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Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Syria’s forgotten sanitation crisis

Posted by African Press International on July 7, 2013

A baby plays in a tub of water at Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan

DUBAI,  – Bombs, clashes and airstrikes have killed at least 92,000 in Syria, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. But millions of people – and more still across the region – are at risk due to something much less discussed: sanitation.

Summer heat, shortages of clean water, a crumbling health system, breakdowns in waste management services, and overcrowded conditions in common shelters have led to a rise in potentially life-threatening diseases.

As summer temperatures rise, poor hygiene and sanitation are an increasing concern. The World Health Organization wrote last month: “outbreaks are inevitable.”

Up to 8,000 Syrians leave every day, often for overcrowded camps in neighbouring countries. The scale of population movement means that the threat is not just confined to Syria. Already, diseases have appeared in Turkey and Jordan that had not been seen for years, if not decades, before the Syrian crisis.

“The international community must now seriously view the ever worsening humanitarian and health situation as a threat to regional security and their own national interests,” public health doctors Adam Coutts and Fouad M. Fouad wrote in The Lancet medical journal on 29 June.

ha/cb source



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A day in the life of a family hosting Syrian refugees

Posted by African Press International on May 26, 2013

SAADNAYEL, BEKAA VALLEY,  – Two years ago, as Syrian refugees began streaming across borders, Lebanese families opened up their homes. Unlike in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of refugees are being housed in camps, at the beginning of the influx into Lebanon, the majority of refugees were hosted by families. Some Lebanese households to ok in as many as six refugee families.

But as the conflict next-door has dragged on and the number of refugees in Lebanon has grown, so too has the burden on their Lebanese hosts.Today, most of the 425,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon are renting homes or apartments; with only 6 percent hosted by families, according to a survey by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).IRIN spent a day with some Lebanese hosts, bringing you this portrait of a family trying to balance obligation and sacrifice.

It was a series of twists of fate
that brought together two families – one Lebanese, one Syrian – that did not know one another.They met 15 years ago in a shared cab on the way to Syria, where the Lebanese family often shopped for cheaper products. Becoming friends, they met once or twice a year in Syria after that.

When Israel began bombing Lebanon in 2006, as part of a war with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Lebanese family fled to Syria, where their new acquaintances hosted them for one month.

Six years later, the tables were turned.

On a sunny Thursday morning, Hannan is preparing a simple Lebanese breakfast of bread and vegetables for guests in the small Sunni village of Saadanayel, in Lebanon’s eastern Beka’a Valley.

Houda, 7, Bassima, 14, and their grandparents Sadika and Mohammad are seated on the floor of the living room, preparing to eat.

Hannan has been hosting the family of seven Syrian refugees in her humble two-bedroom house for the last five months. The children’s parents, Fadia and Houssam, have been out since early morning, like every day, searching for jobs in the surrounding cities of the Beka’a Valley. Their third child, 10-year-old Kamal, is out fetching water.

When their neighbourhood near the Syrian capital Damascus was bombed in December 2012, Fadia and Houssam called the only people they knew in Lebanon, and Hannan immediately responded.

“It’s a pity. They had nowhere to go,” she said. “I couldn’t say no. It would have been an offence against God not to help them.”

Hannan’s husband has a second wife, and only sleeps at the house every other day. Their five grown children do not live at home any more. So Hannan gave up her bedroom for the young Syrian couple, and is now sharing the second room with the grandparents and three children.

She spends her morning with the grandparents, interrupting their chit-chat every five minutes to take laundry off the clothesline, prepare coffee, garden, and watch over the refugee children playing in the field next door (They arrived in Lebanon too late in the year to enrol in school).

Everyone helps out with the household tasks, even Sadika, who has arthritis and leg pains. Fadia helps with the cooking and cleaning when she gets home from the job search. But as far as Hannan is concerned, that’s the easy part.

“I am used to cooking a lot of food for my visitors, so I don’t mind cooking for 10 people. It is not the logistical side which is difficult. It is the financial side,” she whispers. “We are struggling to get enough food for everyone.”

The Syrian family has run out of money, so she, her husband and her seven guests live off the little money her husband gets from his pension, from their rented out horse pen, and from the garlic they grow in the backyard, which they trade for other vegetables.

They have cut back on meat almost completely and Hannan and her husband no longer buy new clothes or things for the house.

“I don’t want to tell them that it’s difficult, because I fear God,” Hannan says. “In 2006 when I stayed at their place it was different. I was staying with the grandparents, and it was only for a month.”

Around midday, the visitors begin stopping by. First it is the neighbours; then shisha-smoking friends of Hannan’s son, some of them Lebanese soldiers; then her own friends. They pass the time under the shadows of trees in the garden. The coffee is always flowing. The visits do not stop until late afternoon.

They chat about everything and nothing, and when the discussion turns towards the situation in Syria, Hannan springs out of her seat, and disappears into the house, finding a new task to keep busy. She doesn’t say so, but the discussions appear to make her uncomfortable. At the very least, she’s tired of it. “They spend all day talking about Syria,” she says.

At 2pm, the school bus drops off the neighbours’ children, who join the Syrian children chasing each other around the field. Shortly after their arrival, Fadia returns from hours of job-hunting. She cannot afford to take the bus every day, so sometimes she walks for kilometres.

She checks on her children, then immediately turns to helping Hannan with the daily tasks. She doesn’t get very far before a new visitor arrives.

A local representative from the Sunni political party Future Movement has stopped by. (He sometimes distributes food vouchers to the Syrian refugees, but he does not have any with him this time).

“They’re lucky to have found a host family,” Anouar Choubasse says. “A lot of Syrian refugees have nothing, not even a roof.”

Fadia is a little surprised by his arrival and keeps her distance. She has tried to keep her family’s presence as discrete as possible – potentially for fear of the growing resentment towards the refugees in Lebanon. She never shares her opinions about politics.

“Saadnayel has always been a [hospitable] community,” says Choubasse. “But now, I can feel the racism growing. A lot of Lebanese people are in a difficult situation and don’t get any help. It’s not as bad [here] as in certain villages, where they imposed curfews on the Syrians. But people are losing patience.”

This Lebanese host family appears to be no exception.

His wife may fear God, but Hannan’s husband Ali does not hesitate to speak openly when he comes home later in the afternoon.

“When I sleep here, I have to sleep on the couch in the living room. I want to sleep in the same bed as my wife again. If the situation lasts for more than two more months, I will set up the family in a tent in the garden. If they will be staying for the long term, I will build a permanent structure for them.”

He pauses to consider.

“Of course we need to help them,” he goes on. “As the Arabic saying goes: ‘If someone is good to you, be twice as good to them’. But we need our intimacy at some point.”

By 4.30pm, the visitors begin trickling out. The Syrian father, Houssam, is still not home. His wife hopes his delay means he has found a job.

While Mohammad, the grandfather, takes a nap in the living room, Fadia and Hannan have lunch together. To accommodate the constant stream of visitors, they have to eat in two shifts. Today, the women eat first. They usually mix with the men, but this change of circumstances makes them laugh. “In the old Damascene tradition, the men ate before the women,” Fadia says. “Now it’s the opposite.”

Whereas both Fadia and Hannan seemed uncomfortable with some of the visitors talking politics, the atmosphere during lunch is much more relaxed.

Houssam eventually returns, still jobless. He is frustrated, but does not show it.

“I have been looking for a job for five months now and haven’t found anything,” he says. “There is too much unemployment in the area and they hire the Lebanese before hiring Syrians… I could take any job, as long as it’s not too physical because I have heart problems,” he adds.

They chit-chat together on the front porch until the sun sets.

At night, they watch a drama series – careful to turn on the TV only after the news is over. Hannan tries to distract them with happier thoughts.

“We don’t want to follow what is happening in Syria,” she explains. “It is too emotional for the Syrian family to talk about it. When you host a Syrian family, you have to be careful and subtle about the topics you talk about. You also have to be really patient.” And apparently, you also have to have a lot of coffee.

ar/ha/cb source


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Aid drops as rich nations struggle

Posted by African Press International on April 6, 2013

NAIROBI,  – Official Development Assistance (ODA) has continued to fall as wealthy countries battle an ongoing global financial crisis and a struggling Eurozone, accordin g to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) latest report. Aid decreased by 4 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, which had already experienced a 2 percent decline on the previous year, the report found. 

This is the first time since 1996-1997 that aid has fallen in two successive years.

Most assistance – approximately US$125.6 billion in 2012 – still comes from members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), but emerging donors such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are becoming increasingly important to humanitarian aid.

Below are some of the key ODA trends from recent years:

Big donors still key – The G7 countries provided 70 percent of total net DAC ODA in 2012, with DAC-EU countries contributing 51 percent. ODA rose in nine countries, with the highest jumps coming from Australia, Austria, Iceland, Korea and Luxembourg. Fifteen countries recorded drops, with those worst-affected by the Eurozone crisis – Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal – making the biggest cuts.

The largest DAC donors were the US, the UK, Germany, France and Japan. A number of countries gave significant portions of their gross national income (GNI) as ODA, with Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands contributing over the “0.7 percent of GNI” target first committed by wealthy nations in 1970 and reaffirmed several times since. The UK recently confirmed that it would spend 0.7 percent of its new budget on international development. On average, however, in 2012 DAC countries spent 0.43 of their GNI on aid.

DAC countries feeling the pinch – A number of the world’s biggest donors are suffering internal economic crises that have affected their ODA spending; Japan, Spain and Greece saw negative growth while the US saw growth of under 2 percent in 2011, and the UK’s GDP rose by less than one percent.

Non-traditional donors on the rise – Contributions from emerging donor nations are becoming increasingly important to global aid, especially as traditional donors struggle with economic crises at home. In 2011, Saudi Arabia contributed over $5 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2007, while Turkey more than doubled its ODA in the same period, reaching $1.27 billion in 2011. According to the OECD, development assistance from non-DAC countries exceeded individual DAC country contributions. For instance, in 2010, “Saudi Arabia provided $3.48 billion in gross ODA, exceeding the gross ODA volumes of 12 of the 23 DAC countries. In the same year, China provided an estimated $2 billion in gross ODA, and Turkey $967.4 million”.

Non-traditional donors offer an alternative source of development finance for poor countries, sometimes setting up their own development initiatives – such as the India-Brazil-South Africa Trilateral – separate from the OECD.

Increased humanitarian aid – Twenty years ago, contributions for humanitarian aid made up 3.3 percent of total bilateral commitments from DAC countries, with other commitments going to other forms of assistance, such as economic or administrative aid. Today, humanitarian aid makes up 8.6 percent of these commitments. The highest aid contributions by DAC countries are to social and administrative infrastructure such as education and healthcare – an estimated 39 percent – while economic infrastructure like transport, agriculture and mining received 16.2 percent of DAC ODA.

Different donors tend to prioritize different sectors – Luxembourg spent over 18 percent of its aid on humanitarian needs and 0.1 percent on economic infrastructure, compared to South Korea, which spent 1.3 percent on humanitarian aid and 42.8 percent on administrative infrastructure. The US and European Union institutions, meanwhile, spent over 6 percent of their total assistance on food aid.

OECD statistics show that aid for bilateral projects rose by 2 percent, while aid to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and UN agencies fell by 7.1 percent.

A geographical shift in aid – The past five years have seen a decrease in aid to sub-Saharan Africa – the world’s poorest region and traditionally the largest beneficiary of ODA – going from 47.8 percent of total DAC and multilateral aid in 2005/2006 to 41.8 percent in 2010/2011. Aid to South and Central Asia rose from 11.5 percent to 19.8 percent over the same period. The Middles East and North Africa also saw a drop of 9 percent between 2005/2006 and 2010/2011, while Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean all witnessed increases in aid.

kr/rz source

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