One in 30 Syrian refugees in Lebanon was injured in the civil war
Some 200,000 people have died in Syria’s ongoing civil war—and there’s no end in sight. But it’s the impact on those who make it out alive and injured—often severely—that can sometimes be forgotten.
More than 3 million Syrians are registered as refugees outside their home country, the latest U.N. figures show. Turkey, Iraq and Jordan have all taken in hundreds of thousands of them, but nearly 1.2 million have crossed into Lebanon. According to an April report by Handicap International, one in 30 Syrian refugees in Lebanon had been injured, which means that tens of thousands of people there are carrying permanent scars from the war.
Irish photographer Andrew McConnell has been based in Beirut for about two and a half years. During that time he has frequently photographed along the Syrian border and covered the refugee crisis in Lebanon from its earliest stages, watching the numbers grow from a few thousand refugees largely hidden in society to a mass that is now equal to more than a fifth of Lebanon’s pre-war population, spread throughout urban areas and informal settlements.
The National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) is pleased to announce the winners for the Explosive Remnants of War and Land Mine Reporting Apps Challenge. Each year, a large number of civilians are killed and injured by unexploded weapons such as artillery shells, mortars, grenades, bombs and rocks. These explosive remnants of war (ERW) regularly disrupt daily civilian life in current war and conflict zones. To combat the problem, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) at the National Defense University (NDU) challenged developers to come up with a mechanism to keep “eyes on the street” and transform ordinary citizen’s mobile devices into tools that can be used to report ERW and land mines to the appropriate authorities.
The CTNSP ERW and Land Mine Reporting Apps Challenge first place winner and recipient of a $3,000 cash award was Channel 16 – Land Mine Reporting (LMR), which reports suspicious findings with text, photos, or audio messages, and alerts other users nearby. In second place with a $1,500 cash award is Flare which allows 2G, SMS based mine reporting at a very low cost. Finally, in third place with a $500 cash prize was ERW Detector which helps detect and report explosive remnants of war.
Obama Administration Pledges to Cease Use Everywhere Except Korean Peninsula
The U.S. said it is taking a significant step toward complying with a global treaty banning land mines, pledging to cease the use of antipersonnel land mines everywhere except the Korean peninsula.
Tuesday’s policy change builds on an administration policy shift earlier this year, but is fueling tensions with some senior military officers who oppose a move to ban what they view as potentially useful, defensive weapons.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel “fully supports” the policy change.
Chuck Searcy might one day return to Athens to stay.
But as he nears 70, Searcy says he still has unfinished business after 19 years in Vietnam — specifically, continuing his work with Project Renew, a group which works to reduce the toll of the unexploded bombs still killing and maiming Vietnamese children and farmers.
“We dropped 15 million bombs over Vietnam, more than all of the bombs in World War II,” said Searcy, a University of Georgia graduate and one of the founders of the Athens Observer, a newspaper that flourished during the 1970s and 1980s.
Searcy’s anti-bomb work is focused in the Vietnamese province of Quang Tri.
I was the 2013–14 Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA). I first learned about this one- of-a-kind fellowship opportunity while working as an editorial assistant at James Madison University’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery. I decided to apply to the fellowship, because it offered the opportunity to work on complex and exciting foreign policy issues regarding conventional weapons destruction (CWD), including humanitarian mine action and small-arms and light-weapons (SA/LW) destruction. Moreover, as a recent college graduate interested in international relations, I knew that working at the U.S. Department of State would provide a professional development opportunity like no other.
Upon entering the fellowship, I was placed in PM/WRA’s Resource Management (RM) division. The RM division is responsible for planning and developing the office’s budgets, managing its finances, and, in fiscal year 2013, awarding approximately $142 million in grants, cooperative agreements and contracts to support CWD projects across the globe. During my time with RM, I received an in-depth education about the federal budget process, federal grants management, grants processing and financial management.
In addition to serving in the RM division, I also assisted PM/WRA’s Program Management division. Specifically, I was tasked with assisting the program managers for our Africa and Western Hemisphere Affairs portfolios. The highlight of my time in the Program Management division was when I participated in a program-review visit to Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras. During the trip, I observed demining operations in Colombia, a weapons-depot construction project in El Salvador and SA/LW destruction in Honduras. This trip allowed me to witness firsthand the lifesaving work that PM/WRA’s implementing partners conduct.
My time as a fellow was one of the best professional development experiences I have had, and I am proud to call myself a former Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow. Although my time as Fellow has ended, I have been lucky to continue working in PM/WRA as a program analyst. I encourage anyone interested in working at the U.S. Department of State or in CWD to apply for this great fellowship opportunity.
In collaboration with Centre for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) and Hanoi Disable People Association (DP Hanoi), Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disability (AEPD) organized the workshop “Promoting the enforcement of the Vietnam National Law on Disability” (NDL).
There were many participants who are Persons with Disabilities, or from Disability Organization, NGO members in Hanoi, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA), Department of Transport and Department of Public Health. Especially, Economic Officer Mr. Joe Narus from United States Embassy in Hanoi and CISR Director Mr. Rutherford Ken also took part in the workshop. This is an opportunity for participants to listen to authentic contributive ideas about implementing the national law on disability from the voice of MOLISA’s representatives as well as share the experiences in advocacy for people with disabilities (PwDs) from departments.
Mr. Ken Rutherford shared personal experiences of his trauma overcome and how he has made to advocacy for Disability Law in the US. After that, CISR Communications Specialist Amy Crockett has presented on building a public campaign to improve awareness of community in implementation of NDL. Based on the contributive ideas, the participants actively discussed about the topics related to the difficulties that PwDs are facing with, such as the unhealthy situation of PwDs, unimproved awareness of PwDs’ family in supporting PwDs to take part in all the social activities. Besides, it is very necessary for PwDs to receive the supports from departments to access the information, capital resources, vocational trainings, especially appropriate policy. Based on the real demands of PwDs, participants have created miniature billboards by so lively messages and pictures that directly impacted on target audience’s awareness.
On behalf of PwDs in the workshop, Mrs. Duong Thi Van shares her ideas “Via the workshop, we can speak out our desires about an equal life in every aspects”. In the forthcoming days, similar workshops will be organized in other provinces such as Quang Nam, Quang Binh in order to provide the community, especially government in all levels with the necessary information about NDL, as well as develop a network of organizations operating for the Rights of Disability nationwide, so as to promote the enforcement of Vietnam NDL.
On 11th August, 2014 , the Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disability cooperated with Centre for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) and LIN Center for Community Development to organize the workshop “Promoting the enforcement for national law on disability. There were delegates from related departments and organizations for PwDs in Hanoi. Apart from the content of NDL, delegates showed out the difficulties that PwDs are facing with in their daily life and over all the aspects of social life. From the PwDs’ desire, delegates brought out the petitions to functional departments and significant messages to advocate the NDL and make it entering the real life.
NDL was promulgated in 2010 to promote, protect and ensure that People with Disabilities can participate fully and equally in all social activities. However, the Disability Law enforcement is not synchronous over the city. Ms. Pham Cao Phuong Thao, The Deaf Community Organizations in Ho Chi Minh city said, “I met a lot of difficulties in determining the disability level and allowances for children”. “Our organizations have carried out procedures but it was unlicensed” - Ms. Thu Ha from My Future Organization shared. Thus, the organizations supporting for People with Disabilities and Organizations of People with Disabilities are still struggling with a lot of unanswered questions about the policy, the operational procedures of establishment to ensure the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Organizations for People with Disabilities.
As part of the workshop’s framework, the participants divided into groups to design slogans, messages and images about the desires of People with Disabilities in particular and enforce the Law on Disability in general. The messages are close to the real life of People with Disabilities, with vivid pictures, creating the attention and calling for actions of all stakeholders to facilitate PwDs, bringing the best opportunity for equal participations in all fields of life.
Workshop organizers were really moved when witnessing participants designing images and messages on the approaching extent to the Rights of People with Disabilities. Four members put their hands on the paper and drew the hand shape – hands of people with disabilities with various forms of disability are described with symbolic images below. The question “Have you TOUCHED your rights?” actually makes a lot of us cannot help thinking, attending. In fact, there are many limitations in the promulgation and implementation of Laws and Policies in general and Disability Law in particular. It led to the fact that some PwDs and their families haven’t grasped and understood their rights, obligations and legal interests. Therefore, the promotion of Disability Law enforcement is really necessary.
In the project framework of AEPD, messages and pictures are redesigned to be leaflets, brochures and panels, poster using in public places and being released widely in order to provide the community, especially government in all the levels with necessary information about NLD. At the end of the workshop, all the organizations committed working together to implement the common mission for People with Disabilities. Ms. Tran Thi Nhieu, from the Association for the Support of Handicapped and Orphans in Ho Chi Minh City, also asserted “The association will personally host a dialogue among the related government departments and disabled people to remove the problems and listen to the aspirations of People with Disabilities to make NDL enter the real life.
The withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan is a done deal, but what happens with the explosive remnants of war the troops are leaving behind? Victims hope that the NATO summit comes up with answers.
Victims rely on people like Rahmat to provide help
"I used to feel bad about my condition," Rahmat Merzayee says. "Whenever I would see a girl on the street, I would wish I wasn’t there and hide myself." He stops for a moment. Then his blue, pale eyes twinkle with joy again. "Today I have learned to live with my condition. My work has given me so much self-confidence."
Rahmat was just nine years old when he lost both of his legs. He stepped on a mine while playing outside. Just for a brief moment, just for a second he didn’t look where he was going and his life changed forever. Since then Rahmat has had to wear prostheses and can only move with the help of his crutches. But giving up is not an option.
Rahmat is a program manager at the Afghan Landmines Survivors’ Organization (ALSO) in Kabul and an active member of the group “Ban Advocates,” which represents the demands of survivors of accidents involving land mines or other explosive remnants of war at international conferences. Here, he has the chance to stand together with other victims and speak up for them.
Land mines are not only explosive but also poisonous, leaking toxins into the soil that make plants sick. That’s unfortunate for the plants but fortunate for us—if we can figure out how to look for sick plants as harbingers of land mines. Airplanes equipped with a low-cost sensor that captures non-visible light might be the answer.
LiveScience's Becky Oskin reports from the annual meeting of Ecological Society of America, where a group of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University are presenting just this idea. That a bunch of ecologists would be interested in land mines actually makes a lot of sense; land mines lurking underground can subtly shape the ecology of an area.
The VCU researchers did their field research at an unusual place though, a “privately owned experimental minefield in South Carolina, where [DARPA] once buried fake land mines for a research project,” writes Oskin. The National Explosives Waste Technology and Evaluation Center is where researchers can (safely) experiment on new ways to detect land mines.
“Any use of cluster munitions deserves condemnation, but the best response is for all nations to join the treaty banning them and work collectively to rid the world of these weapons.”—Steve Goose, Arms Division Director - Human Rights Watch, “HRW: Islamic State jihadists using cluster bombs”, NOW media, Sept. 01, 2014
Colombian victims of the armed conflict Angela Maria Giraldo and Jose Antequera hold a press conference on August 16, 2014, in Havana, during peace-talks between FARC-EP members and Colombian government delegation (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)
Victims of the decades-old conflict pitting FARC rebels against government forces testified at peace talks Saturday, pushing for “truth” to form the foundation of any accord.
The 12 victims, some of whom came face-to-face with representatives of the perpetrators for the first time, testified during a closed-door session that lasted nearly nine hours.
"During the day, we agreed that truth is the basis for peace," they said in a statement presented to the press by six of the victims.
Islamic State militants stormed a Syrian airbase over the weekend, routing the remaining elements of the country’s army from northern Raqqah province and reportedly seizing a cache of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.
The seizure of Tabqa air base, while not the first installation of its type to fall to militants, highlights the Islamic State’s gains in the region and the group’s continued pilfering of advanced military equipment, particularly the surface-to-air missile systems known as MANPADS, short for Man Portable Air Defense Systems.
Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher at the Switzerland-based research group Small Arms Survey and author of a recent report on MANPADS in Syria, believes that the takeover of Tabqa airbase could mark a “significant proliferation” of the weapons across the region.
While the impacts of explosive weapons have been highly visible and documented, the unexploded remnants of these weapons and landmines have received limited attention despite their long-term implications.
More donor support is needed to help close the US$1.5 billion funding gap in the Sahel this year and protect the livelihoods of the estimated 20.2 million people who are at risk of food insecurity. Only 30 percent of the $2.2 billion dollar appeal to fight hunger and malnutrition, and build resilience in the region has been met by donors as of July, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Although landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) impact people living in post-conflict communities, many civilians are not knowledgeable about the types of explosive remnants of war (ERW) that threaten their daily lives. Landmine museums that display landmines and UXO that are no longer dangerous can be enlightening for visitors. Post-conflict communities in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia have established at least 13 museums featuring landmines and ERW.
By now images of the smoldering wreckage of Malaysian flight 17 have started to circulate online and on television. The aircraft, a Boeing-777 with 295 people aboard, was on a routine flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it unexpectedly dropped off radar. Moments later it crashed near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
So many moments stay with me. During the course of this recent mission in South Sudan people recounted unimaginable suffering and acute fear; they showed tremendous strength and unflagging resilience; and they shared both deep despair and determined hope.
The big international aid agencies have been hugely successful. Organizations that were once small civil society operations - groups of friends with a passion to make the world a better place - now have thousands of staff members, multi-storey headquarters buildings and multi-million dollar budgets. But insiders fret that they have become too big and have lost the flexibility and responsiveness they once had.
Government has appealed to the international community to chip in with about $100 million required to speed up the demining of the country’s borders after the exercise was allocated a paltry $500 000 by Treasury this year.
Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Martin Rushwaya told Parliament yesterday that the paltry allocation from Treasury had stalled the programme.
“We were only allocated $500 000 in the 2014 national Budget for demining and we appeal to the international community to support us to complete the demining exercise,” Rushwaya said.
Director of the Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre Colonel Mkhululi Ncube warned members of the public against tampering with landmines after being misled into believing that the explosives contained red mercury.