30/07/2014

“Dearest Mother…”

Human Wrongs Watch

By Oxfam* – July 2014 — Syrian refugees in Northern Lebanon, reminisce on how they celebrated Eid – the festivity that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan – back home. They reflect on how much they’ve lost, but also how lucky they feel compared to other refugees living in even more dire circumstances, who are, for example, forced to send young children out to work in order to survive.

eid-dress-maya-hautefeuille-oxfam-220_0

eid-dress-maya-hautefeuille-oxfam-220_0

Dearest mother,

As I write this letter, I don’t know where you are in Syria or how you are doing.

Last time we spoke was seven months ago. You’ve been on my mind every day, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

I’m sitting in our small room in Northern Lebanon.

On the wall, my daughter Amal’s new dress hangs next to my only two shirts. Its ruffled sleeves and colorful print are the only reminder that it is the festival of Eid and that we are about to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

What is there to celebrate?

Nothing.

I lost you, my sweet mother, and I lost my homeland. My heart is heavy with sorrow and my eyes well with tears when I lie at night under the hot corrugated steel roof and dream of the Eids we have celebrated back home.

Remember mother the smell of freshly baked maamul and karabeej (traditional Middle Eastern sweets) that filled the house on the eve of Eid?

Continue reading

30/07/2014

World Day against Trafficking in Persons: a Crime that Generates US$ 150 Billion in Illegal Profits per Year

Human Wrongs Watch

Today, on 30 July 2014, the international community commemorates the first World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Trafficking in persons is a grave human rights violation and a serious crime affecting societies worldwide. It victimizes millions of women, men, and children, including those most vulnerable amongst migrant communities, asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons, and is commonly associated with many other forms of exploitation, such as sexual exploitation, forced and bonded labour, forced marriages and all practices similar to slavery.*

*Photo: Afghan girl begging in Kabul. Credit:Evstafiev | Wikimedia Commons

**Photo: Afghan girl begging in Kabul. Credit:Evstafiev | Wikimedia Commons

The brutality and injustice associated with trafficking in persons is immeasurable for each and every victim. Their lives, dreams and expectations are shattered. Trafficking in persons is a very lucrative business.

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This is illustrated by the most recent estimates published this spring by the International Labour Organization which suggest that forced labour in the private economy alone generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
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Two thirds of this figure (US$ 99 billion) comes from commercial sexual exploitation, while another US$ 51 billion are a result of forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities. Continue reading
29/07/2014

Young Refugee Sisters Survive on Wild Grass, Leaves

Human Wrongs Watch

Gambella, Ethiopia, July 2014, (UNHCR) — Twelve-year-old Nyawech Chuol can barely stop sobbing long enough to tell the story of the night South Sudan’s civil war came to her home. She and her eight-year-old sister, Nyalouk, traumatized into silence, lost their family after a gun battle and now they are completely alone n a foreign land.

©UNHCR/K.Gebreegziabher. |Two sisters who fled South Sudan alone (in yellow and red on left) pose with their "foster family" inside a UNHCR communal shelter on the border inside Ethiopia.

©UNHCR/K.Gebreegziabher | Two sisters who fled South Sudan alone (in yellow and red on left) pose with their “foster family” inside a UNHCR communal shelter on the border inside Ethiopia.

Nyawech says they were fast asleep some weeks ago when the conflict that has swept South Sudan for the last seven months reached her village, Matiang, in Upper Nile State.

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“It was very dark in the night and we were all sleeping when we heard heavy gun shots,” she says, speaking through an interpreter at a crowded reception centre on the Pagak border crossing just inside Ethiopia. “I only remember putting on my dress, grabbing my younger sister by the hand and running out of the house in the darkness.” The family ran in different directions, and she hasn’t seen any relatives since.
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“When day light came and I saw only Nyalouk with me, I realized that my father, my mother and my two elder sisters were not with me and I cried a lot,” she says, as the tears flow again.

Continue reading

28/07/2014

‘The permanent members of the UN Security Council are certifiably sick entities suffering from bouts of psychoses’

Human Wrongs Watch 

By Maung Zarni*, 28 July 2014, TRANSCEND Media Service — The permanent members of the UN Security Council are certifiably sick entities suffering from bouts of psychoses.

English: United Nations Security Council on the United Nations Headquarters in New York City | Date: 6 January 2014 | Source: Own work | Author:Neptuul | Wikimedia Commons

United Nations Security Council on the UN Headquarters in New York City | Date: 6 January 2014 | Source: Own work | Author: Neptuul | Wikimedia Commons

Their discernible inability or lack of will to really promote the collective well-being of us humans and protect our own habitat (the eco-system – not that self-destructive and life-negating Capitalist economic system with no happy ending in sight) can be explained psychologically – in addition to through other lenses. They are all suffering from imperial syndrome of various versions.

1) Loss of Empire (not so great Britain) – The Sun has long set in the genocidal, racist British – actually only English – Raj, and British officials suffer from the delusions that Britain still matters in post-WWII. Continue reading

28/07/2014

Tracing Dead Migrants in Europe

Human Wrongs Watch

By Kristy Siegfried , Johannesburg, 28 July 2014 (IRIN)* – As the number of migrants and asylum seekers reaching southern Europe’s shores this year continues to climb – to about 75,000 at last count – so too does the death toll from attempts to cross the Mediterranean in over-crowded, unseaworthy boats.

**Photo: Sara Prestianni/Flickr Many bodies of migrants recovered from shipwrecks are never identified

**Photo: Sara Prestianni/Flickr. Many bodies of migrants recovered from shipwrecks are never identified

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that more than 800 migrants have died trying to make the treacherous crossing from North Africa since the beginning of the year. Last week alone, the bodies of 29 migrants were found in the packed hold of a fishing boat where they are thought to have been overcome by engine fumes.

According to survivor accounts, 60 others who tried to escape from the suffocating hold were stabbed and thrown overboard by five fellow passengers. A day earlier, the Italian navy rescued 12 people after their rubber dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya.
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Another 109 who were on the boat are missing. An unknown number of other migrants who attempt the journey disappear without a trace, their bodies presumably claimed by the sea, leaving families back home desperate for news of their loved ones that never comes. Continue reading
28/07/2014

They Know Full Well It Is Dangerous, But They Have Little Other Choice

Despite knowing full well the dangers of mercury, millions of small-scale gold miners across the globe continue to use the metal to separate gold from ore – usually because they have little other choice.*
An Indonesian woman pans for gold while her family looks on, credit: Usman Tariq, UNEP

An Indonesian woman pans for gold while her family looks on, credit: Usman Tariq, UNEP

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The mercury is mixed into ore and combines with the gold in a compound that can easily be scooped out and squeezed into a small bar of amalgam.
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This is then burned so that the mercury evaporates, leaving behind the gold. The dangerously toxic mercury vapour is often inhaled by the miners and their families, since these activities are usually conducted in their homes, or by the owners of gold shops who will process the amalgam for the miners before buying.
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“When you burn off the amalgam – your head will feel like it’s going to explode and you’ll find it hard to breathe,” says Bapak Amit, a gold miner from Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. However, introducing miners to simple recycling technologies can dramatically reduce the impact of mercury on human health and the environment.

Continue reading

28/07/2014

 UN Asks for $116 Million to Save 7.5 Million People in Sahel; Only 16 Millions Received

Human Wrongs Watch

Rome – The United Nations on 25 July 2014, called on the international donor community to renew a commitment to fight hunger and food insecurity in the Sahel by protecting and strengthening the resilience of the poor and very poor families in the region.

Photo source: FAO

Photo source: FAO

Various factors, including the impacts of several ongoing conflicts and recurring droughts are exacerbating food insecurity in the region, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Robert Piper, said in a joint statement.

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In February, FAO appealed to donors for 116 million US dollars to assist more than 7.5 million vulnerable people in the Sahel. To date, only 16 million US dollars, or less than 14 percent, have been received.

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Continue reading

26/07/2014

Is What We Hear About Migration Really True? Questioning Eight Stereotypes

Human Wrongs Watch

It is a common belief that migration harms European societies, and that the European Union would be better off with either very few immigrants or none at all, says a report by the Italy-based Migration Policy Centre*. These are the report’s key findings: 

Hundreds of Syrian families living in camps have faced difficulties sending their children to school. To address this concern, IOM organized a transport initiative where fleets of school buses bring children to school everyday. Before the transportation initiative was launched, many children had no choice but to stay at home. © IOM 2014

Hundreds of Syrian families living in camps have faced difficulties sending their children to school. To address this concern, IOM organized a transport initiative where fleets of school buses bring children to school everyday. Before the transportation initiative was launched, many children had no choice but to stay at home. © IOM 2014

Such perceptions are misguided, and they risk causing serious damage to the EU’s economy, living standards, and global clout if they are used as a basis for policy.

The EU is shrinking.

The EU27 held 14.5% of the world’s population after World War II. Today, with a total population of 500 million, the EU’s relative weight has been cut in half (7%). EUROSTAT predicts that without further migration, the combined population of the EU27 in 2050 will be 58 million less than it was in 2010. If the EU continues to lose people, one unavoidable consequence will be the loss of its prominence in international affairs and global institutions. Continue reading

25/07/2014

UN Urges Europe to Act to Stop Rising Refugee, Migrant Deaths at Sea

Human Wrongs Watch

24 July 2014 – In the wake of recent tragedies, the United Nations refugee agency today called on European countries to take urgent action to stop the rising number of deaths among refugees and migrants attempting to reach the continent by sea.

Onboard an Italian ship, a Syrian father holds his one-year-old son as they wait to be checked by doctors. They were rescued in the middle of the Mediterranean. Photo: UNHCR/A. D'Amato

Onboard an Italian ship, a Syrian father holds his one-year-old son as they wait to be checked by doctors. They were rescued in the middle of the Mediterranean. Photo: UNHCR/A. D’Amato

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 260 people have died or been reported missing in the past 10 days after attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe.

The total number of deaths for this year amounts to more than 800 people, compared with 600 in 2013 and 500 in 2012.  “The death of 260 people in less than 10 days, in the most horrifying circumstances, is evidence that the Mediterranean crisis is intensifying” said High Commissioner for Refugees Antònio Guterres. Continue reading

25/07/2014

2.2 Billion People Are Poor or Near-Poor, Without Basic Social Services

Human Wrongs Watch

Tokyo, 24 July 2014 — Persistent vulnerability threatens human development, and unless it is systematically tackled by policies and social norms, progress will be neither equitable nor sustainable.

Source: UNDP

Source: UNDP

This is the core premise of the 2014 Human Development Report, launched here on 24 July 2014 by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark and Director of the Human Development Report Office Khalid Malik.

Entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, the Report provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience. According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day.

However, the latest estimates of the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index reveal that almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur. Continue reading

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