Aquatic warblers, new study


This is an aquatic warbler video from Poland.

From the Journal of Ornithology:

8 December 2015

Extracting historical population trends using archival ringing data—an example: the globally threatened Aquatic Warbler

Martins Briedis, Oskars Keišs

Abstract

Understanding how animal population size changes over time is one of the key means to identify threats and facilitate the successful implementation of conservation measures. The globally endangered Aquatic Warbler has undergone a major decline throughout its range. While in the first half of the 20th century, it was still an abundant species across major parts of Central and Western Europe, over the last century the size of its European population is considered to have declined by more than 90 %.

However, little is known of the historical changes in its population size. Here we model the past population size of the Aquatic Warbler using historical ringing records of European ringing schemes and population monitoring software (TRends for Indices and Monitoring). We found that during the short 30-year period between 1950 and 1980 the European Aquatic Warbler population underwent a dramatic 95 % decline. According to this model, the population has recently been stable, no further decline was observed between 1980 and the late 1990s.

What does bioenergy have to do with saving the Aquatic Warbler? By Lisa Benedetti, BirdLife Europe: here.

European governments, stop anti-refugee policies, Council of Europe says


This video says about itself:

LET THEM IN! Pro-Refugees Demonstration in Amsterdam

Video: Persian Dutch Network | Donya Alinejad speech at pro-refugees demonstration at Dam Square of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 4 September 2015.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Council of Europe sharply criticizes reception of refugees in Europe

Today, 12:13

The Council of Europe strongly criticizes the refugee policy of European countries. Nils Muižnieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the council, calls this policy disastrous and unacceptable. He recommends that countries urgently change course in order to adhere to the values ​​and principles on which they have committed themselves when they joined the Council of Europe.

The Latvian Muižnieks begins his statement with a reference to the more than 3,600 people who died this year while crossing to Europe. European countries abandoned refugees and continue to do so, according to him.

The attitude of some countries towards asylum seekers is incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, says Muižnieks. He points to the tightening of asylum policies, in which sometimes it is declared to be a crime to enter a country illegally.

Muižnieks also mentions the fences erected by countries to keep migrants out and prison-like buildings where asylum applicants must reside. He calls this approach wrong and says it causes unnecessary suffering for often already traumatized people. According to the Commissioner for Human Rights, Europe can not allow such a situation to continue.

Disaster for refugees in European winter cold


This 6 November 2015 punk rock music video from Germany is called VOLKER PUTTREFUGEES WELCOME – HARDCORE WORLDWIDE (OFFICIAL HD VERSION HCWW).

By Martin Kreickenbaum:

Humanitarian disaster on the Balkan refugee route

30 November 2015

The crisis situation for refugees seeking to enter Europe escalated November 28 on the Greek-Macedonian border. Macedonian police used stun grenades to repel refugees who have been prevented from entering Macedonia from Greece. A total of 40 people were injured and photos show refugees with severe head injuries.

Hundreds of refugees, men, women and children, have been stranded on the border in freezing weather and without food at the cordoned-off border near the northern Greek city of Idomeni. For about a week, only refugees with Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan passports have been allowed to cross the border. Refugees with other nationalities are rejected on the grounds that they do not come from “war zones.

In particular, refugees from Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, Somalia and Bangladesh are stranded on the Greek border and do not know what is going to happen to them. The makeshift camp at Idomeni operated by the UN refugee agency UNHCR is completely overcrowded. Hundreds of refugees are camping outdoors, without adequate sanitary provisions, and with inadequate supplies of food and clean drinking water.

In protest against the racist screening of asylum seekers at the border, the refugees have been blocking the single-track rail link between Macedonia and Greece for days. More than 60 refugees have gone on hunger strike, and eleven of them have sewn their own mouths shut.

Last Thursday around 200 desperate refugees stormed the border, throwing stones at the border policemen stationed there. The newly erected barbed wire fence along the border was demolished over a length of approximately 40 metres. Some refugees were caught in the barbed wire, others were chased by the police and forced back with batons. Only five people actually managed to get to the Macedonian side, where they were quickly intercepted and detained. Police officers armed with assault rifles moved to block the place where the border fence had come down.

“We cannot wait any longer, last night we slept in the rain,” 31-year-old Heritier Shabani told the press. He comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and arrived on the Greek island of Samos about ten days ago. The refugees do not receive any help from the Greek authorities. “If there were buses, we would return to Athens, but there are none, at least not enough,” said Shabani.

As a result, more and more refugees are stranded at the border. Of the approximately 4,000 refugees who had previously crossed the Greek-Macedonian border each day, more than 90 percent were allowed to cross because they came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. However, hundreds of refugees arrive each day for whom the border remains closed.

The humanitarian disaster developing along the Balkan route began with the decision by the Slovenian government on 19 November to no longer allow so-called “economic migrants” into the country. The governments of Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia followed suit.

Dimitris Christopoulos from the International Federation for Human Rights fears that the “nightmare scenario for Greece” has begun, because the border closures mean the country has now gone from being a transit state to one in which refugees are detained. There was no appropriate infrastructure in Greece for looking after asylum seekers, he said. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sharply condemned the actions of the authorities in the Balkans.

“To sort out refugees based on their adopted nationality violates the right of all people, regardless of their nationality, to apply for asylum, and their right to an individual examination of their need for protection,” Ban noted in a statement on Tuesday.

Asylum seekers from African countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea or the Republic of Congo, where no less bloody wars are raging, are routinely turned away at the borders along the Balkan route “by visual inspection” as alleged “economic refugees.” Hundreds of African refugees, taken by surprise by the developments, are now sitting in no man’s land in Croatia, Serbia or Macedonia, since they can neither move on or go back.

The real originators of the border closures are the governments in Germany and France. They are taking advantage of the terrorist attacks in Paris to further seal off Europe against refugees. The target of these racist measures, which constitute a blatant violation of international conventions on refugee protection, is to turn away as many refugees as possible at the borders of Europe.

While in Germany, the demands for a “ceiling” for refugees are growing louder, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called for a complete stop to the influx of refugees from the Middle East to Europe. “We cannot accept any more refugees in Europe—that’s not possible,” Valls told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The European Union must find solutions with Syria’s neighbouring countries in order to process more refugees, Valls said, “otherwise Europe is placing in question its ability to effectively control its borders.”

On Sunday, the European Union heads of state and government met with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in an attempt to negotiate a dirty deal. In return for a payment of 3 billion euros and the prospect of opening up further EU accession negotiations, Turkey would commit itself to preventing refugees from travelling to the EU.

Turkey has so far accepted around 2.5 million war refugees from Syria, but they do not have refugee status there. Some 250,000 people live in 25 huge camps without access to work or education.

Although the war in Syria has intensified with the enormous air strikes by France and the United States, as well as Russia, and the remaining infrastructure of the country, including schools and hospitals, is being razed to the ground, Turkey has begun to reject all refugees at the border.

In March, Turkey had closed the last two open border crossings. Until recently, however, refugees who needed urgent medical help could still enter. But in recent weeks they have also been denied this possibility. “The closure of the border forces pregnant women, children, old people, the sick and injured to run a gauntlet of border guards in order to escape the horrors of the war in Syria,” said Gerry Simpson of Human Rights Watch.

As a result, hundreds of refugees are gathering in the woods in the hills southeast of Antakya, Turkey in order to be taken across the border illegally by smugglers. There, border guards mercilessly hunt down refugees, forcing them back into Syria. Refugees interviewed by Human Rights Watch tell of gunfire and severe mistreatment by the Turkish border police. Families are torn apart, and refugees herded into detention camps, before being forcibly removed to Syria.

These massive violations of the Geneva Convention are being carried out by Turkey under pressure from the European governments, which do not want to accept any more refugees, and are using Turkey to do their dirty work in pushing back refugees. In face of the inhuman treatment of the now millions of Syrian refugees, all talk of a military escalation in Syria being necessary to stop a humanitarian catastrophe is exposed as pure hypocrisy.

Balkan lynx in danger


This 2015 video is called Wild Balkan: HD National Geographic Documentary.

From BirdLife:

Balkan Lynx added to the IUCN list as Critically Endangered

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, Tue, 24/11/2015 – 16:40

The IUCN Red List has added the Balkan Lynx to its Red List as a Critically Endangered subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx. This is a very real confirmation that the Balkan Lynx requires urgent and coordinated conservation actions in order to increase its population in the wild.

“In the past 10 years, through the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme, we have collected enough data to assess the status of the lynx according to IUCN standards and we have realized that its status is Critically Endangered,” said Dime Melovski, MES (BirdLife in Macedonia) project manager, at a press conference in Skopje.

“We are saddened to acknowledge just how dire is its current condition. We hope that by being added to the Red List, the Balkan Lynx will become more visible and recognized as a species in need of very concrete conservation measures.”

The Balkan lynx is a subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx and its current population is estimated at 19 to 36 adult individuals. Its only confirmed breeding grounds are located within the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia. Threats include hunting and illegal killing, decline of prey populations, and loss and fragmentation of habitat.

There are no Balkan Lynx in captivity and thus if its designation is uplisted from Critically Endangered, it will mean complete extinction.

The Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme is implemented by several civil society organizations and volunteers from the Balkan region (MES in Macedonia, CZIP in Montenegro, PPNEA in Albania, ERA and Finch in Kosovo) as well as organizations from Germany (EuroNatur), Switzerland (KORA) and Norway (NINA). The programme is funded by the Swiss Foundation MAVA.

The aim of the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme is to secure the survival of the population through a series of protected areas and better management of protected areas along the borders of Albania and Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro as well as Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. The protected areas will be established in areas where there are strongholds of the Balkan Lynx.

The programme was the catalyst for the proclamation of new national parks in Albania and Kosovo and our BirdLife partner in Macedonia is awaiting the proclamation of a new national park in Macedonia as well.

“Until a decade ago the lynx in Macedonia was almost a myth. Nobody knew much about it, but our cooperation with local stakeholders, especially hunters, opened the door to a very detailed study of this secretive animal, its status and its prey,” Melovski added. “Of course, our next step will be to downlist the lynx on the Red List. But that is no easy task, since it means increasing the current population of approximately 30 individuals to over 50.”

Until a decade ago the Balkan Lynx (a subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx) was virtually unknown to the local population and its sightings were almost mythical. This is not surprising: the subspecies’ current population is estimated at 19 to 36 adult individuals: here.

Lynx may be reintroduced to UK after 1,000 years following success of Spain programme: here.

Refugees news update


This video from Canada says about itself:

Refugees Welcome! March Through Vancouver

6 September 2015

Rally held today on Coast Salish Territories, standing up with the global movement in solidarity with refugees and demanding Canada repeal exclusionary refugee policies. Part of 18 actions across the country.

By Janet Browning and Roger Jordan in Canada:

Canada: Right seeks to whip up backlash against refugees

24 November 2015

A right-wing, fear-mongering campaign has been whipped up in Canada by much of the political establishment and media in the 10 days since the Paris terrorist attacks.

Claiming that Syrian refugees constitute a “security threat,” the Conservatives and other right-wing forces are demanding the new Liberal government abandon its pledge to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees in the country by the end of 2015. Many have baldly declared that “Harper was right,” a reference to the former Conservative Prime Minister who callously resisted demands to take in more than a trickle of refugees and put in place mechanisms to effectively prohibit Syrian Muslims from finding refuge in Canada.

The latest attempt to whip up an anti-refugee backlash has included open Islamophobic appeals and has helped fuel a wave of attacks and threats against Canada’s Muslims.

By Martin Kreikenbaum in Germany:

Thousands of refugees stuck on the Balkan route

24 November 2015

Thousands of refugees have been stranded along the Balkan route with almost no care or accommodation after the Balkan countries Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia virtually closed their borders to refugees last week, only allowing asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq to cross.

The borders were shut under pressure from Germany and France so as to allegedly prevent Islamist terrorists from entering the European Union (EU). In fact, the measure, which represents a blatant violation of international agreements on the protection of refugees, is aimed at repulsing as many asylum seekers as possible at Europe’s borders.

At the weekend, the aid organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) counted up to 6,000 refugees who were temporarily stranded near the Greek city of Idomeni at the Macedonian border and prevented from travelling further. The temporary refugee camp had places for just 900 refugees. Thousands of refugees, including the elderly, children and pregnant women, had to sleep in the open in pouring rain and freezing conditions. There was also no provision of food. Instead, the Greek government deployed additional police officers to the border region to prevent refugees from going further.

When a few hundred refugees nonetheless managed to break through police lines, they were intercepted by the Macedonian border police and sent back. Refugees subsequently occupied the only railway connecting Greece with Macedonia. The camp at Idomeni was transformed into a protest camp.

Some refugees have gone on hunger strike and sewn their mouths shut. They have rejected calls from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to return to Athens. “We will cross or die,” they cried. On quickly improvised banners, they demanded to be allowed to continue their journey. “We are not terrorists. We are just looking for a better life. Please let us go,” one stated.

The division of refugees into national groups has produced bizarre scenes. One family was refused the right to enter Macedonia because only the husband could produce an Afghan passport, while the wife and children only had Iranian citizenship. Thirty-year-old Mohammed Mirzam told news broadcaster Al-Jazeera, “We’re trapped. … They won’t let my family across. We have no money, and we’re waiting without any idea of what is to happen.” Other Afghans were not allowed to cross because they were accused of allegedly falsifying travel documents.

The humanitarian crisis now emerging along the Balkan route began on 19 November, when the Slovenian government announced it would not allow any more economic migrants into the country. A police spokesman told Reuters, “More and more people have entered the country over recent days who we have good reason to believe are economic migrants.” Slovenia would thus only accept migrants from countries where armed conflict was taking place.

But it is the governments in Germany and France who initiated the partial border closings. They are exploiting the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13 to further seal off Europe from refugees.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for a “significant strengthening of measures to secure European borders” at a meeting of justice and interior ministers in Brussels last Tuesday. The ministers subsequently agreed that refugees would not only be fingerprinted during registration, but also checked against databases of the European security agencies. Police officers from Europol and the border agencies will supervise the registration at the “hot spots”.

Slovenia, unlike the neighbouring EU member Croatia, is also part of the Schengen zone. In border management, it works closely with the Austrian and German governments. It is therefore likely that the idea of a partial border closing originated with German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who has been agitating for stronger restrictions on the inflow of refugees for weeks. This is also suggested by the justification offered by the Slovenian government. It declared that only refugees from countries at war or in military conflict would gain asylum in Germany and other European countries, while all others would be rejected as “economic migrants”.

The Slovenian government’s move was part of a domino effect in Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia. According to a report by German public broadcaster ARD’s “Tagesschau”, the European Commission in Brussels pressed for the borders to be closed. “That is the intention of Juncker’s plan, that the humanitarian aspect, meaning any assistance, is limited to those affected by war.”

Serbia’s labour and social minister Aleksandr Vulin said his government had no other option but to follow the example of Slovenia and Croatia. “We need to protect our country, and that is why we have brought in reciprocal measures toward those for whom Croatia and Slovenia have no room. We will not allow into Serbia anyone who cannot continue their journey.”

Since the change in course by Slovenia and Croatia was so obviously agreed with the European Union and Germany, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski also announced the closure of the border. At the same time, he warned the EU against exploiting his country as a buffer zone against “economic migrants.”

Gruevski recently was informed at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban about the Hungarian approach of sealing its borders. Macedonia subsequently also began the construction of a barbed wire fence made available by the Hungarian government.

The sealing of the borders for refugees not from Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq represents a serious violation of human rights, since everyone is entitled to an individual review of an asylum application. For refugees who cannot produce any papers, which is hardly unusual after several weeks of travel, face checks are used to determine who will be allowed to travel further.

“What is taking place here is racial profiling instead of the individual reviewing of each case in accordance with the law,” stated Hagen Kopp from Project Moving Europe. It remains completely unclear why refugees from Eritrea or Somalia are being turned away at the borders, even though they are among those whose need for protection is high within the EU.

The spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Athens, Ketty Kehayioylou, in the Guardian criticised the claim that the rejection of refugees was a necessary measure to prevent terrorists from entering Europe. “This business of placing restrictions and erecting fences to keep terrorists out when terrorists are already in their countries makes no sense whatsoever. Profiling by nationality defies every convention”, she said.

In addition, human rights activists are contending that the conditions facing refugees worsen considerably when borders are closed and they are left in a legal no man’s land. “We fear that precisely at the onset of winter, people will be stranded without accommodation, food or assistance,” a spokesman from MSF said in Serbia.

Thousands of refugees already live homeless on the streets and squares of Athens. … Instead of accepting the refugees who are in need of protection, the EU is using batons and barbed wire against them, leaving them to their fate as winter begins.

Britain: TENS of thousands of refugees and migrants will lose English language lessons as a result of the government’s adult education cuts, it was revealed yesterday: here.

Wetland conservation for water birds and people


This video says about itself:

Conserving wetlands for water birds & people

13 November 2015

Why are wetlands so important for water birds and people? In order to ensure the survival of millions of water birds migrating between Europe and Africa every year, and sustain the health of local communities, we are identifying and protecting a critical network of wetlands that are increasingly vulnerable to a changing climate and unsustainable activities.