Tag Archive | "Iraq"

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We Must Practice Real Relief for Refugees

Posted on 29 August 2015 by Jerry

We can use 2015 as a test of the world’s ability and willingness to help millions of refugees as we practice our preparation for displacement due to global warming. So far the world has failed to satisfactorily resettle and accept the displaced millions from the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and numerous other abandoned homelands.

United Nation’s statistics from the end of 2014 pegged the level of the world’s refugees at 59.5 million people. Of these 19.5 million were refugees that have actually left their home countries, 38.2 million who have been displaced from their homes and 1.8 million that have formally applied for asylum in another country.

The displaced Syrian citizens represent some 7.6 million people. This total is how many people and families have lost their homes.   At least 4.3 million of the 7.6 million were forced to leave the country as refugees.

A July 2015 article in the Guardian identifies “Turkey is now the largest refugee-hosting country in the world, sheltering 1,805,255 Syrians. Lebanon has taken in 1,172,735 Syrian refugees, Jordan 629,128, Iraq 249,726 and Egypt 132,375. About 24,055 Syrians are refugees elsewhere in North Africa. The latest UN figures do not include the more than 270,000 Syrians applying for asylum in Europe.”

We have forced the neighboring countries to keep their borders open.   They provide temporary shelter and sustenance for these refugees.  This allows everyone to avoid opening their doors and actually helping these people resettle in other countries. Various articles have identified limitations placed on refugees who are largely being held in refugee camps set up in the various counties.

For example, because Turkey offers sanctuary but no permanent residency all refugees cannot work legally in Turkey. In the EU there is a “Dublin” agreement that all asylum seekers must remain in their country of entry into the E.U.  This causes Italy, Greece and Bulgaria to complain about their status as the countries of entry and has caused much criticism of their treatment of asylum seekers.

Many who cross lightly protected or patrolled country borders to go onward to more prosperous European Union countries complain of repeatedly being “pushed back” into Turkey. These refugees have been caught by police and have been returned to Turkey. This has most often happened at the hands of Bulgarian border guards.

This issue is fluid and very topical at this moment because of the flood of refugees coming out of Syria and looking for access and safe passage to various countries in the E.U. Violence has erupted in Germany because the country expects to accept and resettle some 800,000 refugees this year.   This has proven to be very controversial amongst Germany’s citizens.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was heckled in the town of Heidenau, Germany.  She said that xenophobia would not be tolerated.  Merkel was quoted as saying in a speech to the crowd, “There is no tolerance for those who are not willing to help where legal and human help is required.  The more people who make that clear…the stronger we will be.”

Her speech did not silence the Prime Minister of Serbia who has said he will not close the borders of his country to refugees.  Many are crossing through Serbia to Hungary where they can enter the EU if they get past the fence that Hungary is building along its border.  Prime Minister Alexander Vucic of Serbia stated, “What we want to hear tomorrow from Chancellor Merkel…from Frederica Mogherini…is what is the plan?”  Merkel and Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, are meeting soon in Vienna at a conference of Balkan leaders.

Some countries point to the money they have sent to help the refugee camps being set up by the neighbors of Syria. This is most common in countries that refuse to take the actual refugees as new citizens.

The most representative examples of this are the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Kingdom has maintained a policy of keeping its borders closed to refugees seeking asylum. It keeps pointing to the over £500 million pounds it has sent to the region.

The U.S. has just announced, as reported by the National Public Radio, that it will allow 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in the U.S. in 2016. It has repeatedly mentioned the over $4 billion in humanitarian aid it has sent to aid refugee resettlement. These pronouncements are meant to shift the focus away from the less than 1,000 Syrians it has accepted this year. The U.N. has identified the resettlement of refugees in the U.S. in 2014 as 73,000 people. Most of these refugees did not come from Syria but were rather from Afghanistan.

All nations of the world should be using this exodus to test the resettlement procedures they plan to use when global warming results in the displacement of many more citizens. We should be putting expectations on countries that will need additional citizens to cope with favorable weather conditions that will cause their countries to prosper.

Many of these countries are not under any pressure to accept today’s refugees and they should be. Where are Canada and the Soviet Union? How may refugees have been resettled in their territories? The money presently being spent by the U.S., U.K., and others to give temporary shelter and sustenance to refugees in camps is being wasted when it could be spent to offer refugees what they are seeking.

Resettlement could be offered to those who agree to work on public projects to build new infrastructure in their adopted countries. Countries of the world should cooperate to rebuild, or in some cases build for the first time, infrastructure for their citizens. This infrastructure could help them cope with the negative results of global warming. Countries that do not want to accept immigrants should pay others for resettlement.

At the same time these people should be trained to assume a productive job when their work on public works projects is completed. These people want a new place to settle that offers them meaningful employment and the training necessary to support their new future in their adopted countries. This is what we should be spending our dollars on rather than temporary shelter that has to be paid for year in and year out.

Frankly, no country should want to keep refugees out of their sight. This only enables them to ignore the problem. Refugees cannot be ignored when hundred of millions, yes I said hundreds of millions, migrate to areas of the world to escape climate change and just to stay alive. There will not be enough money in the world to keep the problem contained.

Present estimates of country commitments to contain climate change still allow the world’s temperature to climb between three and four degrees. This will force hundreds of millions to flee the large desert areas that will be created in southern Europe.

I cannot imagine a world in which citizens will find acceptable the total numbers of deaths from starvation just beyond their closed borders. I am hoping that today’s handling of their devastation is not indicative of the help the world will offer. I expect countries will change leadership until they have leaders who are willing to play a larger role on the world stage. In short, I am an optimist who believes we will not let our fellow man down in their hour of greatest need.

If we continue to refuse to control climate change, we must prepare to accept millions of fleeing human beings. They will be the refugees of tomorrow testing the methods, practices and statements of intent we implement and give evidence of today.

Use the following links to obtain more information on this topic or access the source documents used to write this article.

http://news.yahoo.com/migrants-head-north-hungary-decries-humiliating-eu-policy-112329065.html

http://news.yahoo.com/hungarian-government-discussed-using-army-help-handle-migrants-071801926.html

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/09/syria-refugees-4-million-people-flee-crisis-deepens

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/13/syrian-refugee-catastrophe-european-union-united-nations

http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

http://syrianrefugees.eu/

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/lebanon/syria-refugee-in-lebanon-sets-herself-on-fire-at-un-centre-witnesses-1.1308797

http://borgenproject.org/worlds-top-5-largest-refugee-populations/

 

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Water: You Only Think About It If You Can’t Get Any

Posted on 10 October 2013 by Jerry

There is a discovery of five new water sources, aquifers, in the largely desert area of Kenya.  Estimates are these aquifers represent 17% of Kenya’s known water reserves or some 250 billion cubic meters of water.  Based on a breakthrough in satellite sensing technology this then must take care of Kenya and sets the stage for the rest of Africa.  Right? Not so fast.

The search, use, and ownership of the world’s drinkable water is controversial and an ever growing picture of profit in scarcity.  Water disputes abound and as businesses seek to portray that there is really no problem they can’t handle for a price, the problems continue to grow.

The issue with water in Kenya is not really its scarcity but rather the absence of access to it or its distribution.  The water that was discovered is buried deep underground, more than 100 meters down.  A water borehole for a community hand pump costs roughly $1,300 apiece.  Unfortunately it can only accommodate sources of water at less than 50 meters of depth in order to maintain an adequate flow rate.  The new sources of water are between 100 to 250 meters in depth which require a pump whose cost starts at $130,000 and goes up from there.

Unfortunately Kenya is identified as a “very poor country”, with a per capita annual income of around $1700, or between $1001 and $2000, as characterized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  This income level puts the average cost of a water pump beyond what is affordable for most towns and villages in Kenya.  Funds to make up the difference would have to come from international charities or loans to the government from the IMF or from businesses in exchange for ownership of the water sources.

The fact that affordable water is out of reach for poor areas does not stop business interests such as agriculture and government officials, corrupt and well meaning, from fighting with their neighbors for a bigger share of available water.  The following are three descriptions of the ongoing disputes between upstream and downstream nations over who gets how much water.  They are representative of many disputes that include those between India and Bangladesh, China and India, and Jordan and Israel.

  • Ethiopia and Sudan are upstream from Egypt.  All three are angling for a greater share of the water of the Nile and its contributing tributaries, the Blue Nile and White Nile.  Ethiopia is building the Grand Renaissance Dam that will become the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa generating more than 6,000 megawatts of power.  Egypt is afraid the mile long damn and the 74 billion cubic meter reservoir it creates will siphon off water necessary for Egypt.  Egypt, that receives almost no rainfall, depends on the Nile for 97% of its annual renewable water supply.
  • Pakistan is fighting its upstream neighbor to maintain its share of the Indus River system that carries Himalayan water from the mountain glacier valleys through India to Pakistan.  India, which has 40% of its people off any power grid, has been planning the construction of the Kishenganga Dam along with several others to produce hydroelectric power for India.  Even though there is a long standing treaty signed in 1960 that guarantees 80% of the Indus River system water for Pakistan, it fears its historic upstream rival will have concentrated its ability to shut off all water to Pakistan and its large agricultural region.
  • The Euphrates and Tigris rivers flow from the mountains of Turkey through Syria, Iraq and into the Persian Gulf.  Turkey has used the water from these and other rivers to build a large water and power infrastructure.  With running water to 85% of the Turkish homes it compares well to the 75% average among Middle Eastern countries.  It only uses 41% of its annual water flow and has constructed over 670 large dams and 650 small ones distributed among its 25 hydrological basins.   It has historically been very proprietary about its water resources.  This has caused unending friction with its separatist Kurdish region and with Syria and Iraq.  Both neighboring countries have long complained that Turkey is not adequately sharing its water resources.  These frictions continue today.

Last but not least, water is fueling growth for a burgeoning water industry.  While there are hundreds if not thousands, of small companies competing for a piece of the water pie, the market is dominated by international conglomerates.  Many people participate in making drinkable water available around the world but some of them are voicing fears of what the future may hold.

Maude Barlow, chairperson, of the Council of Canadians and a former senior advisor to the U.N. General Assembly has long been an advocate of citizen rights to water around the globe.  She recently warned that international business is calling for increased privatization of water with businesses taking over ownership and provision of water.

She quotes Nestles as saying that 1.5% of the world’s water should be set-aside for the poor and rest should be put on the open market.  A recent report published in IPS News quotes Ms. Barlow as stating that if Nestle and other businesses prevail “There will one day be a water cartel similar to big oil, making life and death decisions about who gets water and under what circumstances every day.”

The international conglomerates she is concerned about include Nestle, Coca Cola, Suez, and the Veolia Corporation.  Each of these is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that are actively lobbying around the world and leading the charge on privatization.  They offer cities, counties, and countries financing, infrastructure and other assistance with their water needs for a price.

There are some notable examples of how some of these companies have done business over the years.  Many politicians around the world were bribed to insure positive contract awards, regulatory rulings or active support for privatization.

It has often been said that water will someday be more valuable than oil.  Rising temperatures, shrinking glaciers, and rising seas are rapidly diminishing the supply of pure drinking water.  At the same time the world’s population is growing especially in developing countries, many of which have never had an abundance of water.

The long-term problem is one of appropriate management of the world’s water resources to insure it is distributed fairly to the world’s citizens.  This can only happen as long as water is a public good, available to everyone on a non discriminate basis.  This means there must be increasing aide from the developed world to make water more plentiful and available.

Privatization is not the answer.  Putting water resources in the hands of businesses that are driven by the profit motive only insures continued waste by wealthy nations and greater poverty and thirst in the developing world.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or look at source documents:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6152/1327.summary?sid=aa310592-8263-463b-915f-7105f05eb01d

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-16/new-water-sources-wont-quench-the-worlds-thirst

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/20/us-africa-water-idUSBRE83J0W520120420

http://www.ibtimes.com/egypt-ethiopia-water-dispute-threatens-nations-1324189

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/06/world/la-fg-egypt-ethiopia-20130607

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/world/asia/21kashmir.html

http://www.merip.org/mer/mer254/turkeys-rivers-dispute

http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/02/u-n-s-water-agenda-at-risk-of-being-hijacked-by-big-business/

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/29/local/me-privatewater29

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-13/south-americans-face-upheaval-in-deadly-water-battles.html

http://www.publicintegrity.org/environment/natural-resources/water-barons

http://www.veolia.com

http://www.nestle.com

Phttp://www.suez-environnement.com

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