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. […]
The UN refugee agency warned in a report released on Friday that 2013 was on track for some of the highest levels of forced displacement ever seen by the agency, due to unusually large numbers of new refugees and internally displaced people.
The report said 5.9 million people were forced to flee their homes in the first six months of the year, compared with 7.6 million for all of 2012. The biggest producer of new displacement was Syria.
UNHCR's "Mid-Year Trends 2013" report is mainly based on data provided by the organization's more than 120 country offices, and shows sharp rises in several important indicators. Among these is the number of new refugees: 1.5 million during the first six months of 2013 compared to 1.1 million for all of 2012. Another is people newly displaced within their own countries – 4 million people compared with 6.5 million for all of 2012. […]
The European Union on Wednesday donated €63 million to the UN refugee agency for its operations for Syrians displaced by the war in their country. It was the largest single contribution that UNHCR has received from the EU.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres welcomed the donation from one of UNHCR's most important partners. "We must do whatever we can to help those who have lost everything through this conflict" he said before attending a signing ceremony in Brussels with EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva.
"One of UNHCR's priorities is to bolster support in the neighbouring countries during the winter, where the vast majority of Syrian refugees live and where needs are greater than ever", Guterres added, referring to the bitter weather that has descended on parts of Syria and neighbouring countries. […]
Award-winning graphic artist Reinhard Kleist says working with Syrian refugee children in northern Iraq as part of an ambitious multimedia project was the most emotional work he has ever done. "Unlike my work in Berlin, here I can interact directly with my subjects and see how they react to my drawings", the 43-year-old said after conducting a recent masterclass for children in Kawergosk refugee camp.
He was there to take part in a project by the Franco-German television channel, ARTE, to produce documentary programmes, interactive games, texts, photos and artwork from four refugee camps around the world. […]