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Greece Moves Refugees From Burned Camp to New Shelter

Greek authorities have begun moving thousands of refugees to a new army-built camp on the island of ..

Greek authorities have begun moving thousands of refugees to a new army-built camp on the island of Lesbos after a fire destroyed the country’s largest migrant facility last week.

More than 12,500 people from 70 countries, mostly refugees from Afghanistan, African nations, and Syria, were left without shelter and access to food, water, and proper sanitation when fire decimated the overcrowded Moria camp.

Authorities dressed in masks and white protective suits have so far guided some 1,800 migrants and refugees, who had been sleeping in makeshift shelters on the side of the road, to the new temporary facility at Kara Tepe near the port of Mytilene.

Seventy female officers were flown in to organize the transfer of women and children to the new camp. No violence was reported.

A dog sits next to migrants as they they sleep on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern…

A dog sits next to migrants as they sleep on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 17, 2020.

“As long as it is peaceful, we believe it is a good move,” said Astrid Castelein, head of the U.N. refugee agency’s office on Lesbos. “Here on the street it is a risk for security, for public health, and it’s not dignity, which we need for everyone.”

Authorities have charged five Afghan asylum-seekers with starting the fires. Law enforcement officials say that the blazes broke out after 35 people tested positive for the coronavirus, triggering a lockdown of camp residents. A small group of inhabitants objected to being put into isolation. There have been no reported deaths as a result of the fires.

Greek officials say the new camp is equipped to host at least 5,000 people, but many migrants are hesitant to move there. Moria had a capacity of roughly 2,700 people but was home to more than 12,500 at the time of the blaze.

The Greek government said it aims to replace open-air tent facilities with formal migrant centers that have temporary housing options, but a number of migrants and refugees hope to leave Lesbos. They say they fear that the living conditions at camp Kara Tepe will be no better than they were at Moira, which international aid groups had called “appalling.”

Medical care

During the operation to move residents to the temporary camp, they were tested for the coronavirus and so far, 35 have been found positive.

A child sits between plastic bags as migrants pull their belongings in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern…

A child sits between plastic bags as migrants pull their belongings in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene, the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 17, 2020.

The nongovernmental medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, known as Doctors Without Borders, says that Greek police denied the health care workers access to its new clinic in Lesbos.

According to the group, it took several hours before its workers were finally allowed to reopen their facilities, but says it was “highly concerning” that their critical medical care services were compromised during the move.

Critics of the Moria camp say that the inhuman conditions there were a symbol of Europe’s failed migration policies.

The number of migrants seeking refuge on Greek islands near Turkey has fallen significantly since 2015, although camps remained overcrowded. In the past, the Greek government has accused wealthier European Union nations of failing to share the burden of assisting refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers as they seek a new life in Europe.

Transfer to Germany

The German government said this week it would take in 1,553 migrants, many of whom are families with refugee status, who had been living at camp Moria at the time of the fire.

Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe,near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos…

Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 17, 2020.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that any transfer of migrants to Germany would need to go hand-in-hand with a broader European initiative to support the refugee crisis in Greece.

Merkel has voiced support for the Greek government to build a new reception center for migrants and refugees on Lesbos. The structure would be managed by EU agencies.

Following the fire, Greece’s top public order official said plans to decongest migrant camps will be accelerated. On Tuesday, the Greek government vowed that the island of Lesbos will be emptied of refugees by early April 2021.

In a statement to The Guardian newspaper, Greece’s civil protection minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said, “Of the roughly 12,000 refugees here currently, I foresee 6,000 being transferred to the mainland by Christmas and the rest by Easter. The people of this island have gone through a lot. Theyve been very patient.”

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Pope expresses support for same-sex civil union laws in new documentary

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 17:54

Pope Francis says in a film released on Wednesday that homosexuals s..

Issued on:

Pope Francis says in a film released on Wednesday that homosexuals should be protected by civil union laws, in some of the clearest language he has used on the rights of gay people.

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"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," Pope Francis says in the documentary "Francesco" by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.

"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that," he said.

The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the pope's comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.

The pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous "Who am I to judge?" remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.

Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass the pope said in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.

He told the pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children. It was not clear in which country RuberaRead More – Source

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Popping the digital filter bubble

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 10:36

Ever wondered why 2 people can search for the same thing online and ..

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 10:36

Ever wondered why 2 people can search for the same thing online and get 2 totally different results? The answer is online echo chambers and digital filter bubbles – social media and search engines that skew our access to information and algorithms that artificially promote content they think should suit us. Those invisible chains shrink our freedom to learn and be confronted with new ideas. Want to break free? France 24 can help you pop the filter bubbles around you!

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Social networks have revolutionised how we access information. In France, over a quarter of people get their news from social networks – second only to television. And for young people, the change is even more drastic: 47% of the under-35s say their primary source of information is social media (Ifop, 2019). And we’re not just passive consumers of information online now – everyone can also generate content, leading to a vast quantity of news and views online.

Sifting through that ever-growing mountain of information forces search engines and social media to use algorithms – to sort the wheat they think will interest us, from the chaff they assume won’t. For Jérôme Duberry of the University of Geneva, it’s a simple calculation: “if a web-user has a given profile, then they will be fed information of a certain type”. Posts that seem to appear at random on our Twitter or Facebook timelines are in fact carefully chosen according to what the platform already knows about us – interests, friends, “likes”. Highlighting content that is tailored specifically to our interests filters out topics from outside our comfort zone – reinforcing our beliefs.

Online rights are human rights

But social networks are only one aspect of the digital echo chambers. Search engines are also key – once again due to their reliance on algorithms. Google’s search results are generated from our own online history, mixed with that of thousands of other users. The goal for the search engine is to maximise user engagement by finding results that are most likely to prompt interest (and sales) from the user – and so generate advertising revenue.

For Jérôme Duberry, those gatekeepers limit our access to knowledge: “it’s as if there was someone standing in front of the university library, who asks you a bunch of questions about who you are, and only then gives you access to a limited number of books. And you never get the chance to see all the books on offer, and you never know the criteria for those limits.”

The consequences of these so-called Filter Bubbles are far-reaching. For Tristan Mendès France, specialist in Digital Cultures at the University of Paris, “being informed via social networks means an internet user is in a closed-circuit of information”.

Blinkered online views, democratic bad news

For many academics, those echo chambers could threaten the health of our democracies, suggesting the algorithms could contribute to the polarisation of society. By limiting our access to views similar to our own and excluding contradictory opinions, our beliefs may be reinforced – but at the expense of a diversity of opinions.

And that could undermine the very basis of our democracies. For Jerôme Duberry, the Filter Bubbles “could lead to us questioning the value of a vote. Today, we lend a great deal of importance to the vote, which is the extension of a person’s opinion. But that individual’s opinion is targeted by interest groups using an impressive array of techniques.”

That isn’t the only distortion that algorithms have created. They have also allowed more radical views to predominate. Youtube’s algorithm is blind to the actual content of a video – its choice of what will be most visible is made according to which videos are viewed all the way to the end. But for Tristan Mendès France, “it is generally the most activist or militant internet users that view videos all the way through”. That provokes “extra-visibility” for otherwise marginal content – at the expense of more nuanced or balanced views, or indeed verified information.

Escaping the echo chamber

So what happens to the spirit of debate in a world where your online habits reinforce your beliefs? Is the echo chamber a philosophical prison? And how easy is it to get back out into the fresh air of contradictory views?

In the US, the movement opposing algRead More – Source

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‘Well, this is Iceland’: Earthquake interrupts Prime Minister’s interview

Katrin Jakobsdottir was discussing the impact of the pandemic on tourism with the Washington Post wh..

Katrin Jakobsdottir was discussing the impact of the pandemic on tourism with the Washington Post when her house started to shake, visibly startling the Icelandic leader."Oh my god, there's an earthquake," she said with a gasp. "Sorry, there was an earthquake right now. Wow."But Jakobsdottir quickly pivoted back to the matter at hand, laughing: "Well this is Iceland" and continuing her response to the question."Yes I'm perfectly fine, the house is still strong, so no worries," she later added.Jakobsdottir, 44, has been Iceland's Prime Minister since 2017.The 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday afternoon 10 kilometers southwest of Hafnarfjordur, a coastal town near the capital of Reykjavík, according to the United States Geological Survey, which measures quakes worldwide.The tremble led to reports of damage around the capital. Earthquakes are common in Iceland, which boats a sweeping landscape dotted with dozens of volcanoes. Jakobsdottir isn't the first world leader to be interrupted by a quake this year; in May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was discussing lifting coronavirus restrictions

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