Friday, December 13, 2013

Royal Jordanian Airlines - Golden anniversary? They kept passengers trapped without food and information for over 7 hours.

Yesterday (December 12) Royal Jordanian Airlines brought disgrace to their country. Jordan's national air-line behaved in exact contrast to usual Jordanian courtesy and hospitality. Royal Jordanian kept us sitting on a plane for seven hours on the ground at Amman, Queen Alia Airport without food or information. The Airbus was packed with British and Middle East passengers of all ages including children. The flight from Amman to London should have taken just over 5 hours. We boarded the Airbus soon after 11.30am. Seven hours later we were still sitting waiting for take-off. After some hours, in desperation a female passenger fetched water and plastic glasses from the galley and walked down the aisle serving the passengers with water herself. The cabin crew served passengers no food – not even a packet of nuts. Throughout much of the 7 hours the Captain kept the seat-belt lights switched on. This resulted in angry clashes between cabin attendants passengers who needed to go to the lavatory – especially elderly people. During the first seven hours of our twelve hour ordeal we were left uninformed about what was happening. The Captain only bothered to make two announcements in the first seven hours. After two and a half hours at around 2.30pm the Captain announced our flight had jumped up the queue of planes waiting to take off and we would be departing in five minutes. Not true. Four hours later we were still sitting there. We heard no more information from the Captain for a further two and a half hours, by which time we had been sitting five hours on the plane. He finally admitted there was a technical problem with the plane and told us we would be transferred to another aircraft. He said we would be transferred in twenty minutes time. Around 45 minutes later we were taken by bus to another aircraft. Where we waited at least another hour. I am a frequent air traveller – I have travelled to 91 countries. I can appreciate that poor weather conditions such as yesterday’s snow can cause delays. I also understand that occasionally planes have mechanical problems which need to be fixed. But nothing excuses keeping a passengers on a crowded Airbus on the tarmac for seven hours without food or information. As part of their Golden Anniversary events Royal Jordanian Airlines need to train their pilots and cabin attendants in passenger care and communication skills.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria. Damned if we do and damned if we don't. Men have messed up the region...

#Syria. Everyone will damn the West if we intervene and damn the West if we don't intervene. I am glad I am not a world leader today. It's a no win situation for everyone including and above all for the Syrian people. The end solution will have to be political. We have seen in Egypt, Libya etc what a mess the men have made of the region. This time the international community should comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the subsequent related UN Resolutions and the equivalent European Parliament Resolution and ensure that in Syria at least 40% of participants in all peace talks at all levels and any interim Governments are women - there are plenty of capable women from the region in civil society. Whoever is responsible for ordering use of chemical weapons and for any other war crimes including rapes should be indicted and brought to the War Crimes Tribunal. Assad has no place in Syria's future.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CIOJ Journalists rap Ofcom over plans to stifle regional news.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has condemned plans to reduce regional news output on ITV as a “total betrayal” by Ofcom of viewers around the country. I am a Fellow of the CIOJ and as someone who lives outside the London metropolis I wholeheartedly support the CIOJ protests at plans to stifle regional news. Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, has approved what the Institute says are “dramatic reductions” in the length of regional lunchtime and late evening bulletins, and agreed that the early-evening round-up of the day’s news can now include ten minutes of events from outside the region. The Chairman of the CIoJ’s Broadcasting Division says the planned cuts take coverage of news in the regions to a new low. Paul Leighton – a long-serving BBC producer and former Radio 2 newsreader - commented “Viewers at weekends will see the 10 minute regional slots reduced to a paltry five minutes and lunchtime output more than halved. “As a regulator, Ofcom was put in place to protect the interests of the consumer – the viewer – not to pander to an industry which made £464m pre-tax profits last year and still has the gall to plead poverty.” Leighton said he welcomed the broadcaster’s plan to revert to greater localisation by operating 14 regions rather than the 8 to which it was reduced in 2009. “But with such a major reduction in the length of bulletins, the exercise looks suspiciously cosmetic. “If Ofcom won’t do its job as a regulator, perhaps it’s time the job was given to an organisation that will!” Note to editors: Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Egypt's latest Constitutional Declaration leaves out rights of women.

Egyptian women demand their rights. At the height of the revolutions men welcomed women as partners in the struggle for democracy. But once the dictators were ousted, men pushed women out of the picture. It's happening all over again. Absence of women's rights and equal opportunities was one of the main reasons for refusing the 2012 constitution that has been temporarily suspended yet the constitutional declaration issued on July 8th 2013is just as bad. It steers clear of any articles concerning women's issues and their right to equality. I just received the following from an Egyptian women's NGO. 'In spite of the continuity of women's powerful participation in the protests of June 30 and their strong presence in different public spaces in governorates of Egypt, the majority of official discussions have witnessed a lack of women’s participation and have also failed to raise or address women's issues, despite the dense participation of women in protests that were called for by "Tamarud" or the "Rebel" movement as well as different political forces for example, since day one. This happened regardless of what women and girls paid as a price for their taking part in demonstrations and their gathering, particularly in Tahrir square, where they were exposed to the most violent sexual assaults, amid ferocious negligence from those responsible for calling for the demonstrations from parties and revolutionary groups. This is one of the main indicators in analyzing the vision of the authorities regarding the importance and the kind of participation of women in public life. We see that one of the most important forms of political equality that should be implemented immediately includes forming a gender-balanced government and to t embark on the next phase with expanded definitions and wider applications to the concept of women's participation in the political process, so that they become a part of the discussion and decision-making process, and to genuinely reflect the wide female participation on the popular level, on diverse political levels, instead of reducing women's participation in the political process to a symbolic gesture or some decorative criteria that needs to be met. Thus Nazra for Feminist Studies demands two things: First: Fair participation of women in decision-making positions throughout the next phase. As such, there is an urgent need in having various ministries headed by women professionals in different fields of the government, the formation of which is currently being discussed. In addition, women must participate in the committee for constitution amendments which would grant greater gender representation of women and their issues. Women must also take part in the efforts being made in restructuring the security apparatus and the judiciary; all of which are steps which should start as soon as possible. Second: Acknowledging and integrating women's political, social and economic issues in the transitional period in order to grant comprehensive understanding of women's reality in Egypt, as well as avoiding discussing women's issues individually, as if separated from wider societal interactions; listening to their demands as well as holding those who committed crimes against them accountable. -- Position Paper- 12 July 2013 Exclusion of Women in the Political Process and the Constitutional Declaration Should be Treated Immediately… Political Forces and those Leading the Transitional Period Need to Integrate Women in a Fair and Equitable Manner within the Roadmap of June 30 e. Nazra for Feminist Studies . نظرة للدراسات النسوية website . twitter . facebook -- To unsubscribe from Nazra Mailing List, please reply with “unsubscribe”.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Is Gezi Park Turkey's Tahrir Square? Women may be the weather-vane.

In May, Turkish women’s rights activist Efsa Kuraner e-mailed me from Istanbul, “Things are fast going down the plughole, it’s pretty depressing. The Islamic twist is becoming suffocating with how the Prime Minister keeps trying to cajole women to stay home and have 3-5 children. They are offering early retirement to women for having upwards of 3 kids..!! Divorce is frowned upon. Abortion is all but banned. Only there in name. I am afraid darker days are yet to come.” Her predictions were prescient. A peaceful protest by Istanbulites against plans to chop down ancient trees and transform the city's public park, Gezi Park, into a large shopping mall has erupted into a far wider protest. BBC reports say the unrest has spread to 60 cities and towns across Turkey, including the political capital Ankara and popular tourism centers of Bodrum, Konya and Izmir. In my travels around the world I have noted how attitudes towards women are a pretty accurate weather-vane indicating what is happening in the wider politics of a country. In visits to Turkey in the past three years I saw rising anxiety about razor-sharp divisions between the secular and those who want a society where women “breed” for their country and wear the hijab.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Margaret Thatcher. Women in Politics. Edward Heath. Sir Bernard Weatherill.


(CNN) -- When it came to promoting other women in politics, Margaret Thatcher was a disappointment. In fact, her main legacy for women was that she was a woman holding the position of prime minister for 11½ years.
My son was 5 years old when Thatcher first won election as prime minister, the first woman to do so. By the time she left office, he was a young man of 17. He didn't remember a country with a male prime minister.
Lesley Abdela
Lesley Abdela
As a feminist and women's rights campaigner who opposed many of Thatcher's policies, I am still trying to work out how I feel about her. As prime minister, Thatcher did almost nothing to promote women's rights actively, but at the same time, an entire generation grew up assuming it was normal to have a woman as prime minister. For my full article  go to :

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

International Women's Day - a record year for Women MPs according to the IPU - Quotas and PR electoral systems.


Lesley’s International Women’s Day Letter. 

There have been oodles of depressing news this past year for women so let me give you a few reasons to celebrate.

Good news! 2012 was  a year of higher than usual level of progress on women’s election to parliaments. I have been tracking and promoting women’s progress in parliaments globally for over 30 years because I am convinced this is the key to democratic transformation and to every aspect of progress for women’s rights and equality,  including addressing violence against women.  Progress never feels fast enough, but it is moving in the right direction.

According to a new Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) report, in   2012 the global average of women in parliaments rose to 20.3 per cent, up from 19.5 per cent in 2011. This is nearly double the usual annual rate of increase. 33 lower houses of parliaments and 17 upper houses reached the 30% threshold necessary for women parliamentarians to have an impact on decision-making. This is more than triple the number 10 years ago.

Countries  with the highest electoral gains for women MPs in 2012 elections? 

The three countries with the highest gains of women MPs in 2012 were:  Senegal (42.7% women MPs), Timor Leste (38.5%) Algeria  (31.6 %).  All three countries used legislated quotas for the first time.

Africa

The high percentage of women elected in Senegal, brought Africa’s regional average for women MPs up to 20.4 per cent. Sub-Saharan Africa now has four parliaments in the top ten world rankings of women in parliament. Senegal’s 2012 elections were the first to be held since the adoption of a gender parity law in 2010. It requires that all candidate lists for legislative, regional, municipal and rural elections comprise equal numbers of men and women candidates, with men’s and women’s names alternated. Non- compliance with the gender parity requirement disqualified parties from the electoral process. In addition to enforcing the law, the government and women’s organizations conducted a large-scale public awareness campaign and training sessions for women candidates.

In Sierra Leone, voters showed they were more progressive than the political parties.  According to the Media the 15 successful women scored the highest percentage of votes in the elections, beating all their male counterparts and illustrating that political parties may not be as supportive of women candidates as the electorate. The 10 parties had all agreed to seek more women candidates as part of a drive to increase the proportion of women lawmakers from less than 20 per cent in the outgoing parliament to at least 30 per cent, but the parties chose only 38 women out of their 586 candidates.

Arab countries

Algeria is the first and only Arab country to have more than 30% women in a region which  has so far failed to deliver on the promise of democratic change for women in the Arab Spring countries of Egypt and Libya and which continues to have the lowest regional average –13.2 per cent.  

Asia 

In Asia  too there were notable successes in women’s parliamentary representation. . Timor Leste (up 10.8 percentage points) and an increase of 9.6 percentage points in Mongolia.
Asia is the slow and steady tortoise in the race, but at least the figures are moving in the right direction. The regional average increased by 3 percentage points from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 17.9 percent in 2012.

Europe

Women made a few advances in Europe in 2012.  Due to quota legislation  the percentage of women in the Serbian parliament increased from 22% to 32.2% and in France from 19% to 27%.  European countries have made improvements over the past 10 years. The region now has an average of
23.2 per cent women MPs, up from 17.4 per cent in 2002.
The Americas
The Americas, have the highest regional average in the world. (24.1%,).  In 2012 a record number of women were elected in Mexico, El Salvador Jamaica and the United States of America (USA. ).  In Mexico the percentage of women elected leapt from 26% to 37%. The USA, where women now account for 18 per cent in the House of Representatives and 20 per cent in the Senate, saw an unprecedented number of women candidates. Nevertheless, the USA jumped only one place in world rankings from 78th to 77th in 2012.


Lessons identified? Quotas combined with a PR Electoral system,

IPU Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson says,

“Although quotas remain contentious in some parts of the world, they remain key to progress on a fundamental component of democracy - gender parity in political representation. There can be no claim to democracy without delivering on this.”

9 out of the top 10 countries with the highest increase in the number of women MPs in their lower house of parliament used quotas and had a proportional representation (PR)  electoral system.

7 out of the 9 lower houses of parliament with a decrease in women MPs did not use quotas.     Where no quotas were used, women took just 12 per cent of seats, well below the global average.

22 of the 48 countries holding elections last year used quotas. Where quotas had been legislated, women took 24%  of parliamentary seats; with voluntary quotas,  women they took 22% of seats.

Quotas need to be accompanied by sanctions for non-compliance and women candidates should be placed in winnable positions on party lists. Political commitment to including women’s parliamentary participation is also a must.

PR Electoral system

It is easier to use a quota system with a PR voting system than with a first past the post system. In addition PR delivered a much higher percentage of women MPs (25%) in 2012 than first-past-the-post (14%) or a mixture of the two systems (17.5%).

Statistics Source http://www.ipu.org/PDF/publications/WIP2012E.pdf



Sunday, February 03, 2013

Gay marriage. Heterosexual marriage in church is modern innovation

Re- the debate on Gay marriage. Heterosexual marriage in church is a comparatively modern innovation. According to a historian friend of mine marriage was mainly a business arrangement for dynastic and property reasons. People in medieval Britain didn't get married in Church: only the rich with property involved the church and a religious ceremony, but even then they had the ceremony  outside the actual church (a priest would marry them at the church door). Just thought you'd like to know!

Friday, February 01, 2013

UK takes action to prevent the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence as a weapon of war. First target countries: Syria, Mali, South Sudan, Eastern DRC and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


 I have waited over 25 years to hear a Foreign Secretary  declare prevention of violence against women in conflict is his top priority. UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague speaking at a Foreign Office reception this week to welcome those of us appointed to the Prevention of Sexual violence against women in conflict experts team said:
 “We have set ourselves a very practical goal in the United Kingdom: we want to use our diplomatic influence and resources to increase the number of perpetrators of sexual violence who are brought to justice, and to build up the legal and practical capability of other countries to tackle these crimes themselves. We have set ourselves a very practical goal in the United Kingdom: we want to use our diplomatic influence and resources to increase the number of perpetrators of sexual violence who are brought to justice, and to build up the legal and practical capability of other countries to tackle these crimes themselves. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is leading this new campaign, and we now have the first dedicated team of diplomats working full time here in the FCO on preventing sexual violence in conflict. 
At the heart of our campaign is the new UK Team of Experts which we can deploy to conflict-affected countries, gathered here in the Foreign Office tonight for the very first time.”


 Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative Team
The picture shows Foreign Secretary William Hague with members of the team of 73 experts made up of police officers, lawyers, psychologists, doctors, forensic experts, gender-based violence experts and experts in the care and protection of survivors and witnesses. (30 Jan 2013) Members of the team can be asked to go to conflict-affected countries to assist with investigations and prosecutions; to help with the care of victims and witnesses; and train local authorities. Each deployment will either support a UN mission; assist an NGO working on the ground; or be deployed at the request of the national authorities of that country. The experts will help local courts and prosecutors to address the backlog of war crimes cases and protect survivors and witnesses.

The Foreign Secretary said:
“The sad truth today is that the perpetrators of these appalling, life-shattering crimes still tend to go unpunished. Many hundreds of thousands of survivors live with the stigma, shame and burden, in many countries around the world. And their ranks are being added to all the time, including in Syria, where the number of refugees who have reported being raped is truly shocking.
This is a moral issue, because the individuals concerned have a right to justice and support, and because we must shift the stigma from the survivors of rape to the perpetrators. But it is also central to foreign policy, because sexual violence perpetuates division and conflict, undermining international peace and security.
We are determined to help shatter the culture of impunity for wartime rape, and to rally the world to do more to help survivors. We must overturn the age-old assumptions that rape is somehow an inevitable by-product of conflict; and confront its use in the same way that we have confronted slavery and are urgently seeking an International Arms Trade Treaty.
Syria, South Sudan, DRC, Bosnia-Herzegovina
We have already deployed part of the Team to Syria’s borders, to train local health professionals in how to respond to reports of sexual violence. We will expand this work this year, deploying a team again, in larger numbers, to help Syrian refugees and those working with them.
We will also deploy the Team of Experts to at least four other countries this year:
To Libya, to support survivors of sexual violence committed during the revolution; to South Sudan, to work with the UN and Government to strengthen local justice; to Eastern DRC to help doctors and lawyers investigate the cases of the hundreds of women and girls who are raped there each month; and to Bosnia-Herzegovina where thousands of women are still waiting for justice 20 years since the war. There, our experts will help local courts and prosecutors to address the backlog of war crimes cases and protect survivors and witnesses.
Responding to sexual violence needs to be built into every aspect of conflict prevention and peace-building work overseas, from development to peace-keeping.
Mali
So I can also announce today that we have offered members of the UK Team of Experts to the EU military training mission to Mali, to provide human rights training to the Malian armed forces on preventing and responding to sexual violence. This will be designed to enable them to better protect civilians and to act responsibly, particularly towards women.

G8
But we want the international community as a whole to do much more. So we aim to use the UK’s G8 Presidency this year to secure a clear statement of intent from some of the world’s most powerful nations to make real, tangible progress on this issue.
When I host the G8 Foreign Ministers in April here in London I will be asking for practical contributions of resources and capabilities, and support for a new International Protocol on the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict. This is my personal priority during the G8.”[1]

Next speech I want to hear?  Commitment to ensuring at least 40% participation of women on all peace talks and post conflict transitional governments!






[1] The G8, or "Group of Eight," consists of eight large world economic powers: CanadaFranceGermanyItalyJapanRussiaUnited KingdomUnited States The 39th G8 summit will be held in the  UK on 17th and 18th June 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Syria action briefing humanitarian crisis- what women say




I just received this Syria  briefing from Sanam Anderlini on the immediate humanitarian crisis. 
The information and recommendations were compiled by ICAN and were derived from 
consultations with Syrian civil society activists inside the country and in neighbouring countries. 

What the Women Say
Voices from Ground: Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis An Action Brief: Winter 2013
In recent months ICAN’s staff have held regular in-person and online consultations with Syrian civil society activists based inside the country or those who have recently left. They are providing relief and development support to refugees and IDPs. They speak of the humanitarian threats, security, political, economic and psycho-social challenges that people are facing and the emergence of a nascent but committed civil society. The international community must recognize their resilience, and aspirations for the future, and support their efforts to withstand the impact of war. Their work is a testament to the dignity and humanity of Syrians and provides a glimpse of a peaceful pluralistic Syria for which they are striving. This brief summarizes key priorities and recommendations on immediate humanitarian issues that must be addressed by the international community.

1.International aid is not getting through, Syrians have self-organized to provide relief, they need support:
Many Syrians are involved in organizing relief assistance inside and outside the country. They are working independently, with limited access to international funds, yet with access and human capacity to provide assistance (health, shelter, food, education etc) in creative and collaborative ways. They repeatedly state that international aid is not getting through. In some cases corrupt networks are diverting it. In other instances – particularly inside the country – there is insufficient allocation to key areas notably Aleppo and Homs. They mention that ‘overheads’ are taken such that far less aid reaches the most needy. Supporting Syrian NGOs directly has multiple benefits. They have the ability to make effective use of smaller grants (up to $100,000). With help they can reinforce their management and institutional capacities to ensure longer-term sustainability. They can develop additional skills and the sectoral expertise needed for the transition and recovery period. Syrian NGOs supported by the international community could be one means of countering the influence of extremists in the country.

2.The situation in Aleppo is dire and getting worse, but local NGOs can make a difference: Aleppo is facing a dire situation, made worse by the attacks on the university campus where many IDPs had sought shelter and refuge. Essential services are lacking and assistance is not getting through. There is fear of spikes in disease due to a sanitation crisis, death, illness and child mortality. Local health professionals have established a hospital to provide healthcare and are planning to establish basic ’health points’ to provide care. They are in desperate need of funds, medical supplies, medicines, vaccines and
insecticide to stop the mass outbreak of Leishmaniasis.1

3.Most refugees are not in the camps, and they are in legal and economic limbo: Across Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, only an estimated 20-30% of Syrian refugees are actually in the camps. The majority has sought temporary housing outside the camps, many in the border towns. In part this is due to the poor living conditions within the camps and the lack of safety.

1 Leishmaniasis is a parasitic infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female sand fly whose hosts are animals, such as dogs or rodents, or human beings. It is spreading in Aleppo due to sand flies breeding in uncollected trash. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/as- fighting-rages-in-aleppo-syrians-face-hunger-disease-and-little-hope-of-aid/2012/12/25/86ab74f0-4d37-11e2-835b-02f92c0daa43_story_1.html
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Legal Issues: Refugees outside the camps are in a state of legal limbo. They can neither return home nor register for refugee status and benefits. Those in Turkey often stay on a 3-month visitor visa, which forbids them from working or attending school. Since they are viewed as guests of the Turkish government they cannot register with UNHCR to repatriate to third countries. Their uncertain residency status generates much fear and insecurity.
Human trafficking including sexual exploitation: According to various reports, human trafficking is on the rise, especially for those who want to go to European countries. Entire families have been imprisoned for illegal entry into third countries. Reports indicate that young women and girls being bought by Saudis and others from the Arab Gulf states. Merchants are scouting camps in search of younger virgin girls aged between 14-15. Some women and girls are given promises of marriage and sent to other countries once they lose their virginity. Some are sent back to Turkey but they are ashamed to return to their families so they fall into prostitution. Child marriages are also becoming more prevalent (reports from camps in Jordan and Turkey) among poorer families. For girls’ families these marriages (often informal and unregistered) is justified as giving protection to their daughters (from sexual harassment in camps) but it is also a means of bringing money in and getting rid of an extra mouth to feed.
Economic: Syrians are unable to get work permits in Turkey or Jordan. Yet they are desperate to earn incomes and support their families. Joblessness among men is a key source of frustration, emasculation and leading to gender based violence. Those who find employment are vulnerable to exploitation (low pay etc) by their employers and have no legal recourse as they fear deportation if they report incidences to the police. Women heads of households face serious problems providing for their families.
Education: Most Syrian refugees have no access to education. Many children and university aged youth have lost up to 2 years of their education. Even when they register and pay for a class (rare as often they lack the appropriate identification papers) they receive no certificate upon completion. Language differences are also a challenge, especially in Turkey. To alleviate the situation, Syrians have tried to set up schools with support from western (Canada) and Gulf States. At least one religious school was set up. In Antab Syrians worked with the mayor to set up a school for 4 grades offering Turkish language.
4. Camp conditions vary between the countries but they are dire, especially in the IDP camps: There is a pervasive lack of basic necessities including food, blankets, adequate shelter and services such as basic health care, education and psycho-social support (Zaatari camp in Jordan is notable).
Physical Safety:
o Fear of sexual harassment and violence: In Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon refugees speak of the fear
of sexual harassment and violence in the camps. Anecdotally, the incidences involve the security and civilian camp personnel. The cramped living conditions are also giving rise to sexual abuse. In Jordan where Syrian refugees are more conservative and impoverished, there are anecdotal reports of early marriages of young girls to local Jordanians (to ‘protect’ them from sexual harassment).
o Pressures on men, burdens on women: For many of the men dependency on handouts is intolerable, so they refuse to seek help or collect the supplies. Women have to get the supplies. But for more conservative families, the public exposure of women is a challenge too. This is causing trauma and domestic violence. For widows it is particularly difficult and anecdotally some are opting to marry as the 2nd wife to get male protection. But this is creating new societal problems. Some women household heads and widows may go for days without food, because they do not feel comfortable and don’t have the skills to negotiate assistance.
DC Office: 1776 Massachusetts Ave NW, c/o Suite 100, Washington DC 20036 www.icanpeacework.org
New York Office: c/o of WEDO, 355 Lexington Avenue; 3rd fl, New York, NY 10017 www.gnwp.org
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o Political Fear: because there is a mix of people at camps, including members of the government security forces, political activists and those seeking asylum feel unsafe as they fear political infiltration and threats in the camps.
o Fear of local police and authorities (risk of harassment and deportation): Because of their precarious residency status fear of deportation and lack of police support, Syrians who are victims of crime or exploitation in host countries (Turkey, Jordan, Iraq etc), rarely report it to the authorities. In addition in Turkey since registration with the authorities limits their freedom of movement, many avoid doing so. But this also makes them more vulnerable.
  • √  Health: There is a profound lack of basic health care and other services. In one camp in Jordan, water pollution was so high (the color was red) that the refugees feared for their children’s wellbeing. Syrians in Turkey lack health insurance so in cases of serious illness (e.g. cancer) they either go untreated as they cannot afford treatment, or are forced to return back to Syria.

  • √  Restrictions on movement – impact on women and men. In camps there are restrictions on the movement of people. To leave the camps, Syrians need a guarantor who is a national of the host country. This creates a new form of exploitation as locals can extort money from the desperate Syrian refugees. Given traditional practices it is typically the men who are able to leave the camps. Women face even greater limitations on movement.

    5. IDP Camps (on the borders): The situation in the IDP camps is dire. Often run by the Free Syrian Army, they are at times subject to bombings and attacks. Atma Camp inside Syria – the last stop before Turkey –is a case in point. Overcrowding is a critical issue with some 17,000 refugees sharing just 1300 tents. There are virtually no toilet facilities (one bathroom for the women), so people have to use the fields. The tents are cold, small and there is a lack of basic necessities including food and blankets. There is no paving and the mud becomes unmanageable with rain and snow. There are no health services or school. Children have died because of the cold and accidental fires.

    Recommendations:
  1. End the legal limbo for Syrians: Change laws to allow for residency, work permit and access to health and educational services in host countries. Allow Syrians outside the camps to register for refugee status with UNHCR, access benefits and seek assistance for 3rd country settlement.
  2. Support media and community based programs to raise awareness about human trafficking & reducing the stigma of sexual violence: Through radio programs and outreach via Syrian NGOs and others to refugee populations (in/out of camps), raise awareness about the signs and risks of human trafficking (illegal immigrants, sex trafficking etc). Tackle the stigma of sexual violence to shift the shame away from victims, and provide them (and their families) with care and counseling.
  3. Fund & support activists and human rights defenders: These activists are critical to the struggle and to Syria’s future but are facing immense financial, legal and other challenges. In some instances they have been denied Syrian passports so they cannot travel. Set up special funds and mechanisms offering financial support, visas for medical treatment, respites and education to support human rights and civil society activists who face persecution or chronic illness. Germany for example has provided 5-year special visas to activists from other countries. The resources could be channeled through existing international NGOs supporting human rights defenders and civil/political activists.
  4. Work through Syrian civil society to ensure that IDP and refugee camp residents are involved in service provision and have access to the assistance. Set up male/female committees in camps to
page3image31192.
page3image336963. Monitor distribution of aid. Diversify implementing partners so that Syrian NGOs have direct access to international aid. Reach out through Syrian NGOs to determine humanitarian needs of communities inside the country. Syrian NGOs are cost effective, active and quick to respond. Funds could be passed through international NGOs working with Syrian partners or made directly available to Syrian NGOs.
  1. Host and neighboring countries should ease the way for Syrian NGOs to register and establish themselves in order to receive funds and support from the international community. This will also provide greater accountability and transparency. Currently many Syrian NGOs (especially those active inside the country) are in a state of limbo and uncertainty. They cannot register, and thus cannot open organizational bank accounts. Yet there is immense need for their services.

  2. Identify and work with Syrian civil society and professionals (lawyers, doctors, engineers, social workers, teachers etc) to provide the necessary care and assistance: Syrians do not want to become dependent on aid. They want help to help themselves. To sustain their resilience and social capital, the international community must identify Syrians to provide the basic services. Where organizations already exist (e.g. Aleppo, Homs, among refugee communities), they should channel resources to them.

  3. Allow Syrians to enter neighboring countries: The international community must support regional states in allowing Syrians fleeing the war to gain refuge outside their countries. The borders should not be closed. They should be opened and service provision increased.

  4. Improve camp infrastructure (in host countries and in Syria) and get refugees to do the work: Pave the areas around and inside the camps, replace tents with premade (prefab) rooms, build toilets, set up basic health and social service facilities.

  5. Support economic empowerment and employment generation projects for women and men including youth. Training (basic and more complex skills) for women (especially widows and female heads of household) who don’t have education is needed urgently. Male employment (building, infrastructural work) is also critical, to enable them to provide for their families, maintain dignity and reduce gender-based violence. Working in partnership with Syrian civil society and NGOs to implement these programs is key to building the capacity of local civil society and to ensuring the success of such programs. Some NGOs are providing this, but there is a need to upscale and diversify.
10. Set up medical centers to address war injuries including sexual violence in border areas: Kilis has seen an influx of injured Syrians, with no medical care. The Antab city hospital is already full, because the injured are being brought into the camps and the cities around. Medical services inside the camp and near borders are essential to treat the injured and those who get sick. Resources should be channeled to Syrian CSOs providing medical care inside the country.

11. Set up schools with Syrian NGOs and hire Syrian teachers: Draw on Syrian teachers, to provide education in these new schools and to teach in camps. Work with local Syrian NGOs in Syria or in border countries to set up schools and kindergartens at low cost ($30-$50,000). These should be schools that are registered and provide certifications for completion.

12. Scale up, support and set up psychosocial support centers working with NGOs: A number of small NGOs are providing psychosocial support to refugees and IDPs. They need resources to scale up their efforts. They also want to build their own capacities to tackle trauma (war-related, sexual trauma, children’s issues etc). Schools can serve as centers to provide these services. Increase opportunities for children to play and recover from trauma (build on existing programs).

Further information contact: Sanam Anderlini
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