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17 Syrians drown in Aegean Sea

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Ankara: A boat sank in the Aegean Sea near Turkey in which 17 migrants were drowned. Those drowned were Syrian migrants who left the Turkish resort town of Bodrum for the Greek island of Kos, Xinhua news agency reported.

The route is considered one of the shortest by sea from Asia to the European Union territory. Local officials said an eight-metre boat carrying at least 37 people departed from Gumusluk and sank off the Cavusadasi coast on Sunday. Some 20 migrants have been rescued, and 17 bodies are found.

In the first five months of 2015, over 42,000 people, mostly refugees reached Greece by sea, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The agency said more than 300,000 people have risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, and around 2,500 refugees and migrants have either died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Drone and Satellites Expose Myanmar’s Pain

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Rohingya refugee
An Oct. 5, 2017 image taken from a video released by Arakan Rohingya National Organization shows villagers preparing to cross a river towards the Maungdaw township in the Rakhine state that borders Bangladesh.

London- The Rohingya refugee crisis is an age-old tale of displacement and suffering, but technology is providing new tools to tackle it, rights groups and charities said on Wednesday.

Powerful drone and satellite images are bringing to life the urgent needs of more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, while also providing strong evidence of abuses, which could be used to lobby for justice.

“We can describe for hours the large numbers of refugees crossing the border and how quickly existing camps have expanded, but one image captures it all,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar launched a counter-insurgency operation after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants in late August.

The UNHCR is using videos and photographs shot with drones to show the scale of the displacement crisis and bring it to life to spur action from the public and donors.

It is also using satellites to count and identify refugee families by their location in the Bangladesh camps to target assistance to those most in need, Mahecic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

The use of drone footage of refugees entering Bangladesh has boosted donations for medical care, water and food, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an alliance of 13 leading British aid agencies.

Rights monitors also hope satellite images can provide evidence that to help bring perpetrators to justice.

Satellite photos were used in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prove mass executions in 1995 in Srebrenica.

But the technology has yet to achieve its potential because of limited budgets and a lack of standardised methodologies accepted by courts, experts say.

Human Rights Watch has shared satellite images showing the burning of almost 300 villages in Myanmar, refugees’ mobile phone footage and their testimonies with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“We have found the debris field in satellite imagery where people were executed, corroborating multiple eyewitness statements,” said Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst with the U.S.-based rights group.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the violence against Rohingya in Myanmar “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and his office is working to determine whether it meets the legal definition of genocide.(VOA)

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Burundi Refugees in Miserable Condition, Assistance Programme Strapped for Cash

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Burundi refugees
Burundian refugees gather on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kagunga village in Kigoma region in western Tanzania. voa

The U.N. refugee agency warns that funds for humanitarian assistance for hundreds of thousands of Burundi refugees have dried up, leaving only enough cash for the most essential needs.

More than 420,000 Burundi refugees, who have sought refuge in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance; but, the U.N. refugee agency says it has practically run out of cash.

Only 19 percent of the agency’s revised $429 million appeal has been received. UNHCR spokesman Andrei Mahecic says “hard choices must be made. With so little money on hand, priorities must be rearranged to make sure life-saving needs are met”.

“But, there is a cost, there is a human cost attached to it,” Mahecic said. “There simply is not enough aid to go around. The services are not kept up to the standards that they should be and, obviously, in many cases, we are now facing the situation where shelter is by now dilapidated. The tents would need replacing. Eighty-eight-thousand refugees are still living under plastic sheeting, obviously vulnerable to heavy rains and so on.”

Mahecic says many refugees risk catching communicable diseases, such as malaria and acute watery diarrhoea. He says health care services must be urgently expanded. Because the money is not available, he says only 56 percent of identified survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are receiving the physical and psychological care they need.

The World Food Program, which also is suffering from underfunding, has been forced to cut monthly food rations to 60 percent in Tanzania — home to the largest number of refugees.

The UNHCR is appealing for international support so it can maintain its critical humanitarian assistance for Burundian refugees in the countries of asylum. The Burundians fled their country after violence surged in 2015. Many of them are women and children.

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‘Education Crisis’ for Refugee Children : Over 3.5 Million Refugee Children Currently Missing out on Education

Refugee children will go back and rebuild their countries. So, they are the future. If we do not invest in their future, we do not invest in the world’s future.

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refugee children
South Sudanese refugee children look out of a transit tent at the Imvepi refugee settlement camp in Arua District, northern Uganda, August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic - RC1C63EAF400 (VOA)

Geneva, September 13, 2017 : The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 3.5 million refugee children aged five to 17 did not attend school last year to the detriment of their future and the future well-being of society. The UNHCR is calling an education crisis for refugee children.

Children make up half of the 17.2 million refugees around the world and many of them are missing out on a productive future because they do not go to school.

Refugee children
Children of Rohingya refugees attend a temporary school run by a non-governmental organization at a camp for Rohingyas in New Delhi (VOA)

The UNHCR warns neglecting the education of millions of refugee children will undermine the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals — principally those targeting health, prosperity, equality and peace.

The refugee agency reports 91 percent of the world’s children attend primary school, compared to 61 percent for refugee children. It says that number drops to below 50 percent for refugee children in poor countries.

The agency finds those numbers drop precipitously as refugee children age, especially in the poorer countries. It says far fewer adolescents attend secondary school and enrollment in university is stuck at one percent.

Long-term consequences

UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told VOA denying refugee children access to an education is short-sighted.

“There is a clear need for more solidarity and for making sure that people who take refugees in low income countries also have access to education. This is crucial,” she said. “We know that these refugee children will one day go back to their home places and rebuild their countries. So, they are the future. If we do not invest in their future, we do not invest in the world’s future.”

Refugee children
Syrian refugee girls in a 4th grade classroom in the U.N.-run Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan. Guterres appealed to Arab states to overcome their divisions on Syria and help end the country’s six-year-old civil war. The U.N. chief is to attend an Arab Summit in Jordan on Wednesday.(AP Photo / Raad Adayleh) (VOA)

The UNHCR urges governments to include refugee children in their national education systems.

It also calls for more efforts to ensure refugee children are taught by properly trained and qualified teachers. (VOA)