Thousands Of Islamic Refugees Enter EU Through Open Door In Turkey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

Greek authorities say that they have deterred thousands of refugees and migrants trying to enter the European Union following clashes on its border with Turkey on Saturday. A Deutsche Welle reporter at the Pazarkule border crossing in the Turkish state of Edirna said that tear gas and pepper spray were used by police on the migrants who had gathered there. Agence France-Press reported that migrants then hurled stones at the police in response.

The migrant push for the border followed a message by Turkey that, in the wake of the killing of at least 33 Turkish troops in Idlib, northern Syria, following bombardment by Syrian and Russian forces, it would no longer stop refugees trying to enter the EU.

Migrants at Greek border
Migrants react as Greek anti-riot police officers use tears gas on the buffer zone Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule, in Edirne district, on February 29, 2020. The clashes take place while as many as 4,000 migrants attempted to cross into the EU.OZAN KOSE/GETTY IMAGES

Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey had “no choice” but to ease border controls because it had not got enough support in hosting Syrian refugees, which number more than 3.4 million, the BBC reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is worried that the continued attacks on Idlib will draw hundreds of thousands of more refugees to Turkey, a state inundated by those fleeing regional conflicts. The move to set migrants into the EU may be a ploy to pressure the west and NATO into helping stop the Syrian advance, Sky News reported.

Erdogan said Turkey can not support more people fleeing Syria, telling reporters on Saturday, according to AFP, “We will not close those doors … Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises,” referring to a 2016 deal with Brussels to stop refugee flows in return for aid.

DW described the scene at the border, saying that some tried to cross under a fence into the border area and many had tears in their eyes as they felt the effects of the sprays used by police. Sky News posted video to Twitter of the fracas at the border which included terrified children being carried by their parents.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, according to the BBC, that despite the numbers of migrants at the border “no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated.”

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said his country “came under an organized, mass, illegal attack… a violation of our borders and endured it,” adding “we averted more than 4,000 attempts of illegal entrance to our land borders.”

The former American special envoy to Syria, Frederic C. Hof, has said that the U.S. should step in to help Ankara’s operations against Syrian and Russian forces, telling Newsweek that Washington should “be prepared to offer combat air support if Turkish forces come under air assault from any quarter.”

India’s new ‘anti-Muslim’ law explained

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Citizenship Amendment Bill: India’s new ‘anti-Muslim’ law explained

  • 11 December 2019
Activists of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti shout slogans during a protest against the government's Citizenship Amendment Bill in Guwahati on November 22, 2019Image copyright AFP
Image caption One analyst has called the bill the most consequential action of the Modi government

India’s parliament has passed a bill which offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries.

The bill provides citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), says this will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution.

Critics say the bill is part of a BJP agenda to marginalise Muslims.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) passed the upper house of parliament, where the BJP lacks a majority, by 125 votes to 105 on 11 December. It had cleared the lower house two days earlier.

The bill has already prompted widespread protests in the north-east of the country which borders Bangladesh, as many people there say they will be “overrun” by immigrants from across the border.

What does the bill say?

The CAB amends the 64-year-old Indian Citizenship law, which currently prohibits illegal migrants from becoming Indian citizens.

It defines illegal immigrants as foreigners who enter India without a valid passport or travel documents, or stay beyond the permitted time. Illegal immigrants can be deported or jailed.

The new bill also amends a provision which says a person must have lived in India or worked for the federal government for at least 11 years before they can apply for citizenship.

Hindu refugees from Pakistan in a refugee camp in JammuImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Hindu refugees from Pakistan in a refugee camp in Jammu

Now there will be an exception for members of six religious minority communities – Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian – if they can prove that they are from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They will only have to live or work in India for six years to be eligible for citizenship by naturalization, the process by which a non-citizen acquires the citizenship or nationality of that country.

It also says people holding Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards – an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely – can lose their status if they violate local laws for major and minor offences and violations.

Why is the bill controversial?

Opponents of the bill say it is exclusionary and violates the secular principles enshrined in the constitution. They say faith cannot be made a condition of citizenship.

The constitution prohibits religious discrimination against its citizens, and guarantees all persons equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Bhatia says that by dividing alleged migrants into Muslims and non-Muslims, the bill “explicitly and blatantly seeks to enshrine religious discrimination into law, contrary to our long-standing, secular constitutional ethos”.

Historian Mukul Kesavan says the bill is “couched in the language of refuge and seemingly directed at foreigners, but its main purpose is the delegitimisation of Muslims’ citizenship”.

Critics say that if it is genuinely aimed at protecting minorities, the bill should have have included Muslim religious minorities who have faced persecution in their own countries – Ahmadis in Pakistan and Rohingyas in Myanmar, for example. (The government has gone to the Supreme Court seeking to deport Rohingya refugees from India.)

Rohingya Muslim refugees protecting in IndiaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Defending the bill, senior BJP leader Ram Madhav said, “no country in the world accepts illegal migration”.

“For all others about whom the bleeding hearts are complaining, Indian citizenship laws are there. Naturalized citizenship is an option for others who legally claim Indian citizenship. All other illegal [immigrants] will be infiltrators,” he added.

Also defending the bill earlier this year, R Jagannathan, editorial director of Swarajya magazine, wrote that “the exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the bill’s coverage flows from the obvious reality that the three countries are Islamist ones, either as stated in their own constitutions, or because of the actions of militant Islamists, who target the minorities for conversion or harassment”.

What is the history of the bill?

The Citizen Amendment Bill was first put before parliament in July 2016.

The legislation cleared parliament’s lower house where the BJP has a large majority, but it did not pass in the upper house, after violent anti-migrant protests in north-eastern India.

The protests were particularly vocal in Assam state, which in August saw two million residents left off a citizens’ register. Illegal migration from Bangladesh has long been a concern in the state.

The CAB is seen as being linked to the register, although it is not the same thing.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighboring Bangladesh became an independent country.

The government says the National Register of Citizens is needed to identify illegal migrantsImage copyright AFP
Image caption The government says the National Register of Citizens is needed to identify illegal migrants

In the run-up to its publication, the BJP had supported the NRC, but changed tack days before the final list was published, saying it was error-ridden.

The reason for that was a lot of Bengali Hindus – a strong voter base for the BJP – were also left out of the list, and would possibly become illegal immigrants.

How is the citizens’ register linked to the bill?

The two are closely linked, because the Citizenship Amendment Bill will help protect non-Muslims who are excluded from the register and face the threat of deportation or internment.

This means tens of thousands of Bengali Hindu migrants who were not included in the NRC can still get citizenship to stay on in Assam state.

Later, Home Minister Amit Shah proposed a nationwide register of citizens to ensure that “each and every infiltrator is identified and expelled from India” by 2024.

Indian activists from the right-wing organization Hindu Sena hold placards as they shout slogans against Rohingya Muslim refugees being granted asylum in India, in Delhi on September 11, 2017Image copyright AFP
Image caption Right-wing groups have protested against Rohingya refugees living in India

“If the government goes ahead with its plan of implementing the nationwide NRC, then those who find themselves excluded from it will be divided into two categories: (predominantly) Muslims, who will now be deemed illegal migrants, and all others, who would have been deemed illegal migrants, but are now immunized by the Citizenship Amendment Bill if they can show that their country of origin is Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan,” Mr Bhatia said.

Taken together, the NRC and CAB have the “potential of transforming India into a majoritarian polity with gradations of citizenship rights,” said sociologist Niraja Gopal Jaya.

Related Topics

Migrants in Bosnia Face Horrific Conditions as Winter Descends

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

 

Migrants in Bosnia Face Horrific Conditions as Winter Descends (PHOTOS)

By Nicole Bonaccorso

6 days ago

weather.com

A migrant walks amid tents during snowfall at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Despite calls for their relocation before winter, hundreds of migrants remain stuck in a make-shift tent camp in northwestern Bosnia as a spate of snowy and cold weather hit the region. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
1 of 31
A migrant walks amid tents during snowfall at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Despite calls for their relocation before winter, hundreds of migrants remain stuck in a make-shift tent camp in northwestern Bosnia as a spate of snowy and cold weather hit the region. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Several hundred migrants refused food and water on Tuesday to protest the horrible conditions in the makeshift camp in which they are living in northwestern Bosnia. The Vucjak camp houses about 600 migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and according to Reuters, the camp lacks running water and electricity and is located on a former landfill near a mine field leftover from the war in the early 1990s.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic is urging the immediate closure of Vucjak as the region experiences freezing weather and the first snowfall of the season. Aid agencies have long advised the closure of the camp, which is located about 5 miles from the Croatian border.

“Vucjak must be shut down today,” Mijatovic said. “Otherwise people here will start dying.”

Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia have closed their borders to undocumented immigration, leaving Bosnia with an upsurge in immigrants attempting to cross into the EU, while Bosnian authorities struggle to find a place for them. A new facility near Sarajevo won’t be ready to accommodate people for another 20 days, the Associated Press reported.

Fazil Rahman, one of the camp’s occupants from Afghanistan, told the Associated Press that migrants “don’t want the food… They don’t want it for lunch, they didn’t want it in the morning, they don’t want it at nighttime. People are asking just one question: to cross the border.”

Meanwhile, tents collapse under heavy snow, and some lack warm clothing and appropriate footwear for winter. In photos, migrants are seen walking in the snow in sandals, wrapping themselves in blankets in a futile attempt to keep warm.

“It should be closed as we speak,” Mijatovic said, according to BalkanInsight. “This is not a place for human beings.”

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Saudi: Ship With 151 Migrants Rescued off Libya Docks in Sicily

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Ship With 151 Migrants Rescued off Libya Docks in Sicily

Sunday, 3 November, 2019 – 12:30
A migrant hugs a rescuer aboard the Alan Kurdi rescue ship, before stepping into the port of Taranto, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. AP
Asharq Al-Awsat
An Italian offshore supply vessel has brought 151 migrants to Sicily after rescuing them in waters off Libya a day earlier.

The Asso Trenta docked Sunday at Pozzallo with the migrants.

It wasn’t immediately known if they would stay in Italy or be distributed among other European Union countries, the Associated Press reported.

Hours earlier, a German charity’s rescue boat, Alan Kurdi, had disembarked 88 migrants at Taranto on the Italian mainland.

Under an EU-brokered deal, 67 of them will go to four other countries, while the others will stay in Italy.

A Taranto official, Gabriella Ficocelli, told the Italian news agency ANSA the migrants included five unaccompanied minors who were “tired and tried by the voyage.”

They disembarked eight days after being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea from Libya-based traffickers’ un-seaworthy vessels.

Malta Takes Some Migrants from Ocean Viking, but Leaves Others Onboard

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Malta Takes Some Migrants from Ocean Viking, but Leaves Others Onboard

Saturday, 21 September, 2019 – 11:30
The Ocean Viking rescue ship just off the coast of the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea on September 15, 2019. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
A group of 265 migrants were brought to Malta on Saturday, including 36 from the rescue ship Ocean Viking, but the operators of the ship complained that more than 180 other migrants on board had been refused disembarkation by the island.

The Maltese armed forces said 229 migrants among Saturday’s arrivals were rescued from three boats in distress in Malta’s search and rescue zone, reported Reuters.

Another 36 were transferred to a Maltese patrol boat from the Ocean Viking, which had rescued them in Malta’s zone.

The arrivals were the fourth group to arrive on the Mediterranean island in a week.

But Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which operates Ocean Viking, said in a tweet that 182 survivors from other rescues, including a newborn, children and a pregnant woman, remained stranded on board.

This, it said, “demonstrates the discriminatory, arbitrary and inhumane nature of a system which continues to prioritize political game-play above human lives and dignity”.

Malta argued that those people were picked up outside its rescue zone.

The island took more than 300 migrants from the Ocean Viking in August on condition that they would be shared among other EU countries, but most are still on the island, stretching its limited reception facilities.

The plight of the Ocean Viking, run by MSF and another French charity, SOS Méditerranée, has exposed Europe’s failure to come up with a coherent policy to deal with migration from Africa through Libya.

EU states have been at loggerheads over how to handle refugees and migrants reaching its shores since a 2015 spike in Mediterranean arrivals of people fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

On Monday Malta will host an EU home affairs ministers meeting which will discuss migration and how EU states may share arrivals.

Saudi’s: Erdogan Threatens to Open Gates for Syria Refugees to Go West

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Erdogan Threatens to Open Gates for Syria Refugees to Go West

Thursday, 5 September, 2019 – 10:15
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the new judicial year’s opening ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, September 2, 2019. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to allow Syrian refugees to leave Turkey for Western countries unless the safe zone inside Syria is established soon.

Erdogan made the threat in a speech to his ruling party officials on Thursday. He also said Turkey was determined to create the safe zone and would do it alone if there’s no deal with the US by the end of the month.

He said Turkey aims to resettle about 1 million out of the 3.65 million Syrian refugees in the safe zone.

Ankara controls parts of north Syria where it says 350,000 Syrians have already returned.

Erdogan said: “We will be forced to open the gates. We cannot be forced to handle the burden alone.”

He also added that Turkey “did not receive the support needed from the world” to help it cope with Syrian refugees.

Under a deal agreed between the EU and Turkey in March 2016, Ankara agreed to stem the flow of migrants into Europe in return for billions of euros in aid.

Saudi: Boat with 356 Migrants Docks in Malta 6 Countries Accept to Welcome them

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Boat with 356 Migrants Docks in Malta as 6 Countries Accept to Welcome them

Friday, 23 August, 2019 – 12:00
Rescued migrants rest aboard the Ocean Viking ship at the Mediterranean Sea, August 21, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video. MSF via REUTERS
Asharq Al-Awsat
France said Friday it will take 150 of the 356 migrants disembarking from a humanitarian ship in the Mediterranean Sea after six European countries agreed to accept all of them.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted that the 150 will be welcomed in France “in the coming days.”

He added: “Together, we managed to build a European solution.”

The Norwegian-flagged rescue ship Ocean Viking, with a stated passenger capacity of around 200, picked up the people in four rescue efforts off Libya from Aug. 9-12.

The migrants are being disembarked in Malta from the vessel and distributed to France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania.

Requests for a safe port were previously denied by Malta and ignored by Italy, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee, the two charities running the ship.

MSF welcomed Malta’s decision to take ashore the migrants rescued. But the group also questioned why it took so long, calling for permanent European solutions.

Jay Berger, operations manager for Doctors Without Borders on board the Ocean Viking, said: “We are relieved that the long ordeal for the 356 people on board with us if finally over but was it necessary to keep them waiting for two weeks of torment?”

In a statement, he added: “This is about people who have fled desperate conditions in their homelands and have survived the horrific violence in Libya.”

He said once the rescued migrants have left the ship, the Ocean Viking will continue with its mission after restocking supplies and refueling.

The European Union also welcomed Malta’s decision and the pledges made by the European countries to welcome the migrants.

EU Migration Commissioner Dmitris Avramopoulos said in a statement that “these commitments must now be honored and materialized swiftly.”

The EU’s border and asylum agencies will help screen people before they are relocated.

Saudi: Richard Gere Visits Migrants Stuck in Mediterranean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Richard Gere Visits Migrants Stuck in Mediterranean

Friday, 9 August, 2019 – 11:45
Actor Richard Gere, right, talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it cruises in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Valerio Nicolosi)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Actor Richard Gere visited on Friday rescued migrants on board a humanitarian ship that has been stuck in the Mediterranean Sea for over a week.

The Hollywood star took food and supplies by boat to 121 people aboard the ship of Barcelona-based Open Arms charity.

The ship has been floating in international waters near the Italian island of Lampedusa after being blocked from entering ports in Italy and Malta.

The 69-year-old actor carried fruit boxes on board and spoke to several migrants who had fled war-torn Libya on un-seaworthy smuggling boats before being rescued.

Gere urged the world to “please support us here on Open Arms and help these people, our brothers and sisters.”

Other European countries have yet to respond to the aid group’s request for a solution to the impasse over the rescue ship.

The European Commission should help the migrants, European Parliament speaker David Sassoli said in a letter on Thursday to the EU executive’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Charity rescue boats have largely disappeared from the Mediterranean over the last year as governments have tightened controls and those that have rescued migrants have faced lengthy standoffs trying to disembark them.

Turkey: 6,000 Unregistered Migrants Arrested in Istanbul

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

6,000 Unregistered Migrants Arrested in Istanbul

Wednesday, 24 July, 2019 – 09:45
FILE PHOTO: Migrants in a dinghy paddle their way on the Mediterranean Sea to attempt crossing to the Greek island of Kos, as a Turkish Coast Guard ship patrols off the shores off Bodrum, Turkey, September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
A crackdown on unregistered migrants in Istanbul has seen 6,000 arrests, including Afghans and Syrians, in the past two weeks, Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday.

“We have been carrying out an operation since July 12… We have caught 6,122 people in Istanbul, including 2,600 Afghans,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told TV station NTV.

He said Syrians were part of the group, without giving numbers.

There has been concern in recent days over reports that hundreds of Syrian refugees have been sent back to Syria, after being forced to sign consent forms in Turkish that they do not understand.

Soylu denied the claims.

“When we catch Syrians who are not registered, we send them to refugee camps,” he said, citing a camp in the Turkish border province of Hatay.

However, Agence France Presse quoted him as saying that some Syrians were choosing to go back to their home country “voluntarily” to areas where fighting has abated.

Turkey has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world.

Most have “temporary protection” permits but these restrict them to the province in which they were registered. The current crackdown is aimed at those who live in Istanbul without a permit to stay in the city.

A coalition of Syrian NGOs said Monday that more than 600 Syrians — mostly with protection permits issued in other provinces — were arrested in Istanbul last week and deported back to Syria, rather than to their assigned provinces.

A survey published this month by Kadir Has University in Istanbul showed growing hostility towards Syrians, rising from 54.5 percent of respondents in 2017 to 67.7 percent in 2019.

Refugees Constitute 41% of Palestinian Population: Report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Refugees Constitute 41% of Palestinian Population: Report

Friday, 21 June, 2019 – 08:15
A Palestinian girl stands amid the ruins of destroyed houses on the outskirts of Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on January 19 | AFP
Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat
The population of refugees reached about 41 percent of total Palestinians residing in the State of Palestine at the end of 2018, revealed a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) published on Thursday.

The total of persons aged less than 15 years reached 39 percent (refugees and non-refugees) at the end of 2018, while that of elderly people aged 60 years and above (refugees and non-refugees) was about 5 percent.

UNRWA records indicated that the number of registered Palestinian refugees in 2018 amounted to about 6 million. PCBS said Palestinian refugees in the West Bank who are registered with UNRWA as in 2018 accounted up to 17 percent of the total refugees registered with UNRWA against 25 percent in Gaza Strip.

In neighboring Arab countries, the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA reached about 39 of the total Palestinian refugees in Jordan, 9 in Lebanon, and 11 in Syria.

It said the poverty rate among the refugees was about 39% during 2017 according to monthly consumption patterns. This means that the monthly consumption of their households is below the poverty line which is NIS2,470 for a Palestinian household of 5 (2 adults and 3 children) while the percentage among the non-refugees was 22.

The poverty percentage among refugees was 15.7 in the West Bank and 54.1 in the Gaza Strip.

Data indicated a clear difference in the level of the unemployment rate among refugees and non-refugees, with the former reaching about 40% and the latter 24%. This is due to high unemployment rates in the Gaza Strip, where the unemployment rate among refugees in the West Bank is 19% compared to about 54% among refugees in Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, PCBS said the results of the Labor Force Survey in 2018 showed that the labor force participation for individuals aged 15 years and above among refugees was about 47 percent compared to about 46 percent for non-refugees.

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