map

According to the UN Refugees Agency Since the beginning of  2015 more than 35,000 made the crossing,  and 1,600 (and counting) died.  In 2014,  they were 219,000 to cross and  3,500  lost their lives.  The total number of deaths this year “could well top 30,000,” said Joel Millman, spokesman for IOM. “We just want to make sure people understand how much more … rapid these deaths have been coming this year than last year.”

president_MSB_filippi
Doctor Without Borders President Lori de Filippi

 

“A mass grave is being created in the Mediterranean Sea and European policies are responsible,” said Loris De Filippi, Doctor Without Borders president. “Faced with thousands of desperate people fleeing wars and crises, Europe has closed borders, forcing people in search of protection to risk their lives and die at sea. There is no more time to think, these lives must be saved now. Ending the Mare Nostrum operation was a serious mistake. European States must immediately launch large-scale search and rescue operations, with proactive patrolling as close as possible to Libyan shores. The current means are obviously not enough. This tragedy is only just beginning, but it can and should be stopped.”

Over the past week alone, more than 11,000 people have risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean, and more than a thousand have reportedly died. Regardless of how high Europe builds its fences and how many obstacles are placed in the way, devastating conflicts and crises will continue to force people to flee their countries in order to save their lives, said MSF.  

“Seven hundred deaths in a day are figures from a war zone,” said De Filippi. “This humanitarian tragedy is now under everyone’s eyes but Europe is not willing to address it. This is why we will begin first-hand operations at sea, in an attempt to save as many lives possible. Only creating safe and legal channels to protection in Europe will truly prevent thousands more deaths. But as a medical-humanitarian organization, we simply cannot wait any longer.”

Two years and thousands death after the Pope visit, it seems like the International community got  the message.  Combatting the smugglers by arresting the ringleaders and destroying their boats will be the key part of Europe’s 10-point proposal for an emergency summit in Brussels Thursday.

So far, Italy has arrested more than 1,000 smugglers, most of them the navigators, not the masterminds.

Many organizations and volunteers  participate to the efforts in support of the Worldwide refugees crisis.  To help please contact:

The UN Refugees Agency 

aid workers carrying bodies of migrants out of the boat
Maltese emergency workers in Senglea this morning collect bodies from the Mediterranean disaster at the weekend.

 

Refugees International

Refugees International website http://www.refugeesinternational.org/
Refugees International website http://www.refugeesinternational.org/

 

International Organization For Migration    

IOM: "Survivors of Mediterranean Tragedy Arrive in Sicily Survivors of what may be the worst tragedy in living memory involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa arrived in Catania, Sicily just before midnight 20 April."
IOM: “Survivors of Mediterranean Tragedy Arrive in Sicily
Survivors of what may be the worst tragedy in living memory involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa arrived in Catania, Sicily just before midnight 20 April.”

                                                                                         

©GlobalReportage2015 /UN Refugees Agency/AP

 

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Street Children Of Afghanistan

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

By Parissa, special correspondent

Slightly more difficult than expected but we managed to provide good quality shoes, socks and blouses to just over 1500 street working children in Kabul. Sadly it was not possible to easily identify only parentless street working children as was the original plan, so I had to divert to plan ‘B’, which was to provide shoes and socks to street working children, some of whom were parentless. This was done through organizations already in existence who do work with the children.

There is much more sadness then I first experienced in 2006. It seems the situation has gotten worse with an increase of street working children and beggars on the streets (in particular women with young children). The general consensus seems to be much less hopeful in terms of progression, jobs, salary and politics etc. Cost of living is very high and the lack of educational facilities means many families cannot afford to put their children through schools because they cannot afford the children not working, to increase the family’s income.

On more specific news, there are a few organisations doing good work, but they are few and far between – some of whom are really struggling with grants to continue their good work. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with some really incredible people. I distributed 460 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses to an organisation called AWEC, who are a small Afghan NGO, who work in partnership with “Save The Children UK”.
They provide educational facilities to women but also some education for working street children for a couple of hours per day. They have a good turn out, but they would have an even better turn out if they had enough funding to provide lunch for the children.Sadly they don’t.

 


I also distributed 150 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses to a women’s prison – where there are also some children who are imprisoned with their mothers, as they have nowhere to go up until the age of 12 to 14. AWEC provides educational services to these women and their children in prison. It was probably one of the most difficult of my experiences. There are only 85/90 children, but I was advised that I needed to take much more as the women will get aggressive if there are no spares for their other children who live at home, on the streets or at orphanages

260 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses were distributed to two different centers of EMDH (French Humanitarian Project), They also operate schools for working children and children with mental/physical disabilities. Their children are mostly from the minority group ‘Hazarah’s’, who mainly work as carpet weavers at home with their families and would not ordinarily have a chance to go to school. Luckily EMDH are able to provide food for the children and this means a good turn out for class. I distributed 260 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses to children at an orphanage in Kabul.

People told me that it was one of the best in Kabul. I found the conditions there much more diabolical then almost any other place I visited. The orphanage manger was very upset with me for insisting to deliver the goods myself and refused me entry at first. I had to go over their heads and seek permission form a government minister to do this. When I eventually managed to personally distribute there, I found the children were amazing, beautiful and alert.

They were most grateful that I distributed the goods myself. The very few times I had the opportunity to be with them without a chaperon, they thanked me and said they know other people have sent them things, but they don’t usually get distributed… I distributed 150 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses to an independent charity established by a french couple, Jack and Arrian. They have a small business a french bakery/cafe where they employ ‘Hazarah’ children, train them in baking, waitering and to learn English in the process. But as well as that, they run a school, where the children can be educated – they get grants for this work from various countries.

They provide this service to roughly 150 children as mentioned above and luckily they are able to provide lunch for the children. I distributed 150 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses to an Afghan NGO – CCA. They also provide education services to working street children, for a couple of hours per day. They are really struggling with funds also but luckily they are managing to provide lunch for the kids which garantees a good turnout. CCS were most helpful to me in doing this work, they provided me with a car and driver free of charge for several weeks, it would have been impossible for me to do any of this work without a car in Afghanistan – THANK YOU.

Finally, I distributed 100 pairs of shoes, socks and blouses to people I met through friends, they were mostly servants in the houses of people who are better off. But because they don’t make enough money from serving in peoples houses, their children stay at home and carpet weave. I wanted to visit a refugee camp, although people advised me it was too dangerous. I still felt like I needed to see things for myself. I went with two people from an organisation, who I later decided not to work with. They said they provided education for the children who live at the camps but I doubted their integrity on many matters so decided not to work with them. The camp was one of the most horrific sights I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. People living in the mud with ripped tents or just some pieces of cloth held up with bits of tree was a common sight. As soon as they discovered I was there, a big, uncontrollable group of people surrounded me asking and demanding food and money or anything else I had to give them. Sadly, I had to leave in a hurry and could not find an organisation, who had the man power to help me make a distribution there. Before I got mobbed, I did have the time to speak with a man, who was living there with his 6 children. He had escaped the fighting in Helmand. The Taliban had taken his farmland. His wife was too sick to make the journey to Kabul so he had to leave her behind with one of his sons. He was very old and his only income was from his children. The oldest, his 12 years old daughter, would beg or sell bits of a roll of toilet paper or matches if they had the money to buy it. I was able to give him some money on the spot, but only something to tide him over for a couple of weeks. That was all the money I had on me. I feel sad sharing these stories with you, but I feel it is necessary for everyone in the world to know what the poorest people in Afghanistan endure.