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  1. #21
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    1,600 cases of enforced disappearance among Palestinians in Syria

    Task Group for the Sake of Palestinian Refugees in Syria documented 1,600 cases of enforced disappearance among Palestinian refugees in Syrian regime prisons since 2011, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

    In a report issued yesterday, the Task Group said that the real number of enforced disappearance cases is much larger but there are no official statistics issued by the Syrian regime.

    It added that it could not get the real number of cases because many families are afraid to report that their relatives are missing.

    According to Anadolu, the Task Group called for the Syrian regime to reveal information about hundreds of such cases and other Palestinian detainees whose fate remains unknown.

    It described what the Palestinian refugees face in Syrian regime prisons as a “war crime”.

    According to UN reports, approximately 450,000 Palestinian refugees are still living in Syria, with around 95 per cent in need of medical assistance.


  2. #22
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    UN Human Rights Chief Attacks Europe's 'Chilling Indifference' to Refugees as 2017 Sees Record Deaths

    More than 5,000 asylum seekers have died at sea over the past year

    By Lizzie Dearden - 8 March 2017

    The UN's human rights chief has attacked the "chilling indifference" to the deaths of thousands of refugees shown by European leaders
    as the crackdown continues across the continent.

    Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that although "heroic efforts" are underway to save lives in the Mediterranean, governments are turning their backs on those who survive the treacherous journey.

    "Many ordinary people in Europe have welcomed and supported migrants, but political leaders increasingly demonstrate a chilling indifference to their fate," he told a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva.

    "I am particularly disturbed by lurid public narratives which appear deliberately aimed at stirring up public fear and panic, by depicting these vulnerable people as criminal invading hordes."

    The issue became a topic of debate during the EU referendum, when Nigel Farage unveiled a poster depicting migrants being escorted through Slovenia by police with the caption "breaking point".

    It followed criticism of David Cameron’s description of a “swarm” and “bunch of migrants”, while a Sun columnist compared refugees to “cockroaches.

    More asylum seekers are dying attempting to reach the continent than ever before but those who survive the journey face border closures and tightening legal restrictions making it ever more difficult to gain asylum.

    The British Government has
    scrapped a programme to resettle unaccompanied child refugees, while Hungary is building a new fence to keep out migrants and the EU is considering initiatives to keep refugees in war-torn Libya.

    The vast majority of boats are launched by smugglers in the country, where a fragile government has been unable to regain control of territory controlled by rival armed groups including Isis.

    Libya’s agencies, including the coastguard, are themselves accused of torturing, abusing and killing migrants forcibly returned to land and imprisoned in squalid detention centres.

    Despite a growing body of evidence raising concern from the UN and humanitarian groups, Britain is among the countries training the Libyan coastguard, while world leaders have agreed to help bolster its capability and Italy has pledged millions of euros in funding for anti-smuggling initiatives.

    Mr al-Hussein said he was concerned at calls to establish processing centres for asylum seekers in North Africa and "engage external actors in migration issues, with little regard for human rights".

    "Migrants apprehended at sea by the Libyan coastguard or similar agencies may be put at risk of further violence," he added.

    "I reiterate the importance of abiding by the principle that people must not be sent back to countries where they may face torture, persecution or threats to their life."

    Crossings over the Central Mediterranean have increased after the EU-Turkey deal was imposed to stop refugees taking boats over the Aegean, and countries along the Balkans route from Greece to western Europe closed their borders.

    Hungary is building a new and reinforced fence to keep refugees out, while passing a
    new law allowing all asylum seekers on its territory to be detained and forcibly returned over the border to Serbia.

    Mr al-Hussein hit out at the "toxic notions of so-called ethnic purity" put forward by anti-immigration leaders including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, warning that they "hark back to an era in which many people suffered atrociously, Hungarians included".

    More than 40 countries
    were examined in a wide-ranging speech on Wednesday, where the UN was warned that 2017 could prove to be a "pivotal year" for human rights amid terror attacks, security crackdowns, populism and the rise of "authoritarian-minded leaders".

    Mr al-Hussein launched a wide-ranging attack on Donald Trump, voicing his concern over the President's new immigration ban, attacks on the press and judiciary and the administration's handling of a series of human rights issues.

    "Greater and more consistent leadership is needed to address the recent surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities," he said.

    "Vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims, and false claims that migrants commit more crimes than US citizens, are harmful and fuel xenophobic abuses."


    xenophobic hypocrites!

  3. #23
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    Microsoft and Accenture Unveil Global ID System for Refugees

    Jun 19, 2017

    Americans can show all sorts of documents, such as Social Security cards and diplomas, to show who they are. But for those from countries torn apart by war or political chaos, it's much harder to prove their identities.

    That's why a new software tool, unveiled on Monday at the United Nations, is a big deal. It will let millions of refugees and other without documents whip out a phone or other device to quickly show who they are and where they came from.

    The tool, developed in part by Microsoft and Accenture, combines biometric data (like a fingerprint or an iris scan) and a new form of record-keeping technology, known as the blockchain, to create a permanent identity.

    In practice, this means someone arriving at a border crossing could prove he or she had come from a refugee camp and qualify for aid. Or a displaced person in a new country could use the ID system to call up his or her school records. The tool doesn't have a name yet since it's at the prototype stage but will get one soon.

    "Approximately one-sixth of the world’s population cannot participate in cultural, political, economic and social life because they lack the most basic information: documented proof of their existence. Establishing identity is critical to accessing a wide range of activities, including education, healthcare, voting, banking, mobile communications, housing, and family and childcare benefits," Accenture explained in a news release.

    The companies have been working on the new system since last year, and unveiled the prototype at a summit in New York called United Nations ID2020. Here is a picture that shows how the system looks on the phone of a user:

    "Digital ID is a basic human right," David Treat, a managing director at Accenture, tells Fortune. He likens the new ID technology to the Internet-naming system, which gives a unique address to any given website.

    The new ID system is especially promising because of the blockchain technology, which provides crucial privacy features—and allays obvious concerns about the system being abused by all-knowing global governments.

    Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

    Blockchain is a tamper-proof ledger system run across multiple computer systems. Once a certain number of computers confirm a given piece of information—such as a financial transaction or, in this case, an identification tool—the fact is recorded as a permanent record on the chain.

    In the case of the new global ID system, it works by storing personal information in such a way that the person who owns it is the only own who grants access to it. Other entities—such as an organization or a school—can share relevant records tied to that person, and write it to the blockchain, but the person controls who else can see it.

    Treat explained that cryptography helps ensure that organizations who access a person's ID record can only do so for purposes of authentication—confirming they are who they say they are—and not for tracking them, or getting access to all their data.

    Microsoft's main contribution to the project is supplying computing infrastructure through its Azure cloud service. The company also works closely with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, an open-source software group that develops blockchain standards.

    Accenture, which caused waves last year by proposing a system to edit blockchains, predicts the ID system will be in use soon but as yet to identify targets for its adoption.


  4. #24
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    239 unaccompanied refugee children disappeared from UK care in 2015

    There are fears some of the children are being taken into 'a life of slavery and exploitation'

    At least 239 unaccompanied refugee children permanently disappeared from care facilities in the UK in 2015.

    It represents a 75 per cent rise in the number of lone asylum-seeking children going missing from care, according to a joint investigation by BBC 5 Live and Buzzfeed News.

    Freedom of information requests to 140 local authorities across England and Wales have revealed the significant increase – with 51 children disappearing from care in October 2015 alone.

    There are fears some of the children are being taken into “a life of slavery and exploitation”, in the words of the report, suggesting that cannabis farms, the sex industry or sweatshops are likely destinations.

    Other findings include that the Home Office is “releasing children into unchecked accommodation” despite concerns they would be trafficked; the missing children are being treated as “low” or “medium” risk; and councils “struggling” to provide enough safe accommodation for children. It found the number of Vietnamese children going missing from care tripled in the last year.

    Libby Freeman, founder of refugee charity Calais Action, demanded the government launch a “full and proper” investigation.

    Ms Freeman told The Independent: “Unlike in Calais, where they are refusing to take responsibility, they can’t sidestep it here.

    “Austerity and the cuts are partly to blame for this. The social care system has been damaged and more and more people are falling through the net.”

    According to the EU police agency Europol, more than 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared in Europe in the last two years. [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...a6845081.html]

    Anne Longfield, who is tasked with protecting the rights of children in England, wrote to French authorities earlier this month to ask them to accelerate the asylum claims of unaccompanied children living in the Calais "Jungle" refugee camp.


  5. #25
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    Meeting an Organ Trafficker Who Preys on Syrian Refugees

    By Alex Forsyth - 25 April 2017

    There's a glint of pride in Abu Jaafar's eyes as he explains what he does for a living.

    He used to work as a security guard in a pub but then he met a group which trades in organs. His job is to find people desperate enough to give up parts of their body for money, and the influx of refugees from Syria to Lebanon has created many opportunities.

    "I do exploit people," he says
    , though he points out that many could easily have died at home in Syria, and that giving up an organ is nothing by comparison to the horrors they have already experienced.

    "I'm exploiting them," he says, "and they're benefitting."

    His base is a small coffee shop in one of the crowded suburbs of southern Beirut, a dilapidated building covered by a plastic tarpaulin.

    At the back, a room behind a rusty partition is stuffed with old furniture and has budgerigars singing in cages in each corner.

    From here he has arranged the sale of organs from about 30 refugees in the last three years, he says.

    "They usually ask for kidneys, yet I can still find and facilitate other organs", he says.

    "They once asked for an eye, and I was able to acquire a client willing to sell his eye.

    "I took a picture of the eye and sent it to the guys by Whatsapp for confirmation. I then delivered the client."

    The narrow streets in which he operates are crammed with refugees. Around one in four people in Lebanon today have fled the conflict across the border in Syria.

    Most aren't allowed to work under Lebanese law, and many families barely get by.

    Among the most desperate are Palestinians who were already considered refugees in Syria, and so are not eligible to be re-registered by the UN refugee agency when they arrive in Lebanon. They live in overcrowded camps and receive very little aid.

    Almost as vulnerable are those who arrived from Syria after May 2015, when the Lebanese government asked the UN to stop registering new refugees.

    "Those who are not registered as refugees are struggling," Abu Jaafar says. "What can they do? They are desperate and they have no other means to survive but to sell their organs."

    Some refugees beg on the streets - particularly children. Young boys shine shoes, dodge between cars in traffic jams to sell chewing gum or tissues through the windows, or end up exploited as child labor. Others turn to prostitution.

    But selling an organ is one way to make money quickly.

    Once Abu Jaafar has found a willing candidate he drives them, blindfolded, to a hidden location on a designated day.

    Sometimes the doctors operate in rented houses, transformed into temporary clinics, where the donors undergo basic blood tests before surgery.

    "Once the operation is done I bring them back," he says.

    "I keep looking after them for almost a week until they remove the stitches. The moment they lose the stitches we don't care what happens to them any longer.

    "I don't really care if the client dies, I got what I wanted
    . It's not my problem what happens next as long as the client got paid."

    His most recent client was a 17-year-old boy who left Syria after his father and brothers were killed there.
    He's been in Lebanon for three years with no work and mounting debt, struggling to support his mother and five sisters.

    So, through Abu Jaafar, he agreed to sell his right kidney for $8,000 (£6,250).

    Two days later, clearly in pain despite taking tablets, he was alternately lying down and sitting up on a tattered sofa, trying to get comfortable.

    His face was covered in a sheen of sweat and blood had seeped through his bandages.

    Abu Jaafar won't reveal how much he made from the deal. He says he doesn't know what happens to the organs after they have been removed, but he thinks they're exported.

    Across the Middle East there's a shortage of organs for transplant, because of cultural and religious objections to organ donation. Most families prefer immediate burial.

    But Abu Jaafar claims there are at least seven other brokers like him operating across Lebanon.

    "Business is booming
    ," he says. "It's growing and not decreasing. It definitely boomed after the Syrian migration to Lebanon."

    He knows what he does is against the law but doesn't fear the authorities. In fact he is brazen about it. His phone number is spray-painted on the walls near his home.

    In his neighbourhood, he is both respected and feared. As he walks around people stop to joke and argue with him.

    He has a handgun tucked under his leg as we talk.

    "I know that what I am doing is illegal but I am helping people", he says.

    "That's how I perceive it. The client is using the money to seek a better life for himself and his family.
    "He's able to buy a car and work as a taxi driver or even travel to another country.

    "I am helping those people and I don't care about the law."

    In fact, he says, it's the law that lets many refugees down by restricting access to work and aid.

    "I am not forcing anyone to undertake the operation," he says. "I am only facilitating based on someone's request."

    He lights a cigarette and raises an eyebrow.

    "How much for your eye?" he asks.

    Abu Jaafar is not his real name - he would only agree to talk to the BBC on condition of anonymity.



    Taking advantage of people in desperate situations and exploiting them is not helping them, no matter how he justifies it.

  6. #26
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    HRW: Jordan 'summarily deporting Syrian refugees'

    HRW says Jordanian authorities breaching international obligations, collectively expelling large Syrian families.

    Human Rights Watch has accused the Jordanian government of summarily deporting hundreds of registered Syrian refugees, despite the possible harm they may face by going back to their war-torn country.

    "Jordanian authorities have been summarily deporting Syrian refugees - including collective expulsions of large families," HRW said in the report.

    The US-based rights advocacy group released a 27-page document that chronicled the deportation of 400 refugees during the first five months of 2017. It has also called on other countries to increase their assistance to Jordan, which has hosted more than 650,000 Syrian refugees.

    "Jordan shouldn't be sending people back to Syria without making sure they wouldn't face a real risk of torture or serious harm and unless they have had a fair opportunity to plead their case for protection," said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at HRW.

    The rights group also accused Jordan of violating its obligations under the Arab Charter of Human Rights, to which it is a party.

    According to the report, some 300 registered refugees returned to Syria voluntarily during that time, and another 500 returned under "unclear" circumstances.

    Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war that is now in its seventh year, Jordan has hosted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, according to the UN.

    But the Jordanian authorities have placed the number at more than one million people.

    The report includes testimonies of 35 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and 13 others who have recently been deported to Syria.

    Those interviewed say the Jordanian authorities provided little evidence of misconduct before forcefully deporting them, and claim that they were not given the opportunity to appeal or seek legal assistance.
    Refugees left stranded

    Last year, at least six Jordanian soldiers were killed in an attack near the country's border with Syria, in the northeast Rukban district.
    Following the incident, the Jordanian army declared the northern and northeastern border with Syria as closed military zones.

    As a result, some 50,000 refugees were left stranded in remote border areas, with limited access to food, water and humanitarian aid.
    Ahmed Benchemsi, HRW's advocacy and communications director of the MENA division, told Al Jazeera that the Jordanian authorities cite security reasons as the basis of these deportations.

    Since the expulsion of Syrian refugees coincides with attacks on Jordanian security forces, the authorities have not provided "direct links with these people to the attacks," said Benchemsi.

    "It [expulsions] should not be done in an arbitrary manner."

    HRW reached out the Jordanian authorities for explanation in August, but did not receive a response, said Benchemsi.

    "We believe it is somehow linked to the attacks against Jordanian forces. This is what local aid workers tell us," he said.

    Mohammad Momani, Jordan's minister of state for media affairs, rejected HRW's findings.

    "The return of refugees is voluntary and not to any dangerous areas," he told local news media.

    According to local media, he also said international organisations should do more to pressure other countries to host more refugees.
    'Minor violations'

    Though Jordanian authorities regularly cite security concerns as reasons behind deportations and border closures, local rights group say that deportation orders can come from more than one institution in Jordan.

    "Sometimes, minor violations can trigger deportations," Essa Al Mazareeq, head of the Syrian refugee team at the Amman-based National Center for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera.

    "Orders can come from the ministry of labour, the ministry of foreign affairs, or from the public prosecutor's office - all for different reasons," he explained. "But decisions based on security issues will always be above us."

    According to Al Mazareeq, though not formally announced, Jordan's borders with Syria remain largely closed-off, with authorities only granting a limited number of people entry to the country.


  7. #27
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    'Fortress Europe' killed over 30,000 asylum seekers

    Hundreds of thousands fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have tried to reach Europe in recent years.

    Four-month-old Syrian baby Faris Ali froze to death in a tent in Turkey, five-year-old Afghan Sajida Ali's body washed ashore after a shipwreck, and tiny Samuel drowned with his mother as she tried to reach Spain after leaving home in Congo.

    The three children are among thousands of victims listed by a German newspaper in an attempt to put a human face on the tragedy that has unfolded in the Mediterranean where thousands of refugees and migrants have died en route to Europe.

    Der Tagesspiegel newspaper said it wanted to show the victims "as human beings, with an origin, a past, a life."

    Not all those listed drowned in shipwrecks. Some were thrown overboard.

    The document is headlined a "List of 33,293 registered asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, who died because of the restrictive policies of Fortress Europe."

    Hundreds of thousands fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have tried to reach Europe in recent years.

    Some European countries have built fences along their borders, as others have bickered over how to handle the crisis.

    Compiled from media and UN sources, the list also includes many who died after reaching Europe.

    Last January, two Iraqi men, Hardi Ghafour, 29, and Talat Abdulhamid, 36, froze to death in Bulgaria's mountainous border with Turkey after two days walking through snow.

    Others have died in fires in refugee camps or been hit by lorries on motorways.

    The document also lists scores of suicides; some have set fire to themselves, others have hanged themselves with sheets or jumped from buildings.

    Several of those named died in racist attacks or other violence after thinking they had finally found safety.

    Somali teenager Ahmed Hassan was murdered in a racist stabbing at a school in Sweden two years ago.

    Many of the victims come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and West Africa.

    But hundreds of those who have died at sea are simply identified as "unknown." Only the details of their deaths are given.

    The biggest single tragedy happened in May 2016 when 550 people drowned after two fishing boats sank off the Libyan coast.

    The list compiled by Turkish-born artist Banu Cennetoglu dates back to 1993, but most deaths relate to the last six years.



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