The kurdish: a history

The kurdish: a history

To help you understand the recent military attacks against the Kurdish population at the Syrian border, STAND News takes a look back at the history of the Islamic ethnic group.

It is difficult to underestimate the bitter history of the Kurds, an Irianian ethnic group of approximately 36 million people living mostly in various regions of the Middle East – namely Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. About 25% of the Kurd population currently live in western Turkey, while up to 15% live in northern Syria. This Islamic minority have once more held front pages across the world after Trump’s White House stood back to allow Turkey to launch attacks on their former allies at the Syrian border, displacing over 130,000 Kurds in just a few days. 

The Kurdish people have been stateless since the 1800s, with the closest resemblance of Kurdistan borders being considered after World War I. Since then, Kurdish kingdoms have been crushed by Iraqi, British and French forces. They faced genocide from Iranian forces in the 1980s during Reagan’s office, and fought for thirty-five years in a guerrilla war against Turkey. 

Since 2014, Kurdish fighters took control of key cities in Syria to defend them from a rising Islamic State. The Kurdish population of Syria have long been vocal about their infringed human rights in the country, staging the Rojava revolution to establish the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in 2016 – an area deemed to have a social revolution of democratic confederalism. In doing so, they have fostered a growing allyship with the United States, which alarmed Turkey, 

By standing back and allowing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to send his army into northern Syria, Trump has bitterly betrayed those who were once the US’s most purposeful allies in the fight against the Islamic State. Rallies have taken place across Europe over the weekend – including in Dublin – to protest against Trump’s action, and to encourage alliance with Sweden’s plans to embargo weapons with Turkey at an upcoming EU summit. 

 

 

Photo by Hilary Ellary on Twitter

 

 

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The kurdish: a history

To help you understand the recent military attacks against the Kurdish population at the Syrian border, STAND News takes a look back at the history of the Islamic ethnic group.

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The Fixable Fact of Homelessness in Ireland

The Fixable Fact of Homelessness in Ireland

By July 28 this year, the homeless population of Ireland reached a staggering 10,275. The number of homeless families has increased by 178 per cent since June 2015, with more than a 1000 per cent rise in the number of families becoming homeless every month since 2011. This astronomical number does not even include “hidden homelessness” – people living in squats, staying indefinitely with friends, those in domestic violence refuges or even those who are sleeping rough. The official rough sleep account in Dublin in April 2019 was 128 people.

For Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen, the solution to homelessness is clear – more social housing and more affordable rental accommodation. But is it quite that simple? Maybe it is.

Of course structural factors are prominent in the direct causes of homelessness. One cannot deny the effects of the housing market – people are being pushed out of their homes due to high rents, landlords selling up and an overall shortage of properties to rent at all. In some cases, life’s circumstances such as mental illness, relationship breakdowns or addiction, can cause people and families to become homeless quite suddenly. However it may be submitted that there is something more fundamentally flawed that remains rooted in the people that have the power to change things.

Every person in Ireland is painfully aware of the horrors of homelessness . Those growing up in Dublin especially have grown grossly accustomed to the sight of homeless people, or young children going to school out of bed-and-breakfasts, or students crashing on their friend’s couches as they cannot afford their rent at the moment. It is a sure sign of something inherently wrong when these statements simply don’t faze anyone anymore.

While the stark figure of 10,000 homeless seems daunting and unapproachable, the solution is just within our grasp. A solution to the every-growing “Homelessness Crisis” is perhaps not as distant as we perceive. So why is the government making no visible effort to tackle the issue in any tangible way? There is certainly a stigmatised view of the cycle relating to homelessness – a slight feeling that perhaps these people put themselves in this position and we should leave it up to them to remove themselves of it, one of those phenomena that is terrible in theory but bizarrely appears to be acceptable in practice through a warped sense of victim-blaming. However, a dehumanised approach to homelessness will hardly solve the urgent crisis at hand. The small and incremental actions that are currently being taken are almost insignificant compared to the rapid rate of the growth of homelessness right now.

Greta Thunberg has recently emerged as a global leader, working diligently to combat climate change. Yet her discourse is undeniably appropriate in a discussion on homelessness. At the UN Climate Action Summit, though referring to a very different topic, she stresses: “You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”

Amidst a disheartening crisis, it is essential that the public maintains hope and focuses on working toward the solution, not the problem at hand. Focus Ireland has provided some recommended figures earlier this year – €400 million to deliver 2,000 social homes in addition to 7,716 homes in 2020, the approval of a €1.3 billion borrowing capacity to finance 6,500 new social homes by 2021, an “innovate homeless prevention” fund of €500,000 and €250,000 to fund mediation services. They also recommend a vacant home tax to return units back into the “active housing supply”, the provision of Case Managers and Family support teams, the restoration of domestic violence services, an increase of Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payments. Ireland’s rainy day fund, which will be worth approximately €2 billion by the end of next year, would more than cover this. And I cannot think of a better cause for these funds than the eradication of homelessness, once and for all.

 

 

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

 

Want to learn more about how the housing crisis is impacting students in Ireland? Listen to the STAND Student Podcast – Episode 1

 

 

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Ireland’s Direct Provision system needs to end!

Ireland’s Direct Provision system needs to end!

Most people agree that Direct Provision (DP) is an inhumane system. It has been termed a “severe violation of human rights” by Emily Hogan from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC). In many ways, the DP system is reminiscent of other shameful episodes in Irish history including Catholic industrial schools, Magdalene laundries, and mother and baby homes. 

Initially established as an interim system that would accommodate people for no more than 6 months, DP has morphed into a system in which people can become trapped for years. Latest figures show that 157 people have spent more than seven years in the system while waiting for their applications to be processed. Currently, there are about 6000 people living in the 39 DP centres across Ireland. Many still don’t have access to their own cooking facilities. People in DP live their lives in limbo, not knowing how long they will be in the system for. According to the Irish Refugee Council (IRC), this often leads to stress and mental health issues.   

DP controls central aspects of people’s lives including their ability to work and study. Until recently, asylum seekers were not allowed to work at all, although this blanket ban was declared unconstitutional last year. However, only about 15% of eligible adults have started work since then. This is because numerous restrictions make the right to work for asylum seekers more of a fantasy than a reality – including their inability to get a driver’s licence. 

Now, DP is making headlines again due to protests over plans to open a new DP centre in the village of Oughterard in County Galway. The recent burial of a transgender woman – Sylva Tukula – in an unmarked grave, without any of her loved ones present, following her death in an all-male centre in Galway city also ignited public fury – and drew attention to the failings of the system. 

IHREC has found that women within the DP system are an extremely vulnerable group and that the system negatively impacts on a wide range of women’s rights. This covers reports of harassment, including verbal abuse and proposition. AkiDwA Ireland also discussed the various human rights abuses women face in a recent submission to the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. Other women’s rights issues have recently come to light, including women in DP being left without access to sanitary products, and access to proper abortion services due to the remote location of centres. Raising children in the centres also presents many challenges.

More generally, the for-profit nature of Ireland’s DP system has been widely condemned by the human rights community. The IRC has outlined how the accommodation of asylum seekers in remote centres without access to facilities and services exacerbates their marginalisation. It recommended centres should be in locations with easy access to educational, medical, transport, and other services. But these recommendations are largely ignored and communities which house centres are generally not consulted in advance – something which would appear a prerequisite to better integrating asylum seekers into communities. 

Clearly it is time for this system to have a radical overhaul. 

 

Organisations like MASI (the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) have been working tirelessly to end DP for many years now – and they need our support.  If you want to learn how to help: https://spunout.ie/life/article/how-can-i-help-end-direct-provision1.

 

Photo by Braca Karic on Wikimedia Commons 

 

 

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Migrant crisis in Venezuela

Migrant crisis in Venezuela

It is quite an unbelievable phenomena when one realises that the Venezuela crisis has now become one of the largest economic collapses outside of its war in over four decades. Venezuela is now in the midst of a severe political and economic crisis and ripple effects of which are now felt at an alarming rate across the hemisphere. There is severe food, medicine shortages and crime rates have soared high to beyond imagination. About 10% of the population has already fled the country just in the last four years. 460,000 Venezuelans have claimed asylum from political persecution and violence while around 1.8 million have gained other forms of residency. Thousands of innocents have lost access to employment, education and social services. The United Nations has characterised this situation as one of the largest and fastest mass migration in the history of Latin America and hence is now considered a humanitarian crisis. This oil-rich country is now facing fuel shortage and frequent blackouts too. The government says that the shortage is due to the US sanctions while the opposition is of the opinion that this is due to corruption and mismanagement of the funds.

 

Where do these migrants go?

Approximately 8 out of every 10 migrants choose to be in Latin America or move to the Caribbean. The remaining are migrating to North America or to the EU. Like most cases, these unforeseen circumstances have greatly strained the capability of the host nations to provide basic assistance to the large influx of refugees coming in.

 

Who is in charge?

The political crisis began with two rival politicians Mr Maduro and National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó – claiming to be the country’s legitimate leader. Mr Guaidó declared himself interim president in January, arguing that Mr Maduro’s re-election last year had been “illegitimate”. Guaidó’s presidency has been recognised by more than 50 countries including the US, Canada and most countries in Latin America. Although Maduro retains the loyalty of most of the military and important allies such as Russia and China.

The biggest problem facing Venezuelans in their day-to-day lives is hyperinflation. The annual inflation rate reached 1,300,000% in the 12 months to November 2018, according to a study.

 

How has the international community reacted to this crisis?

Apparently only a fraction of the international assistance is dedicated to this crisis. the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) asked the international community for $738 million to assist migrant-receiving countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2019. By early July, international donors had contributed a scant 23.7% of the requested funds.

According to Pilin Leon, a representative for the coalition of Venezuelan migrants at the Organisation of the American State (OAS), “In Venezuela it isn’t a formally declared war, but there is a situation of violence in the streets of all the cities,” she said. “Our situation is one of displacement that deserves legal recognition as a refugee population.”

 

Photo Credits: Federico Rios Escobar for The New York Times (A group of Venezuelan Migrants walking through the Andes climb aboard a truck to Colombia).

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox.

 

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To help you understand the recent military attacks against the Kurdish population at the Syrian border, STAND News takes a look back at the history of the Islamic ethnic group.

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Media and Migration : The power of imagery and its perception

Media and Migration : The power of imagery and its perception

Media is a huge part of storytelling today. Is it responsible for the history that is being written for future generations to come?

Migration is a topic that has taken centre stage in the media in the last few years. However, few journalists are trained to cover this issue. These are the recent conclusions of media experts who gathered on 18 March in Paris to discuss on Media and Migration, during a thematic debate organized by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

To make things worse, it is a common knowledge that across all countries , “media have been manipulated by political leaders, too often accepting their outrageous statements,” added Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network which has recently published Moving Stories. 

The personal connections between politicians and media houses are known and understood by the journalists and this is taken under consideration when and how they choose to report issues. Three years ago, pictures of a dead child who was a  Syrian refugee and was found on a Turkish beach, were widely circulated and became the highlight of discussions and accumulated criticisms against the media. In contrast, the image of the Mexican refugees (specifically the image of a dead father and his daughter on the banks of a river holding hands)are not given equal prominence in the Western media in comparison.

The entanglement of media and migration expands across all fields, namely political, cultural and even social life. Migration is increasingly digitally tracked and national and international policy-making draws on data on migrant movement, anticipated movement and biometrics to maintain a sense of control over the mobility of humans and things.Social imagery has driven strong emotions and sometimes biased conclusions too.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Budapest Business School and the European Journalism Centre based at Maastricht in the Netherlands, has been working to turn the camera around on news production in Europe. The example cited in their research expands one’s understanding about migration and how it is seen across the world. 

On of their interviewees, a Swedish newspaper reporter, is very positive about the role of journalism: “I enjoy great respect. People listen to what I say and want to hear my opinion.

However some, like this UK newspaper journalist, have a different experience: “Even my own friends hate the fact that I work here and think I’m a disgrace, but I’ve just learned to ignore it and I just get on with my work.”

To see migrants as a strong labour force instead of those fleeing persecution and seeking asylum will definitely change the way integration is dealt with in the western countries. The impact of imagery in the media and its impact on migration and policymakers across the world is to be given utmost importance. Images have a lasting impact and are easily able to garner attention. The question to consider is: are we being fed the images we want to see? Or are we being made to see selected images that may impact our perception of the affairs of the world?

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Why Are World Hunger Levels Increasing?

Why Are World Hunger Levels Increasing?

Recent reportage suggests that world hunger, one of the most pressing (and – arguably – preventable) humanitarian crises of today, is on the increase. The UN has said that over 820 million people worldwide remain hungry, and that its current target of zero hunger by 2030 will be ‘an immense challenge’. 

The increase in hunger is due to a number of factors, including rapid population increase, economic instability and income inequality. The UN says the increase jeopardises achieving other sustainable goals including climate action, as this hunger impacts all from farmers to newborn babies.

The increase in hunger is being mainly blamed on the general decrease in the level of aid deployed from richer areas to poorer areas, and specifically to certain African countries. According to Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, humanitarian organisations are currently receiving only 27% of what they need to provide relief to those affected by the hunger crisis. In 2018, this included a 3% decrease in overseas development assistance than in 2017 – including a 4% decrease in African aid, and 8% decrease in humanitarian aid.  

Speaking in the Guardian, Egeland says: “It is a question of priorities. The world’s total military expenditure has increased to a whopping $1.8tn. The cost of closing the humanitarian funding gap and providing people with basic support equals to just about 1% of this”. 

It appears that if political will matched the sense of humanitarian duty, much of this hunger could be easily prevented. 820 million adults and children across the globe would not go hungry tonight. If hunger is eradicated, in tandem would be less illness, increase production in agriculture, and a monumental increase in the quality of life for many. The (perhaps chosen) inability to prevent this hunger is one of the great tragedies of our age.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Browse more news below or sign up to our newsletter to get our top news straight to your inbox.

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The truth about the climate crisis rarely reaches outside a certain cohort of people and often you have to seek this truth for yourself.

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The breakdown of our planet is the farthest thing from fair, targeting those most vulnerable in our society rather than the actual culprits causing the earth’s devastation. STAND’s Student Festival hosted a panel discussion targeting this exact issue on November 7th on TUD’s campus.

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