Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.
Syria: With each passing week, Syria continues on a downward spiral, as fighting increases in new towns, occurs with new rebel groups, and causes more ethnic groups to flee. On Wednesday, The New York Times published an article about Syria with a title that concisely summarizes the nation’s situation: “Syria Increasingly Disintegrates in Crucible of War.”
This week, Kurdish militants stretched into the northeast region of Syria, causing hundreds of Syrians to flee the area. During their journeys, Syrian families are being separated, and with dwindling basic food staples, Syrian refugees as well as those displaced are facing health problems, such as starvation and disease. Organizations such as the UN and UNICEF are doing as much as possible with the resources available, but this week, a newest obstacle arose: Rebel groups cut off water supplies in different areas of the nation, and water is now seen as a “weapon of war.”
In every conflict, glimmers of hope appear in their own ways. Human Rights Activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday this week, and felt that girls of Syria should receive a gift. Malala inaugurated “The Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School” for more than 200 Syrian girls living in refugee camps in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, which will offer education and skills training to girl refugees from ages 14-18. Lebanon hosts nearly 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees, though the total number in the country may be even higher.
Hungary: Despite immense criticism, this week, Hungary began to build a wall across the Serbian border to prevent migrants from entering the country. The Hungarian government says that the project is meant to control the flow of the tens of thousands of migrants that come into Hungary, but humanitarian organizations as well as other EU countries have expressed concerns. Serbian’s Prime Minister expressed his disapproval, stating the last wall built in Europe should have been the Berlin Wall. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Anne Richard, said, “All migrants, regardless of immigration status, deserve humane and dignified treatment and access to asylum procedures.” So far this year, 80,000 people have migrated to Hungary, and 80% originate from conflict zones such as Syria.
However, not all Hungarians are in agreement with the government. “Foods Not Bombs,” a group of Hungarian volunteers who cook and distribute food to migrants, station themselves around the capital city of Budapest to help families in need. The group started with a few individuals who were concerned about the amount of unaccompanied children and vulnerable families wandering around the city, and grew to dozens of volunteers over the past several years. Foods Not Bombs is one of many organizations who help to care for migrants in their time of need.
Restoring Family Links in Burundi: A large portion of Burundian refugees entering reception centers near the border of Rwanda are unaccompanied minors, or individuals who have lost contact with their families. Responding to these needs, the ICRC recently developed a project aimed at helping Burundian refugees to get in touch with their loved ones, either by providing calling centers, or by encouraging refugees to use their own phones. So far, hundreds of families have been reconnected. Learn more about this ICRC Restoring Family Links service here.