Archive for January 7th, 2015

07/01/2015

Ten Major Handicaps Facing 2015 

Human Wrongs Watch 

By Roberto Savio*

San Salvador, 7 January 2015 – As a new year begins, new hopes and commitments are commonplace – yet, while optimism is crucial for interpreting the past because it demonstrates that humankind always find solutions, a degree of realism is required for looking forward into 2015.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

Compassion and sympathy are called for in the year that has just begun because it brings with it a series of handicaps that justifiably dampen an enthusiasm. Without going into long-winded analyses, I have selected ten of those that are – for me – the most significant.

1. Europe has entered the new year with losing appeal, with anti-Europe parties on the rise everywhere, with many internal contradictions and with a noticeable North (Protestant). South (Catholic) divide.

Germans, Finns, Dutch and so on see economy as part of moral science. They consider debt a sin (in German sin and debt have the same root), the result of a profligate life, which must be redeemed through some process of adjustment, as painful as required.

This started with Greece, which spent well beyond its means and falsified the economic data it provided to the European Commission. Greece accounted for only 4 percent of the Europe’s GDP, but punishment was swift and severe and the social cost of its bailout has been brutal.

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07/01/2015

Economic Reasons, More than Religious Zealots, at the Heart of Israeli Settlements

Human Wrongs Watch

‘Israel’s continued settlement expansion is perhaps the largest barrier to peace with the Palestinians. Yet while often portrayed as religious zealots, most settlers move to occupied land for economic reasons – encouraged by government support.’

Jerusalem, 5 January 2015 (IRIN)* – Of all the hurdles to peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, perhaps the largest is the 150 or so Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

These communities, considered illegal by the UN, are fracturing Israel’s relationship even with its allies: The pro-Israeli head of the UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee this year declared that a decision to develop a new settlement “outraged me more than anything else in my political life”.

Despite an unofficial freeze on settlement planning, in late December the Jerusalem Planning and Budget Committee set the stage for approving building permits for some 400 homes on Palestinian land in Jerusalem, and approved a plan for 1,850 more homes in a neighbourhood that sits on the border.

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07/01/2015

War in Middle East, Africa, Further Uprooted 5.5 Million People in First Six Months of 2014

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva, 7 January 2015 The UN refugee agency UNHCR on 6 January 2015 reported* that war in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere had uprooted an estimated 5.5 million people during the first six months of 2014, signaling a further rise in the number of people forcibly displaced.

© UNHCR/J.Kohler Syrians, for the first time, have become the largest refugee population under UNHCR's mandate.

© UNHCR/J.Kohler | Syrians, for the first time, have become the largest refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate.

UNHCR’s new “Mid-Year Trends 2014” report shows that of the 5.5 million who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries.

Taking into account existing displaced populations, data revisions, voluntary returns and resettlement, the number of people being helped by UNHCR stood at 46.3 million as of mid-2014 some 3.4 million more than at the end of 2013 and a record high.

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07/01/2015

Lebanon-Jordan: Thousands of Refugees Caught in Heavy Snow, Severe Storms, Lashing Rain

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva, 7 January 2015 Thousands of refugees across Lebanon and Jordan have been struggling to keep warm and protect their shelters this week as severe winter storms bring plummeting temperatures, heavy snow, strong winds and lashing rain to the region, the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) reported. 

© UNHCR/A.McConnell | Syrian refugees remove snow from their shelters at an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon during a blizzard earlier today.

© UNHCR/A.McConnell | Syrian refugees remove snow from their shelters at an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon during a blizzard earlier today 7 Dec. 2015

UNHCR field staff say Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley was blanketed in snow on Wednesday [6 December 2015] morning, cutting off roads and affecting tens of thousands of refugees many of whom live in makeshift shelters in more than 850 informal settlements set up in vacant lots, abandoned buildings, garages, sheds and on farmland.

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