AYS Digest 06/10 — Russian ambassador admits to the deliberate targeting of hospitals by regime and Russian forces

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Syrian physician looks at the rubble of a medical facility recently targeted by a regime airstrike. Photo credit: Thaer Mohammed, AFP Photo

The Russian ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko has implicated his government’s involvement in war crimes. In a shocking tweet, the ambassador made the outrageous claim that Russia and the Syrian regime is fully justified in going so far as to bomb hospitals.

The tweet in question.

The AYS digest, as well as the media at large, has already covered the extremely damaging legacy of this practice. As we reported last week, there are currently around 30 doctors left in the entirety of rebel-occupied East Aleppo, and as hospitals get bombarded on a regular basis, treatment for even the simplest of conditions is becoming more and more difficult. Russia and the regime have shown its commitment to keeping the city under siege, having gone so far as to bomb an aid convoy during the failed ceasefire. Such blatant violations of human rights and the laws of warfare poke massive holes in the regime’s narrative that it is simply defending itself against terrorists.

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Rebel-held al-Asari District in November 2014. Photo credit: Mohammad Baraa, AFP.

Of particular interest is a parallel comparison of the reactions of regime supporters to this grotesque practice to the near-identical practice employed by the Israeli military during its periodic assaults on Gaza. When Israeli officials claim that they bombed a hospital, a school, or another piece of civilian infrastructure, Assad regime supporters as a rule voice outrage, and rightfully so. It seems that these practices take on an entirely different character when the Assad regime is carrying these attacks out, because they are done in the name of “anti-imperialism”. Another anti-imperialist tactic of the Assad regime is bombing schools, forcing pupils to go underground for an education.

The regime and its Russian allies does not limit itself to targeting hospitals. Another practice commonly employed as of late is dropping mine busting bombs in the vicinity of civilian infrastructure, causing heavy structural damage and often leading to the collapse of entire buildings. The signs seem to suggest that the regime is planning a new attempt to capture the districts currently held by rebel forces. The regime is once more telling the fighters and residents of the rebel sector to get out, offering “amnesty”, the value of which is rather questionable given the regime’s numerous previous violations. The government ominously added that, “all those who do not take advantage of the provided opportunity to lay down their arms or to leave will face their inevitable fate.”

As always, it must be added that even those whose primary concern is the refugee crisis must pay close attention to the horrific and bloody situation on the ground. Lest the bloodshed ends, Syria will continue hemorrhaging thousands of people in addition to the thousands killed, and Europe will be dealing with the horrors of the present crisis for many years to come.

Greece

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A refugee being forced onto a boat to be deported to Turkey, her daughter looking on. Source: Europe says OXI

DENTAL HYGIENE PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN

A message from a dentist volunteer. Do not give the children sweets while they are unable to clean their teeth adequately!

“ Dear volunteers,
We know that there are now many children and adults with noticeably black and decaying teeth and swollen gums. As many of you will be aware, we have for a while, been trying to get dental care for families as this is becoming an area of increasing concern throughout Greece. We really only have one dedicated unit up the North that is providing dental care.
We know that volunteers, when bringing donations, want to put a smile on the kids’ faces. This is natural; however, because of the concern about dental hygiene, it is probably better not to bring sweets or chocolate bars. Whilst these may be a quick energy supplement, it is actually not good for their overall health, never mind for their teeth and gums. And for some kids the level of sugar isn’t necessarily helpful for their behaviour and emotions — too much sugar can make kids hyperactive (mums and dads will recognise this :-))
So, please can we ask that volunteers be aware of what they are buying. If in doubt, check with the Squat leaders regarding the food that is running low and use the money to buy items that are needed (e.g. cooking oil, tins of beans, pay towards bread debts at bakery etc).
We are slowly making progress on the dental situation but it is going to be very slow progress so in the meantime, please help us help families to keep the teeth shining white and their gums healthy.”

RUMOR ALERT: US and Canada are NOT resettling refugees from Greece.

“ The US and Canada are already doing a lot to resettle Syrian refugees, but only from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and not from Greece. The US recently welcomed its 10,000th Syrian and by the 18/09 Canada had received 30,862. On the 17/09 an EU politician, Dimitris Avramopoulos, stated vaguely that he looks forward to enhancing cooperation with them. This is not an official policy and Canada and the US have not made any statements saying they will take people from Greece.”

1,500 refugee children to start schooling on October 10.

The program is much smaller than the 15,000 anticipated by the Greek government. Tensions arose in September when news of the plan became public, as parents did not want refugee children attending the same schools, going so far as to stage a sit-in.

Greek government issues instructions for people who lost their documents.

They may be accessed here.

All flights into Greece will be cancelled from October 9 to October 13 due to a strike.

Greek government numbers record only 2 arrivals.

Two boats arrived On Lesvos during the day, with 52 people on board. 160 arrived on Samos. 55 refugees were deported to Turkey on Wednesday, 37 of whom had their asylum application rejected twice.

MSF has opened a new clinic in Athens.

The center is open Tuesday to Friday from 9.00 to 16.00. Go to the clinic in Solonos street 133, Athens; Call +30 210 3839372 for more information.

Bulgaria

EU inaugurated a new border and coastguard agency.

The agency will be stationed on the Bulgarian border with Turkey, and will receive 320 euros in funding through 2020. Frontex is being replaced as a result of its violent response to refugees earlier this year, the group sometimes having gone so far as to use firearms to ward off refugees.

The EU has released a Q&A document about the new group, which may be read here.

Serbia

Mikaliste has opened a women’s-only corner in their facility.

France

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The children of Calais. Photo Credit: Lilian Simonsson

1000 CRS mobilized to depopulate Calais camp.

The Calais camp is in the midst of its final few days. The police has received its “mission order” for the evacuation of Calais, giving them 10 days to clear the camp. The operation will commence on the 17th and will last until the 27th of October. The date raises questions as housing plans for unaccompanied minors, who by law have to be separated from the general refugee population, have not yet been fully implemented. Some of the CRS will be responsible for the dismantlement, others will filter the access to the camp during the operations, others will secure the hosting centers. Half of all CRS will be there to prevent the reinstallation of refugees in the camp. Around 1,000 people will be mobilized during the operation.

Interpreters are urgently needed to ease the process!

“Do you speak fluent Arabic, Pashtu, Tigrinya or Farsi?
We’re looking for UK-based interpreters to help with a short-term project related to the planned eviction of refugees from the Calais camp.
The project will involve speaking to refugees over the phone for around 1 hour per day.
Contact clare@care4calais.org ASAP to express interest”

Unknown assailants attack center where Calais refugees are to be relocated.

The building is set to accommodate 70 refugees. It was hit by gunfire on Tuesday night, and the French police are investigating the incident. This is yet another example of the violence that refugees, who fled terrorism in their own countries, continue to face even after arriving to a safe country. Racism must be fought ardently, especially now as it is on the rise in so many European countries.

Help the refugees of Paris!

The situation in Paris is quite desperate. There are around 900 people, of whom 70 to 80 percent are left without so much as a blanket. Many are forced to settle themselves in dangerous areas, such as near busy roads. In such dire circumstances, any help will be greatly appreciated.

One of the most famous destinations in the world — Paris — is rapidly becoming home to hundreds of desperate refugees.

At the moment there are about 800 people; including young women, families with babies and unaccompanied children who are living rough on the streets.

There are no official aid organisations on-the-ground, so all aid comes from a handful of independent volunteers. We have very limited storage space and are running a bare-bones operation so can only provide the very basics.

Please donate to help us provide the following:

As the scale of war and disaster in the Middle East and Northern Africa continues to grow and the larger camps across France are being threatened with closure, we anticipate that many more people will be heading to Paris.

If you can help with any of the following — legal advice, storage facilities, hot meals or material supplies — please contact Craig at parisrefugeecamps@gmail.com.

We appreciate any support — big or small — that you can give.

Many thanks,
Craig & Danika
.”

Sweden

Report finds that it up to two for refugees to secure family members’ residency.

This is a problem, since Swedish law stipulates that the process should take no longer than 9 months. The congestion can be partially blamed on the massive number of people taken in by Sweden in the last year. The workers’ union blames the delay on inefficient practices.

Italy

Numbers

650 migrants arrived on Messina on Wednesday. 4,655 in total were rescued on Tuesday, and 28 bodies were recovered in 30 rescue missions off the Libyan coast. 11,000 have been rescued in the last two days and 142,000 have arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2016.

General

EU releases report on humanitarian aid distributed as a result of EU-Turkey deal.

The press release, which may be read here, reports that the EU has spent 600 million Euros on education and health grants and 422 million Euros of contracts for humanitarian aid. 1.25 billion out of 3 billion Euros have been contracted, 467 million of which has been distributed as of now.

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Some NGOs receiving funding, and the amount of money in question, April 2016.
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A guide for helping people suffering from hypothermia.

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Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.

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