@AceNewsServices Japan offers Aid of $3.5-million to #RohingyaMuslims fleeing #Myanmar

#AceNewsReport – TOKYO:June.20: Tokyo has offered aid of $3.5 million through global agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to help Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday.

The money will be used to provide for food and shelter, as well as to fund data analysis of the refugees’ maritime movements. In 2015, at least 25,000 people have been taken to boats from Myanmar and Bangladesh to countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, the UN estimates.

The Rohingya people are considered “stateless entities” in mainly Buddhist Myanmar. Some 1.3 million Rohingyas live in the country’s western Arakan state.

Myanmar views them as illegal Bangledeshi immigrants and refuses to recognize them as an ethnic group.

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#asia, #bangkok, #burma, #foreign-minister, #fumio-kishida, #indian-ocean, #japan, #rohingya-people, #south-east-asia, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees

United Nations Official Say’s That Perhaps 250,000 #Syrian’s Maybe Cut Off From Aid in Besieged Communities Across the War-Torn Country #Peace

#AceWorldNews says Reporting “modest progress” with the Syrian Government on speeding up visa issuance and increasing the number of relief distribution hubs, a top United Nations official said the other that with perhaps 250,000 Syrians cut off from aid in besieged communities across the war-torn country, greater efforts are needed to ensure real gains on the humanitarian front.

Security Council“I advised the Security Council that we have seen some modest progress in terms of administrative procedures that had been put in place over time,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, as she spoke to reporters after briefing the 15-member body on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

This is her second closed-door meeting with the Council since it adopted, on 2 October, a Presidential Statement urging the Syrian Government to immediately allow humanitarian access to relieve the plight of civilians trapped by heavy fighting, including cross-line aid deliveries.

The statement, which called on all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting, with special attention to key delivery routes, also deplored the escalating violence in a conflict that has killed more than 100, 000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since opposition protesters first sought to oust the Government of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

On the implementation of the statement, Ms. Amos cited progress, for example, in the Government’s decision to grant some 50 visas on an individual basis.

OCHA SyriaDamascus has also given the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) permission to open three additional relief hubs, “but only two of these will actually be helpful to us, because the third being proposed – Al Sweida – will not allow us access into Western Dera’a, which is where the hard-to-reach communities are.”

She also noted that both the Government and the opposition had indicated who the interlocutors are for the UN to try to facilitate humanitarian access.

“However, I did remind the Council that on some of the more difficult areas – protection of civilians, de-militarization of schools and hospitals, access to besieged communities and also cross-line access to hard-to-reach areas – we have not seen any progress.

“I need the Council to continue to make it absolutely clear that targeting civilians is against international humanitarian law and that we need to do greater work to ensure that the recommendations in the Presidential Statement are achieved,” she declared.

Responding to questions, Ms. Amos said that an estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped in besieged communities, while perhaps some 2.5 million were in hard-to-reach areas – places that aid workers have been able to reach but not frequently enough to make any real headway against the overall needs.

Asked if a Council resolution – which carry legal obligations for UN Member States ¬– would improve the situation, Ms. Amos said: “My focus is on how what has already been agreed can be put into effect. Should the Council agree on a resolution, then we will operationalize that.”

Indeed, while the UN and its partners have made gains in reaching civilians across the strife-riven country, in the context of the scale of the crisis, “this is far too few to meet the needs of the people. Of course the issue is what is the best means to reach people in need? For me, the unity of the Security Council is the key here.”

Meanwhile, UN agencies continue pressing ahead with relief efforts, now rushing to fortify desperate civilians against the oncoming winter season.

UNICEFBriefing the press in Geneva today, Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned: “The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented, as the number quadrupled as compared to the previous year.”

She explained that in December 2012, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

As the conflict approaches its fourth year, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively. UNICEF has worked since early October to equip children as quickly as possible for the cold. Blankets, plastic sheeting, winter clothing and hygiene kits are being distributed, along with wintered tents and fuel to heat classrooms.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representation in Cyprus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For its part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commenced an emergency airlift of urgently needed winter supplies to reinforce its stockpile in northern Iraq with relief items for up to 50,000 vulnerable Syrians.  A UNHCR-chartered Boeing 777 landed at Erbil airport on Monday carrying 90 metric tons of relief items to help 4,400 families over the winter months, including plastic tarpaulins, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

“While UNHCR has adequate stocks inside Iraq to meet the immediate needs, we want to ensure that sufficient items are on-hand to address any developments,” said UNHCR’s Amman-based Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amin Awad. “The relief items we are airlifting will reinforce the UNHCR-led winterization regional response as temperatures are starting to drop across higher altitude areas in the Syria region.”

English: An armored vehicle from the United Na...

English: An armored vehicle from the United Nations (UN) World Food Program (WFP) leads a convoy of UN vehicles in procession carrying the remains of bombing victims from the UN Office of Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI), as the arrive at , , during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The bombing victims remains will be airlifted to their respective home countries for repatriation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), told reporters that the agency dispatched enough food for over 3.4 million people inside Syria in November, mainly to internally displaced families in 13 governorates, and had reached eight more locations, which had been inaccessible in recent months.

However, she said WFP remains gravely concerned about the fate of many Syrians still trapped in conflict zones throughout the country, including around Damascus and in Al Hassakeh, where some areas have been without food assistance for six consecutive months.

WFP aims to reach 4 million people inside Syria every month, as well as to provide assistance for nearly 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

 

#aceworldnews, #bashar-al-assad, #damascus, #iraq, #middle-east, #peace, #presidential-statement, #syria, #syrian-government, #syrians, #unhcr, #unicef, #united-nations, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees, #united-nations-security-council, #world-food-programme

Asylum Seekers Transferred From Australia to Pacific Islands – Are Living in Harsh Physical Conditions

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representation in Cyprus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews says Asylum-seekers transferred from Australia to Pacific island processing centres, including survivors of torture and trauma and unaccompanied children, are living in arbitrary detention and harsh physical conditions that do not meet international standards, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

Two reports by the UNHCR detailed continuing concerns voiced several times over the past 15 months with the centres on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where Australia has sent thousands of refugees who have braved the dangerous sea crossing from Indonesia after fleeing conflict, persecution or poverty in the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

“While UNHCR understands Australia’s determination to respond robustly to the challenges of people smuggling and to dissuade people from undertaking dangerous irregular travel by sea, those responses must not neglect the compelling protection needs, safety and dignity of the individuals affected,” the agency’s Director of International Protection, Volker Türk, <“http://www.unhcr.org/52947ac86.html“>said in Geneva.

“These reports must be seen in the context of what UNHCR has observed to be a sharp deterioration, during the course of the year, in the overall quality of protection and support available to asylum-seekers and refugees who come to Australia by boat.”

The reports (available at: http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/) called for pre-transfer assessments in Australia to consider the specific needs of vulnerable individuals, including the elderly, survivors of torture or trauma and the disabled. A realistic assessment must also be made of the actual quality of support and capacities of service providers at the centres. No children or families should be sent to PNG and unaccompanied children already there should be returned to Australia.

“In both Nauru and PNG, UNHCR was deeply troubled to observe that the current policies, operational approaches and harsh physical conditions at the centres not only do not meet  international standards, but impact very profoundly on the men, women and children housed there,” UNHCR Regional Representative, Richard Towle, said on releasing the reports in Canberra, Australia’s capital.

Topographical map of Admiralty Island in Papua...

Topographical map of Admiralty Island in Papua New Guinea. Largest islands have been named. Created with GMT from publicly released SRTM data. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He stressed that they do not provide a fair and efficient system for assessing refugee claims, do not provide safe and humane conditions of treatment in detention, and do not provide for adequate and timely solutions for recognised refugees.

The centres, Australia’s so-called ‘Pacific solution’ to the influx of refugees, were first opened in 2001, but closed at the end of 2007. The policy was resumed again last year.

The report on Nauru acknowledges some positive developments since UNHCR’s last visit in March but also cites significant setbacks in processing and worsening reception conditions. Despite a processing system being in place under Nauru law, only one decision has been handed down in the 14 months since the centre reopened.

In PNG no decisions at all have been finalised, the report on Manus said. While some improvements were observed since the last inspection in June, physical conditions, slow processing and lack of clarity regarding safe and sustainable solutions are likely to have a serious negative effect on the refugees’ health and welfare.

UNHCR called on all three states not to transfer children, particularly those who are unaccompanied, unless and until there has been a marked improvement in conditions in both centres.

New York, Nov 26 2013  4:00PM

 

#humanrights, #australia, #canberra, #manus-island, #nauru, #papua-new-guinea, #portable-network-graphics, #refugee, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees

UNCHR and WFP Providing New Grant of £6.3 Million of Lifeline Assistance to Help Congolese Refugee’s

The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of...

The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new £6.3 million grant to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) follows a sharp increase in the number of refugees who have fled fighting and unrest in the North Kivu and Orientale provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of the year.

Existing aid supplies in the region have been severely depleted following a sharp rise in refugees in the region.

In total, since the beginning of 2012, over 115,000 new Congolese refugees have been assisted in Uganda, with more arriving on a daily basis.

International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

Thousands of families who have fled into Uganda could face hunger and destitution unless aid agencies get the supplies they need. Our support will help families to survive and begin to rebuild their lives.

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version ...

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version made by user Kashmiri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The UK’s funding will allow UNHCR and WFP to continue their support to refugees in in Bundibugyo, Kisoro and Koboko districts in western Uganda along the border with DRC, including transit centres and settlements.

UNHCR and its partners have provided shelter, household items, healthcare and nutrition, water and sanitation services, and various protection activities for children and adults while the WFP has provided food rations.

Britain’s support will enable the UNHCR and WFP to continue their support into the first quarter of next year. This will include:

  • Purchase of full food rations for 105,000 refugees for a period of 3 months.
  • Registration, transport, shelter, health services and clean water for 40,000 new arrivals.
  • One health centre and one school constructed and opened in Kyangwali refugee settlement.

WFP provides food that is cooked for refugees while they are at the transit centres, and then provides monthly family rations when they are relocated to settlements.

UNHCR supports refugees countrywide through five transit centres and eight settlements in north and southwest Uganda and in Kampala. Over 65 per cent of the more than 234,000 refugees in Uganda are from the DRC with most of the remainder originating from South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. About 70 per cent of refugees have arrived in the last five years.

#aceworldnews, #democratic-republic-of-congo, #koboko, #lynne-featherstone, #north-kivu, #uganda, #unhcr, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees, #world-food-programme

Refugee’s From “Horn of Africa” Travelling to Yemen Increase as UN Calls for Greater Protection

Conditions in the Ali Hussein camp, one of sev...

Conditions in the Ali Hussein camp, one of several large camps hosting refugees from the 2011 Horn of Africa famine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than 62,000 people arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa this year, the United Nations refugee agency said today, calling for increased cooperation among countries to ensure protection for asylum seekers who risk their lives on this deadly route.

“The crossing from the Horn of Africa to Yemen is one of several deadly sea routes worldwide that UNHCR watches closely,” spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, <“http://www.unhcr.org/527cc7b66.html“>told reporters in Geneva.

“Hundreds of people, including Syrian refugees, have died in recent months crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. In Southeast Asia, just last weekend, dozens of people were reported missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal.”

Yemen has seen six successive years of high arrivals by sea. Since 2006, when UNHCR started collecting data, more than half a million asylum seekers, refugees and migrants have travelled by sea to Yemen. Most are Ethiopians, citing the difficult economic situation at home and often hoping to travel through Yemen to the Gulf States and beyond.

Yemen IDPs 7

Yemen IDPs 7 (Photo credit: IRIN Photos)

Somalis arriving in Yemen are automatically recognized as refugees by the authorities, while UNHCR has helped determine the refugee status of other asylum seekers, including from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other countries.

UNHCR is encouraging cooperation among countries affected by mixed migration, and is supporting the Yemeni Government to organize a conference next week on asylum and migration together with the International Organization for Migration.

The three-day conference will took place in Sana’a, with participants from Governments from the Horn of Africa, Gulf States, donor countries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and institutions such as the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat.

“The aim of the Yemen conference was to establish a regional plan to help manage mixed migration between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula,” Mr. Edwards said.

The objective being to include, saving lives, ensuring better protection systems for asylum seekers and refugees, strengthening law enforcement against smuggling and trafficking networks, increasing funding for assisted-voluntary-returns programmes, and raising awareness of the dangers of irregular migration.

#arabian-peninsula, #horn-of-africa, #international-organization-for-migration, #refugee, #refugees-of-the-syrian-civil-war, #sana, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees, #yemen

William Hague spoke at the War Child 20th Anniversary Policy Forum in London

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version ...

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version made by user Kashmiri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a great pleasure to be here to congratulate War Child on its 20th Anniversary and take part in your discussion.

For two decades you have helped to protect and educate over 800,000 vulnerable children in some of the world’s most brutal conflicts; and you have ensured that their suffering is not forgotten by the world.

The plight of children in war is particularly heart-rending: because they are entirely innocent, extremely vulnerable and disproportionately affected by conflict, and because no-one can restore to them the childhoods stolen by war.

In Syria today a million child refugees have lost their homes, have been traumatised, have had their education violently disrupted and are facing yet another cold and hungry winter. Their situation is one reason why the United Kingdom is the second largest humanitarian donor to the Syrian conflict and why we are pressing so hard to get unfettered access for aid to the besieged areas of the country where some people are literally starving.

It is shocking that almost half of the world’s forcibly displaced people are children, who will probably spend their entire childhood in that condition. They must always be at the forefront of our efforts to end conflict, and the UK has a strong record. But we can always do more and do better, and organisations like War Child often point the way to doing so.

Conflict prevention is one of the top priorities of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office I lead, from the Horn of Africa to the Philippines. We have hosted two global peace-building conferences on Somalia in the last two years for example, and today Somalia has the best chance in twenty years of turning a corner and giving its children a better future.

The sad lesson of history is that there will be other conflicts over the next twenty years, despite our best efforts.

But although we may not be able to prevent them all, we can influence the environment in which conflicts take place, so that their worst consequences are mitigated and the gravest crimes are prevented.

And one of my personal priorities is to try to ensure that rape and sexual violence can no longer be a feature of conflict in the 21st century.

Millions of women, children and men have been raped in conflicts of our lifetimes, in a climate of almost complete impunity, with only a handful of successful prosecutions ever taking place.

This is sexual violence used to advance military and political objectives – to terrorise innocent people, to cause displacement, to change the ethnic composition of communities, or as a means of torture – and it is one of the greatest and most neglected injustices in history.

It is usually directed at the most vulnerable people in society, and sadly that often means children.

In the DRC in April I met a mother whose five-year-old daughter had been raped outside a police station – just one of countless cases where children have been targeted in the most sickening and depraved manner possible, precisely in order to inflict the maximum psychological torture on families and whole communities.

It is only one aspect of the suffering caused by conflict, but its long-term impact on children is impossible to understate. It can cause severe physical injury to growing bodies; infection from life-threatening diseases; psychological trauma that lasts a lifetime; it result in girls often being unable to bear children; causes others to fall pregnant and drop out of school; and leads to many being ostracised or forced to marry their attacker.

Because of taboo and social stigma, we have not talked about it enough as governments and nor have we shouldered our responsibilities as we should.

I am trying to change this, by putting sexual violence in conflict at the top table of international diplomacy in a way that it never has been before.

For just as we have come together as an international community to abolish the use of landmines, to curb the trade in conflict diamonds, to prohibit the use of cluster munitions and to adopt an International Arms Trade Treaty, so I believe we can and must end the use of rape as a weapon of war in our generation.

In May last year I launched my Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, with the Special Representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Angelina Jolie.

At the G8 in London in April this year we secured a historic declaration from the G8 group of leading economies, promising practical action.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1356

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1356 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In June, we secured a landmark UN Security Council Resolution, which received unprecedented support from UN member states.

And last month, to my immense pride, 134 countries from Afghanistan to Vietnam endorsed a historic Declaration at the UN General Assembly promising to end rape as a weapon of war.

In this Declaration, we recognised rape and serious sexual violence in conflict as grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and of their first Protocol, so that suspects can be apprehended wherever they are in the world.

We pledged not to allow amnesties for sexual violence in peace agreements, so that these crimes can no longer be swept under the carpet.

We promised to adopt a new International Protocol in 2014, to help ensure that evidence is collected that can stand up in court.

And we pledged to help victims to gain access justice and long-term support, and to protect civil society organisations, including women’s groups and human rights defenders.

Children are at the centre of our efforts, with both the G8 and UNGA Declarations recognising that appropriate health, psycho-social, legal and economic support must be provided to children.

Our campaign is also backed with practical action. We have created a UK team of Experts which has been deployed five times this year alone to the Syrian border, the DRC and Mali, where they have trained health professionals, strengthened the capacity of the armed forces, and helped raise local investigation standards; in each case focussing on the specific needs of that country and complementing the work of the UN and other agencies on the ground. Further deployments to the Syrian borders, to Kosovo and to Bosnia-Herzegovina will take place in the coming months.

In little over a year we have laid the basis at least for eroding impunity worldwide, for eradicating safe havens, providing greater protection for civilians, improving the help given to victims and working to increase the number of prosecutions including through setting an example ourselves of what can be done.

The task now is to turn this political commitments and diplomatic progress into lasting practical action – and we need your help to do it.

Next June I will host a conference in London that will bring together the 134 states that have endorsed the Declaration, along with representatives from civil society, judiciaries and militaries from around the world. It will be the biggest summit ever held on this issue and it will be used to launch our new International Protocol and to seek agreement to practical steps that we hope will end the impunity for war zone rape once and for all. Our goal must be to change the entire global attitude to these crimes – and I believe we can.

I hope you and your members can help us expand further the group of countries that have pledged their support for this campaign – we have 2/3 of the United Nations so far, but we want them all to come on board.

And I hope you will work with us to look at how we can improve further the support and care that is given to survivors, particularly children.

English: Albert Einstein, official 1921 Nobel ...

English: Albert Einstein, official 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics photograph. Français : Albert Einstein, photographie officielle du Prix Nobel de Physique 1921. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Albert Einstein once said that “the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Whatever the conflicts to come – and our goal must always be to prevent them all – we have in it on power to prevent millions of lives being destroyed by sexual violence. That is a goal worth fighting for, and I hope we can join forces to achieve it.

 

#aceworldnews, #humanrights, #albert-einstein, #angelina-jolie, #geneva-convention, #pet-shop-boys, #syria, #united-nations, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees, #war-child

#Syria has fully co-operated with Joint OPCW-UN Mission to Destroy Chemical Arsenal #Peace

150 px

150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Syrian Government has been fully cooperating with the destruction of its chemical weapons programme, the head of the joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations today said.

“To date, the Government of Syria has fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission,” said Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag in a <“http://www.un.org/sg/offthecuff/index.asp?nid=3144“>statement from Damascus.

She noted that the timeframes are “challenging” given the goal of eliminating the country’s chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014.

Inspections so far have been conducted at 17 sites, the OPCW confirmed today. At 14 of these sites, the inspectors carried out activities related to the destruction of critical equipment to make the facilities inoperable.

“The Technical Secretariat continues to assist Syria in Damascus in finalising its initial formal declaration covering its chemical weapons and related facilities,” the OPCW noted on its website.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is racing against time to help Syrians prepare for oncoming winter as temperatures across the region are already dropping.

Spokesperson Adrian Edwards <“http://www.unhcr.org/526659cb6.html“>told journalists in Geneva that UNHCR relief aid has been delivered to some 2,500 people who have now been evacuated from Mouadamiya in Rural Damascus, where thousands are still believed to be trapped.

In addition to monitoring the general condition and protection concerns of these internally displaced people, UNHCR delivered relief items including mattresses, blankets, cooking sets, hygienic supplies and other aid.

WAGGGS-UNHCR badge

WAGGGS-UNHCR badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humanitarian agencies have been denied access to Mouadamiya for months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Its chief, Valerie Amos, reiterated in recent days calls on all parties to agree an immediate pause in hostilities there and to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver life-saving treatment and supplies in areas where fighting and shelling is ongoing.

Last week, through local partners, UNHCR delivered aid within the hard-to-reach city of Raqqa to more than 10,000 people. Raqqa, located in northern Iraq, hosts internally displaced people from Deir es Zour and from Aleppo, 160 kilometres to the west.

“UNHCR observed that many of the displaced are living in buildings that lack windows, doors and electricity. People in this area will soon urgently require thermal blankets and plastic sheets to deal with winter temperatures,” Mr. Edwards said.

The conflict, which began in March 2011, has claimed over 100,000 lives, sent more than 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced 4.5 million within Syria.

“Virtually every town and city across Syria is affected by the conflict or hosts traumatized, displaced people,” the spokesperson said.

Women told us they lacked privacy in the collective shelters, Mr. Edwards noted. He added concerns about the vulnerability of women, many heading broken households.

In addition, the UN agency is worried about the impact of the crisis on young people, almost two million of whom have dropped out of school and a growing number of which are being exploited for labour or recruited into armed groups.

 

#council-of-ministers-syria, #damascus, #edwards, #opcw, #organisation-for-the-prohibition-of-chemical-weapons, #peace, #prohibition-of-chemical-weapons, #syria, #unhcr, #united-nations, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees

UN-Urges-Countries-to-Ensure-Safe-Passage-for-#Syrians-Fleeing-Conflict

Flag of United Nations Refugee Agency

Flag of United Nations Refugee Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the numbers of Syrians seeking safety in Europe on the rise, the United Nations refugee agency <“http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=526108d89&query=Italy“>said today it is concerned about difficulties displaced people face during their passage and at borders, including the risk of drowning at sea.

Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), cited the case of a boat carrying between 400 and 500 Syrians and Palestinians that sank in the Mediterranean last Friday. Only 200 people have been rescued.

“We are disturbed that the cause of the tragedy could well be attributed to shots that were fired after the boat left Libya, injuring four passengers and damaging the hull,” Ms. Fleming told a news conference in Geneva.

The same day, she noted, a boat sank just off Alexandria in Egypt with an estimated 112 passengers on board, 40 of whom were Syrian. Twelve bodies were recovered, including five children. The survivors are being held in detention facilities in two police stations.

They were among a growing number of Syrians trying to cross the Mediterranean from Egypt to Italy because of anxiety about their security, according to UNHCR. Many mention physical assaults, verbal threats, detention and deportation.

The Egyptian Government estimates that some 250,000 to 300,000 Syrians currently reside in Egypt, of whom more than 122,000 are registered with UNHCR.

Between January and the end of September, at least 7,557 Syrians and Palestinians arrived on the coast of Italy, including 6,233 since August in 63 boats. This compares to about 350 Syrians in 2012. Most of the Syrian refugees that reach Italy continue on to other countries in Europe in search of asylum.

UNHCR was particularly concerned about the increasing number of unaccompanied children making the voyage. As the cost of travel can range from $2,000-$5,000 per person, some families opt to send their children alone or with relatives or friends.

“UNHCR notes with concern that over 800 Syrians have been arrested in Egypt since August for attempting to illegally depart and 144, including 44 children, have been deported to third countries,” said Ms. Fleming.

“Although charges have not been laid, approximately 589 Syrians remain in administrative detention, including women and 84 children. UNHCR is seeking access to the detained in order to properly verify numbers, conditions, and needs, or provide legal assistance,” she added.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UNHCR recognizes that a number of countries in North Africa are increasingly affected by the displacement caused by the Syria crisis, placing additional demands on their infrastructure and resources. Given the dramatic needs of Syrian refugees, which are likely to continue and grow in the immediate future, reinforcement of capacity to receive them in North African countries is increasingly urgent, the agency stressed.

UNHCR is working with Governments, the European Union and other partners to put in place a comprehensive response to saving lives of refugees and migrants at sea. It is calling for a number of measures to prevent further tragedies and increase responsibility sharing.

Generous approaches to protection are needed, Ms. Fleming noted, including non-penalization of those arriving without identity documents, offering flexibility in the application of family reunification criteria and procedures, dispensing with certain visa requirements, and facilitation of the entry of Syrians for work, study, family or humanitarian purposes under national programmes.

More than 100,000 people have been killed since opposition groups first sought the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad in March 2011. The conflict has also sent 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced some 4.5 million people internally.

 

#peace-acenewsservices, #alexandria, #bashar-al-assad, #egypt, #european-union, #italy, #refugees-of-the-syrian-civil-war, #syria, #syrian-people, #unhcr, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees