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Κυριακή, 14 Αυγούστου 2016

[EN] "LET'S BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS," SAYS UN CHIEF, URGING ALL COUNTRIES TO HELP REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

UN NEWS CENTRE
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attends refugee resettlement event with UNA-USA, International Rescue Committee and the Annenberg Foundation, at the Annenberg Foundation, in Los Angeles. UN Photo/Mark Garten


11 August 2016 – Encouraging young refugees gathered for an event at resettlement centre in Los Angeles to “study hard [and] be a full part of your new communities,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States and other countries to keep reaching out to people in need, wherever they are, because “we will all be stronger” by building bridges instead of walls.
“Have hope […] I have faith in you,” Mr. Ban said in a special message to young people gathered last night for a back-to-school event hosted by the International Rescue Committee, the Annenberg Foundation and the UN Foundation, after his visit to resettlement centre where he met refugees, including from Guatemala and Syria, and other countries from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
He assured the gathering that he is working hard for other refugee families around the world, and noted that on 19 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly will convene a Summit on Refugees and Migrants where, among other proposed commitments, governments will agree that refugee children should go to school as soon as possible after arrival in the country that gives them asylum.
“I encourage countries like the United States to continue to demonstrate leadership by providing safe haven to more refugees – including Syrian refugees,” said the Secretary-General, adding: “Let’s keep reaching out a helping hand to people in their time of need. Let’s never give in to the forces of fear and division. Let’s welcome people into their new communities as neighbours and friends. Let’s build bridges, not walls. We will all be stronger for it.”
He went on to recall that he himself had been displaced as a young boy. “I did not flee my country, but my family and I were driven out of our village by war – the Korean war. I was only 6 years old. Everything was destroyed. The United Nations came to our rescue. They gave us food. They gave us shelter. They gave us school supplies,” he said.
“Now I am here as the head of the United Nations to give school supplies to you. If I could do it, you can do it,” said Mr. Ban.
Earlier yesterday, the Secretary-General also participated in a public discussion with United States Congressman Ed Royce, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He thanked the Congressman for his leadership on a wide-range of global issues. During a bilateral meeting, they had an opportunity to discuss the situations is South Sudan, Myanmar and the Korean peninsula.
Mr. Ban also participated in two events with the creative community yesterday, in which he talked to attendees, including, among others, film producer and director Brett Ratner, about how he strongly believed in the ability of the industry to be a power for social good.

11/08/2016

[EN] NO WALLS IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

 

In June 2016 voters in the UK, once the largest and most powerful colonial power on earth, voted for a Brexit — for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). Media pundits proclaimed the ‘yes’ vote as a vote fuelled by far-right xenophobia — supposedly, the statistics showed that the ‘yes’ vote was driven mostly by the not so highly educated working class, those that blame their relative decline of their standard of living on competition brought about by immigration, open borders and the flood of refugees. In short, the Brexit vote, according to the ‘experts’, was an isolationist and xenophobic vote — a vote for a wall of some sort. In many ways, this is true — the far-right in the UK exploited the increasingly insecure working class and sinisterly pointed their anger against a convenient scapegoat: the invading foreigners. The solution: let’s quit the world and build a wall — Britain is great and it needs no one!
Besides the fact that the misguided working class will not find their salvation in isolationism, the “leave us alone” tendency of the British blue collar populace is ironic, to say the least. Beyond ironic, this sentiment is nothing short of hypocrisy and utter disrespect to millions of people that have been exploited for centuries. A nation that for centuries knew no walls and respected no borders — back when it pillaged four continents, from the riches of Africa to the treasures of Indochina and the entire Indian subcontinent, is now crying foul, demanding a wall and asking to be left alone.

[EN] INSTEAD OF A PLACE OF SAFETY, EMPTY GRAVES AWAIT REFUGEES IN EUROPE

Chris Doyle



Europe is failing at every level to honour its legal and moral commitments to refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and beyond

Tucked away at the back of the old Muslim cemetery on the outskirts of Kos town on the Greek island are a series of freshly dug graves, around half with headstones. Most but not all are named.  
Buried here are 37 refugees who, fleeing from Bodrum on the Turkish coast, drowned in the waters of the Aegean. Most of them are Syrian, but there are plenty of Afghanis and Iraqis, too. Relatives of the refugees with unmarked graves had promised to return when they could afford to pay for the headstones.
The author at the graveyard in Kos, Greece in July (Twitter/@doylech)
The most heart-wrenching site is the line of empty graves dug for those refugees yet to drown, a testament to the expectation that the crisis is far from over. 
At the heights of last summer’s refugee crisis, 15,000 refugees made it to Kos. Most moved on, leaving around 677 today on the island who are in limbo, with little hope that that they can go forward. “What do you think of Ireland?” one asked me hopefully. For sure, they are the less unfortunate than those still trapped in Syria under bombs and siege, but each one had an epic story of suffering and horror. Many are middle class, educated and desperate to work and educate their children.
As for so many of these refugees, the system in Europe has failed them. This was the key finding of the latest report of the UK Parliament’s home affairs select committee released this week. It is grim reading for those who believe that richer countries, including Britain, have a responsibility to take their fair share of refugees.