Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Syria’

Agatha Christie Meets Nora Roberts

Killing at the White Swan Inn by Carole Hall.
Melange Books, 2017
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

whiteswannIf Nora Roberts, Agatha Christie, and Salman Rushdie wrote as a ménage à trois, Killing at the Swan Inn could be the story they birthed. Ms. Hall has written a tale that combines a cozy murder-mystery, with contemporary romance, and cultural differences, which converge in the Berkshires at Margot’s newly acquired inn (The White Swan). 

The characters who inhabit the inn, and who visit, are introduced in quick succession, with readers understanding, and cheerleading, for each to find release from an abusive relationship (Veronica Hewitt), forgiveness and redemption (Charles Allan Whittaker), safety from a vengeful family (Soraya and Omar Sulaman-Mamoud), and love (Isobel, Manager John, Charles, and Detective Adrian Reynolds).

Those who work at the inn, and mourn the loss of long-time owner, Isobel’s mother Claire, run the inn like a family, and try to make the well-known, and famous men and women that visit, a sense of it being their home as well. This sense of caring for one another is evident and visceral throughout, and one of the strongest characteristics of the story. Humanity at its best.

Killing at the White Swan is an enjoyable, and brief visit, with people you’d want to meet in person, let alone spend a weekend at the inn.

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Without Clean Water

Girl_in_WaterFor a five-year-old child in Syria, peace is not even a memory.

Her childhood has been consumed by violence. As the conflict enters its fourth year, she may wonder if war is all the world has to offer her.

It’s not.

We can give this child hope – in the form of the most basic of necessities. Food. Medicine. And, crucially, clean water.

In war-torn areas in Syria, the supply of clean water has fallen by two-thirds. Millions of children are at risk of losing something we all take for granted.

Make your gift to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF today and help ensure that children in Syria and around the world have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Without clean water, children are vulnerable to deadly diseases like cholera. What they drink is a matter of life and death. Nearly 1,400 children die every day from unsafe water or poor sanitation.

It’s so easy to save these children’s lives. A water purification tablet costs less than a penny. A packet of oral rehydration salts that can save the life of a dehydrated child costs ten cents. A pump that can provide an entire community with constant water – just a few hundred dollars.

UNICEF has the infrastructure and expertise to deliver clean water and water treatment equipment to nearly any place on earth – whether by boat, by truck, by plane or by foot. Last year, UNICEF helped provide clean water to 10 million people in Syria – nearly half of all Syrians.

But countless more children need clean water and other essentials right now. Conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic are straining resources. UNICEF needs your help. A thirsty, sick child needs your help.

Save a child’s life with a donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF today.

Together, we can make sure no child dies because she does not have a simple glass of clean water. Thank you for your compassion and generosity.

With sincere gratitude,

Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Call For Release

Syrian Religious Leaders Call For Release of Two Bishops
Religions for Peace
22 November 2013

At the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, Muslim and Christian Leaders Call for Common Action Syrian religious leaders attending the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace called for the release of two abducted bishops in Syria. The Assembly, which serves as a venue for conflict transformation, brought more than 600 religious leaders representing all historic faith traditions and every region of the world to restore and build peace. Each Syrian religious leader sent a strong message of support to the abducted bishops, the demand for their release, and the hope for a peaceful resolution.

Bishops

The two Syrian bishops, Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Bishop Boulous Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Damascus, were kidnapped in Aleppo on 22 April 2013.

“These two bishops always worked for peace and a good life for all people,” H.E. Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Sohaib al-Chami, an Islamic scholar and a member of the Religions for Peace Interreligious Council of Syria, reflected. “They kidnaped our bishops but they also took our soul, our love, and our hope. We remember their big role and work. And we hope that happiness will return to the people of Syria.”

Father Samuel Gümüs, Special Representative of HB Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, called for the immediate release of the two bishops. Father Gümüs implored, “I appeal to conscience, principles, morals and ethics of all peace lovers to spare no effort to bring about a safe and dignified release of Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulous Yazigi.”

Mrs. Asmaa Kiftaro, President of the Syrian Muslim Women’s Forum, shared a message of peace. Ms. Kiftaro declared, “Syria will rise again. The sons of Syria will serve their country. Peace, happiness, and smiles will come back to the people of Syria.”

Throughout the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace, delegates from different faiths around the world have sent prayers to express concern for those who are suffering in Syria. Plenary III, beginning the Assembly yesterday, opened with a moment of silence for Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Bishop Yazigi. Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General for Religions for Peace, said, “We stand in solidarity, our hands are in your hands, and we continue to pray.”

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.

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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.”

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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

On the Ground In Syria

On the Ground In Syria

For two and a half years, courageous Amnesty researchers — like Donatella Rovera — have been on the ground in Syria and neighboring countries investigating and reporting war crimes and other violations against Syrian families. What she and her team have documented there is horrific.

A mother’s three sons dragged outside, shot dead, and then set on fire for her to watch. Cluster bombs tearing into small children playing in an alley. Militias opening fire on peaceful demonstrators.

Now our research teams — backed up by the innovative use of satellite imagery — are gathering information of a heinous attack, apparently using chemical weapons, that killed scores of people, including children.

Now that the international community’s attention is focused on Syria, we must ensure that no more civilian lives are lost and that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

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Your donation to Amnesty helps us deploy researchers to document abuses and demand justice for the forgotten and the suffering. Support this work by making a monthly donation to Amnesty International today. For a short time, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.

During recent investigations in Syria, Donatella met 20-year-old Noura in a field hospital, a temporary clinic created in secret to protect victims and medical staff from retaliatory arrest and torture.

Noura was injured in a cluster bomb attack. Cluster bombs inflict massive damage by detonating in mid-air and releasing hundreds of “bomblets.”

Donatella, as well as all of us from Amnesty, is committed to telling the world their story, and demanding action from the international community.

When you become a member of Amnesty, your donation helps put expert researchers — like Donatella — on the ground in places like Syria, where the world’s attention is desperately needed.

The human rights crimes in Syria have been called a “moral obscenity” that should “shock the conscience of the world.”

As human rights defenders, you and I share an urgent responsibility to help bring those responsible to justice. We must mobilize to stop further atrocities against the Syrian people.

Please, don’t delay. Support our human rights investigators. Donate now.

Sincerely,
Frank Jannuzi
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Journalists In Syria

Dear Gabriel,

W1306EDMNA1At least 36 journalists reporting on human rights abuses in Syria have been detained, disappeared, tortured and killed.

That’s the finding of an Amnesty International investigative report — Shooting the Messenger — which is calling worldwide attention to the cases of journalists attacked or imprisoned by government and opposition forces since the uprising in Syria began.

As part of Syrian government repression of critical voices, award-winning journalist Mazen Darwish and two of his colleagues are currently facing trial on terrorism charges, apparently intended to punish their peaceful, legitimate freedom of expression-related activities.

The Syrian government detained the three men over a year ago and held them incommunicado for several months. In prison, they are reported to have been subjected to torture and other ill treatment.

Deliberate attacks on civilians, including journalists, are violations of the laws of war. Amnesty is pressuring Syrian authorities to drop the charges against Darwish and his colleagues and release immediately and unconditionally anyone held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

We are also using our on-the-ground intelligence to pressure the Syrian government, the armed opposition groups and the international community to hold accountable those responsible for targeting civilians and otherwise violating the laws of war.

Can we count on your support? Donate now and help provide hope for Syrian journalists and people everywhere who face government oppression.

Sincerely,

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

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