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In his early 20s, Mohammad was a law student who raised bees on his uncle’s farm in Syria.
But in 2013, he faced a terrible choice: Join the military, join a rival militant group, face prison or flee his country.
“What if I had to kill my own people?” he said at a mobile phone shop in an urban refugee camp in Beirut. “I tried to flee to Europe many times. I was caught by the Egyptian secret police, and they sent me to Damascus.”
There are now 70 million people “forcibly displaced” in the world, and their numbers are growing rapidly, according to the United Nations. Humanitarian aid is increasingly scarce, and the increase in refugees “is outpacing the rate at which solutions are being found,” according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
As more people flee their homes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine who is entitled to protection under international law, and who is not.
“We need to uphold the refugee definition that is enshrined in the international legal system because it is strong, and we can leverage it in our discussions with States,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said at a Geneva conference on Tuesday. “We are not always successful, but we can use it. But we have to recognize also that many other people on the move have vulnerabilities and therefore need help.”
A refugee’s story
For every displaced person, there is a tragic story.
Mohammad fled Damascus to Lebanon, where he lives in a ghetto populated by refugees currently reeling from political and financial crisis. He gave up his education and left his family behind.
“If I had the money, I would go to a different country,” he said. “There is no future here.”
Legally, a refugee is a person forced to flee home due to war, persecution, torture or other types of violence, according to Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UNHCR, in an interview in Geneva on Tuesday.
Refugee status, entitling the holder to humanitarian aid and asylum in another country, does not apply to people who fled other hardships such as extreme poverty or failed school systems, he added.
When people flee their countries for any reason, they often travel along the same roads and end up in the same place, making it difficult for states to determine who is legally entitled to help.
“There is a lot of confusion about the terminology,” said Mahecic.
After more than eight years of war displacing half the population, Syrians who fled their homes are generally considered legal refugees, according to the UNHCR. But not all countries agree.
Many officials in Lebanon, which hosts the largest population of refugees per capita in the world, say the Syrian war is winding down, and most of the 1.5 million Syrians in the country are now “economic migrants,” a term that implies a person is not deserving of assistance.
In the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, where many Syrians have lived in makeshift camps for years, families say the war left them with no choices. At one settlement, neighbors say all of their homes were flattened by bombs, and they have no money to rent apartments, even if they felt it was safe to go back.
Young men say if they return to Syria, they fear they will be sent to the front lines to kill or die after fleeing the country instead of serving in the military.
On a good day, some men earn about $6 working informally. But on most days, there is no work, said Mahmoud, a father of a four-month-old girl, in his home made of tarps draped over wooden beams.
“If I work once in a week, how is this money going to cover my expenses like electricity, rent and milk for the baby?” he said.
At the conference, Shaza Alrihawi of the Global Refugee Network was one of 60 refugees attending the 3,000-person refugee event.
In 2013, she fled Syria after someone fired a gun into her car, which was parked next to her house. It was a warning, she said.
She had received death threats, but she didn’t know who attacked her car. Rebel groups and the government both accused her of siding with the other.
Increased humanitarian aid and policy shifts that help refugees get more jobs and education would alleviate some of the difficulties of living as a refugee, Alrihawi said. But the stigma and racism that often haunts refugees is harder to tackle.
“Becoming a refugee doesn’t change who you are,” she said. “I am still the same woman.” (VOA)
Samsung Electronics will quickly decide on a foundry investment in the US, a senior executive said Tuesday, as the South Korean tech giant seeks to become the world's number one player in the logic chip and foundry sectors. Samsung Electronics, the world's number two foundry firm behind Taiwan's TSMC, announced in May that it will build a $17 billion fab in the US.
Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is widely speculated to visit the US, possibly next month, to finalise the site, with the city of Taylor, Texas, emerging as the strongest candidate. Other candidates include Arizona, New York, and Austin, Texas. Kim Ki-nam, Vice Chairman and CEO of Samsung's device solutions division, said it takes time for the company to review all the factors such as "infrastructure, site, personnel and state incentives," and make a final decision.
"We are trying to make a decision as soon as possible," Kim told reporters on the sidelines of the Korea Electronics Show 2021, which is under way at an exhibition center in southern Seoul. He made the comments when asked whether Samsung will make an investment within this year. He did not elaborate, reports Yonhap news agency.
Separately, Kim said the company has been "calmly" preparing answers to a recent request by the US Department of Commerce about its semiconductor business. The US has asked global chipmakers, including Samsung, to share information on inventories and demanded other details by November 8 to "help improve trust and transparency within the supply chain." The request spawned concerns about the leak of chipmakers' major trade secrets. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: samsung, electronics, investment, US, chipmakers
It's been over two years since Hrithik Roshan appeared on celluloid. Fans have been waiting to witness his next performance on the silver screen and it seems like their wishes will be soon granted. Earlier, Hrithik had made an announcement about getting back to shooting schedule for the upcoming film 'Vikram Vedha'. And now, it's learnt that the actor has recently wrapped the first ever action sequence from the film.
The news came out when a few stuntmen from the film's set shared pictures of the sequence wrap. The stunt sequences seem to be quite crazy as suggested by the stuntmen. Talking about the same, a stuntman posted on his instagram as he wrote, "Wrapped up the first action sequence of Vikram Vedha. A big 'Thank you' to @parvez.shaikhh sir for this opportunity. Wouldn't have been possible without you ?? @hrithikroshan."
Another stuntman posted, "First craziest action sequence have done (sic).!! Cheer's To @hrithikroshan @parvez.shaikhh @stuntindia1 and all the stunt boys.!!"
'Vikram Vedha' is a Hindi remake of the runaway Tamil hit of the same name which was released in 2017. While the original action thriller starred R. Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi, the Hindi version will see Hrithik Roshan squaring off against Saif Ali Khan. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Hrithik Roshan, Vikram Vedha, action, sequence, wrap up
The niece of Japanese Emperor Naruhito, Princess Mako, married a commoner Tuesday, relinquishing her royal status following a heavily scrutinized, controversial four-year engagement.
The Japanese Imperial Household Agency issued a statement announcing the marriage of Mako to Kei Komuro, both 30 years old.
The couple broke with tradition by foregoing the usual rituals and ceremonies of royal weddings, including a reception, while Mako also refused the one-off payment of about $1.3 million typically made to royal women who leave the imperial family to marry.
The couple had been classmates at Tokyo's International Christian University when they announced their engagement in 2017, saying they intended to marry the next year.
But shortly after the announcement, a dispute involving money Komuro's mother, a widow, had received from a former suiter surfaced and the wedding was postponed. Komuro wrote a lengthy statement explaining the situation, and but it is still unclear if the dispute has been fully resolved.
Komuro spent the last three years at law school in New York City, where The New York Times reports tabloid newspapers documented everything from his hairstyle to the food trucks where he bought his lunch.
At a news conference, the former princess addressed the controversies, gossip and mixed public opinion about the relationship, saying, "I am very sorry to the people who had trouble (with our marriage). Also, I feel gratitude towards people who cared and quietly worried about me, or people who were not misled by the non-factual information and still continued to support me and Kei."
The couple expressed their love for one another, and Mako said, "As we go on with our lives, I think there will be different difficulties. But as we have in the past, we will work together and continue to move on together."
The couple plans to live in New York City. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Japan, Princess Mako, Komuro, Marriage, Royals