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Akie Abe, Japan's First Lady, Visits Palestinian Refugee Center
Approximately 200 children with disabilities, from within and outside the camp, go to the Center. Japan through Grassroots Human Security Grant Assistance, has provided equipment to the Center in order to support the self-reliance of the students and ...
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Grand Forks Herald
Tibetan immigrant, currently living in Duluth, recalls days as child soldier
Grand Forks Herald
“They have no other hope than to fight,” Topgyal said. “That's pretty sad. That's how I was.” Advertisement. Advertisement. It's hard to imagine that kind of past while chatting with the 67-year-old Tibetan in the apartment he shares with his wife in ...
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Peter Dutton accuses protesting Manus Island asylum seekers of 'aggressive ... - Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald
Peter Dutton accuses protesting Manus Island asylum seekers of 'aggressive ...
Sydney Morning Herald
"We don't need foot or clothes, we need freedom," the asylum seeker said. Two-thirds of the population of the Manus Island centre are now refusing food as detainees grow increasingly desperate to avoid the Australian government's plan to resettle them ...
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Manus Island asylum seekers say police, guards preparing to enter compound ...
An asylum seeker who said he was inside the compound sent this message this morning: "This is my last message to you. There are a lot of police and guards around the Delta and they want to attack to us." However a PNG spokesman told the ABC there had ...
U of T project advocates change to Canadian refugee policies for people with HIV
Canadian refugee and resettlement policies are negatively affecting would-be refugee claimants abroad who have HIV or are at high risk of contracting the virus, a University of Toronto program has alleged. The International Human Rights Program at the ...
The top or most interesting stories from Japan for the weekend of January 17.
– Katsuya Okada was elected head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) – the country’s leading opposition party – on Sunday, defeating two other candidates. The leadership election was sparked after the former head of the party, Banri Kaieda, lost in the December 14 snap election.
Okada now has to lead the DPJ against the dominate Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) but there are two problems; one being that Okada’s stance on ‘Abenomics’ and restarting Japan’s nuclear power plants seems to be in line with the LDP, offering voters little difference in leadership; and at the same December 14 election that prompted the leadership election, barely 50% of Japan’s population bothered to vote at all. (The Japan Times, The Japan News)
– The city of Kobe marked 20 years since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, which killed over 6000 people; injured over 43,000; cost USD$82 billion in damages (judged off current market rates) and left tens of thousands homeless. (Wall Street Journal: Japan Real Time)
But still desolation of that quake reverberate in Japan’s national psyche today, echoed in the recent disaster of 3/11. The Wall Street Journal has compiled photographs of the destruction of the 1995 quake.
On Saturday though it was reported that residents living in public housing constructed to shelter those rendered homeless by the quake, will soon have to be evicted, with residents unaware that the government limited their lease to 20 years. (The Japan Times)
– The trial of Aum Shinrikyo (‘Supreme Truth) cult member, Katsuya Takahashi, began on Friday with the the defendant pleading not guilty to nearly all of the charges brought to him.
Aum Shinrikyo was the terrorist group responsible for the Tokyo subway sarin attacks in 1995 (coincidentally also seeing its 20th anniversary this year) and Takahashi has been accused of murder. Whilst not directly carrying out the attacks, the prosecution is seeking the murder charge as Takahashi acted as a getaway driver for several of Aum Shinrikyo’s attacks. (The Japan Times)
Australians may find it interesting that Aum Shinrikyo owned a remote station in Western Australia, which they sold a year before the subway attacks. On the station, sheep corpses that showed signs of sarin exposure were discovered.
– Southern All Stars singer, Keisuke Kuwata, who has stirred controversy in recent weeks with several politcally charged performances has come out to apologise and say there was no such thing intended. The controversy included one appearance on TV where Kuwata donned a Hitler-moustache whilst singing a politically-themed tune, ‘Peace and Hi-Lite‘; and another where, whilst singing at concert Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was attending, Kuwata suddenly changed lyrics to “A politician talking nonsense like dissolving the Diet”, a perceived swipe at Abe’s recent decision to dissolve the Diet.
However Kuwate, through a statement, denied there were any political messages at play. Not very rock and roll.
– Japan’s Muslim community condemns the new Charlie Hebdo cover. (The Japan Times)
– And a feature article in The Japan Times on Sunday documents the hardship faced by Japan’s refugee community. Only six refugee applications were approved in 2013.
BJP's hypocrisy in Assam: Why were tears shed for missing Adivasis during ...
New Delhi's determination is also evident from Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's frantic telephone calls to her counterparts in Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure their cooperation in nabbing NDFB leaders and cadres who slipped into neighbouring countries ...
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A home away from home | Bangkok Post: news
Once announced, a committee would be set up in which the Social Development and Human Security Minister serves as chairman and its permanent secretary as vice-chairman. The 21-member committee will also include the permanent secretaries from the ...
Once hesitant, the private sector is now increasingly willing to help aid agencies respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.
A new role is gradually emerging for the private sector in efforts to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan. A report published over the summer by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a British international development think tank, has outlined the immense potential for humanitarian-private sector partnerships in coping with the challenge. Such partnerships, the report said, can be mutually beneficial for both sides and are also providing refugees with more effective assistance.
As of September this year the UNHCR registered over 618,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan who have fled since the outbreak of violence in their home country in 2011. While approximately 20 percent of these refugees live in camps—the largest being Zaatari with almost 80,000 people—the rest reside in urban centers. The total number of arrivals has boosted Jordan’s population by up to 10 percent, a figure that is probably much higher if non-registered arrivals are factored in.
The ODI report, which includes research from Jordan, Kenya, Indonesia, and Haiti, revealed a global shift in how the humanitarian sector responds to refugee crises by involving the private sector in cash transfers, telecommunications, logistics, and other service provisions.
But despite the revelation of the wide-ranging benefits and the growing role of the private sector, Steven Zyck, ODI researcher in the Humanitarian Policy Group and co-author of the report, admitted that he was surprised to find a lot lower involvement in Jordan than expected. “It’s surprisingly limited given the vibrancy of the private sector within Jordan. In many middle-income countries we increasingly come to expect quite a heavy degree of private sector involvement,” he said, adding that this has been the case in other humanitarian disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia. “We expected to see a lot more in Jordan because it has dealt with so many successive refugee crises that we thought that businesses at this point would have been switched on to the potential benefits there were of engaging directly with refugee populations as customers and through aid agencies,” he said.
Why So Wary?
Zyck explained that this lack of involvement was likely due to a number of factors. For instance, when the crisis first emerged, humanitarian workers were left scrambling to respond to the sudden influx of Syrians crossing the border. “The scale of the crisis and the fact that it grew so incredibly quickly meant that there just wasn’t anyone in the United Nations system with the mandate or the free time to recognize this need and reach out to entrepreneurs and businesses,” he said.
Zyck also explained that many humanitarian workers were not accustomed to dealing with middle income countries with well-functioning private sectors that could provide collaborations with local businesses. The partnerships that arose were therefore on an ad hoc basis rather than through systematically cultivated processes within aid agencies, the way procurement or fundraising are.
But perhaps the main factor that restricted involvement, according to Zyck, has been the political sensitivity of the crisis. “Some business figures felt hesitant to get involved . . . until they felt there was a very strong signal from the upper most echelons of the government,” he said, adding that even when companies did get involved there were signs of discomfort in publicly acknowledging their role due to the sensitivity surrounding the refugee population. Zych noted that there was a sense, from larger Jordanian companies in particular, that they could fall out of favor with key government leaders if they were seen to be supporting the refugee population. There was also concern that involvement may cost them among their Jordanian clients. This wariness of getting entwined with the politics of the crisis, Zyck argues, has played a role in blunting the private sector’s potential in Jordan’s humanitarian sphere. But he’s optimistic about growth. “There’s a lot of untapped potential out there for businesses to get involved in supporting the Syrian refugee crisis, both on commercial or charitable terms,” he said.
Kilian Kleinschmidt, the UNHCR’s senior field coordinator (head of Mafraq SUP- Office) for Zaatari, is a big believer in private sector involvement in running the camp. He also believes that the shift in the government’s attitude towards the settlement in Zaatari has changed recently with the realization that a longer-term solution is required. “The government has been very anti-permanent structures, but they have changed the narrative,” he said. They have acknowledged that the crisis will continue for at least four to five years and must therefore be planned accordingly, he added.
This, he said, has paved the way for a process of privatization of many of the camp’s services, including its electricity, water, sewerage, communications, and even Internet. While this process is still in its early stages, Kleinschmidt expects it will soon transform the camp, making it more sustainable and less reliant on the UNHCR and other aid agencies that may struggle to provide long-term assistance if funding dries up.
One of the projects currently being planned is to formally provide the 14,000 households of the camp with an electricity service. So far, an illegal electricity service has been established by some enterprising Syrian refugees who have set up a web of wires throughout the camp. This has been taking $750,000 worth of electricity a month from the UNHCR by tapping into the street lights in the camp. Instead of deciding to crack down on this illegal enterprise and leave the refugees in the dark, the UNHCR plans to arrange a regulated service through private sector assistance. This will include installing meters, which Kleinschmidt says will be managed by a private company. The refugees will be allocated a certain amount of electricity each month for free, and more will be available for a fee, he explained. “Many of them can pay because there’s an economy of about JD10 million in this camp per month,” he said, citing over 3,000 illegal shops and businesses that operate in Zaatari. “We’re working on regularizing the businesses . . . and gradually we will be moving this messy self-organized chaotic thing into something which is structured,” said Kleinschmidt.
In addition to managing the electricity supply, there are plans to build a solar power plant capable of producing up to 15 MW for the camp. The $30-million-project will be financed through a combination of development and private sector funds, and a tender will be released to find an appropriate private partner. Kleinschmidt believes this power plant, as well as other planned infrastructure projects, will have long-term benefits for everyone living in Jordan. “Even if the camp disappears in six months, you will still have your photovoltaic power plant,” he said.
Many other private arrangements already exist in or around Zaatari, in addition to the Syrian-run unofficial enterprises. These include Jordanian-run supermarkets and a local manufacturer that works with aid agencies to supply prefabricated caravans to the refugees. Kleinschmidt also said opportunities were growing for Jordanian companies to get involved, including tech savvy startups and small web design firms. He believes that they can help in developing useful solutions for the camp, such as mapping tools, information management, coordination, and e-learning. “There is a need for the UN and the broader humanitarian community in a country like Jordan to engage more with these sort of young entrepreneurs,” he said, adding that this involvement can also help these companies build their portfolios.
Kleinschmidt admits that the private sector has been hesitant to join in the humanitarian efforts in Zaatari. But he’s adamant that this is changing. “Companies were reluctant to get involved because of the bad image of Zaatari. They said it was too unsafe, but now the place is really peaceful and we have the international companies coming and they’re actually seeing the potential,” he said, explaining that it’s increasingly being recognized as a profitable market.
According to the ODI report, traditionally private sector involvement in humanitarian crises has taken the form of charitable donations as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. “Most people think philanthropy or forms of CSR are the best ways to help, but our research has shown that this is not the case,” said Zyck. Instead, he says that when companies approach disasters and humanitarian crises as commercial opportunities, they are doing more to help than companies who try to be charitable by giving money. But this isn’t to say that CSR assistance isn’t valuable. In fact a new approach to CSR, which goes beyond cash donations and involves deeper collaboration between aid agencies and the private sector, is significantly enhancing the assistance provided to Syrian refugees in Jordan.
An example of this is the partnership between Jordan Ahli Bank and the World Food Program (WFP). The initiative involves replacing a food voucher system with prepaid debit cards provided by Ahli Bank that are loaded each month by the WFP and can be spent at designated shops. The service is currently being rolled out across the country for refugees living in host communities and will soon be extended to the camps as well. Rania Wahbeh, head of the CSR department at Ahli Bank, said the initiative is part of the bank’s CSR strategy and that they believe they have a role to play in helping the community. “We have to help. Our government can’t take it on alone,” she said.
Jonathan Campbell, emergency coordinator for the WFP, said the new system significantly improves the efficiency of the service. “We don’t have to do all the printing and the logistics of the distribution which is a huge advantage,” he said, adding that refugees no longer have to travel long distances to pick up their vouchers. Without the partnership, which draws on Ahli’s technical expertise and resources, Campbell said the WFP couldn’t provide such an effective service. “What is great is that we have access to a level of technology that we couldn’t fund ourselves,” he said.
The initiative has many benefits for Jordan’s economy as well. A WFP impact study found that by the end of June 2014, they had injected $212 million into Jordan’s retail economy since starting the food program in August 2012. This has led to $2.5 million worth of investments in the infrastructure of participating retailers and has created 350 jobs just at the supermarket level alone.
The way aid agencies and private companies are coming together in response to the Syrian crisis appears to be contributing to a worldwide transformation in humanitarian assistance. “I think when you look back at humanitarian history, the Syrian crisis will be where the humanitarian community really cracked this and managed to make it work,” said Campbell. But he believes that as humanitarian-private collaboration is a moderately new phenomenon, there’s a learning curve on both sides. And while many from both sectors have now realized the mutual benefits of working together to develop more effective assistance for refugees, there’s still a lot of room for growth and a need to cultivate potential partnerships.
This article was published in Venture magazine in October 2014.
*Photo credit JaredKohler/UNHCR30.585164 36.238414
The thought of being stateless is a foreign concept to most of us. The grim reality is that the many conflicts abroad, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Congo, Nigeria, Libya and beyond have rendered countless individuals stateless. The numbers from Syria alone are staggering:
“An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. The vast majority of these resettlement spots – 28,500 or 85% – are pledged by Germany.” “Syrian Refugees: A snapshot of the crisis – in the Middle East and Europe,” October 2014, Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute, as found on the www at http://syrianrefugees.eu/.
Under harsh conditions, refugees are displaced to other countries. They do not leave their homes willingly. In doing so, they hope for a future, only to discover options for creating a new home and likelihood are limited. In their hearts, the only thing they want, need and desire is to return to their homeland, to familiar customs and culture.
Most of those affected are single mothers coming from countries where women have generally not been afforded employment opportunities. Thus, they have no job skills to support their children even if such jobs were available.
The incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among refugees is high but, the likelihood of mental health treatment, at least as we know it in the West, is almost nonexistent. As a result, there is correlated higher suicide rate.
As a collective humanity, we need to support the relief effort by the NGOs, such as the Carter Center, as well as United Nations’ various subgroups such as the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programmer (UNDP) and the United Nations High Commission of Rights (UNHCR).
Asylum seekers on Manus Island want to donate organs to Australians if they ...
The message comes in the form of a letter written by an asylum seeker at the Australian-run facility in Papua New Guinea and obtained by the ABC after six days of protests. "All asylum seekers on Manus Island in hunger strike ask you to hand over our ...
Hundreds of asylum seekers go on hunger strike in Manus Island protestsThe Daily Telegraph
Australia, PNG deny violence at asylum-seeker campDaily Mail
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Palestinians in East Jerusalem go 10 months without water @+972magazine
Thousands of East Jerusalemites have been living without a regular supply of water for nearly a year, due to their location beyond Israel’s separation barrier. Technically within the boundaries of Israel’s self-declared capital, the neighbourhoods have been suffering from a severe water crisis since March 2014. On Monday 18th January, the High Court of Justice will hold a hearing to discuss an appeal filed last year by the residents. The Israeli Water Authority and the Ministry of Infrastructure have said they do not intend to connect these areas to the water supply, and instead will expand the flow to the central pipelines. This however, will not solve the problem for the 80,000 residents of these areas. Since the construction of the Separation Barrier, the Israeli authorities have attempted to impose on the local community the responsibility to provide residents with basic services, even those these parts of East Jerusalem are technically under Israeli authority. These communities are to some extent in limbo, between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli authorities, and are neglected by both and forced to fend for themselves.
Political bickering stalls Gaza rebuilding @aljazeera
The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people throughout Gaza need cement to repair their homes, damaged in last summer’s war. Residents of Shujayea – one of the worst hit neighbourhoods in Gaza – report that “there is really no reconstruction”. Gazans blame the on-going political bickering between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for the sluggish progress, along with the failure of donor countries to deliver much of the $5.4 bn in aid promised in October. The unity government said earlier this month that it needed control of Gaza’s borders to facilitate reconstruction, to which a furious Hamas official replied that the government had forsaken Gaza. Furthermore, Hamas has blamed Israel for deliberately slowing down reconstruction, since it controls much of the transfer of construction materials into Gaza. The mechanism in place for Gaza’s reconstruction includes Israeli oversight of supplies, to ensure that they are not “misused” for terror activities. The Public Works minister of the new Palestinian unity government has said that peace between Hamas and Fatah is crucial to donors supplying the funds promised at last year’s Cairo Conference.
Palestinian protesters hurl shoes and eggs at visiting Canada FM @haaretz
Dozens of Palestinian protestors hurled eggs and shoes at the convoy of the Canadian Foreign Minister, John Baird, who on Sunday was visiting Ramallah. Canada is known to be one of Israel’s strongest supporters, having voted against Palestine’s accession to the UN as a non-member state and most recently, has condemned its application to join the ICC.
Original article: http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.637701
Living Conditions of Palestinian Camp Refugees, Jordan 2011 (Fafo, 2014) [pt. 1] [pt. 2]
Living Conditions of Palestinian Outside-camp Refugees, Jordan 2012 (Fafo, 2014) [text]
Living in the Shadows: Jordan Home Visits Report 2014 (UNHCR, Jan. 2015) [text]
- See also related press release with link to media materials.
No Safe Haven: Israeli Asylum Policy as Applied to Eritrean and Sudanese Citizens (Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, Dec. 2014) [text]
"Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: A Security Analysis," POLIS Journal, vol. 12 (Winter 2014) [full-text]
Regional Conference on Asylum and Migration, 11-13 November 2013 Sana'a, Republic of Yemen: External Report [posted Jan. 2015; text via Refworld]
Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan 2015-2016 in Response to the Syria Crisis: Regional Strategic Overview (UNDP & UNHCR, Dec. 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]
UNHCR, UNRWA, Palestinian Statehood, and Refugee Status (PRRN Blog, Dec. 2014) [text]
- Regional Focus: MENA (10 Dec. 2014)
- Regional Focus: Syria, incl. Resettlement (10 Dec. 2014)
Meet Australian Artist Lynette Wallworth at World Economic Forum
How will participants react to [Australian] Lynette Wallworth's immersive “Evolution of Fearlessness," a set of moving and interactive portraits of women refugees [who have lived through extreme acts of violence], which celebrates resilience in the ...
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Fox News (blog)
Obama Admin Boasting About How Many Illegal Children It Resettled This ...
Fox News (blog)
... its own failures worsened the situation. Nearly 58,000 unaccompanied alien children arrived before the end of fiscal year 2014, almost as many as arrived in the past five years combined, according to the report from HHS's Office of Refugee ...
His own experience of operating a Nightshelter in the 1980s was something he considered, at the time, with great optimism. He’d hoped that there work would be short-lived and would be just a bridging position whilst the authorities made the necessary changes to eradicate homelessness. In hindsight, this was perhaps naive, but who would have thought 30 years later the position would actually be worse than in those distant days.
He suggested that there were 4 issues to consider in understanding homelessness:
1. Economic – the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and the inequitable distribution of resources
2. Political – the perspective of political parties between a caring, organised society, looking after the needy, versus a more individualistic approach. A danger being potentially present that the welfare system may not be catching people early enough before they drop into a property poverty.
3. Social – before the industrialisation of the country, society was more open, people were more neighbourly, and now barriers have been established, and we are locked in our own self-contained spaces; in many cases for good reason. Local organisations do their best to break down some of these walls in a sensitive and safe way.
4. Moral – about fairness, loving one’s neighbours, and valuing other human beings. The Bishop recounted the story of when he was part of a “reverse” soup run. This involved people who had been homeless and had benefitted from the community’s generosity, offering hot drinks to any passer-by in the town centre. More often than not, they were given a wide-berth, and met with cynicism as to why it was being offered for free. The concern was that we have now all become strangers.
In summary, homelessness is the “scourge of a so-called civilised society”
Later in the service the Cathedral was awarded the 1st “Cathedral of Sanctuary” in England.
Rose McCarthy of the “City of Sanctuary” organisation presented a certificate to Revd Maureen Priddin ( on behalf of the Cathedral) under the Faith Streams of sanctuary.
The Faiths Stream of Sanctuary is still new and has evolved from a recognition of how many faith groups support the City of Sanctuary movement and open their doors to sanctuary seekers, often providing significant practical support that makes a real difference to the lives of sanctuary seekers.
The certificate commits the Cathedral to offering a place of welcome to everyone, especially asylum seekers and refugees.
UN Chief Ban Condemns Terrorist Attack on Mali Peacekeepers
Student Operated Press
These attacks will not alter the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people in its search for peace, " said a statement released by the Spokesman for Secretary-General following the latest in a series of armed assaults against UN ...
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Syrian refugees living in the Lebanese town of Arsal say the army will not let them leave without special permission. The town has been a security hotspot since fighters from the al-Qaeda linked group al-Nusra Front and men who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took control in August. The army is now back in charge, but refugees say they are still being punished. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Arsal.
Are Germany's anti-Islam marches really about Islam?
She, for example, supports refugee resettlement in Germany; she does not support the way it's been done in a concentrated manner. One of the most infamous examples cited across Saxony is the 50 refugees placed in one center in a community of 150.
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