Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, September 2015
Thousands of Refugees Reach Europe But Millions Killed, Injured, Displaced Back Home By NATO Strikes
September 14, 2015
Refugees from the three countries devastated by NATO air strikes, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, swarming Europe, heading to Germany, which has welcomed them so far as the country with the strongest European economy. These are the lucky ones who could make it to Europe. Millions back home were killed, injured, or displaced as refugees inside and outside their countries.
Ten refugees drown off Farmakonissi island, dozens rescued as boat sinks
ATHENS, Sept. 13, 2015 (Xinhua) --
Ten refugees and migrants, among them a child, drowned on Sunday off the coast of the Aegean Sea island of Farmakonissi, according to the Greek Coast Guard.
Dozens were rescued after the sinking of a boat that was transferring them to Greece and an unclear number of people are still missing.
Approximately 100 persons were on board the dinghy that had left Turkey for the Greek islands according to survivors. Sixty eight passengers were rescued by the Greek Coast Guard after the boat sank under still undetermined circumstances.
The Greek Coast Guard has so far retrieved the dead bodies of ten victims, while a rescue operation was still underway for an unclear number of missing people.
The new tragedy occurred as the Greek caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou was visiting Aegean Sea islands which have received unprecedented waves of undocumented migrants and refugees this year, pledging the creation of more reception centers.
According to the latest official estimates more than 230,000 refugees and migrants have reached Greece's shores from the start of 2015. Eight out of ten were Syrian fleeing the war.
More than 2,700 people have perished in the sea during their attempt in the Mediterranean this year.
Germany re-imposes border controls to slow migrant arrivals
By Michelle Martin and Alastair Macdonald
BERLIN/BRUSSELS | Reuters --
Germany re-imposed border controls on Sunday after Europe's most powerful nation acknowledged it could scarcely cope with thousands of asylum seekers arriving every day.
A day before deeply divided European Union ministers tackle the migrant crisis, the U.N. refugee agency also called on every member state to take in a share of asylum-seekers under a Brussels plan which some countries are fiercely resisting.
Berlin announced that the temporary measure would be taken first on the southern frontier with Austria, where migrant arrivals have soared since Chancellor Angela Merkel effectively opened German borders to refugees a week ago.
"The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country," said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
Open borders among the European countries which signed the Schengen Treaty are a crucial part of the EU project, but controls can be re-introduced, provided they are only temporary.
"The free movement of people under Schengen is a unique symbol of European integration," the EU's executive Commission said in a statement. "However, the other side of the coin is a better joint management of our external borders and more solidarity in coping with the refugee crisis."
At an emergency meeting on Monday, interior ministers from the EU's 28 member states will discuss Commission proposals to redistribute about 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc.
"We need swift progress on the Commission's proposals now," the Commission said in a statement issued as tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa made their way north.
EU envoys meeting on Sunday evening in Brussels failed to break the deadlock, with some eastern states still refusing to accept binding quotas of refugees. They argue the plan will draw more people to Europe and disrupt their homogeneous societies.
Amid the political bickering among European governments, the crisis claimed yet more lives. On Sunday 34 refugees, almost half of them babies and children, drowned off a Greek island when their boat sank, the coast guard said.
LIMIT OF ABILITY
Germany, Europe's largest and richest economy, has become a magnet for migrants making journeys by sea and land, often via Turkey and the Greek islands, and then onwards through the Balkans, Hungary and Austria. Police said around 13,000 arrived in the southern German city of Munich alone on Saturday, and another 3,000 on Sunday morning.
Now Germany has joined smaller and poorer countries such as Greece and Hungary that are struggling to manage the huge flow of desperate people.
As trains for Germany were stopped, groups of refugees and migrants camped out in an underground carpark in the Austrian city of Salzburg, near the border. Traffic backed up along one of the highways between the two countries.
Austrian news agency APA quoted Chancellor Werner Faymann as saying that Vienna would not introduce additional border controls for now but that the effect of Germany's decision on Austria was hard to predict.
Trains from Austria to Germany would be stopped until 5:00 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Monday, the interior minister of the state of Bavaria said. A Reuters photographer also saw a German police checkpoint on one of the Austrian roads into Germany.
German police on the border with Austria said they had detained 22 smugglers since Berlin implemented border controls. Forty-four migrants also were rounded up and taken by bus to registration centers, a police spokesman said.
Germany made clear it wanted EU partners to share the burden of welcoming thousands of refugees.
"It's true: the European lack of action in the refugee crisis is now pushing even Germany to the limit of its ability," Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also vice-chancellor, told the website of Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.
With large numbers of migrants stuck in squalid and chaotic conditions on European borders, or trudging along the side of motorways, Merkel last weekend stopped enforcing the EU's "Dublin" rules under which asylum seekers should register in whichever member state they first arrive in.
De Maiziere defended Merkel's decision but insisted the Dublin rules were still valid. "We need to quickly return to orderly procedures now," he added. "We can't allow refugees to freely choose where they want to stay - that's not the case anywhere in the world."
Most asylum seekers are refusing to stay in the poorer southern European countries where they arrive, such as Greece, and are instead making their way to Germany or Sweden where they anticipate a warmer welcome. Many Germans have greeted the arrivals with cheers and volunteers are flooding in to help.
CENTRAL EUROPE WARYCentral European countries are hostile to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's plan for spreading refugees around the bloc, and reject any suggestion of compulsory quotas.
"We are helping, we are ready to help, but on a voluntary basis," Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday. "The quotas won’t work."
In neighboring Slovakia, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said he would try to block quotas. "They don't make any sense ... and don't solve the crisis in any way," he said in a TV interview.
Poland said it might accept more migrants, but only if the EU secures its external borders; separates those who need help from economic migrants; and allows Warsaw a say in screening them from the point of security.
Meanwhile, the migrants continued to risk all on their journeys. The Greek coastguard said the 34 drowned off the island of Farmakonisi, almost certainly the largest death toll in those waters since the migrant crisis began.
In the space of 90 minutes, a Reuters photographer saw 10 dinghies packed with refugees arriving from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Further up the refugee route, 8,500 migrants entered Macedonia from Greece between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, the UNHCR said.
Hungarian state TV M1 reported that 8,000 to 10,000 migrants had crossed into Austria at Hegyeshalom by 6 p.m. and several thousand more were expected by the end of the day.
(Additional reporting by Jens Hack, Michael Shields, Tom Miles, Michele Kambas, Robert Muller, Bardh Krasniqi Alkis Konstantinidis, Francois Murphy, Sandor Peto, Marcin Goettig, Tatiana Jancarikova and Michael Dalder; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by William Hardy, Dominic Evans and Paul Simao)
British new Labour leader calls on gov't to help refugees
LONDON, Sept. 12, 2015 (Xinhua) --
Jeremy Corbyn, new leader of British Labour Party, on Saturday joined thousands of people in central London for a rally in support of refugees, just hours after he won the election.
According to local media reports, the Solidarity with Refugees event on Saturday started at Park Line and proceeded to Downing Street.
Politicians, public figures, celebrities and activists joined the crowd, giving speeches in the Parliament Square.
Corbyn said in his acceptance speech that "the UK should respond with humanity, support and compassion... We must recognise that going to war creates a legacy of bitterness and problems. Let us be a force for change, humanity and peace in the world. We are one world."
In this afternoon, supporters of Corbyn also joined the event, waving banners of "refugees welcome" and other supporting messages.
Later in the speech in the Parliament Square, Corbyn urged British government to "recognise your obligations to help people which you're required to do by law, that would be good."
"Open your hearts and open your minds and open your attitude towards supporting people who are desperate, who need somewhere safe to live, want to contribute to our society, and are human beings just like all of us. Together in peace, together in justice, together in humanity, that surely must be our way forward," he said.
He said the refugees trying to flee to Britain were victims of wars, environmental degradation, poverty and human rights abuses. While the reason he joined the rally because "we are all humans, we all have a sense of decency, and humanity and reaching out to others."
British Prime Minister on Monday announced that Britain will accept 20,000 Syria refugees by 2020. However, comparing with the number of refugees expecting to be received by Germany, the action was criticized too "slim" by people from all walks of life.
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