Tag Archives: Guardian

News: Greece on brink of chaos as refugees riot over forced return to Turkey

News from The Guardian (UK):

Greece on brink of chaos as refugees riot over forced return to Turkey

A woman feeds pigeons at the port of Piraeus near Athens where migrants are camped out. Photograph: Yorgos Karahalis/AP Image Copyright: Guardian and Associated Press.

The Greek government is bracing itself for violence ahead of the European Union implementing a landmark deal that, from Monday, will see Syrian refugees and migrants being deported back to Turkey en masse.

Rioting and rebellion by thousands of entrapped refugees across Greece has triggered mounting fears in Athens over the practicality of enforcing an agreement already marred by growing concerns over its legality. Islands have become flashpoints, with as many as 800 people breaking out of a detention centre on Chios on Friday.

Some 750 migrants are set to be sent back between Monday and Wednesday from the island of Lesbos to the Turkish port of Dikili.

“We are expecting violence. People in despair tend to be violent,” the leftist-led government’s migration spokesman, Giorgos Kyritsis, told the Observer. “The whole philosophy of the deal is to deter human trafficking [into Europe] from the Turkish coast, but it is going to be difficult and we are trying to use a soft approach. These are people have fled war. They are not criminals.”

Barely 24 hours ahead of the pact coming into force, it emerged that Frontex, the EU border agency, had not dispatched the appropriate personnel to oversee the operation. Eight Frontex boats will transport men, women and children, who are detained on Greek islands and have been selected for deportation, back across the Aegean following fast-track asylum hearings. But of the 2,300 officials the EU has promised to send Greece only 200 have so far arrived, Kyritsis admitted.

Read Full Article: Greece on brink of chaos as refugees riot over forced return to Turkey.

Refugees plead for their release from RAF base in Cyprus: News from the Guardian

Refugees plead for their release from RAF base in Cyprus

British defence officials are under pressure to resolve the status of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Cyprus after the release of video showing chaotic scenes at a UK military base on the island.

Among the incidents in pictures, videos and audio recordings obtained by the Guardian is an apparent threat by a man to kill himself before British police officers rush in. Separately, a man is seen with his face covered in blood after cutting himself.

In other videos, members of the group of 114 who landed on the island last month, among them 28 children, plead for their release from Dhekelia, one of two British sovereign base areas (SBAs) in Cyprus.

“I am 12 years old. We are sitting here in the tents and we are cold and we are not allowed to go out from the tents … Please help us,” said one child.

Another woman, in an audio message, said: “My name is Manar from Syria, I am a 27-year-old woman. We came here by mistake to escape the war. We spent three days at sea and were close to death … They count us every day as if we were in prison … We can’t stand it any more.”

Read full article at: Refugees plead for their release from RAF base in Cyprus


The horror of the Calais refugee camp: ‘We feel like we are dying slowly’ : News from the Guardian

The horror of the Calais refugee camp: ‘We feel like we are dying slowly’

A five-minute taxi ride from central Calais, past the seafront restaurants serving moules and chips to tourists, past the Majestic wine cash and carry, and just beyond the neat back gardens at the edge of the town, suddenly there is a devastating vision of Europe’s refugee crisis. One minute, you are driving through placid suburbia; the next minute, you are deposited at the entrance to a sprawling shantytown, where conditions appear worse than in the slums of Mumbai, a camp that is now home to more than 6,000 people, many of them vulnerable and unwell.

In the wasteland behind the red-roofed houses, the unofficial family section of the camp sprang up in October. First there were a couple of tents, then a few shacks thrown up by charity workers, made from cheap wood with plastic sheets tacked on to them. Now, a few weeks later, there are more than 50 huts and tents, home to families from Iraq, Iran and Syria, with dozens of children playing in the mud.

Unfortunately, in the rush to accommodate the hundreds of families who have arrived in the past month, tents were put up in an unoccupied area of sandy wasteland previously used as an informal toilet by several thousand people. “Many of the children are suffering from infections now,” François Guennoc, a coordinator with the main local charity, L’auberge des Migrants, notes wearily, supervising as volunteers bang together wooden huts so families can be moved out of sagging tents. They can’t build them fast enough to accommodate the flow of new arrivals.

Read full article – The horror of the Calais refugee camp: ‘We feel like we are dying slowly’


Files that may shed light on colonial crimes still kept secret by UK | UK news | The Guardian

Secret government files from the final years of the British empire are still being concealed despite a pledge by William Hague, the foreign secretary, that they would be declassified and opened to the public.

The withheld files are among a huge cache of documents that remained hidden from view for decades at an undisclosed Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) archive, in breach of laws governing the handling of official papers. Once the existence of the archive became known to lawyers for a group of elderly Kenyans who are trying to sue the British government over the abuses they suffered during the Mau Mau insurgency, Hague ordered an inquiry and promised disclosure.

He told MPs: “I believe that it is the right thing to do for the information in these files now to be properly examined and recorded and made available to the public through the National Archives. It is my intention to release every part of every paper of interest subject only to legal exemptions.”

Full article via Files that may shed light on colonial crimes still kept secret by UK | UK news | The Guardian.


Kenyan Mau Mau victims in talks with UK government over legal settlement | World news | The Guardian

The British government is negotiating payments to thousands of Kenyans who were detained and severely mistreated during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency in what would be the first compensation settlement resulting from official crimes committed under imperial rule.

In a development that could pave the way for many other claims from around the world, government lawyers embarked upon the historic talks after suffering a series of defeats in their attempts to prevent elderly survivors of the prison camps from seeking redress through the British courts.

Those defeats followed the discovery of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office (FCO) had kept hidden for decades, and which shed new and stark light on the dying days of British rule, not only in Kenya but around the empire. In the case of the Mau Mau conflict, the secret papers showed that senior colonial officials authorised appalling abuses of inmates held at the prison camps established during the bloody conflict, and that ministers and officials in London were aware of a brutal detention regime in which men and women were tortured and killed.

Full article via Kenyan Mau Mau victims in talks with UK government over legal settlement | World news | The Guardian.


Guardian Article: Academic refugees: ‘My hope is to contribute to this county – if I’m given the opportunity’

The following is an interesting article reproduced in The Guardian Newspaper Online Higher Education Network page.  It provides an important insight into a first hand account of an academic refugee and it recounts the help given by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) for whom we hold part of their archival collections here at the University of East London.

The article can be found here (link to article):

Academic refugees: ‘My hope is to contribute to this county – if I’m given the opportunity’

Image from Guardian Article.

Protest in Algiers Jan 6, 2011. “Algeria had become a different place to the country I’d known in childhood.” Photograph: AP

Building an academic career is difficult but for Latefa Guemar who had arrived in the UK as a refugee, success is about so much more than making tenure. She tells the Guardian her story.

Most people know me as Latefa, an academic refugee from Algeria. But I was not born an academic, neither was I born a refugee.

I became an academic because, as a bright, young girl, I was given the opportunity to learn and gain as much knowledge as I could. The support of my parents was backed up by post-colonial Algerian policies that provided free and equal access to higher education for all.

After finishing my Bachelor’s degree at Algiers University (USTHB) my career quickly progressed. I was accepted for a work placement in a research laboratory in Algiers, where I was later offered a permanent position as assistant researcher. It was there I worked, and gained a diploma equivalent to a Masters degree, until I was forced to leave the country.

Algeria had become a different place to the country I’d known in childhood. Under the National Liberation Front, the nationalist party that came into power post-independence – and in the struggle for power between rival groups – political opponents, academics and journalists were imprisoned or assassinated. According to official records, some 250,000 people lost their lives, 20,000 simply ‘disappeared’ and millions of people were forced to exile. My husband, a journalist and vocal opponent of the rise of fundamentalism and I (viewed as a left-wing feminist for my involvement with workers’ unions) were no different.

In July 2002, following several articles by my husband criticising the government, our flat was ransacked. In December of the same year, my husband fled, seeking asylum at Heathrow Airport. After receiving death threats and strange phone calls, in June 2003, heavily pregnant and with two small children, I too left Algeria. Getting out was surprisingly easy. Staff at the British high commission were kind, processing our visas at unusual speed. I thought our nightmare has ended. But it was simply the beginning of another one.

Following UKBA dispersal policy, my family was sent to Swansea in Wales, where we were accommodated in very disadvantaged area. Aside from the culture shock – having to get used to a very different quality of life – almost immediately we started experiencing hostilities and racists attacks. On several occasions the police had to intervene but it was not only 2007 we were finally moved to a better neighbourhood.

Still, our support worker was excellent. Learning that my husband was also a poet, she passed on his works to English PEN, who translated and published his poetry. Knowing that I was a researcher, I was put in touch with Dace (Department of adult continuing education) at Swansea University where I enrolled on a intensive English language course. Soon, I got involved in civil society, volunteering with the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group (SBASSG) because I was shocked by the treatment of women who sought asylum for gender-based persecution.

Perhaps as therapy, but mostly because I needed to add theoretical understanding to my activism and personal experience, I took a part-time BA in sociology in Swansea, where I met professor Heaven Crawley, director of the Centre for Migration and Policy Research at Swansea University, and an authority on gender and asylum. With Heaven’s encouragement and support from the Council for assisting refugee academics (Cara), I have not only completed a Masters, but I’m currently studying for a PhD, researching the new Algerian women diasporas.

My success at postgraduate level made the local news and my research has been called promising in both its focus and originality and is likely to make a clear contribution to the field of diaspora studies. But still, like everyone, I face challenges and think often about the irony of having left Algeria and fled persecution only to have to suffer racism. I’ve coped well. My husband hasn’t so lucky and his health has severely deteriorated.

In the end, civil unrest in Algeria cost me a lot: my marriage, at times my dignity (sitting in a chair for two days at Heathrow airport was a particular low point), my independence and often my happiness. But the pursuit of knowledge has been a saving grace for my children and I. As I enter into the third year of my PhD, my eldest daughter’s received her GCSE results (3 A*s and 5 As) and now prepares to begin her A-levels. I am determined to finish my PhD and build my career in academia. My hope is to contribute to this county – if I’m given the opportunity.

Latefa Guemar is a doctoral researcher at Swansea University. She was selected for the Reconnect with Research programme at LSE and has been appointed as a visiting fellow at the Gender Institute.

Latefa was put in touch with the Network through Cara, who work to defend academic freedom and provide practical support to academics in need.

If you work in higher education (in administration, teaching or research) and have an interesting story to tell, please get in touch.

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