Every night, some 1,000 refugeesarrive at the Greek island of Lesbos, many cramped on rubber dingys carrying 35 to 45 people each. More than half of them fled Syria, others left violence-torn Afghanistan and Iraq.
After making it safely onto Lesbos’ shores, for many refugees, a harsh reality check awaits. The number of migrants arriving on the Greek island in hopes of finding safety and a better life in the European Union has risen dramatically in the past year, but the island lacks the resources to accommodate them properly.
A migrant family rests in the Kara Tepe transit camp in Lesbos, Greece.
New migrants usually arrive on the island’s northern shore and need to make their way 40 miles south to the transit camps, where they stay up to ten days before moving to a detention center to be registered. Some of the transit camps, however, lack adequate water or sanitation facilities as well as organized garbage collection, Kirk Day of the International Rescue Committee told The Huffington Post in an email. He added that the sites’ residents are exposed to communicable diseases and injury infections. Some migrants arrive with diarrhea, deep cuts or open wounds that are left untreated in the camps. Those in need of medicines for heart problems and diabetes often have to wait for supplies.
Faced with a crippling economic crisis, Greece’s government in Athens has been unable to provide the migrants on the island with the necessary assistance and the United Nations has urged other countries of the European Union to step in. In the meantime, it is often left to local residents, activists and aid organizations to fill the gap.
[Not only is Israeli “aid” a cynical propaganda ploy, the fact that Israeli “rescue” efforts include fast-tracking the removal of dozens of Nepali infants to Israel, must be examined. See the bottom of this article for more details. — Frontlines ed.]
Israel criticized for touting Nepal rescue while Gaza is still in ruins
by Ali Abunimah on Mon, 04/27/2015
Carrying the flag: A photo published by the Israeli army shows its personnel preparing to deploy to Nepal (via Twitter).
The director of Human Rights Watch has criticized Israel for touting its emergency aid efforts for earthquake-devastated Nepal while it continues to block reconstruction in Gaza.
“Easier to address a far away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza,” Kenneth Roth tweeted in reference to Israel’s announcement that it was flying 260 Israeli army medical and military personnel to Kathmandu.
“End the blockade!” Roth demanded. Earlier this month, 46 international aid agencies urged sanctions on Israel if it did not end the tight siege on Gaza that has prevented the rebuilding of a single home in the eight months since Israel’s devastating assault last summer.
“The blockade constitutes collective punishment; it is imposed in violation of [international humanitarian law] and, according to the UN, may entail the commission of war crimes,” the report, signed by Oxfam and Save the Children, among others, states.
[As the horrifying death toll continues to fise to many thousands, amid the collapse of much of the home, business, and cultural structures in Nepal — the result of milleniums of colonial domination, oppression, and plunder — the enormous need for international rescue and reconstruction is a plaintive appeal to the good intentions of people everywhere. But the aid will come with many conditions by the powers who bear gifts. It is instructive to study the experience of the “aid” and “recovery” of Haiti from the devastating earthquake of 2010. The US turned Haitian earthquake aid into neo-colonial, militarized occupation. The struggles of people to control their own recovery has been an ongoing fight in Haiti, and now in Nepal. The following except from a chapter in the important new book Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Humanitarian Imperialism makes this Haitian experience hauntingly present in the streets of Kathmandu today. — Frontlines ed.]
US Imperialism and Disaster Capitalism in Haiti
Keir Forgie, from Maximilian Forte’s new book:Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Humanitarian Imperialism
At 4:53 PM, on Monday, January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was the most devastating earthquake the country had experienced in over 200 years, with estimated infrastructure damage between $8 and $14 billion (Donlon, 2012, p. vii; Farmer, 2011, p. 54). This is particularly astounding considering that Haiti is recognized as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 70% of individuals surviving on less than $2 US per day (Farmer, 2011, p. 60). The quake’s epicentre was located 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, which is the most heavily populated area in all of Haiti (Donlon, 2012, p. vii). Approximately three million Haitians, one third of the country’s population, live in Port-au-Prince and every single individual was affected by the disaster: the Haitian government reported 230,000 deaths, 300,600 injured persons, and between 1.2 to 2 million displaced people (Donlon, 2012, p. vii). The country presented a “blank slate,” with all manner of political, economic, and social services in absolute ruin—an ideal circumstance to exercise the arms of the new (US) imperialism: notably, NGOs, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the militarization of humanitarian aid, and disaster capitalism.
US hegemonic globalization is the current world order—it is the new imperialism. The breadth of US influence across the globe in terms of politics, economics, and military are unparalleled across history, affording the nation the means to orchestrate geopolitics in its favor through coercion, masked by rhetorical altruism (Moselle, 2008, pp. 1, 8). However, the US is currently challenged by a state of economic decline and shifting international relations. In an effort to maintain its dominant position, the US must implement a number of novel strategies. As such, the “new imperialism” is distinguished by certain contemporary characteristics: notably, war in the pursuit of dwindling natural resources, the militarization of the social sciences, war corporatism, the romanticization of imperialism, and as a central focus to this paper, the framing of military interventions as “humanitarian,” legitimized through rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and the right to intervene. In truth, the militarization of humanitarian aid serves to facilitate the imposition of neoliberal economic policies through the exploitation of weakened states—a
Holocaust survivor, Human rights activist, Diplomat
Israel’s illegal and immoral attack on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy, which left at least nine dead and dozens injured, has rightfully stunned the world. The all-civilian convoy of 6 ships carried over 10,000 tons of critically-needed humanitarian aid and nearly 700 citizens from 40 countries. The Flotilla was an ambitious attempt to break the siege imposed by Israel on the 1.5 million Palestinians of the occupied Gaza strip, since 2007. Carrying distinguished parliamentarians, religious leaders, authors, journalists, a Nobel Peace Laureate, and a Holocaust survivor, the relief convoy aimed not only to provide relief supplies to Gaza; it sought to direct the international spotlight towards the humanitarian crisis imposed on Gaza’s residents and the imperative to end it. There is no denying that the latter objective has succeeded, albeit with tragic consequences.
The Israeli attack on the unarmed aid convoy in international waters was “[a clear] violation of international humanitarian law, international law of the seas, and [by most interpretations] international criminal law,” to use the words of Richard Falk, Professor of International Law and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is a sad reality that world governments have for too long become either complicit or apathetic to Israel’s crimes and fostered its culture of impunity, under a shield of unquestionable backing by the US. Its initial condemnation notwithstanding, the US government has pressured the UN Security Council members, again, to adopt ambiguous language which relieves Israel of responsibility and creates parity between aggressor and victim. Continue reading →
Following Israel’s criminal raid in international waters on May 31st, the Rachel Corrie MV continues to sail towards the Gaza coastline in defiance of Israeli threats. In an act of tremendous courage, the Rachel Corrie MV is determined to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
At noon today, I received the following message from Christopher Chang and Ram Kardigasu, on behalf of the Malaysian and Irish peace activists who are on board the Rachel Corrie:
RACHEL CORRIE: MV Rachel Corrie is now the sole ship on the international freedom flotilla moving towards Gaza. The Malaysian and Irish peace and humanitarian activists aboard share their deepest grief and sense of lost with the loved ones of those killed and injured in the illegal action undertaken by Israel on Monday 31st May 2010 in the international waters of the Mediterranean. Continue reading →