refugee_crisis
This past week, the recent migration crisis—which has currently been sweeping across Europe and other developed nations in the world—came to a head in the small port of Calais, France. Located in the west of the country, Calais strategically connects France to the United Kingdom via the Channel tunnel and port, and has in recent years become an increasingly popular spot for migrants to try and smuggle themselves into Britain.

In recent weeks, the number of migrants inhabiting the area of Calais has dramatically increased in number, as 3,000 new migrants escaping from conflict-ridden areas in Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan set up camp near the port. According to British authorities, this situation has caused chaos and fear among British truck drivers, who are often forced to transport migrants illegally with them in their vehicles as they make their way back into Britain. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulauge Association, which represents over 83,000 truck haulers in Britain, has stated that “[British] drivers are fearful [but]… can’t do anything about it when they’ve got 10 to 20 [usually armed] people trying to get on board.”

The chaotic situation in Calais, brought about by migrants jumping in the back of trucks, was further exacerbated this past week following a Eurotunnel labor strike which took place on Tuesday. Angered at discovering that 400 employees were going to be cut from the Eurotunnel company, strikers shut down the port and threw burning tires onto the tracks, effectively blocking both the tunnel and port.

The striker’s actions last week led to hours of stand-still traffic in Calais, as truck drivers and ordinary passengers waited desperately in order to be able to cross back into Britain. Drivers also described the effect of the labor strike as scary and intimidating, with many refusing to open their windows or doors during hours of sitting in motionless traffic for fear that migrants would climb in.

This situation has in turn created frustrations on both sides of the Channel, as British and French authorities struggle with how to deal with the strike and its effect on cross-country migrant smuggling. Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, has argued that “Calais has been taken hostage by the decisions of the British government,” blaming the British for the strike and for refusing to absorb more migrants into the country.

Richard Burnett has similarly blamed the French by arguing that the French authorities in Calais have failed to directly tackle the issue. British authorities have also complained that the chaotic situation in Calais has cost the United Kingdom millions in trade revenue, with the Fresh Produce Consortium estimating that at least 10 million pounds worth of fresh fruit and vegetables have been thrown away in the past year as a result of delays brought about by migrant truck-jumping in Calais.

At the moment, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Holland say that they are working closely together in order to resolve the labor dispute, with Cameron tweeting on Friday, “I’ve called on @fhollande on Calais & the need to stop the illegal blockade & maintain port security.”

Calls to expand the nearby port at Dunkirk, 45 miles from Calais, have also been considered in an attempt to deescalate the situation, while British Home Secretary Theresa May and French Minister of Interior Bernard Cazenueve have also agreed to increase funding in order to improve the security situation in and around Calais.

Ana Powell

Sources: The Guardian, New York Times
Photo: Flickr

refugees_in_calais
Many refugees in Calais, France are using any means possible — most of them using rather dangerous means — to make their way to Britain in hopes of a new life.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants sit in refugee camps in Calais waiting to make their next attempt into the United Kingdom. Many of these individuals have traveled all the way from Africa, the Middle East and some from even further away. For most, sanctuary in Britain is the last stop on a very long journey that may have lasted for months, with hopes that a better life and more opportunities await them on the other side of the English Channel.

In France, where many migrants await the next move, which may potentially land them in Britain, lie refugee camps filled with hundreds of thousands of migrants from all around the world. Many have fled injustice and corruption within their native countries, such as that of Sudan, Eritrea and other crime-ridden and infamously violent nations.

Within the camps are volunteers and medical staff to help those who have been injured or have fallen ill throughout their long journeys. Nurses in the camps have recounted a number of cases where individuals have even been hit by trains and fallen off moving trains while trying to make their way across the Channel. This is a horrific image to imagine, but it is the reality of the extent people in these circumstances are willing to go to make it to their final destination. The legitimacy of their travels is backed by the success of others. An estimated 40 people actually make it across each day, though the numbers have varied greatly. Those who have been successful give those still struggling the hope they need to keep going.

With all these people from around the world flooding the entrance to the United Kingdom, both Britain and France have asked for more intervention, particularly from other members of the European Union. The French government has upped its security measures by increasing the number of police officers at the French side of the Channel as well as implementing other new security means. However, with the number of migrants in the hundreds of thousands at least, and a handful of migrants making their way to the UK each day, there obviously is a need for more assistance in order for the two countries to maintain border security.

This issue has been going on since the beginning of June, and a recorded 10 migrants have died in the journey specifically from Calais to the other end of the Channel. This is an issue of international security for which no clear solution has been found thus far, neither the migrants seeking refuge nor the European nations themselves.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: The New York Times, BBC
Photo: The New York Times

discriminate
Legislation has been proposed in France that would make it illegal to discriminate or “insult the poor” by refusing to offer those living in poverty housing, employment and healthcare.

The legislation proposes that those who discriminate against the poor, or those experiencing “vulnerability resulting from an apparent or known economic situation” could face up to three years in prison along with a fine of €45,000, or roughly $50,000.

With laws already in place across the globe not allowing people to discriminate against race, sex, and disability, this legislation could be another step in the fight for global equality. According to a report published in the Times, 32 percent of dentists, 33 percent of opticians and nine percent of GPs in Paris refused to treat clients without medical insurance.

Europe’s attitude toward its poor has been diminishing over the years, with authorities in Britain monitoring alcohol and cigarette purchases before offering emergency housing payments and landlords refusing apartments for those receiving benefits.

The Times has reported that the legislation has been approved by the French parliament’s upper house and is forecasted to also be passed by the lower house.

“People think that because we are poor, we must be stupid,” Oréane Chapelle, 31, an unemployed French woman, told the Guardian.

This legislation could potentially help curb prevailing negative attitudes toward Europe’s poor, and the threat of jail time and massive fines could offer plenty of new opportunities for those desperately searching for any available.

Alexander Jones

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, The Times
Photo: The Times

Rozana_Radio

Propaganda is one tactic used to strengthen prejudice ideology and deliver false information. This unethical practice is emerging in Syria, where journalists are working at the cost of their lives report neutral and honest news. Giving the public accurate, unbiased, knowledgeable and hopeful information is one step in preparing for a peaceful resolution.

The Assad Regime and its opposition are suppressing freedom and sanctuary. President Bash al-Assad has formed a bias in the media by placing heavy regulations on anything that’s produced. In fact, death is optional for many journalists.

Lina Chawaf left Damascus after having been a journalist in Syria for 20 years. Her projects in those days was affiliated with fragile social problems. Her family moved to Canada, but she set up a radio station in Paris, France, called Rozana Radio. Her goal is to transmit independent, neutral reports and online information to Syria.

Though almost all foreign news channels have been blocked in the country, Rozana Radio uses different transmissions to bypass the interference. Each day she delivers two hours of news, comments and interviews through a satellite connection. It’s funded by French government agencies and nonprofit organizations across Europe.

Rozana’s website has had over 75,000 visitors in 2015. The information gathered for each report is researched and experienced by journalists who are using aliases to protect themselves. Over 70 journalists are working to produce findings to Rozana at the border of Turkey.

The training program for hidden journalists is called Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF). Their goal is to keep track of facts, data and daily struggles in Syria. Rozana’s news coverage is administered by five other Syrian journalists from thirty news networks with information across Syria.

The Syrian crisis includes shortening lifespan and is responsible for a large number of refugees. Journalists for Rozana are reporting why it is that the United Nation depicts Syria’s development as lagging behind. The station gives Syrians advice such as how to cope without electricity. It also works to inform parents how to care for their children without resources to food or warmth.

In an article written by Youssef al-Ahmad on Rozana’s website, the author highlights how emergency responses are being enhanced. Consequences to the opposition against the Assad Regime are hindering civilian livelihood.

Ali Diab invited defense leaders to democratically assign governmental members in a Board of Directors for a Civil Defense of Syria. In 2012, the Free Civil Defense corps began. The Civil Defense is primarily made of volunteers who train in Turkey. They have successfully protected 12,000 Syrians from violent disputes.

One other main topic Youssef al-Almad addresses is the involvement of women in Civil Defense efforts. They work with men as relief operators and increase productivity in rescue attempts. This type of information educates Syria and encourages equality, community activism and a morally neutral reporting tactic.

Though Rozana has been expected to support an “overseas agenda,” Chawaf makes it clear that her station’s mission is to undermine Assad’s grip on the media and deliver fair analysis of internal struggle and success. Since 20 percent of Syrians have internet access, Chawaf has to expose her station to multiple countries so word can reach Syrians quickly.

Many of those who have online access do not have stable power or service. Chawaf hopes to encourage ways to utilize other platforms to penetrate borders. She humbly admits in an article by Amar Toor from The Verge, “It’s not easy to control emotion if you’re seeing your own people getting killed. You have to be neutral, which is how we have trained them in Turkey.”

Katie Groe

Sources: SIDA, ROZANA, Reuters, The Verge
Photo: Rozana.fm

french_government
The French government has pledged to provide €500,000 ($567,000) to a migrant town near Calais. The make-shift town has been a source of controversy for France and a point of criticism from the United Nations due to poor sanitation standards and treatment of migrants.

This camp, dubbed “New Jungle” by locals, is home to an estimated 4,000 migrant workers who left their home countries to find work and refugee status in Great Britain. When high security prevented them from crossing the English Chanel the migrants were left stranded in France, in a political limbo.

The majority of the migrants are sans papiers (without papers) and have a difficult time finding work or government aid without legal documentation. When opportunities in France dwindle, the migrants (including women and children) are left without a place to go except for the camps.

Last year, the government of France shut down another nearby migrant town nicknamed the “Jungle”. The area had had humanitarian groups concerned for several years.

Since the area was not a legal town, it did not have any government protection nor requirements to meet health standards. Makeshift tents surrounded the area, and the undocumented migrants living there had little to no access to water, electricity or food resources.

The destruction of the camp only resulted in the creation of another migrant camp north of Calais, the current “New Jungle”. Like its predecessor, New Jungle has been condemned by the United Nations.

Philippe Leclerc, a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, described living conditions as “absolutely appalling”.

New Jungle residents are often surrounded by garbage and there is no running water. Although there are surrounding towns, several of the migrant workers fear leaving due to worries about racial discrimination and hate crimes.

As a result, sanitation standards are very low and the migrant workers have very little opportunities to buy food or seek medical attention.

The current aid will lessen some of the migrant workers’ woes. The French government will begin working on plans to provide running water, electricity and better access to medical care for the migrants.

Part of the money will also go into creating sturdier homes in the New Jungle and another 10,500 lodgings throughout France. These lodgings will be available to men, women and children who currently reside in France as migrants.

While the European Union believes it is a step in the right direction, the French government worries for how long this can last. France has experienced large amounts of migrants entering the country for the past 15 years. However, current crises in the Middle East and Africa have caused more people to enter France in the past six months.

Brigitte Lips, a Calais resident, states, “The ones who make it here have already escaped death several times. They’ve crossed war-torn Sudan, then the Libyan desert, and then packed into rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea.”

As long as war and poverty continue to grow in regions such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan and Syria the amount of refugees and migrants entering France will continue to increase.

Erendira Jimenez

Sources: UNHCR, Express, NPR
Photo: Express

Children-in-France-in-Poverty
A new report by UNICEF France has revealed that over three million children in France live in poverty. In a span of four years, the number of children living under the poverty line increased by 440,000. Also touched on, was the high level of discrimination and human rights violation of poor migrant children. The report also addressed France’s failure to implement a strategy for children, and suggested 36 policy adjustments.

We often think of France as a sturdy, developed world power, but the widening gap between the rich and the poor, lack of policies aimed at children and widespread discrimination against migrants, show that developing countries aren’t the only places for progress to be made. In fact, many European countries face higher rates of child poverty and an estimated 1 in 3 children lives in poverty in both the United Kingdom and Spain.

These findings seem astonishing, especially for a country with the financial status and power as France, but it goes to show how important policies are. Without the proper policies in place, countries will not make progress. This new report and the investigation as a whole will provide a prime example for governments all over the world. Policy is what gives a country the power to grow. For example, we have seen poverty reduction programs go into developing countries with the good intentions of providing or creating capital only to see it stop there because of a lack of regulation or policies in place to continue growth, and to protect that growth.

The lack of policy aimed at French youth is alarming from any standpoint. The high rate of poverty among children suggests a lack of investment in youth, which will hurt France in the long term. With 3 million impoverished children, the outlook on the future working generation is not good. The rates of homelessness and school dropouts should be a serious wake up call for the French government. As more and more children fall below the poverty line, fewer children are enrolled in school, which translates directly to less economic and political participation in the future. The decreased participation will make for a less productive nation and France, as a whole will face a number of resulting problems needing urgent attention.

France has a reputation for discrimination against migrants and foreigners and this report as a part of a broader investigation and the changes the French government makes as a result should hopefully loosen some of those longstanding divisions. In order to succeed and grow as a nation, France desperately needs to become more progressive. There needs to be less marginalization and more positive policy aimed at children and at migrants to encourage them to succeed, which will in turn help France as a whole to grow.

– Emma Dowd

Sources: Eurostat, France 24, Newsweek, World Bulletin
Photo: FarsNews

 

asylum to Iraqi Christians
Ever since ISIS tore through the northern portion of Iraq, the historic Christian community that called the area home for decades was forced out in a mass exodus due to an ultimatum issued by the organization to either leave, pay a tax or die.

This threat was certainly not empty, as ISIS went on to destroy multiple Christian holy sites in the area. The hate and vitriol coming from the militant Islamic organization has drawn the ire of the international community both within and outside the Middle East. Outside countries and organizations have been helping out on the ground, but a recent move by France has demonstrated their commitment to those who have fled the area by offering asylum to Iraqi Christians on French soil.

A recent joint statement released by Laurent Fabius and Bernard Cazeneuve, the foreign and interior ministers respectively, indicated their condemnation of ISIS and their maneuvers in the strongest terms possible.

“The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIL is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq…pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region,” they articulated. “We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.”

This statement demonstrated France’s increased solidarity, as the opposition party echoed these sentiments in support of the Iraqi Christians.

The recent situation in Mosul has gotten increasingly worse, and has only been amplified by the inaction of Iraqi military and government. The U.N. Security Council has already condemned the persecution of Iraqi Christians by ISIS.

Efforts from the Security Council, when combined with this recent move from France, have demonstrated an incredibly strong international solidarity against the militant Islamist organization. While significant efforts have been launched to help those in need of humanitarian assistance, ISIS still remains entrenched in the area.

– Andre Gobbo

Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters, The Borgen Project
Photo: BBC

protests_in_paris

On July 19, pro-Palestinian protests in Paris found trouble with the police. A ban was announced regarding a planned rally against violence in the Gaza strip, to which some Parisians responded actively.

In northern Paris, protestors launched projectiles at police, who responded with teargas and stun grenades. Demonstrators outwardly protested Israel by burning the Israeli flag. Other protests took form in climbing buildings and setting at least one car on fire.

By the end of the night, 38 of nearly 5,000 protestors were arrested as the riot came to a close.

The heightened conflict with Gaza has contributed to growing tensions in France between its Muslim and Jewish populations.

Following the protests, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that France “will not tolerate attempts to—with violence, words or acts—import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto its soil.”

The ban took place as a result of a march on synagogues in Paris the previous weekend, which ended in eight arrests. President Francois Hollande banned possibly violent protests to prevent further clashes between citizens and police.

However, it was the ban itself that angered anti-Israeli Parisians who gathered on Saturday chanting “Israel, assassin.” These peaceful protests were not limited to the capital. All across France protests have taken place regarding the Gaza conflict.

President Hollande has taken a great amount of criticism for the government’s apparent failure to take a stand against Israel’s recent actions in Gaza. However, there is another side of opposition against Hollande from the far-right National Front who has criticized the government for being too “soft” regarding crimes and illegal immigration.

The European Decolonial Network, based in the Netherlands, started a petition to preserve the rights of the protestors and to dissemble the ban. So far, the petition has 200 signatures from around the world.

Jewish community leaders have complained that the ban on demonstrations promotes discrimination against the Jewish community in France.

Pro-Palestinian protestors were attacked by members of the Jewish Defense League, which often advocates the use of violence against Palestinian supporters.

One protestor compared the current situation to the liberation of African-Americans in the 60’s. Aya Ramadan stressed, “It’s evident that today when we see a mass of Arabs and black people coming together over the Palestinian cause…It’s relatively the same thing: Arabs supporting and independence movement abroad. And they face violent repression.”

Protests have been seen all around Europe, such as in Geneva and London. Nearly 300 protestors gathered outside the U.N. European Headquarters to demonstrate against Israel. In London, thousands marched peacefully outside of the Israeli embassy while clutching Palestinian flags and displaying banners that read, “Stop the bombing” and “Free Palestine.”

The conflict in Gaza rages on, and it seems that the rest of the world will remain involved until a solution is reached. Although Israel houses only about eight million people, this is a conflict that has harnessed the hearts and lives of the entire international community.

– Cambria Arvizo
Sources: Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, Reuters
Photo: The Independent

France's face veil ban
The European Court of Human Rights upheld France’s face veil ban on the wearing of face-covering veils in public settings. The ban, which went into effect three years ago, has caused widespread backlash from Muslim communities in France, which claim the ban imposes on their religious freedom and identity. Labeled as a means to help protect public safety and bridge social gaps, the imposition of the ban was strictly “due to the concealment of the face” and had no correlation with religious animosity, according to the Court.

A woman by the alias of S.A.S. testified against France’s face veil ban in court. A university-educated woman and French citizen, S.A.S. told the courts that she voluntarily wore the veils (the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed, and the burqa, which covers the body from head-to-toe) and felt no pressure from her husband to wear the dress in public. S.A.S. wished to wear the veils during certain circumstances and felt the ban imposed on her religious obligation to do so.

At the time it was enacted, the Interior Ministry in Paris estimated only around 2,000 women in France still wore the niqab. This is a considerably low number for France’s Muslim community, which — at up to six million — is Europe’s largest. Only about hundreds of women have been fined for wearing the veil, which is usually at around 150 euros, or $215 US dollars.

The European Court, while aware the ban did affect certain members of the Muslim community specifically, upheld it on account of the veil’s restriction from those wearing it to show their face, which is considered a social right and safety concern. While the court denied the ban’s justification on improving public safety or women’s rights, they did agree that it improved social cohesion.

“Some people now feel entitled to attack women wearing the veil even though the infringement is no more severe than, say, a parking ticket,”  Ray said.

Nevertheless, the French government has remained satisfied with the ruling, claiming it a victory for “gender equality.”

Nick Magnanti

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Mail Online, The New York Times
Photo: Telegraph

healthcare
The well-being of global citizens relies heavily on the health of their health care systems. However, the type of medical attention you will receive when you go to the doctor, or even the likelihood you will attempt to seek care, varies vastly depending on where you live. Indicators like average life expectancy, infant mortality and obesity prevalence highlight the success of the health care systems. With this wealth of information, we can assess why certain nations’ health care systems are in better condition than others.

1. France

France had the best health system in the world in 2000, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent assessment of world’s health systems. So what makes France’s method so successful? First, statistics on doctors and life expectancy are often on France’s side. France has less doctors per capita than second place Italy at 3.07 per 1,000 people, but more annual doctor visits than most of the top 10. It also has 3.43 hospital beds per 1,000 people, which is rivaled only by Japan and Italy of those in the top 10. Life expectancy is 81.66 and infant mortality rate is 3.31 of every 1,000 live births.

It falls on the government to negotiate doctor and hospital fees in an effort to keep costs low. In addition, a national insurance program flips 70 percent of the bill for everyone. The other 30 percent is picked up by private insurance. This means that out of pocket spending on health care is only $307 per capita.

2. The United States

The United States has one of the biggest economies in the world, yet it ranks 36 this year on the success of its health care system. Perhaps this is because the United States, while a wealthy nation, has an infant mortality rate of 6.17 per 1,000 births and a life expectancy of 79.56, neither of which are something to cheer over compared to other industrial nations where the average is higher. In addition, obesity prevalence has reached 36.5 percent, about three times as high as France. This signals that while the United States has the capability to provide good health care, it is falling far behind its peers. That being said, the United States is often considered the leader in medical research and cancer treatment.

In this country, insurance is provided mostly by for-profit private insurance groups, with some exceptions. Those over 65 years old qualify for Medicare and the disabled or low-income population qualifies for Medicaid, which are sponsored by the federal government and paid for by taxes. The number of uninsured is dropping, and in 2014, only about 15.6 percent of the population goes without insurance. However, citizens still pay a whopping $987 per capita out of pocket for health care. Changes will occur over the next few years with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but it is still early to assess how recent patterns will change the ranking of the health care system.

3. Pakistan

Pakistan ranked 122 according to the WHO in 2000 and continues to struggle with health care and disease today. The average life expectancy is 67.05 in 2014, below that of Syria and Iran. In addition, infant mortality is a frightening 57.48 of every 1,000 births. Pakistan has only .6 hospital beds and .8 doctors per 1,000 people. All this indicates that the health care system in Pakistan is struggling, leaving its citizens in serious trouble.

There is much to learn from the health care systems of other nations, but changes can be made at different levels for different countries. For countries like the United States where some tweaking to the costs and the insurance sector would vastly increase the overall health of the citizens and the system, taking notes on France’s system would be beneficial. Changes would allow more people to get coverage for less money from the federal budget. But for places like Pakistan where the system is in shambles, a functioning health care system must be in place first. Overall, different nations stand in different positions, but health care systems across the world could use a restructuring.

– Caitlin Thompson 

Sources: CIA(1), CIA(2), Commonwealth Fund, Gallup Poll, NPR, The Patient Factor, PBS, WHO(1), WHO(2), World Bank(1), World Bank(2)
Photo: Telegraph