Category Archives: Refugees

Republicans call Trump’s travel ban ‘a self-inflicted wound’ – Julian Borger. 

US and European officials have expressed anxiety about the damage the Trump administration’s ban targeting Muslim refugees could inflict on western security.

The ban is believed to have been drafted by an ideologically-driven group around Donald Trump without consultation with the justice, state, defence or homeland security departments, which could have weighed on its implications for US foreign relations, as well as the country’s security concerns and legal obligations.

Officials say the clear anti-Muslim intent behind the executive order will prove to be a recruiting tool for extremist movements such as Islamic State, while alienating governments in the Arab and Islamic world, whose cooperation is essential for identifying potential terrorists.

There have also been reports that Israeli and British intelligence were cautioned by the outgoing Obama national security team over sharing sensitive information with the Trump team until investigations were concluded on whether they had colluded with Moscow to skew the US elections.

There is also concern about the arbitrary nature of the list of the countries affected by the ban. A western official pointed out that Muslim-majority nations where Trump has business interests – such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – were excluded, while noting that no terrorist attacks on US soil have been carried out by nationals of the seven countries listed in the executive order.
The Guardian

Cold weather reignites fears for refugees poorly sheltered in Greece – Helena Smith. 

For the first time in history a whole continent commits a heinous humanitarian crime. And the rest of allow this to continue. We are despicable. 

A new bout of cold weather across southern Europe has reignited fears for thousands of refugees and migrants sheltered in deplorable conditions in Greece.

Forecasts of freezing temperatures have also been met with trepidation by international agencies, aid groups and local mayors on islands.

“Thousands of people are poised to suffer needlessly in conditions that are becoming increasingly desperate,” said Eva Cossé at Human Rights Watch. “Europe’s failed policies have contributed to immense suffering for people warehoused on the Greek islands.” Greece was the focus of public outcry this month after shocking footage emerged of refugees on Lesbos living in flimsy, snow-swamped tents as an arctic blast sent temperatures plummeting to -14C. The outcry prompted the government to dispatch a naval ship to temporarily house up to 500 people detained at the island’s vastly overcrowded Moria reception centre. Others were moved into heated containers, hotel rooms and apartments.

The Guardian

The Canadian who spent C$1.5m to rescue more than 200 Syrian refugees – Ashifa Kansas. 

On a recent snowy Saturday, Jim Estill went knocking on his neighbours’ doors, offering to shovel snow from walkways and driveways for cash.

Behind him stood a handful of Syrian refugees, newly arrived to the Canadian city of Guelph, in south-western Ontario. Estill, the CEO of multimillion-dollar appliance company Danby, was acting as the group’s salesman, and helped the refugees land 50 snow-clearing jobs.

It was a glimpse into the deep relationship that has been forged since the mild-mannered executive decided just over a year ago to spend C$1.5m to bring 200 Syrian refugees to Canada. 

In the summer of 2015, moved by the headlines emerging from what he called one of the “the greatest humanitarian crises of our lifetime”, Estill began working out how many families he could help under Canada’s private sponsorship programme, which was launched 35 years ago after the Vietnam War and has brought more than 275,000 refugees to Canada. It allows private citizens to welcome and settle refugees as long as they commit to covering the expenses for the first year or so and helping the newcomers ease into their new lives.

The Guardian

Australia’s Death by Numbers – Roger Cohen. 

The dead refugee had a name. But even in death Australia did not want to humanize him. For years now he had been no more than a registration number — BRF063 — under the country’s cruel refugee deterrence system known as “offshore processing.”

The brief announcement on Dec. 24 from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection said: “A 27-year-old Sudanese refugee has sadly died today from injuries suffered after a fall and seizure at the Manus Regional Processing Center.”

This was all that Australia could muster for Faisal Ishak Ahmed, who fled the Darfur region of Sudan in 2013. His was a death foretold, like that of the other deceased asylum seekers and refugees banished by Australia to the small island nation of Nauru and to Manus, a remote corner of the Papua New Guinea archipelago.

Since July 2013, Australia has herded more than 2,000 desperate people into these island prisons. There has been no “process” in centers housed in poor countries paid by Australia to do its dirty work. Human beings have been left to fester, crack up and die, as I observed on Manus during a five-day visit last month. Draconian nondisclosure contracts have gagged staff, although the whole system is beginning to crumble under the weight of its iniquity.

The conservative Australian government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull argues that its policy has “stopped the boats” at a time when more refugees are on the move across the world than at any time since 1945. The argument’s flaw is its inhumanity. Despite being a signatory of all major international human rights treaties, Australia has instituted an indefensible policy of cruelty as deterrence

New York Times 

Faisal Ishak Ahmed

Educating Syria’s Rebuilders – Gordon Brown. 

In Aleppo, the devastated Syrian city and former rebel stronghold that has now been retaken by Syrian government forces, there was a glimmer of hope even as the bombs were falling. Amid the ruins, learning endured, as 15 young Syrians prepared for their university exams. They could not walk to a college campus, because so many of the country’s universities have been reduced to rubble. But they could still earn their degrees, thanks to a unique online program made available by the University of the People (UoP).

Every week, the Syrian students participate in online courses alongside pupils and instructors from around the world. Through these virtual classrooms, they pursue their chosen degree in business administration, computer science, or health science. The courses are so well prepared that many of these highly motivated students will be invited to attend Western universities later in their studies.

Project Syndicate 

University of the People 

All we want for Christmas is to be safe in New Zealand. 

About 300 refugees have arrived here since the Government announced it would take 750 over 2.5 years from Syria in September last year. Yesterday the Government announced an extra $1 million in aid.

The Morad family languished in tough conditions in Lebanon for three years before recently moving to New Zealand, along with Mohamad’s mother Gazala Dib Fayon.

NZ Herald 

An utterly unacceptable and callously insignificant contribution by NZ to a massive international situation.

We are accepting 70,000 migrants annually yet we have no room for desperate people fleeing a situation that is entirely a consequence of western Middle East policy. 

We spend millions on bullshit. Flags nobody wants, dairy farms in the desert, etc etc, yet our government is proud to announce with a perfectly straight face an extra 1 million in aid.

New Zealand once had a caring population that was always at the ready to speak out and help in situations such as this. 

We have lost our hearts in the swamp of Neoliberal greed. 

These Are The Criminals and Corporations That Have Gotten Really, Really Rich Off The Refugee Crisis – The Huffington Post. 

The biggest refugee crisis in recorded history has engulfed continents, swung elections and fueled the rise of nativism. It has also made a lot of people very, very rich. These are the stories of the CEOs, criminal masterminds, pencil-pushers and low-flying vultures who have figured out how to profit from global instability, also known as human suffering.

Huffington Post