News from a World gone mad

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The ESA Is Launching A New Mars Mission TODAY – Watch It Live

March 14, 2016 | by Jonathan O’Callaghan

photo credit: Artist’s impression of the spacecraft in orbit. ESA/ATG medialab

The first part of a joint European-Russian mission to Mars successfully launched today at 5.31 a.m. EST (9.31 a.m. GMT), and will arrive at Mars on October 19. The hugely exciting mission, called ExoMars, will ultimately be one of the most advanced searches for life on the Red Planet yet.

The launch took place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Russian Proton rocket. On board are two components of the ExoMars mission – the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the ambitious Schiaparelli lander. The second part of the mission, which will include a rover to hunt for signs of life on Mars, is scheduled to launch in 2018.

“We are both proud and excited to have met the challenge of delivering ExoMars on time for its ‘rendez-vous’ with the Red Planet,” said Walter Cugno, ExoMars program director, in a statement.

full post at IFLScience

Greece/Macedonia: Asylum Seekers Trapped at Border

Blocked Access to Asylum; Beatings by Soldiers; Poor Conditions

 Two young Iranian sisters at the Idomeni border crossing between Greece and Macedonia.  January 26, 2016.

(Brussels) – Nationality-based restrictions at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are preventing asylum seekers from reaching countries where they want to lodge protection claims.

Human Rights Watch witnessed dozens of returns from Macedonia to Greece at the Idomeni border crossing during a three-day visit in late January 2016. The people are returned to a border area with poor conditions, instead of a well-equipped transit camp set up by aid agencies. Unable to proceed legally, people are increasingly trying to cross the border informally, where they face violence from Macedonian guards. And criminal human smuggling rings are taking advantage of the migrants and asylum seekers trapped in Greece at the border and are committing abuses against them, Human Rights Watch said.

“The failure of the European Union to tackle the refugee crisis fairly and responsibly has led to cascading restrictions at borders, with asylum seekers and migrants facing greater risks of abuse and exploitation,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “Desperate people who are the wrong nationality are being denied the right to move on, beaten by border guards if they try to cross, and preyed upon by smugglers.” Greek authorities will not allow asylum seekers to cross into the no-man’s land to reach the Macedonia border post unless they are Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans who express the intention to seek asylum in Germany or Austria.

full story at:Human Rights Watch

Rough seas, harsh winter, border limits add to migrant woes

Macedonia Migrants

PRESEVO, Serbia (AP) — Rasul Orwani thought he had faced the worst after braving cold, rough seas in a rickety wooden boat to travel from Turkey to Greece, then came the Balkans.

After arriving in Macedonia with dozens of other migrants, the group crossed into Serbia on foot in the middle of the night, icy snow stinging their eyes and lacing the children’s faces with tears.

Their heads bent low to protect from the cold, the migrants trudged slowly through the snow, carrying babies, small children and belongings along the 2-kilometer (1.2 mile) stretch of the road over the so-called green boundary between the two Balkan nations. A 10-year-old boy took a blanket from his shoulders to wrap it around his younger sister as they walked across the frozen landscape hand in hand.

Even as winter bears down on Europe and European Union countries set up new administrative hurdles for their entry, tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have been desperate enough to embark on the weeks-long journey across the Aegean Sea and along the so-called Balkan migrant corridor where frigid weather and stricter border controls have turned an already tough journey into an even more treacherous one.

Safe in the Serbian town of Presevo on the border with Macedonia, Orwani said there was no turning back.

“Our trip is very dangerous and risky,” the 20-year-old Orwani said. “We crossed the sea, we were in a boat, and the waves in the sea could easily sink us in the water.”

While Europe took in more than 1 million people in 2015, EU countries have been struggling to limit the biggest migration to the continent since World War II. Some countries along the migrant route have said they want to slow the influx or even completely block it. Some of the nations imposed new, stricter regulations for those transiting toward their ultimate goal, Germany or other rich west European countries.

As a result, dozens of refugees have been turned back from the borders amid freezing winter temperatures, while others have faced border closures and long hours in registration centers and refugee camps. Experts say the measures are unlikely to stop the flow, but could instead prompt the refugees to again start using illegal routes over razor-wire border fences and through forests, pushing them into the hands of ruthless smugglers.

full story at AP









Hans IslandFar in the Arctic North lies the barren and desolate Hans Island.

The uninhabited half-square-mile island, possessing no apparent natural resources, is a bizarre sliver of territory for two countries to fight over.

However, since the early 1930s, this nondescript rock has been at the center of an ongoing disagreement between Canada and Denmark.

According to World Atlas, Hans Island is located in the middle of the 22-mile wide Nares Strait, which separates Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, from Canada. Due to international law, all countries have the right to claim territory within 12 miles of their shore.

As such, Hans Island is technically located in both Danish and Canadian waters. World Atlas notes that the island was decided to be Danish territory by the Permanent Court of International Justice of the League of Nations in 1933.

However, as the League of Nations fell apart in the 1930s and was then replaced by the United Nations, the ruling on the status of Hans Island carries little to no weight.

The issue of Hans Island then loss traction in popular consciousness and the concerns of the Canadian and Danish governments throughout World War II and the heights of the Cold War, only to reemerge in 1984.

full story at Business Insider UK







Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron © Francois Lenoir

Prime Minister David Cameron’s response to the refugee and migrant crisis engulfing Europe has been “too slow” and “clearly inadequate,” 27 leading charities have said in a joint statement.

The group of charities, including Oxfam and Amnesty International, called on the UK to take a proportionate share of refugees.

They urged the Conservative Party leader to show a “new resolve” to deal with the crisis, during the course of which almost 4,000 refugees died in 2015.

Last year’s announcement that the UK will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years was a welcome first step,” said the letter, which was coordinated by the British Refugee Council.

But given the numbers of people searching for safety across the globe, this response is clearly inadequate: it is too slow, too low and too narrow.”

The charities said the UK can and should be doing “much more” to ensure refugees are not “compelled to take life-threatening journeys or forced into smugglers’ hands.”

Commenting on the crisis, the Refugee Council said there are “no easy answers” to a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude.

However, the solution must not be to spend another year impassively watching on while desperate people drown or are forced to endure a march of misery across the continent as they try to find a safe haven or to be reunited with their loved ones,” its spokesperson told BBC News.

This year the prime minister must open his heart and show true statesmanship by welcoming far more refugees to the UK, enabling them to travel here safely and legally to live lives free from violence, tyranny and oppression,” they added.

Insisting the UK has worked its hardest to tackle the migrant crisis, a government spokesperson said: “The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those who genuinely need our protection, with each claim for asylum judged on its individual merits.

The terrible images we have seen in the last year have moved us all, strengthening our resolve to help prevent more people suffering such a fate.

That is why we are resettling people directly from the countries neighboring Syria, to which so many refugees have fled, and we have already met our target of welcoming 1,000 of the most vulnerable before Christmas.”

The UK government is providing “life-saving aid to those most in need, both in and around Syria and in Europe,” the spokesperson added, talking on customary condition of anonymity.










My family went to Sweden, I chose India where I felt more accepted: A Syrian refugee

Syrian refugee, 32 (Delhi)

Fled the war-torn country this year and works as Arabic translator in hospitals

A few kilometres away from its DDA houses and across the subzi-mandi in South Delhi’s Sarita Vihar, a narrow lane lined with ‘Forex money exchange’ shops and vendors selling ‘green olives’ leads to a four-storey guest house. The 32-year-old can be often found on its terrace. Here, for the past four years, an “underground” Syrian restaurant has been turning out dishes from back home — syrup-soaked baklavas, pita bread and fresh hummus.

The 32-year-old first came to India from Homs, a city in western Syria, in 2011, when he enrolled for a Masters in English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi.

He is back here as a refugee — one among the six million Syrians on the run from civil war and Islamic State-unleashed violence. Homs was at the centre of that violence, declared by the rebels as their capital before they were chased out.

In 2013, the 32-year-old and his family — father an engineer, mother an Arabic teacher, and his three siblings — first left for Turkey as “we didn’t feel safe”. “We felt unsettled in Turkey and so decided to move to Europe, like the others,” he says. But when the rest of his family left for Sweden, he came to India — a country where he felt more “accepted”.

In August this year, he officially got “refugee status” from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Still, he no longer trusts strangers, and so refuses to be named or even meet face-to-face.

He stays in Jamia Nagar near Sarita Vihar, like he did during his student days, and makes about Rs 15,000-20,000 a month as an Arabic translator at city hospitals, he tells over the phone. Sometimes he takes private tuitions. Sarita Vihar has scores of guest-houses with people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc, some seeking asylum, others looking for affordable medical treatment. Read the full story at the

The Indian Express

Turkey abuses refugees, deports them back to warzones – Amnesty

© Denizhan Guzel

The Turkish government has been rounding up refugees and transporting them to detention centers where they are abused and mistreated, according to Amnesty International. From there, many are deported back to “warzones” in Iraq and Syria.

In a Wednesday report titled ‘Europe’s Gatekeeper,’ Amnesty alleges that Turkey has been “herding scores – possibly hundreds – of refugees and asylum-seekers onto buses” and transporting them “more than 1,000 kilometers to isolated detention centers where they have been held incommunicado,” the organization said in a press release.

It goes on to cite refugees who claim they were beaten and shackled for days before being sent back to the same countries they had fled.

full article at RT










Photos of Radical Protesters Shutting Down London’s Eurostar Terminal in Solidarity with Refugees October 19, 2015 by Michael Segalov, Photos: Chris Bethell

The whole article and a lot more pictures at Vice

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