Refugees keep drowning in Mediterranean


This Deutsche Welle video says about itself:

Death toll rises in Egypt boat tragedy | DW News

23 September 2016

Another tragedy for refugees attempting the journey to Europe. In Egypt, 162 bodies have been pulled from waters close to Rosetta, a city on the country’s northern coast. Authorities are still recovering bodies and searching for surivors. Dozens more are feared dead.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Number killed in refugee boat tragedy hits 162

Saturday 24th September 2016

THE full horror of Wednesday’s refugee boat disaster off Egypt began to emerge yesterday as more than 100 bodies were pulled from the sea.

The death toll stood at 162 and was expected to rise as the Morning Star went to press.

Up to 600 people may have been on board the appallingly overloaded people-traffickers’ boat that capsized and sank just eight miles off the port of Rosetta in the Nile Delta on Wednesday evening.

More than 160 have been rescued, most of them Egyptians along with some Sudanese, Somalians, Eritreans and other nationalities.

Local council chairman Ali Abdel-Sattar said currents had carried the bodies many miles from the site of the sinking.

“Today, four bodies, including two Egyptian children, were found 20km to the east,” he told reporters.

He added that many of the refugees were believed to have been “stored in the bottom of the boat, in the fridge.”

“Those are the ones who drowned first, most probably stuck, and their bodies might not be retrieved anytime soon,” he said.

“Those we found are the ones liberated from the boat. I believe many are stuck and now lying in the bottom of the sea.”

By Xinhua writer Wu Zhiqiang:

Commentary: Rosetta tragedy fresh reminder of Western responsibility

CAIRO, Sept. 24 — The death of more than 160 people in the sinking of an overloaded ship off Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Rosetta has once again focused world attention on the plight of refugees and migrants.

And on the causes behind tragedies like this.

The refugees, or migrants, however you describe them, were fleeing war and poverty for a safer, better life somewhere else.

A multitude of reasons may be given as to what caused the wars and the poverty, but the West cannot shirk their responsibility.

Colonial rule by Western powers in past centuries and their interventionist policies in recent decades both played a part.

Rosetta, appearing in the datelines of so many news stories on the sinking of the ship with up to 600 people aboard, happens to bear the same name of an ancient rock stele now sitting inside the British Museum and that Egyptian authorities want returned.

Dating back to 196 BC, the Rosetta Stone, which provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, was once “owned” by Napoleon’s troops and then ended up the “property” of Britain.

And now the city of Rosetta is bearing witness to a tragedy partly of Western making.

What a coincidence.

The euphoric atmosphere permeating Washington and other Western capitals at the start of the so-called “Arab Spring” five years ago has long been replaced by hand-wringing in the face of bloodshed, chaos, and misery from Syria to Iraq to Libya, and the terror attacks that filled news headlines so often around the world.

In a few hours, the foreign ministers of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union are scheduled to gather at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, in northwest United States.

The serene campus of Tufts is a far cry from the turbulent Mediterranean seas, but the wars in the Middle East and the refugee crisis gripping the region and beyond sit near the top of the agenda when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets his five counterparts.

Rosetta and Medford, in the final analysis, are not too far away.

One more death is too many. One day longer of suffering is too long.

It is high time that the United States and other Western countries reflected upon their flawed interventionist policies that often featured imposition of their values and sought regime changes.

It is high time that the West took constructive actions.

They have a moral obligation and historical responsibility to do so.

Number of drowned refuges in this case over 200: here.

African war refugee cyclist wins Paralympic gold metal


Daniel Abraham Gebru wins gold medal

Daniel Abraham Gebru was born in Eritrea, 31 years ago. When he was a teenager, he took up cycling, which is popular in Eritrea. Ethiopian soldiers used to attack Eritrea. They imprisoned Daniel’s father, a merchant. Daniel’s father died in an Ethiopian prison. Daniel Abraham Gebru fled this war when he was fifteen years old. His mother managed to escape from the Ethiopian soldiers, but it took thirteen years for Daniel to find her again.

Daniel went to the Netherlands. He succeeded in making it in the Dutch injured people’s road cycling team for the Paralympics in Brazil.

At the Paralympics time trial, he was fourth. Just short of a bronze medal.

Today, the road race. There was a breakaway group of three cyclists, including Daniel Abraham Gebru. At the final part, just before the finish line, Gebru was unable to keep up with the two other cyclists any longer.

However, these two other cyclists collided and fell. Daniel Abraham Gebru was able to ride around the fallen cyclists. He won the Paralympics gold medal.

Big pro-refugee demonstration in London


This video from England says about itself:

Refugees Welcome Here 2016 Countdown – 3 days to go!

16 September2016

The ladies at Women for Refugee Women are making banners for the demonstration on Saturday.

This year’s march will be held on Saturday 17th September in London 12:30–17:00 starting at Park Lane. Join us to show that we stand for refugees and they are welcome here.

About Solidarity with Refugees:

In September 2015, SwR organised the biggest ever UK demonstration in support of refugees – about 100,000 people. Now we want policy change in the UK.

Find out more on the website.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Refugees Welcome Here protest: Thousands march on Downing Street calling on UK to resettle more migrants

Protest comes days before world leaders meet to discuss crisis at UN General Assembly

Lizzie Dearden

Thousands of protesters are marching on Downing Street to demand the British Government takes in more refugees as thousands of men, women and children continue to drown in desperate attempts to reach Europe.

Demonstrators were working their way from Park Lane to Parliament Square in London on Saturday afternoon, demanding action as a crucial United Nations summit on the crisis approaches.

Marchers chanted “refugees are welcome here” while waving banners reading “no-one is illegal” and “let’s help people”.

Amnesty International said actors Juliet Stevenson, Vanessa Redgrave and George MacKay as well as the Kaiser Chiefs’s Simon Rix would be among demonstrators.

Lord Alf Dubs, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Baroness Sheehan were also due to address a rally in Parliament Square.

Brendan Cox, the husband of killed Labour MP Jo Cox, said she had planned to join the protest before her death in June.

Writing on Twitter, he said he and their children Cuillin and Lejla “marched in her stead today imagining her by our side”.

It comes a year after around 100,000 protesters took to London’s streets calling on the UK to resettle more asylum seekers amid the international outcry over the death of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned trying to reach Greece.

The Solidarity With Refugees group said Saturday’s protest aimed to “show our Government and the world that Britain is ready to welcome more refugees”.

“The UK should be leading the way and working with other states to give refugees safe, legal routes to asylum, ending the trade in people smuggling,” a spokesperson said.

“Since the referendum campaign and vote, divisive rhetoric has been ever more prevalent from a small but vocal minority. In the light of this, the need to come together in a spirit of welcome has become even more acute.”

The march was supported by charities and groups including the Red Cross, Asylum Aid, Save the Children, Hope Not Hate, Oxfam and the UN Refugee Agency.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, described the Government’s contribution to tackling the refugee crisis as “shocking” but praised local communities and volunteers for “taking matters into their own hands” to support migrants.

“This march is to show that ordinary people in Britain actually care deeply about refugees,” she said.

“Many of those seeking sanctuary have seen their families torn apart and homes destroyed. As one of the richest countries in the world, our government can and must do more to help.”

Mr Rix, the Kaiser Chiefs’s bassist, described the refugee crisis as a “global disaster” while Ms Stevenson called on world leaders to share responsibility, adding: “I hope Theresa May is listening.”

The show of solidarity comes as world leaders prepare for the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

A UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants on Monday will be followed by a separate summit on the issue hosted by Barack Obama the following day.

More than 3,200 refugees and asylum seekers have drowned attempting to reach Europe so far this year, with almost 300,000 completing the journey.

But thousands remain trapped in Greece after being automatically detained under the controversial EU-Turkey deal, under threat of deportation if their asylum applications fail.

Those granted protection face an increasingly difficult task reaching other parts of Europe as countries increase border controls and build fences to stop the flow of migrants.

Oxfam has warned that millions of refugees are being forced to flee from one warzone into another, while a report released this week found that attempted crackdowns in Europe were failing to significantly reduce refugee numbers and instead forcing migrants on hidden and dangerous routes.

In the wake of Alan’s death, David Cameron pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK over the coming five years but there have been additional calls to re-home those who have already reached Europe, as well as asylum seekers coming from other conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thousands of migrants hoping to travel to Britain remain in the Jungle migrant camp in Calais, where the government is planning to fund a controversial barrier to stop attempts to board lorries.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Refugees deserve better

Saturday 17th September 2016

London fills with calls for Westminster to show true solidarity with Syrians

by Sofia Lotto Persio

PRO-REFUGEE demonstrators will flood the streets of London today to demand that the government make more effort to tackle the global refugee crisis.

Marching under the “Refugees Welcome Here” banner, tens of thousands of people are calling on Britain to take a fair and proportionate share of refugees from both within and outside Europe, beyond the existing commitment to resettling 20,000 Syrians by 2020.

They also want the establishment of safe and legal routes of passage to Britain, as well as universal access to fair procedures to determine eligibility for asylum.

Charities, aid agencies and religious leaders have put forward similar demands.

The Overseas Development Institute revealed recently that, while the number of people arriving in Europe has fallen, the rate of those taking hidden routes to Europe has not changed and is actually likely to increase.

“These covert routes can be more dangerous and make it harder for governments to monitor migration and design effective responses,” said the report’s author Marta Foresti.

Solidarity with Refugees, which organised the march, hopes to send a strong signal of international solidarity ahead of two major global summits on the crisis next week, which Prime Minister Theresa May is set to attend.

Solidarity with Refugees director Ros Ereira said: “The summits next week in the US are the best opportunity for our government to take proper action to tackle the refugee crisis, committing Britain to taking its fair share of responsibility.

“And this demonstration is the public’s best opportunity to show the government that’s what we want them to do.

“Britain is a country that should welcome people fleeing desperate situations — let’s make that message heard loud and clear.”

A similar march last year gathered around 100,000 people after a photo was published of the lifeless body of three-year-old refugee Alan Kurdi lying on a beach in Turkey.

The image finally shook the world’s conscience over the thousands of people who, for years, have died crossing the Mediterranean sea seeking a better life on European shores.

Deaths have continued however, with over 3,200 of the 300,000 people who have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe having died or gone missing, according to the UN.

Tens of thousands are stranded in Greece and Italy in appalling living conditions.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “The refugee crisis is worse than ever.

“Britain should be leading the way by accepting more people in need and working with other countries to give refugees safe, legal routes to asylum.”

Demonstrators will march at 12.30pm from Park Lane towards Parliament Square, where activists, MPs and religious leaders from various faiths will address the rally.

Amnesty International will be handing out placards with slogans reading messages including: “May, May! Let them in today!” and “Longer tables, not higher walls” at stations near the start of the march.

Demonstration report here.

UK steps up repression of migrant workers: here.

115 BODIES RECOVERED OFF EGYPTIAN COAST AFTER MIGRANT TRAGEDY A boat carrying an estimated 450 migrants heading to Europe capsized Wednesday. Only 150 are estimated to have survived. [AP]

Kick Hungarian regime out of European Union, Luxembourg says


This 2015 video is about racism in Hungary.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Kick Hungary out of EU, says minister from Luxembourg

Wednesday 14th September 2016

CRACKS widened in the European Union yesterday when Luxembourg’s foreign minister said Hungary should be suspended or expelled over its attitude to refugees.

Senior officials in other EU countries distanced themselves from Jean Asselborn’s suggestion, made in an interview with German daily Die Welt and which came days before 27 EU leaders meet in Bratislava, Slovakia to discuss the bloc’s future after Britain leaves.

“Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary forever, from the EU,” he said.

His Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto said Mr Asselborn was “a frivolous figure” and accused him of “working tirelessly to demolish European security and culture.”

The spat exposed the growing rift between the original European Economic Community states and newer EU members in eastern Europe.

Dutch nazi threatens to shoot refugees


Nazi Michael L with gun

Translated from Dutch daily De Telegraaf today:

Neo-Nazi from Hoorn threatens to attack refugees

Neo-Nazi Michael L. threatens attacks on refugees. On his Twitter page Waffen SS 88 he posted recently a picture of himself with an automatic firearm. The accompanying text reads: “The preparations are in full swing, going in the right direction, happy.”

This reports Crime Site. According to them, L. is currently active in the neo-Nazi movement Blood and Honour. Previously, he had been active in CP’86, an extreme-right party that was banned in 1998 because of criminal activities.

Yesterday L. complained on Twitter about the influx of refugees, finishing with the relevant photo with firearm. On his Twitter page are also racist remarks and NSB symbols.

The NSB was the Dutch nazi party in the 1930s and 1940s.

Meanwhile, Michael L. has been arrested.

THE KEY TO PREVENTING CHILD MARRIAGES “Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai on Tuesday called on world leaders to provide education to girls in refugee camps to avoid them being forced into early marriage or child labor.” [HuffPost]

Danish government punishes old lady for helping refugee baby


This video says about itself:

Danish human rights campaigner found guilty of smuggling

11 March 2016

* Couple’s lawyer says no money changed hands
* Family of six were driven from a Danish ferry terminal to a bridge crossing leading to Sweden
* Couple has two weeks to appeal

A court in Denmark has fined a prominent children’s rights campaigner for giving a family of Syrian migrants a ride across the country to Sweden.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad:

She helped stranded refugees and was fined 3,350 euros

Several hundred Danes were given thousands of euros fines because they helped stranded refugees. Lise Ramslog for example, a year ago she helped refugees with a newborn baby to Malmö and was punished for it.

Eppo König

September 5, 2016

On the day Lise Ramslog (70) became a people smuggler, she actually only wanted to go to an ATM. It was Monday, September 7th, 2015, a year ago, when the first wave of refugees reached Denmark.

In her little red Skoda she rode in the afternoon to the bank in Rødbyhavn, a southern port town. “Then I saw a lot of exhausted people sitting and lying along the highway,” says the Danish woman. “Not a pretty sight.”

Around 300 refugees, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, had arrived through Germany by train and ferry in Denmark. Police had halted rail traffic. In the heat then men, women and children walked on the E47 highway to the Swedish city Malmö, almost 200 kilometers away. From some crossovers xenophobes spat on them.

First Ramslog turned her car around. “I did not want to see those people. I thought, I’m going to the woods … But on the way I saw a resident talk to refugees, two couples and a young boy. They pointed to my car and said Sweden, Sweden! They showed me their railway tickets from Hamburg to Malmö. I had better bring them to the station in Maribo, I thought. That was not so far.”

She tells her story in the office of Lisbeth Zornig in Copenhagen. Zornig was children’s ombudswoman in Denmark from 2010 to 2012 and is half of a well-known detective thriller author couple with her husband, former journalist Mikael Lindholm. Like Lise Ramslog she also that September day helped hiking refugees. Both were convicted this year to a fine. This month is the appeal of Zornig and Lindholm. To nearly 160 Danes the same happened last year. This year their number is in the hundreds, appears from media reports. …

The refugee crisis came two months after the appointment of a new Liberal minority government with tacit support of the radical right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF). Strict asylum laws, translated into Arabic published in Lebanese newspapers, refugees had to be put off. Family reunification for asylum seekers is impossible in the first year, they said. The police may confiscate money and [jewelry] property as a contribution to shelter. …

In Denmark you can get up to two years in prison, or a fine, if you deliberately help ‘aliens’ across the border, transport or host them. Danes who do that are legally traffickers. In the Netherlands it is also against the law, but only if it is “for profit” or for money.

“If you offer a stranger a cup of coffee at home in Denmark or allow him or her to sit on the carrier of your bicycle, that’s criminal,” says Mikael Lindholm. Zornig: “They criminalize decency.”

Lise Ramslog does not know how the men and women in her car were called and where they came from. They did not speak each other’s language. Through the rearview mirror they smiled at each other. “They laughed when I laughed. I could see that they were afraid.” She gave them some lemonade and biscuits.

A baby under her dress

“From the back seat I heard strange noises. I looked and saw that one of the women hid something under her clothes: a newborn baby! Then I decided to bring them all the way to Copenhagen. Yes, and there I saw again signs with Sweden on them – to Malmö you just cross a toll bridge. So I just drove on.”

She is used to make mileage. Ramslog is a former professional driver, transporting flowers.

The toll was nearly 130 euros – she had just enough money in her pocket. There was no passport control. “Thank you, thank you, they kept saying when we were over the border. And, money, money. I was not sure whether they wanted money or wanted to give me money. But I said ‘No, thanks’ and gave the boy my glass brooch: a four-leaf clover. I had received it from my sister, because my daughter had died the previous year. They wanted to return the brooch, but I said, he’s still young. I hope he has more luck in life than me.”

On her way back Ramslog came across a police cordon. “I saw large white buses with refugees in them. How nice, I thought. They have arranged buses so that all those people do not have to walk. But they did not go to where they wanted to, they were deported to the ferry to Germany.”

At half past eleven at night she was finally back in her remote home in Nakskov. “My husband was worried and had called friends. I had not brought a phone. I was barefoot all the time. That’s the way I like walking in the woods.”

The next day, her husband said: “You realize you’re a smuggler? So they say on TV about people who help refugees.” Ramslog could not believe it. She put her story on Facebook. They drove back to the bank and met radio and TV journalists. “I told them what had happened. It really popped out. And that was in the news.”

Sometime later a policeman called. “You know why I call?, he said. I said it probably will not be for my speeding ticket. He asked me to make a statement. I do not know what will happen, he said. Maybe you will be prosecuted. ”

She began to worry only when she received a summons and was advised to find a lawyer. “You know what that cost? My husband and I live on 940 euros per month. I just told the judge the story myself. When the decision came, I almost fell off my chair. A fine of 3,350 euros! Since I am retired, they were so “nice” to halve the amount. They did not hang me, but just chopped my hand off.”

I do not regret it

The couple Zornig and Lindholm was fined 6,000 euros together for smuggling. Zornig that September day was also near Rødbyhavn for lecturing. They took to their beach house six refugees. Her husband later in Copenhagen put them on the train to Sweden. She was also filmed by journalists and put a photo of the group on Twitter. “Refugees Pit Stop”, she wrote.

“When people saw that, many more drove to the south with food, drinks and diapers,” says Zornig. “The police can only prosecute people who themselves told to have helped refugees, like us. And people against whom complaints were made by people who were angry about the helping. I am being sued by more than ten people, even by people from Norway and Iceland. We know their names, but we do not know them.”

Acquittal for the same offense

Last month something interesting happened. Two cohabiting women were acquitted for the same offense: a councilor of Aarhus city and a candidate for parliament. They allowed two refugees to stay overnight and bought tickets for them for the ferry to Norway. The court was not certain that they helped “aliens” “intentionally”.

Lindholm: “So it goes then with two politicians. My faith in our legal system has been considerably eroded. … A man who has got a 670 euro fine when he spat on refugees last year. And we get a 6000 euro fine? What example do we give that way?

Things turned out well with the penalty for Ramslog. The Danish jazz musician Benjamin Koppel started a crowd-fund action for Zornig and Lindholm. In a short time he raised nearly 22,000 euros. That also paid Ramslog’s fine. But they still can not tell the story without tears. “I have no regrets and I’m not angry. I just can not understand and do not accept that I’m convicted of something I do not consider to be criminal.” …

If Ramslog goes to the shops, she always passes a refugee center. “There is no bus. If people want to buy something, they have to walk five kilometers. But if I drive along, they know they can get a ride. They are very grateful. I simply will keep doing it. And that is not illegal, because those people have papers.”

This is a jazz music video by Marie Carmen Koppel & Benjamin Koppel – Cause It Reminds Me Of You.

British solidarity with Calais refugees


This video from Britain says about itself:

4 September 2016

Rita Ora, Jamie Cullum, Neil Gaiman, Ben Elton, Shinghai Shoniwa & Bella Freud are just a few leading lights coming together to say “we’ve got refugenes” – have you? See their full #refugenes stories at www.helprefugees.org.uk/refugenes

To help millions of refugees still in need today.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Stand with refugees

Tuesday 6th September 2016

Britain and France collude to rob people of even their shanty town Jungle camp, but ordinary Britons vow to stand with refugees

AN EMERGENCY demo will be held to protest against calls made yesterday by Calais citizens to demolish the Jungle refugee camp.

The event, organised by Trade Unionists for Calais and Stand Up to Racism, will take place outside the French embassy in central London at 7pm tomorrow.

Calais shop owners, lorry drivers, dock workers and farmers are planning a blockade of the A16 motorway out of the port town to try to force French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to close the squalid camp, home to some 9,000 people.

Mr Cazeneuve visited the semi-demolished site on Friday and said that the rest of the demolition would proceed with “great determination.”

But he has yet to announce plans about the future of the refugees. Eight hundred of them are children, 700 of them unaccompanied, according to a census by Help Refugees.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was urged yesterday by MPs on both sides of the Commons to tackle the issue of unaccompanied children at the camp seeking asylum.

Mandy Brown of Trade Unionists for Calais said: “Instead of offering security to the victims of war, poverty and oppression, the British and French governmentsalong with the right-wing press — are colluding to scapegoat them.

“They are blaming the refugees for many ills of our societies, so it’s no surprise that some ordinary French people also draw the mistaken conclusion that refugees are the problem.”

The British government should live up to its responsibilities and act on Lord Dubs’s amendment to the Immigration Bill that would grant asylum to unaccompanied children, the campaigners said.

Demolition of the camp without provision of alternative accommodation for the refugees would be a “recipe for disaster,” said Refugee Information Bus, which offers free wifi, access to technology, legal information and workshops for refugees at the camp.

Rowan Farrell of the charity said: “The jungle is a squalid shanty town. It breaks every humanitarian standard going, largely because the French state refuses to acknowledge that it even is a refugee camp.

“The conditions here are deplorable — but there is no alternative offered.”

The flow of refugees from the world’s trouble spots continues. Thousands of refugees, including five-day-old twins, were rescued in the Mediterranean last week having set out from Libya on 20 tiny overcrowded wooden boats as they made a desperate attempt to reach Europe.

The haunting images came just over a year after a shocking photo was published of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned off the Turkish coast after his family decided to flee Syria.

Stand Up to Racism joint secretary Weyman Bennett said: “One year on from the heartrending discovery of tiny Aylan drowned on a beach, the situation for refugees is deteriorating fast.”

Grassroots organisation Help Refugees launched a campaign called Refugenes yesterday to highlight the contributions refugees make to society.

An online short film features pop-culture figures whose families arrived in Britain as refugees or were refugees themselves. They include singers Rita Ora and Jamie Cullum, writer Ben Elton and fashion designer and novelist Bella and Esther Freud.

Help Refugees co-founder Lliana Bird, whose grandmother was a refugee from Russia, said the campaign seeks to “show refugees in a different light” because “too often they are portrayed as a burden on society.”