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Monday:  October 6, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in World Refugee Day (2)

Monday
Jun202011

On World Refugee Day, UNHCR Reports Highest Number of Refugees Worldwide in Fifteen Years 

(CREDIT: UNHCR, World Refugee Day 2011) (HN, June 20, 2011) - June 20th is always the United Nations globally recognized `World Refugee Day’.  But this year the day holds significance for more people on the planet than in the last 15 years. 

That’s because the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that as of last year, 43.7 million people around the world have been displaced from their countries by war, conflict or persecution.  

Adding insult to injury, eighty percent of those refugees fleeing the safety of their own homes are being kept safe with food, shelter and water by some of the world’s poorest nations, and UNHCR is warning that these countries cannot continue to afford this cost alone.

This past weekend António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, spent time with the actress Angelina Jolie meeting with some of the refugees who most recently fled  Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain and other Middle East nations currently experiencing internal turmoil which has forced thousands to stream across their nations borders for other countries such as Turkey and Malta.  

(CREDIT: UNHCR, Gooodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie at a camp for Syrian refugees in the southern Turkish town of Altinozu.)In a statement reflecting `World Refugee Day’, Guterres says, “Fears about supposed floods of refugees in industrialized countries are being vastly overblown or mistakenly conflated with issues of migration. It’s poorer countries that are left having to pick up the burden.”

UNHCR’s 2010 Global Trends report, flags Pakistan, Iran and Syria as the world’s biggest hosts of refugees by amount of people who have fled there – totaling three million collectively that the countries have taken in; 1.9 million refugees are being housed in Pakistan alone.

And the world’s refugee populations are only expected to grow as predicted by UNHCR, next year and beyond.  In 2010, the refugee agency projected that 747,000 locations places were needed to resettle the global flow of refugees, and the 22 countries that accept such displaced people, led by the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Norway, took in only 98,000 people. In 2011, UNHCR estimates that 805,000 locations for refugees to be resettled will be needed.  

The developed nation housing the largest refugee population is Germany, hosting 594,000 people.  Guterres urged industrialized nations to increase the number of people they accept who are seeking asylum, lessening the burden on already poor and overwhelmed countries, some whom, like Syria, are going through their own internal strife and seeing its own people flee to Turkey.

Civilians fleeing the fighting in north-west Syria has picked up significantly in the last two weeks with more than 9,600 people now living in four camps managed by Turkey and the Turkish Red Crescent.

(CREDIT: IGEO, a camp for Darfur, Sudan refugees in Chad.)Not only are there more refugees in the world today but more people are staying in a `refugee state’ much longer than ever before.  Some like those in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere spend their whole life in refugee camps. 

In 2010 for instance, 7.2 million people, the highest number in ten years, had been exiled from their home countries for five years or more; mostly due to the length of the conflict they were fleeing from, which prevented people from returning to their homes. Only 197,600 refugees, were able to return to their homes in 2010, the lowest number since 1990.

UNHCR puts the official number of refugees who registered with it last year, along with the agency for Palestinian refugees at 15.4 million in 2010; with another 27.5 million people – the highest level in ten years - having been displaced by conflict within their own home countries’ borders.

--- HUMNEWS staff

Sunday
Jun202010

World Refugee Day - (VIDEO REPORT) UN warns that many displaced are unable to return home

The video story below of Somalian refugees fleeing to Dadaab, Kenya is but one example of the work UNHCR is doing and the condition many refugees from around the world live in today.

(HN, June 20, 2010) -- Today marks the 10th year that World Refugee Day will be recognized around the globe. From June 18 to 20 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commemorates World Refugee Day encouraging people from around the globe to host events in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees worldwide who are forced to flee their homes.

In 2000 The United Nations General Assembly, in Resolution 55/76 decided that from 2001, June 20 would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. UNHCR was originally established in 1950, to help an estimated 1 million Europeans uprooted as a result of World War II to return home. In the 1960’s, the decolonization of Africa produced the beginning of the continent’s many refugee crises. New waves of refugees emerged in the following decades as a result of displacement issues arising in Asia and Latin America, continuing in Africa and turning full circle, at the end of the century, in Europe from the series of wars in the Balkans.

Today the refugees of concern to the UNHCR span the globe. More than half are in Asia and another twenty-two percent in Africa. Latin American countries host hundreds of thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons (IDP’s); most come from Colombia. In the Middle East there are an estimated 1.8 million Iraqi’s seeking shelter overseas – while the largest number of refugees are from Palestinian territories with an estimated 4.7 million seeking a home. In Eastern Europe, statelessness, particularly as a result of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, remains an issue of concern throughout the region. The precise number of people who are fleeing their homes in Eastern Europe is not known - but may be as high as 120,000 - as UNHCR is only beginning to quantify the problem. 

Refugees live in a wide variety of conditions, from well-established camps and centers to makeshift shelters to living in the open. The United Nations Refugee Agency operates in 110 countries, this year, has a record annual budget of $3.058 billion (U.S.) for 2010 in order to help an estimated 40 million people return to their home of origin, integrate locally or resettle in a third country.

Among the longest-standing refugee camps are the ones located in the countries adjacent to the Palestinian Territories - Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. There is now an entire generation of young people who know no life outside the walls of a refugee camp. In some of the countries, the refugees are banned from working and their children have limited access to services.

The latest wave of refugees to become part of UNHCR's case load are the more than 100,000 refugees that have fled Kyrgyzstan because of ethnic violence.

So heavy is the strain on UNHCR's resources that the Geneva-based agency suffers from a chronic shortage of donor funds.

On World Refugee Day, Seeking a Place to call "Home" (VIDEO REPORT)  

(UN News) -- The United Nations is marking World Refugee Day by urging governments and individuals not to forget the 15 million men, women and children who have been uprooted by conflict or persecution and are unable to return to their homes.

The theme for this year’s observance on 20 June is “Home,” and highlights the need to ensure that all refugees can have a place to call home, whether they return to their places of origin, settle in host countries or re-settle in a third country.

“Refugees have been deprived of their homes, but they must not be deprived of their futures,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to mark the Day, calling for working with host Governments to deliver services, and intensifying efforts to resolve conflicts so that refugees can return home.

A recent report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted a decline in the number of refugees who are able to go home. In 2005, more than a million people returned to their own country on a voluntary basis.

Last year, only 250,000 did so – the lowest number in two decades. The reasons for this include prolonged instability in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan.

“Despite the decline in voluntary repatriation opportunities for refugees, UNHCR is working hard on solutions,” High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in his message.

Mr. Guterres is marking the Day in Syria, which, according to Government estimates, hosts over 1 million refugees, the majority from Iraq. It was announced today that 100,000 Iraqi refugees have been referred for resettlement from the Middle East to third countries since 2007, a major milestone for one of the world’s largest refugee populations.

He stressed the need to find solutions to help ensure that refugees have a place to call home, to do more to combat misunderstandings about refugees, and to provide education and other skills training so that even if they do not have homes they can still have a future.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and award-winning actress Angelina Jolie is in Ecuador, where she is highlighting the challenges facing refugees.

“Having a home, a place where we belong, a place where we feel safe is something most of us take for granted,” she said on the occasion of World Refugee Day. “Yet those who flee from conflict and persecution no longer have their homes, and it will be years before they can even return. In fact, many may never go home again.”

There are around 51,000 registered Colombian refugees in Ecuador, but UNHCR estimates that about 135,000 people are in need of international protection. This makes Ecuador the country with the largest refugee population in Latin America.

Mr. Guterres and Ms. Jolie are taking part today, along with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a live video link – “WRD Live” – which will connect with Washington DC, Malaysia, Syria, northern Ecuador and DRC to talk to refugees about their experiences.

For the first time, the 79-year-old Empire State Building in New York will be lit blue on 20 June to honour the world’s refugees. Other global landmarks that will turn blue include the ancient Coliseum in Rome and – also for the first time – the bridge across the Ibar River in the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica.

World Refugee Day activities also include film screenings, photography exhibitions, food bazaars, fashion shows, concerts and sports contests across countries in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas and Africa.

Source: UN News, UNHCR, staff files