Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘refugees’

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.

The Real Story About Syria

The Real Story About Syria

The politics around Syria’s civil war are complex, but the reason to care about Syria’s millions of refugees is simple – there is very real suffering happening with our fellow humans. Real people like you and me whose lives have been up-ended. Millions of people who have done nothing to bring this upon themselves, who are struggling to survive, and who may never be able to return home.

With or without military intervention, the flood of Syrians displaced by the conflict, both within Syria and as refugees in neighboring countries, will continue.

All the news about weapons, governmental bodies, and military actions ignores the truly massive humanitarian crisis that continues to dramatically unfold.

This is 12-year-old Amina and 7-year-old Sahed with their grandmother, 80-year-old Amina. “I miss my friends from my old school the most. I don’t know what has happened to them,” says young Amina. “My wish is to be able to see again properly,” says her grandmother, 80-year-old Amina, of her failing eyesight, “and see Syria again.”

Syrian_refugee_family_copy

CARE is helping refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and people affected by the crisis in Syria. As the crisis escalates, we are also starting to work in Egypt and Yemen. The more than 8 million people affected by this disaster are looking to us to help by providing basic life saving support, such as: food, shelter, clean water, medicine and medical care, and the means to stay warm when winter approaches.

Please give what you can today to help those fleeing the violence in Syria, and others caught in the crosshairs of political unrest around the world.

I believe that – as human beings, confronted with the suffering and needs of others – you and I can and must do something to help. If you suddenly lost your home, wouldn’t you want to know that someone cared enough to reach out and support you to maintain your dignity while getting you through an unimaginably difficult time? I know I would.

Together we can make a difference to help each other in times of need. Please give what you can today.

As you listen to the radio and scan the headlines, keep the faces of the refugees above in your thoughts. They are the real story. And they need our support.

With greatest hope,

Holly Solberg
Director of Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance, CARE

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 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

Climate Displacing Thousands

From Nation of Change and New America Media
by Andrew Lam
16 August 2012

The Rising Tide – Environmental Refugees

The modern world has long thought of refugees in strictly political terms, victims in a world riven by competing ideologies. But as climate change continues unabated, there is a growing population of displaced men, women and children whose homes have been rendered unlivable thanks to a wide spectrum of environmental disasters.

Despite their numbers, and their need, most nations refuse to recognize their status.

The 1951 U.N. Convention relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as a person with a genuine fear of being persecuted for membership in a particular social group or class. The environmental refugee – not necessarily persecuted, yet necessarily forced to flee – falls outside this definition.

Not Recognized, Not Counted

Where the forest used to be, torrential rains bring barren hills of mud down on villages. Crops wither in the parched earth. Animals die. Melting glaciers and a rising sea swallow islands and low-lying nations, flooding rice fields with salt water. Factories spew toxic chemicals into rivers and oceans, killing fish and the livelihood of generations.

So people flee. Many become internally displaced, others cross any and all borders in order to survive.

Experts at last year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimated their numbers would reach 50 million by 2020, due to factors such as agricultural disruption, deforestation, coastal flooding, shoreline erosion, industrial accidents and pollution. Others say the figure will triple to 150 million by 2050.

Today, it is believed that the population of environmentally displaced has already far outstripped the number of political refugees worldwide, which according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) is currently at around 10.2 million.

In 1999 the International Red Cross reported some 25 million people displaced by environmental disasters. In 2009 the UNHCR estimated that number to be 36 million, 20 million of whom were listed as victims of climate change-related issues.

More accurate statistics, however, are hard to come by.

Because the term “environmental refugee” has not been officially recognized, many countries have not bothered to count them, especially if the population is internally displaced. Other countries consider them migrants, and often undocumented immigrants, and therefore beyond the protection granted refugees.

Another factor obscuring the true scope of the population is the fact that their numbers can rise quite suddenly — such as after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, or Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, which in a matter of hours displaced more than 3 million people.

A “Hidden Crisis” No More

Two decades ago, noted ecologist Norman Myers predicted that humanity was slowly heading toward a “hidden crisis” in which ecosystems would fail to sustain their inhabitants, forcing people off the land to seek shelter elsewhere. With hurricanes Katrina and Rita, that crisis became painfully obvious.

Along with images of hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans scurrying across the richest nation on Earth searching for new homes came an awareness that no matter how wealthy or powerful, no country is impervious to the threat of climate related catastrophe.

Indeed, being displaced by natural disasters may very well become the central epic of the 21st century. Kiribati, the Maldives and Tuvalu are disappearing as we speak, as the sea level continues to rise. The World Bank estimates that with a 1 meter rise in sea level Bangladesh — with a population of 140 million — would lose 17.5 percent of its land mass and along with it river bank erosion, salinity intrusion, flood, damage to infrastructures, crop failure, destruction of fisheries, and loss of biodiversity.

Those that have already fled the country to neighboring India – largely because of flooding — face lives of immense misery and discrimination.

China, in particular, is a hot spot of environmental disasters as it buckles under unsustainable development, giving rise to rapid air pollution and toxic rivers. Alongside desertification, these man-made catastrophes have already left millions displaced.

John Liu, director of the Environmental Education Media Project, spent 25 years in China and witnessed the disasters there. He offered the world this unapologetic, four- alarm warning some years ago: “Every ecosystem on the planet is under threat of catastrophic collapse, and if we don’t begin to acknowledge and solve them, then we will go down.”

Growing Numbers, Fewer Alternatives

When President Obama granted temporary protected status (TPS) to undocumented Haitians living in the United States in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, it was a step in the right direction. After all, repatriating them back to an impoverished nation devastated by one of the worst-ever recorded disasters would be immoral at best, and at worst, a crime against humanity.

Sadly, such actions are rare and when they do come, they manage to address barely a fraction of the pressing legal and humanitarian needs of the growing population. What solutions do exist, experts agree, must recognize that the needs of environmental refugees are one and the same as those of our planet.

Read complete article at Nation of Change.

A Terrifying Limbo

Dear Gabriel,

Moses Bak’s* childhood friend faces imminent execution, but with your help, he can save her.

She and two dozen North Korean refugees in China are in a terrifying limbo — the Chinese government wants to deport them back to North Korea, where the new “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-Un is cracking down by shooting defectors on sight and vowing to kill “three generations” of their families.

Moses escaped the nightmare of surveillance, intimidation, human rights abuses and famine in North Korea — he’s a refugee now living in Seoul, South Korea. But a young woman he’s known since they were kids in North Korea is in the group currently being detained in China.

“We have cried our eyes out,” Moses and his friends say, certain the young woman will be executed if she’s returned to North Korea. Moses’s only hope is that international pressure can save her — he started a petition on Change.org calling on world leaders including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the EU’s Catherine Ashton to do everything they can to stop China from deporting his friend and others back to North Korea.

Click here to sign Moses’s petition telling world leaders to stop China from sending two dozen refugees back to North Korea, where they face imprisonment and execution.

North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-Un, is ruthlessly cracking down to assert his new authority since his father, Kim Jong-Il, died. In December, Kim Jong-Un told border guards to shoot defectors on sight rather than sending them to reeducation camps and decreed defectors’ families would also be killed.

But one deadline for the deportation of these refugees has already passed, signaling that China knows it will have blood on its hands if it follows through. China may be bending to international pressure, but needs to hear more from other global leaders to release the refugees to South Korea.

Already, more than 30,000 people have signed Moses’s petition. In November, 35,000 people signed a petition on Change.org asking Secretary Clinton to call for the release of political prisoners in Burma — and she did. She also spoke out for women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia after receiving a Change.org petition. If every person who cares about human rights signs Moses’s petition, world leaders like Secretary Clinton will listen again.

Click here to sign North Korean refugee Moses Bak’s petition calling on Secretary Clinton and other world leaders to stop China from sending two dozen defectors back to North Korea, where they will face imprisonment and execution.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Sarah and the Change.org team

Le Ly Hayslip

Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call. Conversations with Gabriel Constans.

LE LY HAYSLIP

As a child she knew only war. She was threatened with execution and raped by the Viet Cong; imprisoned and tortured by the South Vietnamese; starved near death; forced into the black market to survive; and lived with the grief of losing brothers, father, cousins, neighbors, friends and relatives to the violence that ripped her country apart for decades. Le Ly lived through hell on earth and chose to heal the wounds, work for peace, and with the help of her ancestors, rebuild the land that gave her birth.

Le Ly was the first voice in the West to speak about Vietnam from the eyes of the Vietnamese. Her book, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places gave the people of Vietnam a human face. The adapted movie by Oliver Stone increased awareness of what the war had done to individuals and families in Vietnam and was the beginning of an outpouring of humanitarian work for reconciliation and rebuilding between the two countries. In 1989 Le Ly began The East Meets West Foundation which started programs for displaced children; primary health care for over 150,000 patients; Mother’s Love Clinic, with over 1,000 babies delivered; construction of eight schools in remote districts; built over thirty-eight homes and income-generating projects for families; thirty renovated or new built wells; scholarships for educating children and orphans and; a loan program that’s provided for over one hundred and eighty five needy families.

LE LY: The East West Foundation started in 1987, with one hundred dollars, after I saw the poor people in Vietnam. I could not turn my back and walk away from what I saw. If I did not see it at all it would be different, but after you have been there you see and you feel touched. You can’t lie to yourself and say, “I am not going to do anything.” “Doing something” is not just talking but rolling up your sleeves and working.

When I came back from Vietnam in 1986 I lost my sense of having everything. I just had it with the living style. I owned a restaurant, I had a couple of houses rented out, three children . . . but I got really burned out, so I started to let go. I sold the restaurant and houses and moved into a small home.

I’m not working for anyone, just doing the thing I really wanted to do, to write and tell the story. While I’m doing that everything is coming back to me. The more I’m writing the story the more I’m saying to myself, “How could I not help? I was there, I was one of them!” I am lucky enough to get out and then I went back and they are still there, with things worse then it had been. That is when I really committed myself to do what I can. At that time I didn’t know if the book was going to work but if it did well I committed to myself to have all that money go back to where it is coming from. Without the war in Vietnam, without my life crises, I can’t tell the story, right?

So I make that my commitment and I not only sell the house and sell the restaurant and put the time into working on the book, but I work seven days a week and twenty-four hours on the foundation, then eventually my income from my bank to the foundation account so it can do its work. I know who I am. I know what I stand for and I know the principle of what I’m doing.

I recently returned to Vietnam and stayed for almost four months. I saw all the old villages that were leveled by Americans, including my own. I saw the foundation of the house, temple and my school and around it the bamboo and banana trees. The foundation is what they lost. The tree is still growing. The bamboo and the banana tree has sprouted again. The soul of the ancestors is all that remains of foundation and the bomb crater next to the graveyard. I walked through that ghost town with my cousin and he pointed out to me, “Do you remember? Remember who lived here? Remember Uncle so and so lived there? Remember Auntie’s house? Remember the big tree here we use to play on?” You know I’m looking around I feel ghosts. I feel chill in my bones. I’ve been back to Vietnam thirty-six times but never saw these places until then.

I dealt with the refugees from those villages. I helped them with what I can, but after a time I said, “Leave it there.” I went back and saw that they are refugees because they moved lower land people to higher desert land. This land happened to be in my village. They can’t grow anything there. It is sand beach. They cannot survive there. The last thirty years they cannot call it home. They can’t move back because there is land mines and even if there weren’t they having nothing to build with. They fought so hard against the French to save the house, the temple and the ancestor worship places.

That is when I feel my pain. For many years I feel the pain. When I wrote the book I feel the pain of what the war had done to these people. When I work with them and help them, I feel the pain of the poor, the needy, the suffering they have gone through. Now it is a different pain, a different loss. We have fire here in U.S. every now and then. People describe their pain, people feel their losses, and people act or describe the hurt. Vietnamese lost not only one or two houses to fire, we lost the whole village! The places we lived for thousands of years!

Heaven and Earth was the first voice that ever came from the Vietnamese side. Americans wrote about what they did, felt or believed in, but not about Vietnamese. I wanted to describe from Vietnamese experience, how we get from here to there – to be prostitute, refugee, Viet Cong or whatever. I was a young kid, what did I know. So that is the book as a first voice, then the movie and then it was a big impact. It did not do as well as we hoped it would, probably because it was about Vietnam, was from the “other side” and a woman’s story.

I keep going with much help. I’m never alone. I cannot live without spirits. That means knowing that whatever I do, whatever breath I take, whatever words I say . . . they know about it. The spirits have no boundaries. They are like wind. I communicate with my ancestors very clearly. It’s as real as when I talk to you. I have no problem with that. Wherever I live, or work I have to have them with me. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.

They do not control things. I cannot ask you to protect me if I walk out the door and I know somebody is going to kill me. I can’t ask you to protect me because you don’t have any army with you, you don’t have any power. But if I make a call to police they can help me. It is the same with the spirits. I cannot ask my brother or my father to help me when they are just like us, but I can ask my great, great ancestor who was a king, who was an emperor, to protect me. There are good and evil just like there is here, so it depends on how good I do on this plane. If I do all the good work, the high scale side will protect me. You can call it angels or whatever. My thought has to be clear. It has to be peaceful and it has to be clean for them to guide me.

Everybody has choices. The choice they make will help with their energy if they make the right choice. Right now I’m writing about the villages that I visit and all the ghost stories I have been told by the people I’ve been talking to. I feel moved. I feel hurt. I feel pain. At the same time, I feel good because I speak for them. I speak for those who are voiceless. That is helping me and that is when I knew that they are with me. I have to “keep the channel open” and that is what it’s all about, to really keep the flow going through. If I was a hateful person with much anger and condemned the whole world, there also is an entity like that. There are two forces, Yin and Yang. If you have negative flow you have negative flow. It’s like the banking system. If you have positive flow, everything goes smoothly.

People with black, yellow, red, brown, or white skin all have our ancestors. Our ancestors come in all forms. You can call it God, you can call it angel, you can call it whatever. They are there. But we have to take a look at our life here to understand there.

In his death my father taught me how to live. He knew that if he kept living it would draw me back to the village. And with the note they found in his hand we discovered he was going to be killed anyway. One way or another he would die. But the question was where . . . how long? He died so I could be free and wouldn’t go back to the village, so I could go on with my life. But if I am not intuitive enough I may not find the way on the path he provided. I have to walk it carefully.

Every one of us makes that choice. It depends on what we make out of it. Living with the ancestors I have no problems. Living with the real world I have the problems. I know the rules. I know what law I need to obey, spiritual law. That is all I need to know. From Uncle Sam to Uncle Ho, there are many obligations. It is hard. But nothing is impossible.

Many people write about their life, their hatred and their anger. All that does is make some people feel like them so they can put on the uniform, the gun and fight. They start it all over again. That is what I would call negative energy. Every time you think of doing something, energy goes out like a chain link fence, it hooks together. That energy multiplies, bigger and bigger. The other world also has a negative energy that hooks into your negative energy and makes a person down here do things which are harmful. It’s like when you turn on a radio in your house or car and you are looking for these waves. When you tap in with that station they have their own frequency. That is what comes to you the listener, whatever you choose. I would rather tune in to the positive. I like the light that is in me and that energy out there is the same light.

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