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Euro-Med reviews regional crises for new European Parliament members

The European-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor urged newly elected members of the Parliament of the..

The European-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor urged newly elected members of the Parliament of the European Union to play a more active role in the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and to respond to the humanitarian challenge posed by the plight of refugees in Europe. The memos also described serious human rights violations by governments and non-state actors across the Middle East.

Euro-Med urges European Parliamentarians to focus on ending conflicts in the region and easing the suffering of the millions of civilians, as well as ending the supply of weapons to all parties involved in the conflict.

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In a series of memos sent after the ninth set of parliamentary elections, the Geneva-based organisation stated that refugee crisis that began in 2015 constituted the most serious humanitarian challenge for member states thus far. Euro-Med highlighted that the policies pursued by some member states deprived refugees of their rights under various international treaties.

The memos reminded European parliamentarians of the reasons that so many people in the Middle East were being forced to flee their homes, including serious human rights violations, and of the need for increased European influence to address these reasons.

In particular, the memos highlighted the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, described by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world that has resulted in untold suffering for civilians.

Parliamentarians were reminded that indiscriminate airstrikes by the Saudi-led military alliance and the repeated use of cluster munitions against civilians constituted a flagrant violation of the laws of war and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The memos also addressed the actions of Houthi forces, such as the use of landmines and the indiscriminate firing of rockets from positions in Yemen into civilian areas of Saudi Arabia, as well as arbitrary arrests and torture being practiced by both parties.

Euro-Med highlighted government repression in Sudan. Since mid-December last year, the regime in Sudan has responded violently to peaceful popular protests. Government forces have used live ammunition against peaceful protestors, killing dozens, and have arrested and unlawfully detained hundreds more, including members of political parties, students, doctors, journalists and human rights activists.

Also highlighted in the memos was the deteriorating human rights situation in Saudi Arabia over the past two years, most notably the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Despite the international pressure, the perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice and no measures have been taken to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Saudi authorities have also arrested peaceful human rights activists and critics of the government for no reason other than criticising the government or demanding their basic human rights, the memos noted.

Parliament members were also informed of the situation in Syria. Since 2011, more the civil war has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, and the Syrian Government has repeatedly used internationally banned weapons against civilians in areas under rebel control, including chemical weapons, in a clear violation of international humanitarian law.

More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees are now living in Lebanon. Here they face discrimination, and more than 74% lack official legal resident status. As a result, Syrians face serious impediments to their ability to work, to access healthcare and education, and to travel freely throughout Lebanon. Additionally, they are subject to racist campaigns directed against their presence in the country.

Euro-Med also called attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Here, the government have used anti-terrorism laws to carry out large-scale arbitrary arrests to prosecute political opponents and disrupt peaceful gatherings and civil society organisation.

The memos highlighted the actions of the Israeli government in the Palestinian territories, noting Israels unequal and systematic discriminatory treatment of Palestinians, the repeated use of excessive force and prolonged detention by security forces.

The memos also condemned the actions of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas in the West Bank, which included arbitrary detention and restrictions on political opposition groups.

The memos also informed EU parliament members of the situation in Libya, where armed clashes continue between the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and the forces of retired General Khalifa Hafter, based in Benghazi. The civil war has resulted in the internal displacement of tens of thousands and widespread disruption to basic services including healthcare and electricity.

Furthermore, instability in Libya facilitates the abuse of migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom are children, by people traffickers and the Libyan Coast Guard. Those who attempt the crossing risk torture, sexual abuse and forced labour.

Euro-Med also raised concerns about the political climate in Algeria, where civilians are being prosecuted for insulting the president, insulting state officials, and defaming Islam, despite the constitutional amendment of 2016 that guarantees freedom of expression.

The situation in Iraq was also highlighted in the memos, where journalists and members of the judiciary continue to be harassed and detained arbitrarily. Peaceful demonstrations throughout the country have also been met with excessive force by government forces, including in the Kurdistan region.

The memo also contained a summary of the human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the government has carried out arbitrary arrests and disappearances of political opponents. There are reports of detainees being poorly treated while in state custody. The government also maintains oppressive labour relations, denying the rights of workers. The Gulf state is also a member of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, and so is complicit in the war crimes being committed there.

Euro-Med concluded the memo by urging European Parliamentarians to focus on ending conflicts in the region and easing the suffering of the millions of civilians, as well as ending the supply of weapons to all parties involved in the conflict.

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Thomson Reuters World-Check slammed as Islamophobic, Misleading and Unreliable  

Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters W..

Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters World-Check as misleading and deliberately Islamophobic. The renowned documentary exposed how the Thomson Reuters World-Check London based company destroyed the lives of innocent civilians who were banned from travel and had their bank accounts closed.

The 52-mintue long documentary, “The Hidden is More Immense” revealed how the World-Check product – part of Thomson Reuters Company – has sourced a database of millions of names of Journalists, politics, political activists and member of the public and labelled them as “Terrorists”, “Convicted Terrorists” or involved in financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism. It also added that many charities, NGOs and even mosques have had their bank accounts closed due to being falsely labelled as “terrorists”

The documentary presented by investigative Journalist Tamer Misshal traced how World-Check built its database which turned to be on unreliable and inaccurate sources as fake blogs, unknown websites (with no ownership declared). Additionally, the documentary revealed that many of the sources used are often sent by repressive governments in the Middle East such as Israel, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and other countries. In some cases, some of sources are published by intelligence agencies and semi government agencies.

The documentary interviewed two Law offices in London and Brussels which confirmed that World-Check service is relying on “basic search on google” to source information against individuals.

Thomson Reuters World-Check has already lost several lawsuits in London and expected to concede in some ongoing cases.

Meanwhile, World-Check claims to help protect businesses from financial crime and “reduce risk by fulfilling your KYC due diligence screening obligations with accurate and structured information. World-Check Risk Intelligence is used and trusted by the worlds biggest companies” It also state on its website that it is an Intelligence database which delivers accurate and reliable information to help entities such as banks, financial and other institutions make informed decisions.

It also claims to have “hundreds of specialist researchers and analysts across the globe, adhering to the most stringent research guidelines as they collate information from reliable and reputable sources – such as watch lists, government records, and media searches.”

Contrary to the literature and objective of World-Check the Aljazeera Documentary raises the alarm of integrity and ethics on how this service operates. For example, journalists interviewed in the documentary argued clearly that the World-Check staff dont spend more than two minutes on reviewing or updating profiles of names included.

Pathetic, this contradiction has been apparent in 2017 where World Check confessed that its staff were incompetent and disqualified as elaborated by Tom Keatinge who argued, “According to the Particulars of Claim between Finsbury Park Mosque and World-Check owner Thomson Reuters, the information provided by World-Check to banks consists of “continually updated intelligence” providing an “early warning system for hidden risk”. Yet, it is claimed, the profile reports are compiled by “unqualified staff on the basis of open source data, in particular by means of Google searches”. Furthermore, “the profile reports are not subject to independent checks” and those that are the subject of these compiled profiles are not given an opportunity to check or correct these reports.”

Peter Oborne has accused World-Check earlier of abusing the definition and concept of terrorism and described the service as “inflammatory and toxic”. Oborne who extensively wrote on World-Check revealed that, “Banks are unfairly targeting Muslims. Now ministers must end this injustice”

Distributed by Newswire Now. A non-profit news publisher, www.newswirenow.co.uk

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Closure of detention centre exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions

Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to oth..

  • Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to other facilities in Libya
  • They are being exposed to increasingly inhumane and dangerous detention conditions.
  • More life-saving evacuations outside Libya are needed, as are alternatives to detention. Without such measures, vulnerable people will continue to be condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering.

On 14 October, Libyan authorities closed the Karareem detention centre in Misrata, in the central coastal region of Libya, and transferred more than a hundred refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in this facility to two other detention centres in the same region, Zliten and Souq Al Khamees.

The conditions of detention in these two centres are known by Libyan authorities and UNHCR to be extremely bad, as reported by MSF teams on several occasions.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance.” – Sacha Petiot, MSF Head of Mission in Libya.

Men, women and children arbitrarily detained for months and, in many cases, years, with little access to food, water and open air, will be exposed to the same inhumane conditions. Some of them suffered torture and trafficking during their stay in the country.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance,” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya. .

“But here, they are moved from one detention centre to another, seeing their conditions go from bad to worse and stuck in an endless cycle of despair and violence. At the bare minimum, they should have been released and taken care of in a safer environment.” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya.

The armed conflict that started in April around Tripoli has made the situation more dangerous for the refugees and migrants detained in the areas where clashes occur. In this grim context, the tragic death of an estimated 60 people during an airstrike on Tajoura detention centre late at night on 2 July prompted renewed calls for the closure of Libyas detention centres, including by Libyan authorities themselves.

There are currently no safe locations in Libya where refugees and migrants can find protection and assistance. The only UNHCR-managed facility, the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, is now saturated and UNHCR has claimed that it cannot accommodate more vulnerable people.

“We need more life-saving evacuations outside Libya. And it is urgent to develop an alternative to detention, such as setting up shelters to provide immediate, temporary protection in Libya. Otherwise, the most vulnerable refugees and migrants are condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering,” says Petiot.

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New refugees arrive to Iraq in a week of violence in northeast Syria

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be..

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

For the fourth consecutive day, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has been receiving hundreds of refugees crossing the border into Iraq from northeast Syria. Refugees mainly come from towns in northern Syria – Kobani, Amoda and Qamishly and surrounding villages.

As of this morning, over 1,600 Syrian refugees have been transported from the border areas to Bardarash refugee camp, some 150 kilometres east of Syria-Iraq border. The site has been prepped to receive the latest arrivals fleeing the fighting in northern Syria.

Newly arrived refugees told our staff that it took them days to get to the border as they fled amid shelling and fighting. Most of the new arrivals are women, children and elderly. Their general physical condition appears to be good, but some required psychosocial support.

In support of the response led by local authorities, our teams and those of other aid agencies and partners have been working round the clock to transport refugees to the Bardarash camp and meet their immediate needs. Family tents are being pitched to provide shelter, water and sanitation systems have been put in place together with other basic facilities.

Upon arrival refugees are given hot meals, water, basic aid items including mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, jerrycans and other items. Medical teams with ambulances and a mobile medical unit are present to provide medical assistance if needed. Our teams are working with partners to provide services needed including pyscho-social support and protection services. The refugees are registered using biometric iris-scanning and their specific needs are assessed to determine what kind of assistance they may require.

Meanwhile in Syria, after a week of violence in countrys northeast, we and our partners have been able so far to provide life-saving assistance to nearly 60,000 newly displaced Syrians as well as to those forced to flee from one camp to another. Nearly 23,000 people have received core relief and winter items in the camps. UNHCR also provided same assistance to another 35,700 living in collective shelters and host communities.

The UN currently estimates some 166,000 people have been forced to flee their homes over the past seven days. Newly displaced families continue to seek shelter in camps, makeshift sites, communal shelters, with family, friends or acquaintances. Many of them have been displaced multiple times from one area to another in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Raqqa.

Where possible, UNHCR teams conduct protection assessments and our response continues. Our protection partners identify those in need of specialized care and attention every day.

Violence has wreaked chaos among civilians, hitting the most vulnerable hardest. Our teams reported story of a child, a 13 year-old boy from Ras-Al-Ain, who ran for his life amid intense fighting and got separated from his parents. He followed the crowds and reached one of the communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh where UNHCR outreach volunteers tirelessly went through communal shelters until they were able to reunite the boy with his family.

Given the new and significant humanitarian needs, UNHCR reiterates its calls for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. It is also critical that humanitarian workers are given unfettered humanitarian access to reach those newly displaced and assist them wherever this is required.

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