Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Prime Minister’

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.

Tweet To Jail In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Is tweeting a crime in Bahrain?

Ask @NabeelRajab. After tweeting a sentence shorter than the one you’re reading right now to Bahrain’s Prime Minister demanding political change, Nabeel Rajab was arrested.

Is protesting a crime in Bahrain?

For taking that same message to the streets through organized protests, Nabeel was once again charged and this time, sentenced to 3 years in prison. In fact, since May of this year, Nabeel – a prominent leader of the human rights movement in Bahrain – has been kept in a small, dark cell.

Tell Bahraini authorities to free Nabeel Rajab now! Send a message by Tuesday and we’ll amplify your voice during our upcoming demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, we know that Bahraini authorities aren’t just after Nabeel Rajab. They want to tear down everything he stands for. They want to intimidate others so that no one will stand with him. They want Nabeel Rajab to sit in that small, dark cell and feel alone.

But that won’t happen. Nabeel Rajab will never sit alone in darkness because Amnesty International will always be there to shine a light. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Nabeel’s peaceful actions for freedom in Bahrain — from tweets to marching in the streets — exemplify why he is a signature case for Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights event. That is because whether you show solidarity by writing and mailing letters, updating your Facebook status, organizing rallies or taking any solidarity action in between, you can make a difference in the lives of this year’s 10 Write for Rights cases.

Mark your calendars, because from December 5 – 16, we will build upon Amnesty’s 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives. Thousands will gather in classrooms, coffee shops, community centers and more; united by the power of the letter and for the cause of writing for human rights.

But we start building momentum today. Your action for Nabeel Rajab right now will fuel our special demonstration in D.C. on Tuesday to draw attention to Bahrain’s disgraceful treatment of Nabeel Rajab and its crackdown on human rights. For every 100 actions taken, we will hold a special place so that we can represent our full force — that means you! — when we hit the streets.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see how your actions will add power to our work to free Nabeel. Take action to free Nabeel Rajab now so that we can add your voice to Tuesday’s special demonstration.

The spark for this year’s Write for Rights begins with you, but the flame that burns for Nabeel Rajab and others who defend human rights will last forever.

In Solidarity,

Beth Ann Toupin
Country Specialist, Bahrain
Amnesty International USA

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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