Donors and diplomats met for a seventh straight year in Brussels this week to raise money for Syria's ongoing humanitarian crisis. They pledged a total of 5.6 billion euros ($6.1 billion) for "2023 and beyond," including 4.6 billion euros ($1 billion) for this year. The money will be used to support people both inside Syria and in neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees. Aid groups have said the amount isn't enough given growing needs within Syria and for Syrian refugees, many of whom face increasing pressure to return to a country still at war. The UN has so far received 11.6% of the $5.41 billion it says it needs for aid to Syrians in 2023, and that doesn't include assistance for refugees. Low funding levels have led to cuts in various forms of aid, including food rations in a place where millions are struggling to get by.
The United Nations released the Global Trend Report 2022 June 14, on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people worldwide. It finds that the number of forcibly displaced people stands at 108.4 million, with 29.4 million falling under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both figures are at an historic high. The increase in forcible displacement within one year is also the largest since UNHCR started tracking these statistics in 1975. In light of the continuing significant increase, the report says forcible displacement likely exceeds 110 million as of May 2023.
The UN migration agency reported June 13 that 2022 was the deadliest year yet for migrants crossing from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) into Europe. According to the report from the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project, a record number of 3,800 people died along these migratory routes last year. The report underscored the urgent need for action to improve the safety and protection of migrants. The data, though recognized as undercounted due to the challenges in collecting information, sheds light on the magnitude of the problem. The recorded deaths in 2022 represent an 11% increase from the previous year.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) joined with 20 other human rights organizations to issue a joint statement May 11 protesting Lebanon's summary deportation of Syrian refugees. The rights organizations say the deportations violate the international law principle of non-refoulement, which protects individuals from being returned to a country where they may face torture, cruel or degrading treatment, or other irreparable harm. "The Lebanese Armed Forces have recently...summarily deported hundreds of Syrians back to Syria, where they are at risk of persecution or torture," the statement charges. "The deportations come amid an alarming surge in anti-refugee rhetoric in Lebanon and...coercive measures intended to pressure refugees to return." (Jurist, SNHR)
Turkish border guards are indiscriminately shooting at Syrian civilians on the border with Syria, as well as using excessive force and even torture against asylum-seekers and migrants trying to cross into Turkey, Human Rights Watch said in a report April 27. The report cited hundreds of deaths along the border in recent years, with several killings and abuses this year. Since the beginning of 2023, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has recorded 11 deaths and 20 injuries along the frontier caused by Turkish border guards. Human Rights Watch independently documented and verified two such incidents.
Fighting continues in Somalia's northern breakaway state of Somaliland, where three eastern administrative regions—Sool, Sanaag, and Aynaba—have taken up arms in a bid to rejoin the internationally recognized Mogadishu government. Somaliland accuses the neighboring autonomous region of Puntland and the government of Ethiopia (which is officially attempting to broker a dialogue in the conflict) of intervening on the side of the re-integrationist rebels, who are headquartered in the town of Las Anod, Sool region. Somaliland has been effectively independent since 1991, and has seen a more stable and secular social order than the regions controlled by the Mogadishu government.
In Episode 163 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg deconstructs the propaganda campaign that would exploit the devastating earthquake to get the sanctions lifted on the genocidal Bashar Assad regime in Syria. The earthquake was actually a windfall for the drive to "normalize" the regime. Listen and find out why the superficially plausible arguments of the "no sanctions" line are cynical and intentionally misleading. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In the wake of the devastating Feb. 6 earthquake that has killed some 15,000 in Turkey and Syria, the contested political situation in the latter country is raising particular dilemmas. Aid agencies warn of "catastrophic" implications for Syria's rebel-controlled northwest, where millions of displaced and vulnerable people were already in precarious straits and relying on humanitarian support before the quake. At least half of the estimated 2,000 dead in Syria are in the rebel-controlled area. (Al Bawaba, SOHR, CNN) Due to Russian influence at the UN on behalf of the Bashar Assad regime, humanitarian access is already limited to one border crossing—Bab al-Hawa. And Moscow and Damascus have been pressuring to close that one as well.