It's been a heartbreaking, life-threatening journey for Syrian refugee Rajaa and her three children to reach this Athens basement lit by only a small lantern and a candle. It's no wonder that even though the family is sheltered from the rain outside, they still don't feel secure.
The 42-year-old woman, her teenage son and two small daughters left war-ravaged Syria for Lebanon in a few months ago to join her husband, who was working there. They were cheated by a smuggler who promised to get them to Sweden – but disappeared with their precious $30,000.
Using the last of their cash, her husband sent the four of them on a circuitous overland journey that ended with them boarding an inflatable dinghy in Izmir, Turkey, while he remained behind in Lebanon. There were 35 men, seven women and seven children on the unseaworthy craft – all trying to evade a 12.5-kilometre heavily guarded wall along the border between Greece and Turkey. […]
The daily routine at kindergartens in Jordan's Za'atri refugee camp rarely begins with the laughter of Syrian children, despite the valiant efforts of their teachers and guardians. This Monday's cold but sunny morning in the "Sunshine" kindergarten in Za'atri's District 6 was quite different. Excitement, joy, happiness and disbelief rang out as hundreds of toys found their way into the hands of some of the youngest Syrian refugees.
Created, donated or collected by children in Oxford and Berkshire through the Pitt Rivers Museum and the UK Scouts and Guides Fellowship during the Autumn, the toys travelled more than 2,300 miles to their final destination – a journey made possible by the UK branch of Aviation Without Borders and UNHCR. The initiative, entitled "Toys for Smiles" proved this week to be worthy of its name. […]
Today the European Commission adopted the 2013 national programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). The funds available amount to EUR 41.9 million. This is EUR 45 million less than initially envisaged. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a standstill in the European integration process, the European Commission could not justify providing the full amount of previously envisaged pre-accession aid to the country. Unlike development aid, IPA is specifically designed to help countries with their pre-accession reforms.
The programme focuses on projects directly benefitting the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These include support to the justice sector and the fight against money laundering, support for refugees and internally displaced persons, social inclusion in education, demining, Roma and SME development.
The allocation of EUR 41.9 million comes on top of the EUR 16.4 million already committed this year to Bosnia and Herzegovina via the Multi-Beneficiary Programme to support refugees, education and civil society. […]
Just as winter weather has hit Syria and the region, the European Commission has mobilised an additional €30 million aimed at providing urgently needed assistance to the conflict-affected population inside Syria, as well as to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon. This follows just few days after the European Commission signed major contracts with United Nations agencies totalling €147 million to deliver vitally needed aid to people affected by the Syrian crisis.
The extra €30 million come from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and are in addition to €960 million already provided by the European Commission since the start of the crisis, including the €400 million comprehensive assistance package launched with the Joint EU Syria Communication of 24 June 2013. […]
Following footage showing migrants and asylum seekers ordered to strip naked and then be hosed down at a first aid and reception center on the island of Lampedusa, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières called today for the immediate closure of the facility until conditions can be improved to meet minimum standards of living and basic human dignity.
The video—which shows naked people being hosed down in an apparent effort to treat them for skin diseases--has triggered a wave of indignation among Italian and European authorities and illustrated once again the awful conditions and complete lack of respect for people in the center, said MSF.
"Our teams have visited the center regularly over the past months", says Loris De Filippi, President of MSF Italy. "Every time, we witnessed overcrowding, with people having to sleep outside; a lack of respect of medical confidentiality; insufficient showers and toilets; inappropriate behavior by members of the staff; and lengthy periods of stay in a center not designed for it. We have systematically reported these issues to the authorities, but it has fallen on deaf ears. No action has been taken". […]