Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Jordan’

Faces of Syrian Refugee Crisis

CARE President Dr. Helene D. Gayle Sees Faces of Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan: Leader of global humanitarian organization visits CARE’s work, meets Jordan’s Queen Rania and Prime Minister
From CARE.org

AMMAN (Oct. 2, 2013) – CARE President and CEO Helene D. Gayle visited Jordan this week to see firsthand the poverty-fighting organization’s work with Syrian refugees and meet senior national leaders and officials.

helene

Over half a million Syrians who fled their homeland now live in safe but difficult circumstances in Jordan. And while the public image of the crisis may be that of refugee camps, the vast majority of refugees — 75 percent in Jordan — live outside of camps, struggling to survive in poorer areas of cities. In these urban centers, CARE is helping refugees with emergency cash assistance for shelter, food, and medical care, provision of information on available services, case management and referral services.

“This is the world’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide, and yet, in a way, it’s almost invisible,” said Gayle. “But here in the poorest neighborhoods of Amman and other cities of Jordan, inside squalid apartments, seeing the faces of this crisis is unavoidable and shocking. More often than not, they are the faces of mothers and children in desperate living conditions.”

The refugee crisis began in spring 2011, when civil war broke out in Syria. As bombings and shootings escalated, more than 2 million people escaped to neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. At least three-quarters of the refugees are women and children.

Gayle was particularly moved by Rawda, a Syrian widow who lost her husband in a bomb blast and now is struggling to care for five young children, including a seven-year-old son unable to walk after being injured by a bomb in Syria. “The situation of the people I’ve met is overwhelming. There are mothers and children who have witnessed their husbands or fathers dying in their arms,” Gayle said.

Soaring prices for food, electricity, and rent have swiftly impoverished hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Many refugees are not legally allowed to work in their host countries, so once their savings are gone, they face destitution.

Donor response, however, has not matched the scale of the humanitarian crisis. As of Oct. 2, the UN-led appeal of $4.4 billion is only at 49 percent funded. And CARE has secured less than 25 percent of the anticipated $50 million in funding needed for its life-saving response.

Nonetheless, CARE is scaling up. In Jordan, CARE’s cash grant program gives Syrian and Iraqi families emergency funds to meet urgent needs. CARE is providing life-saving services to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and to people affected by the crisis in Syria. As the conflict escalates, CARE is also starting activities in Egypt and Yemen to help Syrian refugees there. CARE is impartial and neutral. Our support to families affected by the crisis in Syria is based on humanitarian needs alone, no matter people’s religion, political affiliation or ethnicity.

Gayle met with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis as well as the long-term women’s empowerment programs that CARE runs in Jordan. Gayle recognized the generosity of Jordan in hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees. She repeated that message in a separate meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, where discussions focused on how groups such as CARE can best help in a coordinated refugee response.

For all the challenges, Dr. Gayle said she was also left with a sense of hope while talking to refugees. “I see so much strength in women like Rawda. Even as she struggles to feed her own children, she managed to find a way to enroll them in school. I was truly moved by her resilience and determination.”

About CARE: Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience delivering emergency aid during times of crisis. Our emergency responses focus on the needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly girls and women. Last year CARE worked in 84 countries and reached more than 83 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

We Can Help Syrians

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EDMNA1As the bloodshed in Syria escalates, desperate refugees are trying to escape the violence.

In response, Amnesty is increasing our efforts to advocate on behalf of refugees seeking safety in neighboring countries.

Please make an urgent monthly donation to Amnesty so we can continue to advocate for families fleeing human rights violations in Syria and around the world.

More than 1.3 million Syrian refugees are trying to escape the ongoing bloodshed by fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

Many refugees attempting to cross into neighboring Turkey have been stopped, leaving people stranded inside Syria in terrible conditions. Credible reports have also emerged of refugees being forced to return to Syria.

In the face of this mounting crisis, Amnesty is pressuring the international community to provide badly needed financial assistance to support the efforts made by Syria’s neighboring countries.

We are also documenting the abuses experienced by civilians who remain in Syria. Our team of researchers on the ground found evidence that government forces bombed entire neighborhoods and targeted residential areas with long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Amnesty has a strong track record of using our on-the-ground findings to pressure governments and the United Nations Security Council to hold those responsible for the slaughter of civilians accountable.

But we can’t do it without your support. We accept no money from governments for our research or advocacy — as it would compromise our efforts. Will you make a monthly donation to strengthen our work to help end the crisis and take action for the people of Syria? It’s a convenient, effective way to stand up for human rights each and every day of the year. Donate now.

Sincerely,

Sunjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

Syrian Children

Dear Gabriel,

By the time Syrian children have reached Jordan, they’ve seen more than any child should ever have to.

Their country has been swallowed by brutal, unspeakable violence. They arrive in the camps with fear in their hearts. Their lives have been upended and their family members killed by a violent war they can barely understand.

These children – and children just like them around the world – need our help during this time of crisis, and Gabriel, we’re depending on you and other CARE supporters to make it possible for all of these children to know comfort, safety, and hope.

We’re raising $100,000 by Friday to help children and families in Jordan and those suffering around the world. Please make your gift today.

“People are dying like flies.” Ahmad loves his beautiful homeland, but he knew he had no choice but to leave it to keep his family safe.

In the Za’atari camp, Ahmad’s family is packed in with many thousands of others, growing poorer and poorer as the refugee crisis drags on. “I have nine children and my wife. One of the children is only three months old.” It is difficult for him to continue telling us his story. “At home I could take responsibility for all of them. I was working, I earned money to support my family. Now I cannot do anything.”

If only Ahmad’s story was unusual – but it’s not. Tens of thousands of refugees have ones just like it.

Heartbreakingly, the majority of the people living in the camp in Jordan today are innocent children like Ahmad’s – children who have lived through extreme heartbreak, violence, and terror. Their families need emergency assistance just so they’ll have enough food to eat and clothes to keep them warm as winter approaches.

Once their basic needs are taken care of, these Syrian children need psychosocial support. The longer you leave kids alone with their trauma, the more it gets inside of them. CARE is ramping up our support of not only emergency financial assistance, but aid and comfort for children and other vulnerable groups who have already endured too much.

None of the work we do for families living in crisis or squalid poverty is possible without the support of people like you. We desperately need your help today.

We’re raising $100,000 for families living with hunger and poverty in Jordan and around the world by Friday. Please, will you help us meet our goal?

Families are depending on us, and I know we won’t let them down. Thank you so much for everything you do.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Syrian Refugees Survival

Dear Gabriel,

I recently returned from 6 weeks in Jordan, now home to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. My stay included time in Za’atari, the camp for Syrian refugees, not far from the border to the war-torn country. What I saw and what I learned in conversations with the families who have escaped from the brutal violence of the Syrian war was shocking.

The camp was started at the end of July. When I first visited, there were only maybe 3,000 refugees. By the end of August, there were 40,000.

Even though there is an effort underway to double the camp’s capacity before the end of the year, it’s not nearly enough space for the families fleeing their own country, where war and terror and violence are raging.

Check out more information about the dire and worsening conditions in Jordan, including my interview on Al Jazeera.

In the camp, wind is blowing constantly, and fine-grained sand is everywhere. The camp is a safe place, but of course, it’s not a home. It’s not anywhere close. Nearly every refugee I’ve talked to says if the war ended, they’d go back immediately. They want to rebuild their destroyed homes, to secure a future for their children, and get them back in school.

So far, that doesn’t look likely to happen soon. Instead, thousands more exhausted families stream in every day. A lot of times they refuse to be registered by the Jordanian government. They fear retribution and sometimes the Syrian government has taken their passports, making a return to their homes even more difficult. UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, is expecting 250,000 refugees in Jordan by the end of the year. The Jordanian government estimates an even higher number – 350,000 or so.

Everyone on the ground, including UNHCR, has been working like mad and doing everything they can to step in, especially before the frigid Jordanian winters make tent living truly hazardous. At CARE, we’re scaling up our response to help distribute emergency support so that refugees have basics like food and medicine, and also psychological support to help bring healing to those traumatized – especially children – by the brutal, horrifying events they’ve endured.

Things are changing rapidly here, so we’re prepared to be flexible. Even at the end of September, the needs were 300% higher than we’d expected 2 months before. We’ll continue to keep you updated on the refugee crisis as it progresses.

Sincerely,

Thomas Schwarz
Director International Communications, CARE

Is Obama to Blame?

Is Obama to blame or praise, as perhaps being the catalyst to many of the changes taking place across Africa and the Middle East with millions of people saying “Enough!” and wanting real change and democracy?

It was just 2 years ago that Barack Obama did what many said was impossible and became the president of the United States. He stood (and still stands) for possibility and putting hope into action. He was one of the first U.S. presidents to go to Africa and speak before thousands in Egypt and other countries about democracy, human rights and fair elections. I wonder if his energy and deep intentions may have been the tipping point that, conscious or not, lit some hearts and minds in people across the world who were dying for change for decades?

Yes, there are many other factors that have influenced and are driving Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyan’s Jordanian’s, Lebanese and others and there movements are each coming organically from their own experience, situation and need. Yes, the U.S. has often propped up, supported and turned a blind eye to dictators and governments that we felt were useful for some other purpose (or perceived advantage). And… I believe there are great changes afoot throughout the world and great opportunity to actually practice what we preach.

President Obama has not acted in a vacuum, but perhaps his message of having the audacity to hope has reached farther and deeper than we either give him credit for or realize.

Leah and Yitzhak Dying for Peace

November fourth, 1995, an international day of mourning. After completing a speech and rally for peace the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, walks towards the car and is shot and killed by a fanatical Jew whose mind has been filled with hate and propaganda. As he takes his last breath the peace process he’s dying for goes into cardiac arrest with only a slight pulse of that vision still palpable today. The shock wave of his death was felt by none as acutely as his wife of almost fifty years, Leah Rabin. Unlike the spouses of other well-known leaders who’ve been assassinated, Mrs. Rabin did not hide away, go into seclusion or say, “It’s a private matter.” Her disbelief, raw pain and agony were witnessed and shared by millions.

In spite of the loneliness that will “never end”, Mrs. Rabin kept fighting for peace, to honor her husband and provide meaning and purpose to a world that was turned upside down. She followed her convictions and spoke out against the hate mongers and naysayers at home and abroad. (Mrs. Rabin died shortly after she and I spoke in Tel Aviv on November 12, 2000.) This is an excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call.

Mrs. Rabin: Death doesn’t change people. It’s what your disposition is to start with and how you cope with loss in the first place. Unfortunately, we live in a country where loss of life, of children, of dear ones is almost part of our daily lives because of war. It’s how you are built in the beginning that makes you able to cope or not cope in different ways. In my case . . . in our case . . . it’s different, it’s a unique phenomena. The loss of, first of all, my husband of forty-seven years, a strong and good marriage, a wonderful father and grandfather and at the same time, a great leader.

As you face this you realize from the beginning that it is not yours alone. You have to share it. The out pour of sorrow and loss and desperation of people was so huge, so overwhelming and so unbelievable. There had never been anything like this. I can only compare it with the feeling of the people in America when President Kennedy was assassinated. He was the subject of great hope for the American people. When my husband was killed he was seventy-three years old and had been in positions of leadership throughout his life; first as a soldier, then commander, Prime Minister, Ambassador, Minister of Defense and Prime Minister again.

He had accumulated a lot of experience and was a source of trust. People trusted him. “Why do you cry over Rabin?” a six-year-old child was asked. “I believed him and I trusted him,” they replied. And you hear again and again, “I haven’t cried over anybody like I did that night and the following days.” That’s what people tell you. Maybe the murder of Princess Diana was similar with the same sense of injustice and outpouring of grief, but still she wasn’t a leader in the process of conducting a daring, courageous move for peace. He had a great following . . . though not big enough. People trusted him and believed him. They trusted him too much. This was one of the problems.

A columnist after the murder said, “We trusted him and left him alone in the open, thinking he could do it himself, that we can go to Thailand and Turkey in the summer, have a good time, leave it to him, he’ll do it without us.” This attitude turned out to prove very, very wrong. He needed the people; he needed support on the street.

If I talk about it today I still don’t understand where we were. Where was I? In front of our house on Friday afternoon when he was due to come home people would stand on the street yelling for hours. Friday afternoon is usually a very quiet time because people come home from work around two or three. It’s siesta time, the shops are closed and here’s this crowd yelling for hours. When he’d get home I’d ask, “How can you bare it? Why don’t you do something? A group should come in front of them.” But it was so below his pride to deal with it. He was so convinced that his was the way and there was no other alternative to peace. He was conducting a process that he felt had to be done and would take a toll, take a price. And he would have pulled it through.

If he weren’t murdered we would have been in a totally different position today. What was building up was an inter-relation of faith, of trust, of doing it together. Trust is the main point – trust and respect. Today there is mistrust and disrespect. How do you build a peace process with people that you disrespect and you keep telling your people not to trust?

Terror does not destroy our country. There has been IRA terror for years and years and is Great Britain destroyed?! We were threatened by the overwhelming forces of our neighbors. Egypt tried to destroy us. The combined forces of Egypt and Syria and Jordan attacked us in the sixty’s war. We have proven time and again how strong we are, how we managed to be indestructible. The Palestinians with their rifles, they are our threat? They want to build up their life, they want to build up their nation, their entity, they want peace for their children, a better tomorrow for their economy. What is this that they want to threaten us?

In my grief I turned to the people, to be there for them. Instinctively, I never asked, “What am I doing?” They needed something. You have no idea how many letters and comments I later received saying, “You helped. You gave us hope. You gave us courage.” Can you imagine? I gave them hope? I gave them courage? Who was I? How did I do it? I really don’t know. I wasn’t aware. I just felt that if people were there for Yitzhak, grieving for him and being at our house, at the memorial, at the cemetery, then someone has to be there to answer their grief. They were obviously moved deeply and I was the one who could share their grief. It was like they came for him, but they also came for me.

It was a very spontaneous reaction. In a way maybe it also helped me. Here I am sharing with so many people. When my husband was around and I had something disturbing me or troubling me I’d eventually tell him. The moment I told him I said now only half of it is mine and the other half is yours. (Laughs) Similarly, I think that talking to people makes me feel we are together in this grief.

The whole world is missing Yitzhak. In a far away little village in India they’d say, “You are from Israel? I have a friend, his name is Rabin and he was killed.” This handshake he made with Arafat really captured the world’s imagination, that there was a man who was changing the history of the Middle East.

I am trying to carry on his legacy. I don’t have to initiate anything. I lost my husband and at the same time Mt. Everest fell over me. There is no end to the demand. “Come here, come there, get an honorary doctorate, get this, get that . . .” endless . . . endless. I’m constantly traveling. Next month I’m going to Germany then to the US. Sometimes I think, “What would he have said, what would he have thought about all that I’m doing? Would it please him?” I believe it would.

I keep fighting . . . fighting for the peace and fighting for most Labor candidates. I was always supported by my husband to go out and speak, though I do a lot more of it now than ever before. I also have enormous support from my children and many, many friends in Israel and abroad. I can’t complain that I feel deserted. At the same time he is not here and I’m without him. This is it. It’s hard to imagine after fifty years . . . very hard . . . enormously hard. I hear his voice and I see him walking in the house. He’s still inbred in the house. We see him in every corner and have pictures of him everywhere. My home is where I belong, where I feel secure. I’ve kept everything that belonged to him. It’s a way of clinging to what he was all about. There are his clothes, his shoes, everything. I don’t know if I’ll go on doing that forever.

We are approaching his seventy-sixth birthday so there’s going to be a lot of activity. There are always a lot of people at his memorial. There will be a big center that will carry his name as well. It’s called The Rabin Memorial Center for Research. It will not become a white elephant. It will house a museum, library, archives and research, all that was done after his murder. People are and have written poems, stories and music about and for Yitzhak. On the twenty-seventh of April there will be a requiem performed in his honor. It never ends really . . . never ends.

I have no regrets, none whatsoever. I feel blessed and privileged with a life full of purpose. Yitzhak’s plate was always full, always in front of him. He was always striving to fulfill that purpose, from early morning until late evening. When he finished his day’s work he was always wondering, “What haven’t I done today and what will I do tomorrow?” He never dwelled too much on achievement . . . on glory.

Now nothing really has the same meaning. I carry on but it’s so different . . . it’s not the same. While he was alive we shared this wonderful life . . . being there at almost every milestone in our countries history. What more could an Israeli couple wish for?

I realize I’m living with the past and not planning too much for the future, you know, just going on, just carrying on. It will never be the same. Never . . . ever. You look back and the natural tendency is to see the lights and forget the shadows. It’s not that there were no shadows, there were indeed. When you summarize this kind of life and Yitzhak’s emerging from a soldier to the leader of his country, then conducting this very unique and dangerous peace process, he was very privileged. He saw himself as privileged. Unfortunately, now it is all destroyed.

I don’t believe it is irreparable, but it’s never been worse then right now. The Palestinians have stopped believing in us anymore. At the same time there is a new reality already here. The Palestinians and the Israelis have mutual programs and continue meeting. Something has already been created on this road. We cannot turn back.

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