refugees

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Dialogue, Displacement and Despair: Why Palestine is Burning Like Never Before

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/01/2022 - 4:22am in

OCCUPIED PALESTINE – When no one is steering the ship, the wind, the currents and the waves lead it into the depths. This is what is happening in Palestine. The Naqab is burning, Sheikh Jarrah is burning, young and old Palestinians are being killed everywhere, Gaza is practically underwater with flooding, and Palestinian refugees are barely alive in camps throughout the region. Furthermore, in the U.S. capital there isn’t a single entity that represents Palestine; and, in those rare capitals where some representation does exist, it is quite useless.

Zionist trolls on social media are disrupting the lives of Palestinians and those who support Palestine, while social media platforms allow Israeli Defense Force (IDF) pages to portray hate-filled, racist Zionist terrorist organizations as peace-loving, attractive – even sexy – groups of well-meaning people.

 

The refugees

Palestinian refugees, both in Palestine and in the neighboring countries, not only are forgotten but are also being allowed to perish slowly as the world denies them meaningful relief. Living in camps built 75 years ago that were only supposed to house them temporarily; living through the hunger, poverty, constant bombardment and terrorizing by Israel. In addition to all of that, wars and massacres by various groups – usually working in collusion with Israel — have made their lives a living hell.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, was created to care for the Palestinian refugees but it is not really able to care for all of them. As mentioned in an earlier article in this publication, the legal case for reparations and return is strong. However, the same study that made that legal case also revealed that there are legal distinctions between refugees, and, while these distinctions are unseen, they exist and make a great deal of difference in what little relief refugees are able to receive.

Gaza

A Palestinian family warm themselves by a fire in the Khan Younis refugee camp, Jan. 19, 2022. Khalil Hamra | AP

The dismal funding UNRWA has received over the years was barely enough to allow the Palestinian refugees to survive. Then, in 2018, under Zionist direction, President Donald Trump proudly announced that his administration was going to end all funding to UNRWA. If that was not enough, according to a 2021 Al-Jazeera report, “The United Kingdom cut more than half its funding to UNRWA. It went from $56.5 million in 2020 to $27.6 [million in 2021].” The report also states that wealthy Gulf states that once contributed $200 million provided only $20 million in 2021.

According to a report by the Brookings Institution:

Nowhere are the UNRWA cuts more acute than in the Gaza Strip, where about two million souls inhabit a tiny area twice the size of Washington, D.C. that few can gain permission to leave. There, UNRWA provides services to 1.3 million people, spending about 40 percent of its overall budget. Roughly 262,000 boys and girls are enrolled in 267 UNRWA schools there. Twenty-two health clinics provide for millions of patient visits a year.

In Lebanon, where the entire country is suffering from what seems to be an unprecedented economic crisis, Palestinian refugees are particularly vulnerable. According to a recent story in the Palestine Chronicle:

Not being able to obtain Lebanese citizenship, Palestinians cannot get Lebanese identity cards and therefore they cannot access social assistance and government services. To receive medical help or any other form of humanitarian aid, they need to turn to UNRWA and charities.”

A Historical Reckoning: Oxford Study Challenges Israel’s Claims Concerning Palestinian Refugees

 

Furthermore, the Chronicle states:

As the demand for their services is rising and the costs of preparing food baskets or distributing medicines are going up, UN agencies and aid groups are struggling to cope with helping all those who need it… Not only are the living conditions there very poor but refugees receive practically no support from the state.

The situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon was dire even before the current crisis but now, faced with meager savings, limited employment opportunities, and skyrocketing inflation, they are destitute and unable to meet their basic needs.”

Gaza

Palestinian children play outside their homes on the outskirts of the Khan Younis refugee camp, Jan. 19, 2022. Khalil Hamra | AP

 

Optimism

While many people like to add a touch of hope when speaking about Palestine, in the current reality it is wrong to present anything but urgency. People often quote polls that show that public opinion has changed, that young American Jews feel this way or that way about Israel and about Palestine. None of that is helping the people in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. It does not help the Palestinians in the Naqab, where 11,000 homes were demolished in a few short years, and who are now being attacked by militarized police units for saying “Enough!” It does not help the people in Gaza.

Optimism is good but it cannot take the place of urgency. Palestine is burning; it is being overrun by an armed, violent, racist and ruthless regime that was democratically elected by the Israeli people. Israelis either cheer it on or sit idly by as the massive war machine they put in power destroys everything in its path. It is time for unprecedented, original, bold action that will stop the Zionist killing maching in its tracks and force change in Palestine.

 

Dialogue, displacement and despair

In an interview I had recently published with Dr. Ghada Karmi, Dr. Karmi said “I don’t want to hear about how nice things are. Why don’t you tell me why I can’t go home.” The dialogue industry promotes fake, feel-good exchanges between Israelis and Palestinians, which in turn are designed to create the illusion that there is hope. As though all that is needed is for us to sit together and get to know one another because deep down inside we are all well-meaning people. This is precisely what Dr. Karmi is talking about when she says she doesn’t want to hear “how nice things are.”

At the end of all the meetings, camps and weekend retreats, Israelis return to their privileged lives and the Palestinians to their reality of constant oppression. Israelis continue to serve in the military in all of its ugly forms, as reservists or professionals, and Palestinians return to the camps and villages where they live with targets marked on their backs.

The dialogue phenomenon tries to cover up the fact that millions of Palestinians are displaced and that despair is all that life has to offer them. But it provides no hope, no solution, only a guarantee that things will continue to get worse for Palestinians.

As the saying goes, if you’re not mad – infuriated, actually – then you’re not paying attention.

Feature photo | A Palestinian girl stands outside her family home during a cold weather spell in a slum on the outskirts of the Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Jan. 19, 2022. Khalil Hamra | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Dialogue, Displacement and Despair: Why Palestine is Burning Like Never Before appeared first on MintPress News.

Police violently break up Afghan refugee protest in Indonesia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/01/2022 - 7:45pm in

The refugees would like either citizenship or resettlement

Originally published on Global Voices


Afgan refugees in Indoneisa have been meeting to protest perceived inaction from the UNHCR. Refugees are calling for either Indonesian citizenship, or resettlement elsewhere. Image via YouTube.

Content notice: This article contains mention of depression, suicide, and police violence.

A peaceful protest of Afghan refugees was violently broken up by police on January 17 in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, a city on the island of Sumatra. The refugees were attempting to draw international attention to their years of displacement, mistreatment, and neglect by the Indonesian government and the international community. Police dispersed the protest by beating attendees and striking them with batons. Several attendees were reportedly injured. 

The protest emerged outside of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office because an Afghan refugee community member committed suicide on January 16. They were the 15th person to die from suicide in the community. Veronica Koman, an Amnesty International representative tweeted a video of the clash [content notice: some viewers may find the following video disturbing]: 

Some Afghan refugees have been living in limbo in Indonesia for over a decade, waiting to either receive citizenship from the Indonesian government or get approval and documents to move to another country. 

Mohammad Juma Mohseni was forced to leave Afghanistan in 2011 and has been living in Indonesia for nearly a decade. He told Gandhara news, a branch of Radio Free Europe, “[Fifteen] people have committed suicide and 10 have been prevented from committing suicide.” He added, “neither Indonesia nor the UNHCR has had a positive message for us.”

The Indonesian government is not party to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 protocol intended to eliminate restrictions on who can be considered a refugee. It does not have any official asylum laws and delegates all oversight to the UNHCR office and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). There are over 13,700 Afghani refugees in Indonesia who have been there for over 10 years. 

According to the SUAKA, an Indonesian civil society organization for refugee rights, asylum seekers in Indonesia are not permitted to work, receive social benefits from the Government of Indonesia, ​​own a car or motorbike, travel outside city limits, or go to university.

The IOM covers basic living costs while they await repatriation or resettlement. 

International inattention and tragedy


Some Afghan refugees in Indonesia have been camping outside of the UNHCR building for months. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

Monday’s incident is the latest in a number of heartbreaking incidents in recent months as Afghan refugees desperately try to call attention to their plight in Indonesia. Some refugees have been continuously camping out outside UNHCR offices waiting for news about their resettlement and attempting to raise awareness about their situations.

A group of Afghan refugees staged a 24-hour protest outside the IOM office in Medanon on November 30, 2021. One attendee, Ahmad Shah, 22, set himself on fire in front of the building. He had been in Indonesia awaiting permanent resettlement, separated from his family and loved ones, and unable to leave the country since 2016. 

He suffered third-degree burns and was reportedly taken to a nearby private hospital until he was moved to a public one on the same day. 

UNHCR Indonesia spokesperson Dwi Prafitria Juma told The Jakarta Post the agency was “deeply concerned about” and investigating the incident.

At least two dozen Afghan refugees had previously set themselves on fire. Six survived. 

“This is the seventh person we saved who was experiencing undue stress and fighting depression from living in limbo for around seven years,” said Juma in a press conference in front of the UNHCR office.

In recent months numerous refugees in Indonesia have sewn their mouths shut as a form of civil disobedience and protest.

In an interview with the Voice of America news agency the founder of Solidarity Indoenisa for Refugees (SIR), Ali Yusef, explained that Indonesia's refugees feel forced to take such extreme measures because they feel silenced and unheard. He worries for their mental health and urged UNHCR representatives to take immediate action.

The facts on the ground are that the UNHCR is less responsive to the fate of refugees in Indonesia. The proof is that they are not able to communicate with UNHCR when they want. … Don't let their delay mean the refugees who are sewing their mouths can injure themselves or even take their own lives. In the name of humanity UNHCR, please meet them. Explain that UNHCR is looking for a solution for them.

He added, “The world will judge Indonesia to be indifferent to international citizens.”

Both the UNHCR and IOM are responsible for managing refugees in Indonesia until they can be moved to another more permanent location. Both have been accused of neglecting and mishandling refugee affairs in the past. 

Before the Taliban came to power in August 2021, Indonesia housed the fourth-largest number of Afghan refugees in the world — behind Iran, Pakistan, and India. Most of these refugees intended to stop in Indonesia only temporarily until they could reach Australia. However, in 2013, Australia closed its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. Many were left stateless and stranded in Indonesia without recourse.

The situation has worsened since Kabul fell in August 2021. Experts say the situation in Afghanistan is likely exasperating feelings of helplessness that many Afghan refugees already deal with. It has also crushed their slim hopes of potentially returning to their home country and made it even more unlikely they will get rehoused, due to added influx of new refugees who have fled the Taliban.

Additionally, many countries have lowered the number of refugees they accept in recent years, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of resettled refugees has reached a 20-year low, according to the UNHCR. The organization found that 160 countries had closed their borders at some point during the pandemic in 2020, with 99 states making no exceptions for people seeking protection.

As a result, many refugees are finding it impossible to relocate to a third country or attain stability.

For years, refugee advocacy organizations have been calling for improved conditions in Indonesia, though those calls have not received much traction. In the meantime, citizens are doing what they can and using the hashtag #HelpRefugees_Indonesia on Twitter and social media, as a rallying call to support refugees. 

In a change.org petition, discussing the situation Afghan refugees face in Indonesia, Musa Zafar wrote:

Their most basic fundamental rights, which are emphasized in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are systematically infringed on a daily basis. Their freedom of movement, education, employment, and political and social rights have been ignored. These people have been forgotten and the world has turned a blind eye to their crisis.

Book Review: Refuge in a Moving World: Tracing Refugee and Migrant Journeys Across Disciplines edited by Elena F. Qasmiyeh

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 10:23pm in

In Refuge in a Moving World: Tracing Refugee and Migrant Journeys Across Disciplines – available open access editor Elena F. Qasmiyeh brings together contributors to offer an interdisciplinary exploration of the complexities of refugee and migrant journeys and experiences. This book will be an important resource for those researching displacement as well as readers seeking to better understand and stay in solidarity with those who have had to seek refuge and make a home on different soil, writes Öykü Hazal Tural

Refuge in a Moving World: Tracing Refugee and Migrant Journeys Across Disciplines. Elena F. Qasmiyeh (ed.). UCL Press. 2020.

Book cover of Refuge in a Moving WorldEdited by Elena F. Qasmiyeh, Refuge in a Moving World: Tracing Refugee and Migrant Journeys Across Disciplines brings together 32 important contributions that collectively convey the message that displacement is a complex process and often an ongoing experience that requires deeper reflections on the relational and intersectional aspects of identities and cultures over time and across spaces of refuge.

Given the rapid changes global society faces and the increasing numbers of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, homeless or internally displaced people, this book raises some pressing questions: how to address social, political and spatial systems that reproduce discrimination, exclusion and violence? And how to promote understandings of mutuality between those who are displaced and communities that are hosting them?

The volume is divided into four sections approaching these questions from several different but interconnected angles. The first part is dedicated to different approaches to writing in, through and from displacement. Here, contributors discuss the potential and complexities of employing participatory, collaborative and creative methodologies in researching and responding to displacement. They also acknowledge that some refugees may choose to remain invisible as a response to the hypervisibility of certain stereotypes of refugeehood that limit refugees’ choices in how to present themselves.

Syrian refugee camp on outskirts of Athens, Greece

Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash

In the second part, contributors discuss responses to displacement including arts-based, humanitarian and activist approaches by highlighting their complexities relating to identity, solidarity and agency. In particular, Sarah Crafter and Rachel Rosen’s chapter offers nuanced understanding of humanitarian care by drawing on a volunteering case in a Calais refugee camp, asking how care is received especially by those who are not used to receiving it. This is an important insight prompting the reader to imagine care through negotiations, tensions and the processes of adaptation it encompasses. Perhaps these insights could have been furthered by paying consideration to the implications of racialised hierarchies of power and privilege embedded especially in humanitarian practices for formulating an ethics of care.

The third part foregrounds psychosocial approaches to displacement and discusses how different communities, such as Yezidis, South Ossetians, children and LGBTQ people, make sense of and respond to the harm they have suffered individually and collectively. In the last part, contributors draw on spatial and temporal understandings of spaces of refuge and encourage the reader to question how one understands the self and the other relationally in such spaces.

The book presents perspectives that challenge the reader to think displacement alongside themes such as the agency of the displaced, the politicisation of humanity and the humanisation of politics. It engages in some important philosophical debates, such as the ontologies of self and other, moral responsibility and the paradoxical hierarchies between guests and their hosts. But it does so by guiding the reader through contributions that use historical, spatial, relational and intersectional lenses to address the difficulties and complexities of human movement, thereby aiding a fuller understanding of these debates. Qasmiyeh’s poems, dispersed across the collection, also add to this understanding by bringing the reader closer to the realities of displacement with their vivid narration, demonstrating the value of going beyond conventional academic forms of writing when dealing with an intricate subject like refuge.

As I kept shifting between the different contributions in the book, I realised that the distance-proximity paradox in relations of hospitality and welcome had guided my reading. Certainly, this experience stems from my own research interests, and perhaps other readers can find different grounds to explore the book.

Several contributions demonstrate that hospitality – seen from the perspective of who owns things to offer to the other or who doesn’t own the means by which to lavish on the one that shows up – can be radically compelling. In today’s political system hospitality becomes an arsenal that the host commands. It offers shelter, but it’s also a threshold between those who belong and therefore can extend welcome to the other, and those who don’t and therefore have to ask for protection and recognition. Distance and proximity are not physical in this relationship, but rather moral, setting boundaries between those in need and their spectators whose moral sentiments can be evoked through images of suffering and humanitarian narratives of rescue.

This line of thinking presented in the book urges us to reconsider implicit privileges embedded into the ethical responsibility of welcoming, and reminds us that the cultural story of hospitality we blindly inherit, and are still bound by, can be imbued with some repressive elements, raising questions such as: to whom will the generosity of welcome be extended? And under what conditions? Surely, as Sara Ahmed (2007) has shown in the case of Britain, such narratives of welcoming are often met by counter-narratives mediated by emotions like hate against those incoming others perceived as `bogus’ and abusing the nation. Such counter-narratives can, then, reframe demands and practices of hospitality as contributing to that abuse.

Perhaps a bigger tension the volume made me think about is when hospitality is institutionalised through laws and regulatory frameworks of the modern-day nation state, and ethical responsibility towards others entangles with politics within which responsibility is being practised. Michela Franceschelli and Adele Galipo’s contribution in the volume addresses this tension by drawing on local dynamics of hospitality and hostility on the island of Lampedusa, Italy. They argue that in cases where responsibility towards others is mediated by the state – in other words, when politics becomes the mediator of ethical responsibility – it relieves us from making decisions and judgements on matters relating to non-citizens, but it also carries the potential of creating distance and politicising humanity.

What this volume calls for instead is a degree of proximity that comes with opening towards the other (also discussed in the writings of philosophers Jacques Derrida (2001) and Emmanuel Levinas (1998)) and enabling spaces of radical openness, as bell hooks (1989) put it, where each side’s differences are recognised, respected and appreciated without denying forces of oppression and control. These ideas may sound utopian in a world of rising anti-refugee feelings and xenophobia. But the connectedness that comes through candid conversations with each other as members of different groups living in the same society can be a bridge towards developing values of mutuality, inclusion and responsibility.

The volume’s biggest contribution is opening up a critical space for multiple disciplines and practices including arts, advocacy, activism, the social sciences and the humanities to develop nuanced understanding of the meanings of and forces involved in human movement. Therefore, it is an important resource for those researching displacement, but it is also a good read for those seeking to better understand, prepare for or stay in solidarity with those who have had to seek refuge and make a home on different soil.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

 

Nation Eagerly Awaits Who The PM Will Throw Under A Bus Over The Djokovic Bungle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 8:20am in

Australians are eagerly waiting to see who Prime Minister Scotty who was fired from marketing will throw under a bus following his Government’s bungling of Novac Djokovic’s visa.

”The field is wide open as to who ScoMo will throw under a bus,” said a Spokesperson for Sportsbet. ”We have Karen Andrews as odds on favourite followed by Dan Andrews.”

”However, you can’t write off Bridget McKenzie, she definitely has form in this area.”

When asked whether many Australians were gambling on who the PM will throw under a bus, the Spokesperson for Sportsbet said: ”At the moment with Covid running rampant there’s not much else for people to do but sit around and gamble.”

”And we run bets on pretty much anything you can poke a stick at, including who you can poke a stick at.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I saw two seagulls fighting over a chip I need to get over there and start taking some bets.”

”Oh, please gamble responsibly.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017 - 8:11pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 01/02/2017 - 8:14pm in

Legal Action for Asylum Seeker Allegedly Exploited by Employer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/10/2015 - 11:18am in

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NFPs Call on Syrian Refugee Intake

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/09/2015 - 11:26am in

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SSI Foundation to Launch Education Scholarships

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/08/2015 - 10:10am in

Baby Released From Detention

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/01/2015 - 11:05am in

Children in Detention Worries Aussie Kids

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/11/2014 - 11:06am in

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