When refugee displacement drags on, is self-reliance the answer?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘BROOKINGS BRIEF’)

 

ORDER FROM CHAOS

When refugee displacement drags on, is self-reliance the answer?

Elizabeth Ferris 

When most people think of today’s global refugee crisis, they probably imagine masses of people trying to cross into a neighboring country or hundreds of tents lined up in refugee camps. But on this World Refugee Day, the reality is that most of the world’s refugees—and most internally displaced people—are not living in organized camps but rather are struggling to eke out a living on the margins of the world’s big cities. And most are living in protracted displacement. Estimates vary, but the average length of time a refugee has been displaced is between 10 years and 26 years. The real refugee crisis we face is that too many refugees have been refugees for far too long, and better solutions are needed.

Author

The three traditional solutions for refugees—return, resettlement, and local integration—are all becoming more elusive. In 2016, less than 3 percent of the world’s refugees found one of those solutions. Only 2.5 percent of refugees (552,000 people) were able to return to their home countries that year and even fewer, 0.8 percent (or 189,300), were resettled through formal resettlement programs. An even smaller percentage (0.001 percent, or 23,000) were naturalized as citizens in 2016.

Prospects for solutions for those displaced in 2017 or 2018 are certainly no better; with the decision by the Trump administration to slash refugee resettlement numbers, we’ll be lucky if we see 100,000 refugees resettled globally.

The third traditional solution—local integration—is also becoming more difficult as host governments are reluctant to allow refugees to remain on a permanent basis. While many countries that neighbor refugee-producing states, in all regions, have accepted refugees as an expression of solidarity, it was usually with an expectation that their presence would be temporary. As the presence of refugees drags on (and international assistance is never enough to cover all of the costs), governments are justifiably worried about the economic, security, social, and political consequences of allowing the refugees to settle in and stay. As in the case of Turkey, the fiction is that refugees are a temporary phenomenon and will soon be returning home. Few governments allow refugees access to work permits, which means that most are unable to work legally in their host countries.

But if the three durable solutions are not proving workable for the vast majority of the world’s refugees and the international community is unable to resolve the conflicts that caused the displacement in the first place, what is to happen? The answer seems to be emerging that they will remain where they are—in conditions short of full local integration—and that somehow they will get by. Increasingly, NGOs are turning to supporting refugees in becoming self-reliant so that they can “graduate” from humanitarian aid. Even when refugees are not legally able to work, many do so in the informal sector and NGOs are increasingly supporting programs of refugee livelihoods. Self-reliance—“the social and economic ability of an individual, household, or community to meet its essential needs in a sustainable manner”—is a worthy objective given the paucity of other solutions.

But how do you know if a refugee is really self-reliant? Refuge Point and the Women’s Refugee Commission (of which I am on the board and a commissioner, respectively) both began developing indicators to determine when refugees achieve self-reliance and are now working with 16 humanitarian actors in a community of practice to refine and pilot these indicators.

It’s tough to sustain yourself as a refugee, particularly when living in a country that really doesn’t want you to stay. And it’s tough when refugees aren’t able to secure work permits, but rather are working in what is euphemistically called the informal sector. A lot goes into supporting refugees to become self-reliant; as the recent meeting in Istanbul of the International Refugee Congress suggested, collaboration between refugees and the communities that host them can provide some suggestions. Today, the Self-Reliance Initiative is seeking to help five million refugees move towards self-reliance in the next five years. This is a worthy initiative. Most refugees want to be independent—after all, it’s never pleasant to depend on hand-outs, which are often erratic and insufficient. And it is clearly in donors’ interests to support self-reliance among refugees

I’m glad that organizations are working with refugees to support their self-reliance. Given the current state of affairs—where solutions are elusive, donor fatigue has set in, and nativist politicians decry the presence of refugees—self-reliance is better than depending on long-term care and maintenance programs. And perhaps they’re right that demonstrating refugees’ ability to contribute to their host countries will help to shift the political conversation in those countries and open up opportunities for formal economic inclusion.

But even refugees who are found to be self-reliant and thus no longer in need of humanitarian aid are living awfully close to the edge of poverty. One medical emergency or one abusive employer or one heavy rainstorm could push them out of self-reliance. And I also can’t help but reflect on how far this is from the three solutions originally envisioned by the founders of the international regime back in the early 1950s, where refugees were expected to return home, start a new life elsewhere through resettlement, or settle into a host country with all the benefits and rights of citizens. Self-reliance is only a partial solution, compared to those—nonetheless, given today’s realities, it is an important tool in helping refugees make the best of a bad situation.

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Syrian Aid: What The U.N. And the U.S. Should Have Been Doing All Along

Syrian Aid

(10-01-13)   (02-19-18)

What the U.N. And The U.S. Should Have Been Doing All Along

As most people in the world who have radio’s or television reception knows, there is a very bloody civil war going on in the country of Syria for about two and a half years now. The United Nations tells us that during this war about 100,000 civilians have been killed with at least one million people displaced. Displaced in this case means that these people have been not only uprooted from their homes, these are people who have left the borders of their country hoping for safety in one of their neighboring countries. Wars are never a pretty thing for a land of for the people of the land to have to endure, but, unfortunately sometimes people are forced to defend themselves. Picking up arms toward another person is always a personal demon that each person has to face within their own soul.

 

In Syria the city of Aleppo was the industrial hub of the country as well as the countries largest city. I have seen online many pictures of this city as it looks today. This city is one that has been one of the major battlegrounds of the fighting between the Presidents military forces and the people trying to defeat him. This city is now in horrible physical condition from large bombing campaigns just like many smaller cities and towns across their country. If you get a chance Google stories and pictures of what is happening in Syria. Like in most any military conflict the loss of physical and human destruction is heart wrenching. When you are looking at pictures of all of these bombed out businesses and homes I have a question for you that I want you to think about. I will use Aleppo as my example for my question. Looking at the destruction how is it possible for the people of the country to produce anything with so much danger constantly all around them?

 

Let each of us try to put ourselves into the story-line which is the Syria of today. When war is going on around you, even if you consider yourself and your family as non-combatant, what quality of life do you think you are capable of having? Do you think life as you have known it will not change just because you tell all warring sides that you are neutral? Even if you are lucky enough not to have had your place of employment bombed yet, nor had combatants come to your place of employment and kill everyone, do you think you are going to feel safe going into work each day? Do you think that your coworkers are going to take the chance of putting themselves into a crowded situation which makes them a bigger body count for the combatants? When almost all if not all commerce production is stopped because of a war, there is no GDP for the country which in this case is hurting the government side in this conflict. But, if the people have no jobs to go to, thus having no income, plus the fact that there aren’t any needed daily goods in which to buy, the populous itself is now drawn into the reality of this war even if they completely don’t want to be. I am not just speaking of items that are non essentials like wallpaper and couches. With the situation the Syrian people are in, they can’t even get enough food to keep from starving. No one in this war zone can possibly lay their head down for a nap without fear they may be attacked at any moment. That is if they are lucky enough to have a roof over their head in some place that has not been boomed out yet. Please also consider that the people of Syria are now facing their third winter in this civil war with all their basic needs absent.

 

What I have described above is background information for those who have paid no attention to the events unfolding in Syria and their region of the world. Once again an Islamic country in the Mediterranean region is in flux. The American government usually is put into a position where many expect us to be the world’s policeman. As most of you know the government of Syria is being backed by Russia who is their biggest most powerful ally and they have a major naval base in Syria. Russia has blocked most western attempts to help those fighting against the Syrian President Mr. Al-Assad. The second biggest Syrian ally is Iran who has been helping backup the Syrian military by sending thousands of trained fighters from the Islamic militant group Hezbollah which Iran protects and trains within their own borders and within the nation of Lebanon.

 

Syria’s president and his family are believers in a sect of Shia Islam  known as Alawites but the majority of the Syrian people are also faithful to the Shia sect of Islam. This is why Iran is helping president Al-Assad, you see, Iran is the largest Shia based country in the world and in Islam the Sunni-Shia differences are massive, violence between these two sects have been simmering, sometimes boiling over into violent conflicts for about 1,400 years now. This is why Iran is helping the government forces and this religious divide is why majority Sunni countries like Saudi-Arabia are helping out the rebel forces that are fighting president Al-Assad’s forces. Russia’s backing of the Syrian government has nothing to do with religion though, their reasons are simply economic and military alliances.

 

Here in America our politicians have been debating about whether or not to send military help to the Syrian rebels. Lately discussions have been about such things as bombing certain government locations and/or putting a no fly zone in parts of the country to help the rebel groups. Part of the problems with the rebel groups is that it is very fractious with several main bodies and no real central command. There are many confirmed reports that many of the people fighting against the government are from very dangerous Sunni Islamic groups like Al-Qaeda which are groups of the same philosophy  that attacked America on 9-11-2001. So the question comes to light, do we, meaning the U.S. and the west European countries give weapons and training to groups that once that war is over would then use those same weapons against us?

 

Now, I will express to you what I totally believe that the U.S. and the west European powers as well as the U.N. should have been doing since shortly after this civil war broke out. First, militarily we should be completely hands off. What we as a Christian nation and people, as well as the governing body of the U.N. should have been doing to help the innocent Syrian people who have been trying to flee their country via  going to their neighboring countries trying to stay alive, is that we should have been helping these people from the beginning of this human disaster.

 

Syria’s neighbors badly need help from the outside world in the facilitation of a million plus people into their countries. What we need to be doing and should have been doing is to send these desolate human beings, our brothers and sisters of humanity, the basic staples they need for survival. What aid we should be offering and delivering is things like food, tents, clothes, and blankets, not weapons. The only time we should use any military force in this civil war would be if the Syrian government force attack these refugee camps and then only if the presiding country whose borders were breached asks for us to help.

2-day-old Syrian refugee baby airlifted to Israel for emergency heart surgery

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

2-day-old Syrian refugee baby airlifted to Israel for emergency heart surgery

Interior Minister Deri grants entry permits to father and child after Cyprus appeals to Israeli for assistance in treating the 2-day-old

Aviation Bridge officials pose for a photo with a Syrian infant being airlifted to Israel from Cyprus for emergency heart surgery on December 23, 2017. (Courtesy: Aviation Bridge)

Aviation Bridge officials pose for a photo with a Syrian infant being airlifted to Israel from Cyprus for emergency heart surgery on December 23, 2017. (Courtesy: Aviation Bridge)

A 2-day-old baby boy born in Cyprus to a pair of Syrian refugees was airlifted to Israel early Saturday for emergency surgery to repair a life-threatening heart defect.

The baby was born in a refugee camp in Cyprus where his parents had fled to escape the ongoing Syrian civil war. He was diagnosed with a heart defect that the Cypriots were unable to treat.

On Friday, the Cyprus Health Ministry sent an urgent request to Israel’s Ambassador to Nicosia Shmuel Rabel for assistance in saving the infant.

The Foreign Ministry appealed to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri for entry permits for the baby and his father, which were subsequently granted.

A day-old baby with a heart defect was flown overnight from the Cypriot Syrian refugee camp where he was born to Israel for emergency surgery.  (Pictures: Air Bridge)

The Syrian father and son arrived at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer early Saturday morning and doctors began prepping the infant for surgery.

“In Cyprus, there is no ability to provide any kind of complex treatment — including heart surgery — for children,” said Sheba children’s hospital deputy director Dr. Itai Pesach in a statement. “The baby is currently in pediatric intensive care and diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.”

The infant is expected to undergo heart surgery on either Sunday or Monday. He will remain in the hospital for “a period of time” to recover, Pesach said.

Pesach added that the Syrian father and son are accompanied by a medical team that speaks Arabic.

Officially, Israel has maintained a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian war and has not taken in any refugees. But the Jewish state has still managed to offer some help to its northern neighbors.

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משרד הבריאות של קפריסין פנה אתמול בדחיפות לשגריר ישראל ,סמי רבאל, וביקש סיועו להטיס בדחיפות ארצה, תינוק בן יומו אשר נולד  בקפריסין עם פגם חמור בליבו.
במשה”ח ציינו בסיפוק את שתה”פ המהיר של כל הגורמים שאיפשרו להציל את התינוק הסורי.
קרדיט- חברת גשר אווירי .

Since early 2013, the Israeli army has taken in some 3,000 wounded Syrians and ill children for treatment. Generally working at night, soldiers have provided initial medical care and then evacuated them to nearby hospitals.

While the numbers are a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded in the six-year Syrian war, both doctors and patients say the program has changed perceptions and helped ease tensions across the hostile border.

READ MORE:

Syria Has Changed The World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT AND THE NEW YOUR TIMES)

Syria Changed the World

Istanbul- The world seems awash in chaos and uncertainty, perhaps more so than at any point since the end of the Cold War.

Authoritarian-leaning leaders are on the rise, and liberal democracy itself seems under siege. The post-World War II order is fraying as fighting spills across borders and international institutions — built, at least in theory, to act as brakes on wanton slaughter — fail to provide solutions. Populist movements on both sides of the Atlantic are not just riding anti-establishment anger, but stoking fears of a religious “other,” this time Muslims.

These challenges have been crystallized, propelled and intensified by a conflagration once dismissed in the West as peripheral, to be filed, perhaps, under “Muslims killing Muslims”: the war in Syria.

Now in its seventh year, this war allowed to rage for so long, killing 400,000 Syrians and plunging millions more into misery, has sent shock waves around the world. Millions have fled to neighboring countries, some pushing on to Europe.

The notion that the postwar world would no longer let leaders indiscriminately kill their own citizens now seems in full retreat. The Syrian regime’s response to rebellion, continuing year after year, threatens to normalize levels of state brutality not seen in decades. All the while Bashar al-Assad invokes an excuse increasingly popular among the world’s governments since Sept. 11: He is “fighting terror.”

“Syria did not cause everything,” said the Syrian dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a secular leftist who spent nearly two decades as a political prisoner under Mr. Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez. “But yes, Syria changed the world.”

The United Nations Security Council is paralyzed. Aid agencies are overwhelmed. Even a United States missile strike on a Syrian military air base, ordered by President Trump in retaliation for a chemical attack on a rebel-held town, seems little more than a blip in the turmoil, the latest unilateral intervention in the war. Two weeks later, the Syrian regime, backed by Russia, continues its scorched-earth bombings.

There remains no consensus on what should have been or could still be done for Syria, or whether a more, or less, muscular international approach would have brought better results.

The Obama White House kept Syria at arm’s length, determined, understandably, to avoid the mistakes of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And Western leaders surmised that unlike the 1990s civil war in Bosnia, the Syrian conflict could burn in isolation from their countries.

Moral or not, that calculation was incorrect. The crisis has crossed Europe’s doorstep and is roiling its politics.

The conflict began in 2011, with political protests. Syrian security forces cracked down, and with Western support stronger in rhetoric than reality, some of Assad’s opponents took up arms. The regime responded with mass detentions, torture, starvation sieges and bombing of rebel-held areas. Extremist jihadists arose, with ISIS eventually declaring a caliphate and fomenting violence in Europe.

More than five million Syrians have fled their country. Hundreds of thousands joined a refugee trail across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Images of crowds of desperate refugees — and of the extreme violence they had faced at home — were used by politicians to fuel fears of Islam, and of Muslims. That lifted far-right European parties already riding on resentment of immigrants, from Finland to Hungary.

The refugee crisis has posed one of the biggest challenges in memory to the cohesion of the European Union and some of its core values: freedom of movement, common borders, pluralism. It heightened anxieties over identity and culture, feeding off economic insecurity and mistrust of governing elites that grew over decades with globalization and financial crises.

Suddenly European countries were erecting fences and internment camps to stop migrants. While Germany welcomed refugees, other countries resisted sharing the burden. The far right spoke of protecting white, Christian Europe. Even the Brexit campaign played, in part, on fears of the refugees.

In the United States, as in Europe, right-wing extremists are among those embracing authoritarian, indiscriminately violent responses to perceived “Islamist” threats. White nationalists like Richard Spencer and David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, post adoring pictures on social media of Assad, who portrays himself as a bulwark against extremism.

In my decade of covering violence against civilians in the Middle East, mass murder by states has often seemed less gripping to Western audiences than far smaller numbers of theatrically staged killings — horrific as they are — by ISIS and its Qaeda predecessors.

The United States’ own “war on terror” played a part in making violations of humanitarian and legal norms routine: detentions at Guantánamo Bay, the torture at Abu Ghraib and the continuing drone and air wars with mounting civilian tolls in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

Then, too, Syria’s war broke out when the global stage was set for division and ineffectiveness. Russia was eager for a bigger role, the United States was retreating, Europe was consumed with internal problems. Russia and the United States saw opposite interests in Syria, deadlocking the Security Council.

The New York Times

Morocco Summons Algeria Envoy over Deportation of Syrian Refugees

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

Middle East

Morocco Summons Algeria Envoy over Deportation of Syrian Refugees

Morocco

The Moroccan Interior Ministry accused Algerian authorities of deporting 55 Syrians, including women and children, towards the kingdom as Rabat summoned the Algerian envoy over the development.

The ministry statement said that the Algerian authorities have “cornered” the refugees nears the border city of Figuig.

The Moroccan authorities “condemned these inhumane actions by the Algerian authorities against these refugees, especially when it comes to women and children who are in a fragile state.”

It questioned how the authorities in the neighboring country have not catered to the displaced and instead forced them towards Moroccan soil.

The development has forced Morocco to summon Algeria’s ambassador to express concern after the Syrians attempted to “illegally enter” the country from Algeria, the ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Sunday.

It said 54 Syrians attempted to enter Morocco through the border town of Figuig, an area surrounded by mountains, between April 17 and 19. It accused Algeria of forcing them to cross into Morocco.

“Algeria must assume political responsibility and morality concerning this situation,” the ministry statement on MAP state news agency said.

“It is immoral and unethical to manipulate the moral and physical distress of these people, (and) to sow trouble in the Morocco-Algerian border.”

There was no immediate response from Algeria on state news agency APS.

Some 5,000 Syrians have gone through a migration regulatory process in Morocco, with several hundred receiving refugee status, according to Morocco’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Morocco and Algeria share a 1,500 km (970 mile) land border that runs from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara Desert which has been shut since 1994.

The North African neighbors have had a contentious relationship since independence from France. Border disputes triggered an armed conflict in the 1960s known as the “Sand War”.

One of their biggest disputes has been over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, most of which Morocco annexed in 1975.

Algeria supports and hosts the Western Saharan independence movement Polisario, a stance which angers Morocco.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Quebec legislature adopts sharia blasphemy motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CREEPING SHARIA’S WEBSITE)

Quebec legislature adopts sharia blasphemy motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’

quebecistanSource: Quebec legislature adopts motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’ – The Globe and Mail

Quebec’s legislature unanimously adopted a motion Thursday condemning “Islamophobia” — particularly toward Syrian refugees — in response to what some politicians say is a growing anti-Muslim climate in the province.

About 100 members of the legislature voted in favour of the motion tabled by Francoise David, whose Quebec solidaire has three members in the 125-seat national assembly.

David said she was concerned by what she called the increasing number of attacks against Muslims in Quebec, notably online.

The motion condemned Islamophobia and incitement of hatred and violence toward Muslim Quebecers, in particular Syrian refugees.

The governing Liberals and the two other opposition parties in the legislature attempted to amend the motion in order for it to condemn racism more generally as well as other forms of intolerance.

But David told reporters she insisted the word “Islamophobia” be included in the text and that the motion focus on Muslims.

“The incidents that have been multiplying over the past few weeks particularly affect Quebec’s Muslims,” she said. “We need to call a spade a spade.”

Except when Muslims are attacking, killing or inciting violence against non-Muslims in Canada. Then the spade must be buried, hidden and hushed. Perhaps, now, even punished.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil told reporters the motion “is a gesture of responsibility and it’s a gesture to reassure people, reassure Quebecers and newcomers and people who perhaps came a few generations ago.”

Absent in the motion was any mention of the niqab, the face veil worn by some Muslim women that has become a major issue in the federal election campaign, particularly in Quebec.

Political parties are split over whether people should be allowed to wear the veil during citizenship ceremonies.

David pleaded with her federal counterparts to stop talking about it and to focus on other topics.

“We debate enough around that,” she said. “We have many other things to debate. We have two weeks more (in the campaign), please debate on the environment, on social justice, on refugees.”


In other words, they are busy debating distractions and nothing of importance to long-standing citizens of Quebec.

Can any Canadian reader let us know what legal standing a “motion” holds in Quebec?