AYS DAILY DIGEST 24/2/2018: U.N. Security Council votes on a ceasefire in three Syrian districts
Around 500 people died in East-Ghouta last week / People with second rejection on Chios struggle to get legal support / Open letters from detainees in Greece and the UK / Italian province Caserta uses confiscated Mafia houses to accommodate people in need / Ireland welcomes 50 people from Greece / Help needed in France
All 15 members of the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously for a 30-day ceasefire in besieged East Ghouta today for a “durable humanitarian pause”. Urged by Kuwait and Sweden, the Council expressed outrage “at the unacceptable levels of violence escalating in several parts of the country, in particular in the Idlib Governorate and Eastern Ghouta but also Damascus City, including the shelling of diplomatic premises and attacks on civilians, civilian buildings and medical facilities, further compounding suffering and displacing large numbers of people”. The aim is to deliver humanitarian aid and conduct medical evacuations of critically sick and wounded people. Further the UN demands weekly access for humanitarian convoys.
Security Council decisions are binding, all member states are obliged to accept and carry out the resolutions that pass. Similar ceasefire agreements have often been violated by the warring parties after several days. Additionally, the ceasefire does not impinge on military operations against ISIS, Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIS, and other terrorist groups.
The recent bombings of government-backed military forces in Eastern Ghouta killed more than 520 people and left 2,500 people wounded over the last five days (Sunday-Friday), as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports, which is, they say, “certainly an under-estimate. The number of facilities who managed to report is decreasing and many facilities in the area that MSF does not support have also received wounded and dead”. On Friday alone, 58 percent of those who died were women and children. “There is a level of desperation and exhaustion that comes from working round the clock, finding no time to sleep, no time to eat, permanently surrounded by bombing, and simply being in the middle of absolute distress. Adrenaline can only keep you going for so long. If doctors and nurses collapse, humanity collapses. We must be determined not to let that happen,” says Meinie Nicolai, General Director of MSF. The supported medics said that even with more supplies they would have no physical capacity left to continue treating all the wounded. Several hospitals have been damaged in the recent bombings.
Also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is saying that more than 500 people lost their lives in Ghouta over the last days, including 190 women and children. More than 2,400 were injured. Around 350,000–400,000 people are believed still to live in the region. It is one of the last areas held by rebel forces.
People who have received a second rejection struggle to continue to avail themselves of their rights, says Emergency Legal Aid (ELA) on Chios. While “the arrest and deportation of applicants after notification of the second rejection of application is perfectly legal under the current framework”, people at this stage have no more right for free legal representation. In some cases, the interval between arrest and deportation is too short for them to prepare another appeal. ELA assumes the costs for an appeal at this stage of roughly €3000: €1300 for the court and approximately €1700 for legal fees. “ The Organisations that contract lawyers to represent appellants pro bono are often unwilling to pursue these cases [editors note: second rejection cases] due to the already heavy caseloads of the available lawyers and the drain on their funding. They are not legally required to provide free legal aid at this stage in the process.
The prisoners of Section C in Larissa started protests for furloughs, reports Enough is Enough. They accuse the prison management of using “threats and blackmail” to stop the protest. Even people who meet the requirements were denied furloughs. “If things don’t change we will escalate our struggle by going on a hunger strike until the prison manager is removed,” stated the prisoners. The manager, in response, threatened them with calling in the riot police to force them back inside.
Activists have launched a petition against the “Stop Soros” law, that aims to tackle humanitarian NGOs. Further, they demand the government to stop its war on immigration. More than 18,000 people have already signed the petition. The aim for signatures is 19,000.
BALKAN WEATHER REPORT February 24
Sunday will be mostly cloudy with intermittent snow in the north, central areas and at higher altitudes in the south, and snow may be accompanied by strong winds. Intermittent rain along the coast and at lower altitudes. Snow and sleet possible during the the afternoon in southern areas, and intermittent rain along the coast in the afternoon and evening. The wind will be moderate to strong, in some parts strong to gale-force, blowing from the north and northeast. A low -10° C in the morning and a high of 8° C.
A cold front hits Serbia on Sunday. Tomorrow morning is expected to be moderate to extremely cold with snowfall. Temperatures in most places will range from -12° to -5°C, with daytime highs from -6 to 2°C. On Saturday night temperatures will drop to -19°C in some areas.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tomorrow in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be cloudy with snow in most areas except the north. Snow is expected everywhere overnight. Five to 15 centimetres will fall, while in mountain it will be up to 20 centimetres. Winds will be moderate from the northeast, and in Herzegovina and in the mountains they may reach gale strength at times. Temperatures will range from -7° to -1°C, and, in the south, between 1° and 4°C.
Tomorrow will be cloudy, windy and very cold with snow and rain in some areas. Along the coast there will be sleet, snow and intermittent rain, while the northern areas will be without precipitation. Some snow is expected in the mountains, while inland areas will be dry. The wind will be moderate, but may gust at times from the northeast and north. Along the coast winds there will be strong to gale-force in the vicinity of Mount Velebit. The morning temperatures on the mainland will range from -10° to -5°C, with highs ranging from -7° to -2°C. On the northern Adriatic from -3° to 3°C. In Dalmatia, temperatures will drop during the day.
Salvamento Maritimo stated that 13 people were rescued today.
In the Italian province of Caserta, real estate confiscated from the Mafia will be used to accommodate people in need, reports InfoMigrants. Overall, the regional government will invest €16 million in either renovating the buildings or building new ones. The central government will add another €5.5 million. Eighty-three confiscated houses are already available, 60 will soon be ready.
More then 500 people are currently sleeping on the streets of Calais, when the temperature has been dropping down to -4°C, and the forecast predicts temperatures at -8°C over the next few days. In preparation, Care4Calais distributed over 300 warm winter jackets, tents and sleeping bags today as well as 150 packs of thermal clothing including scarves, hats, socks and gloves. In order to provide more help, they urgently need:
* Volunteers to help with distribution, including trips to Paris and Caen
* Thermal underwear — especially long johns
* Joggers (worn under jeans)
* Ski gear (coats and trousers)
* Waterproof trousers
* Bivvy bags to help sleeping bags retain heat
* Gloves, socks, hats, scarves
* Small tents and warm sleeping bags
* Coffee, sugar and hot chocolate to take out every day
* Funds to buy emergency supplies of all of the above
Donate here: https://goo.gl/jmkx7A
Mobile Refugee Support is calling for donations of small-size tents. Many evictions show that large tents are impossible to pack away quickly under such conditions. If you are able to donate and would like to help, please text them.
Around 150 people are sleeping under the Saint Martin Bridge in Paris, writes „A Coffee for Refugees“.
In Soesterberg a demonstration will be held at 1 pm. More info can be found on Facebook.
The detainees at Yarl’s Wood began a hunger strike on 21 February. Approximately 120 people are protesting offensive practices, as they state in an open letter published on Detained Voices. They say that most are not being detained at the behest of a judge and that the UK “ is the only country in the EU with no time limit on detention”.
Nearly 50 people were transferred from Greece to Ireland under the Government’s relocation programme, the Irish Times reports. These were the first arrivals in 2018, increasing the total number of relocations to 859. In the next weeks, another 155 people are scheduled to arrive. Under the EU relocation scheme, Ireland should have hosted 4000 people from Greece and Italy.
In the frame of the UNHCR resettlement programme, 792 people were transferred from Lebanon to Ireland.The government will accept 1040 people in this scheme.
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