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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.


  8. #28
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    German Girl Admits Making Up Migrant Rape Claim That Outraged Germany

    German teenager who claimed she had been kidnapped and raped by migrants for 30 hours made up the whole story

    By Sara Malm - 1 February 2016

    A 13-year-old German girl who claimed she had been kidnapped and raped by migrants made up the entire story, police have said.

    The girl, only known as Lisa F, told police she had been taken from a suburb in east Berlin and held captive for 30 hours by 'foreign-looking' men who raped her.

    Lisa F. is a member of Berlin's Russian community, and her made-up tale was widely reported in Russian media and saw Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accuse Germany of 'sweeping problems under the rug'.

    Lisa F. whose full surname cannot be revealed due to German privacy law, was reported missing by her parents two weeks ago when she 'disappeared' on her way to school in Marzahn, Berlin.

    She reappeared after 30 hours, and claimed she had been kidnapped by 'men of Middle Eastern or north African appearance,' the Guardian reports.

    Her allegations aroused outrage in Berlin's Russian community and Russian media have reported extensively on it.

    About 700 people protested in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office on Saturday holding banners reading 'Our children are in danger' and 'Today my child, tomorrow yours'.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Germany of ' hushing up' the case in the wake of the migrant crisis and the sex mob attacks in Cologne on New Years Eve.

    He told a Moscow news conference on Tuesday: 'It is clear that the girl under no circumstances disappeared for 30 hours voluntarily.'

    His German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier accused Russia of exploiting the case for 'political propaganda' and to influence a debate about immigration to Germany, which registered 1.1 million new arrivals last year.

    However, Berlin prosecutor's office spokesman Martin Steltner has now confirmed that there was no evidence to support the rape and kidnapping claims made by Lisa F.

    Mobile phone location tracking data did not support the girl's account that migrants held her for 30 hours.

    She eventually admitted to police that she had made up the story after an issue at school had made her afraid to go home to her parents.

    The investigation found that she had had voluntary sexual contacts with two 20-year-old men before she disappeared, Steltner added, and they were not connected to her absence.

    The prosecutor's office is now investigating the men for suspected sexual abuse of a minor.

    Alleged sex crimes by migrants have rocked Germany and piled pressure on the authorities after over 600 women reported sexual attacks in Cologne on New Year's Eve, most blamed on asylum seekers.


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    'Hundreds' of masked men beat refugee children in Stockholm

    They handed out leaflets threatening to give 'the North African street children who are roaming around' the 'punishment they deserve'

    by Samuel Osborne - January 30 2016

    Hundreds of masked men marched through Stockholm's main train station on Friday evening, reportedly beating up refugees and anyone who didn't appear to be ethnically Swedish.

    Wearing all-black balaclavas and armbands, the men "gathered with the purpose of attacking refugee children," Stockholm police spokesperson Towe Hagg said.

    "I saw maybe three people who were beaten. That was no football brawl or something similar. They targeted migrants. I was quite scared and ran away," an eyewitness told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

    Before the attacks, the mob handed out leaflets with the slogan "It is enough now!" which threatened to give "the North African street children who are roaming around" the "punishment they deserve".

    The leaflet refers to the death of social worker Alexandra Mezher, who died after being stabbed at a refugee shelter for unaccompanied children. Four people have been arrested in connection with the attacks - one for assaulting a police officer, while the others were charged with being masked in public, which is illegal in Sweden. All risk fines.

    After the attack, the Swedish Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, released a statement claiming the attack had "cleaned up criminal immigrants from North Africa that are housed in the area around the Central Station".

    The statement added: "These criminal immigrants have robbed and molested Swedes for a long time."

    "Police have clearly shown that they lack the means to stave off their rampage, and we now see no other alternative than to ourselves hand out the punishments they deserve."

    Sweden received a record 160,000 refugees last year.

    The country has seen a sharp decline in newcomers since photo ID checks were introduced this month.

    video: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/hundreds-of-masked-men-beat-refugee-children-in-stockholm-a6843451.html


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    A Small Town In Italy Was Losing Population. Now Syrian Refugees Are Key To Its Survival

    By Abby Sewell - 5/1/2017

    From the kitchen of their new apartment, Mohammed Ali and Kinda Nonoo watched their children run across a rooftop terrace with a view of the rolling green hills of southern Italy. They could see a shining sliver of the Mediterranean Sea, four miles away.

    The tranquility of the scene was a marked change from war-torn Aleppo, Syria, which Ali and his family had fled nearly five years ago, and the chaotic situation they had found in Lebanon afterward.

    And unlike in Lebanon, where the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees were seen as pulling jobs away from the local population, leaders in this Italian community were pinning their hopes on the refugees helping to rebuild its economy.

    The family from Aleppo had landed in the southern province of Reggio Calabria, an area that young Italians have largely abandoned in search of better economic opportunities in the north and abroad, leaving behind shuttered schools and fallow fields. In the four-story building the Syrian family now occupied, the two floors below were empty.

    Over the last decade, a flood of migrants and refugees have begun to replace the Italians who left. From 2008 to 2013, the percentage of foreign migrant workers in the Italian farm industry nearly doubled to 37% from 19%, according to the National Institute of Agricultural Economics.

    The town of Riace, where Ali and his family settled when they first arrived in Italy, has garnered international attention in recent years for making a deliberate effort to attract migrants from around the world. Immigrants from more than 20 countries now make up one-third of the town’s population of 1,500, said Mayor Domenico Lucano.

    A safer journey

    The transition, for some, has not been easy.

    The Syrian couple and their five children arrived in Italy in late February via the “humanitarian corridors” program launched a year ago by a pair of nongovernmental organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church and a coalition of Protestant churches.

    The project, funded by the money Italian citizens divert from their taxes to the churches, has brought about 800 Syrian refugees from Lebanon to communities throughout Italy since February 2016. It will bring 200 more refugees from Lebanon and possibly Morocco, along with about 500 Africans now living in Ethiopia.

    Many new arrivals cross the Mediterranean on smuggler boats — and many more don’t make it. Last year, more than 5,000 people died in the Mediterranean, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The main aim of the new humanitarian corridors project was to prevent refugees from attempting the dangerous sea crossing, said Paolo Naso of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, one of the architects of the program.

    Under the new initiative, the church organizations fly the refugees to Rome and take them to their new homes in communities around the country.

    Naso and others hope, in part, that a new generation of workers from abroad could help replace the nation’s shrinking workforce if they can be integrated into Italian society. “Our population is aging and declining and the decay is very severe, especially in the rural areas,” he said.

    Italy has taken in fewer than 1,000 refugees through the official U.N. resettlement program since 2015, but has seen much larger numbers arriving in smuggler boats.

    The arrivals have been met with some surges of anti-immigrant sentiment. Last year, residents of the central town of Gorino put up barricades to block the arrival of a small group of refugee women. But migrants and refugees have also had an influential defender in Pope Francis, who has brought a few Syrian refugees to the Vatican and urged Catholic parishes to take in more.

    In Riace, the migrants come from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and, now, Syria. Immigrants herd sheep in the rolling hills surrounding the town, drive tractors on the winding road leading up to it, sweep the streets in the town square and work alongside Italian residents in the handful of artisan shops in the town’s center.

    A ‘humane alternative’

    The push to welcome migrants earned Lucano, the mayor, a spot on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders last year.

    “We are basically proposing a humane alternative,” the mayor said in an interview at Riace’s City Hall. “This is the message we are sending to this world where closures and barriers are prevailing.”

    On a recent afternoon, Gabriel Effah, a Ghanaian who came in a smuggler’s boat from Libya eight months ago, sat on a bench outside the town’s park chatting with a friend as a gaggle of newly arrived African teenagers passed by on the road leading into the town’s center.

    “Bambinos,” Effah said, using his new Italian. “Every day people come.”

    Stella Awini, 30, also from Ghana, left her young son with relatives and made the sea journey three years ago. After the boat landed on the island of Lampedusa, police brought her to Riace. When she first arrived, she swept the streets, then helped supervise children in the local school until it closed because of a lack of enrollment. Now she cooks for unaccompanied minors living in a group home.

    “The life in Riace is very good for me,” she said. “They take immigrants as their own, as Italian people.”

    About 100 of the migrants in Riace have settled as long-term residents, Lucano said. Others, like the newly arrived Syrian families, find the situation less welcoming and move on.

    Tears of happiness

    When Ali and Nonoo unloaded their luggage at the airport in Beirut in preparation for their flight to Italy, their 15-year-old daughter, Mais, broke down in tears of happiness and relief.

    In Aleppo, Mais had watched her aunt — Ali’s sister — and five cousins die in an airstrike below the family’s apartment.

    Ali and his family fled to Lebanon, where they escaped the bombs, but not all violence. Mais’ brother Ali, a plump and cheerful 14-year-old, bears a scar below one knee from a knife attack by a group of older boys. The young men were affiliated with Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim political party and militia that supports Syrian President Bashar Assad and sees the refugees as enemies, Nonoo said.

    “There was no security there, never, never,” she said. “Even if we wanted to go out to see the doctor, we tried to make sure no one would see us. Here, the first thing that has improved is that there is security.”

    But in other ways, the transition has been difficult. In Riace, few of the other immigrants spoke Arabic, and the family didn’t get along with the two Ethiopians who served as interpreters and go-betweens with the local authorities.

    After a month in Riace, Ali and his family asked to be relocated to a nearby town, Gioiosa Ionica, where they joined another Syrian family.

    Gioiosa Ionica has a smaller immigrant population — about 100 among 7,000 inhabitants — but some local leaders are hoping to attract more.

    Maurizio Zavaglia, president of the town council, hopes the Syrian families and other migrants will help revive the local farming industry and bring in tourists looking for a quiet retreat amid vineyards and olive groves.

    “Before, the people who came here stayed for just a little time because after a while they saw the condition of this area, that we are not very rich, there is a high rate of unemployment,” he said. “After a while they went, some to Germany, Switzerland, all over. The challenge with these families is to give them a sense of stability and a longer permanency.”

    ‘My head is hurting’

    In Gioiosa Ionica, Ali and Nonoo said, the people were kind, but the family still felt isolated, and the language barrier became an additional problem as Mais was suffering from a perplexing medical issue. In Riace, she had begun to complain of persistent severe headaches and dizziness. Eventually, the family was able to get her to a hospital, where a doctor gave her medication. It didn’t help.

    A week after the move to Gioiosa Ionica, Mais collapsed in the hallway one afternoon, screaming, “My head is hurting me!” Zavaglia and an Italian friend happened to be present. The Italians called paramedics, who took the girl to a hospital in another town.

    The family came home several hours later with a referral to another hospital and no answer to what was causing the problem.

    The next day, with the children playing on the terrace after dinner, Ali and Nonoo talked anxiously about the difficulty of accessing medical care in the remote area and in another language, and about the prospects of finding work that would sustain them once they stop receiving the small amount of aid they were getting via the program.

    In Syria, Ali had run a restaurant and bakery. He hoped to do the same in Italy, but without enough money or a grasp of Italian, the prospect seemed far-fetched.

    “We can work, but without the language it’s difficult,” Nonoo said. “We love Italy and the Italian people and the language, but if they give us low wages, I don’t know.”

    Could they go to Canada instead? Ali asked. Or Germany?

    But the children were happy with their new home. In Lebanon, they hadn’t gone to school for most of the last five years. Now after a few weeks of Italian lessons, they had learned to rattle off numbers, months, names of fruits and vegetables and were excited to start attending the local public school.

    “It’s much better here,” said Ali, the couple’s son. “Here, there is hope.”

    A Moroccan man passing by as the boy and one of his younger sisters stood outside a neighbor’s house one afternoon stopped and asked in Arabic, “Are you Arab?”

    Yes, Ali told him, from Syria.

    “Thank God for your safety,” the man said, and smiled as he continued down the otherwise empty street.


  11. #31
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    Jan 2007


    In a Pretty Little Hilltop Town in Italy, White Supremacist Terrorist Gunning Down Refugees

    An Italian skinhead tied to the alt-right party leading Italian election polls takes matters into his own hands to solve the migrant crisis.

    ROME—Luca Traini, 28, wrapped an Italian flag around his neck, grabbed his Glock and got into his black Alfa Romeo 147 with one apparent motive: to shoot African migrants.

    He then drove street to street around the small town of Macerata, shooting five men and one woman, injuring two seriously, before police were able to stop the shooting spree in front of the town’s monument to fallen soldiers. There, he then got out of his car, gave the Fascist salute and admitted to the crime, say police.

    Traini, a muscled-up sometime boxer who ran for a local political post under the banner of Italy’s far-right Northern League party in 2017, had told his friends at the gym a day earlier, “I have a pistol and I’m not afraid to use it,” according to local Italian media reports.

    Racial tensions in the small hilltop town of Macerata in the Marche region reached a boiling point last week with the arrest of a Nigerian migrant for the murder of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro who had been dismembered and stuffed into two trolley suitcases and left in a vacant field on the town’s city limits.

    Photographs of Mastropietro as a teenager showed a pretty girl with long auburn hair and big dark eyes. But she had been in rehab, and had walked away from her treatment center two days before she died. Her clothes and blood was found in a house occupied by the Nigerian migrant arrested in connection with the murder.

    Several people interviewed by local press after the shootings said Traini was in love with the victim of the crime. Autopsy reports have not been released to determine the cause of her death before her dismemberment, and no one has confirmed that Mastropietro reciprocated Traini’s feelings.

    Marco Valerio Verni, the dead woman’s uncle, told RAI that they did not support Traini’s act if it was to avenge the death of their loved one. “All we want is justice, but we cannot fight barbarism with more barbarism,” he said. “Such actions are not justifiable. This country is fed up -- but such actions can never be justified.”

    Verni was referring to what can easily be described as extreme racial tensions in the country ahead of March 4 national elections. Fear and anger are being fueled by the country’s far-right parties who are all campaigning on anti-immigration platforms.

    Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, of which Traini was a card-carrying member, distanced his party from the shooter in the name of the party, but still blamed the current “open migration policy” for these racial tensions. The Northern League has coupled with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party to run as a coalition that is currently polling ahead of the center left Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

    Salvini, whose rallies often bring out supporters toting Mussolini and Hitler posters, is campaigning on a promise to immediately expel 100,000 African immigrants from Italy in his first year in office. More than 600,000 mostly sub-Saharan African migrants have entered Italy illegally by sea in the last four years. Migration is the top issue in the campaign ahead of the March 4 vote with all parties campaigning to stem the flow of migrants into the country.

    Unlike the Northern League, the alt-right Forza Nuova neo-fascist party embraced the shooter, reportedly offering to pay Traini’s legal bills. Roberto Fiori, the party leader wrote a lengthy Facebook post supporting the shooter’s actions. “The degeneration of the immigration phenomenon, now totally out of control, the Nigerian tribal criminality that explodes as we expected it would, have happened, our young people are now at the mercy of forces that I would not hesitate to define as satanic,” he wrote.

    "The only answer to these serious facts must be politics: to guard our neighborhoods, even physically oppose drug dealers, to prevent our cities from becoming lethal traps for our youth and an ideal place for all sorts of criminals and murderers,” Fiori wrote.

    “I would not want the liberal left-wing to be unleashed against a young man who was certainly wrong, but who saw his city transformed in a short time from paradise to hell,” he said with typical hyperbole.


  12. #32
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    Jan 2007


    What price would you put on a passport?

    By Simon Tulett - 23 August 2017

    Fiddling distractedly with her headscarf and in words little louder than a whisper, Amar Al-Sadi tells me Malta has saved her from a life of bombs, rubble and deadly disease.

    Her family escaped war-torn Yemen on a United Nations evacuation flight two years ago.

    "I don't think anyone in the world would want to live that way," she said. "We were asleep one day and we heard a really big bomb nearby. It was really scary.

    "I still have friends in Yemen. They tell me people are dying of cholera. Some of them do try to leave, but they can't because no-one will accept their passports now."

    Amar is neither in Malta as a refugee, nor an economic migrant. The 21-year-old, her parents and four siblings are now all Maltese citizens.

    They weren't born in Malta, and they didn't have any Maltese family. So how do they have Maltese passports?

    They bought them, as have several thousand others in Malta since the country started selling passports in 2014.

    Passport business

    Unlike residency programmes or investor visas, which many countries (including the UK) offer to foreigners, Malta's Individual Investor Programme grants full citizenship to successful applicants.

    It costs a minimum of 880,000 euros (£800,000; $1m), rising for each additional family member.

    Three quarters of that is a non-refundable contribution to Malta's National Development and Social Fund, which finances education, health and job creation projects. The rest is split between investments in government bonds and owning or renting a home for at least five years.

    The Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis has been selling citizenship since 1984, but since 2011 Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Cyprus have all launched their own schemes.

    "It's the insurance policy of the 21st Century," according to Christian Kaelin, the head of residency and citizenship planning firm, Henley and Partners.

    He says there's been a "rapid expansion" in this area, partly fuelled by governments looking for new revenue sources, but also because of geopolitical unrest, for example in the Middle East.

    Wealthy people can use such schemes as a way of escaping trouble or dramatic political change.
    But aside from security concerns, many simply want to offer opportunities to their children or make it easier to run a business.

    "It's about mobility and personal flexibility, with access to other countries. We have a client who is an American but he has two important investments in Italy and the Netherlands," Mr Kaelin says.

    He needs a work permit in both. If he acquires citizenship in Malta, we don't need to deal with any work permit or other issues," says Mr Kaelin.

    That's because Malta is in the European Union and part of its Schengen Area - enabling passport-free movement across most of EU. This is one of the scheme's strongest selling points.

    Enquiries from the UK rose slightly after the Brexit vote, but no-one has yet signed up. "It's clear the UK will find some sort of arrangement with the EU," says Mr Kaelin.

    "If a Brit comes to me and asks if they should buy a Maltese passport I'd say no forget it, just relax."

    Malta's citizenship scheme is also popular because it's relatively cheap and quick. Applicants usually receive their passports within 12 to 18 months.

    Property requirement

    The programme requires applicants to either buy a property worth at least 350,000 euros, or rent one for at least 16,000 euros a year for five years.

    More than 80% of applicants for passports take the rental option. However, there is increasing concern that many properties remain, leading some people in Malta to question applicants' intentions.

    "These billionaires aren't interested in living in Malta, they just want access to the EU" says Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. "They probably have no intention of ever setting foot here. If they were really interested in staying they would buy a home."

    Malta's central bank has said the Individual Investor Programme is one of the factors pushing up house prices in Malta by some 7% each year, and rents by about 10%.

    Jonathan Cardona, chief executive of Identity Malta, which runs the programme, agrees EU access is a key selling point for a Maltese passport but argues that the island is an attractive investment in its own right.

    "I know one who has invested about 70m euros in Malta. Another one is in the process of opening a factory in the pharmaceutical industry, and I know of another who has opened an IT company.

    "Some of them might not have invested seriously yet, but you can never tell what might happen in a few years' time."

    Mr Cardona is keen to point out the financial significance of the donations applicants have made. These now total more than 220m euros and are worth about 2.5% of Malta's GDP.

    "Because of their wealth and what they have done to achieve their status, they have quite a large footprint so we are able to do a lot of due diligence on them," he says.

    "Other economic migrants, especially when they come without any documentation - we don't even know where they are coming from or the language they speak."

    Citizenship debate

    But for some, citizenship is about more than just numbers.

    "A passport is something which should not be for sale, it's something you belong to, part of your DNA," says Helga Ellul, who was born in Germany but has lived in Malta for more than 40 years.

    She moved to the island to run German toymaker Playmobil's operations there, employing more than 1,000 workers. She married, had two children and now has three grandchildren, and 15 years ago she applied for and was granted Maltese citizenship, without handing over hundreds of thousands of euros.

    "It wasn't an easy decision for me to give up my German passport," she adds.

    "When I took the decision it was because I really felt I belong to this country, that I would remain here. I have so many more friends here, I'm so recognised here, and part of this whole society, and I think if you would ask people in Malta I think they would all say I earned it."

    But what right can any of us really claim to citizenship? After all, most of us acquire it through our parents, by chance.

    Javier Hidalgo, a political theorist at the University of Richmond in Virginia, believes citizenship is always unearned and that there's often an inherent hypocrisy in a moral aversion to treating it as a commodity.

    "If you're a sceptic about immigration restrictions, like me, then you'll be sceptical about selling citizenship, because you might think we're obligated to give people access to the country for free.

    "But most countries and most people are quite happy to restrict immigration. If you think that's OK, then what's the problem with selling it?

    "You're already in favour of excluding a lot of people. Why not make some money off of admitting some of them who you would otherwise be entitled to exclude?"

    Amar Al-Sadi and her family have bought and live in their Maltese home, and she is studying in the country along with her siblings.

    She says they've immersed themselves in Maltese life and have been welcomed by their new neighbours, making plenty of friends.

    "But I don't think everyone is as fortunate as we were, and that's really sad."


    Comments: These anglo nations ravage Muslim nations and then steal their wealth by these cheap visa being offered to the wealthy while those with no money are imprisoned in and killed.


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