My heart is torn between East and West. I live somewhere between the present and the past. I don't know who I am.


Just another human being biding their time on this earth. Passionate about current affairs, history, politics (particularly MENA region), religion, cute animals and food.

Disclaimer: All photographs on this blog do not belong to me but to their rightful owners unless otherwise stated. All efforts have been made to link the material back to its original source. Please drop me a message if you see any of your material and would like to have it removed!
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Posts tagged "World"

Almost 260,000 people, half of them young children, died of hunger during the last famine in Somalia, according to a UN report that admits the world body should have done more to prevent the tragedy.

The toll is much higher than was feared at the time of the 2010-2012 food crisis in the troubled Horn of Africa country and also exceeds the 220,000 who starved to death in a 1992 famine, according to the findings.

"The report confirms we should have done more before the famine was declared," said Philippe Lazzarini, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

"Warnings that began as far back as the drought in 2010 did not trigger sufficient early action," he said in a statement.

Half of those who died were children under five, according to the joint report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

"Famine and severe food insecurity in Somalia claimed the lives of about 258,000 people between October 2010 and April 2012, including 133,000 children under five," said the report, the first scientific estimate of how many people died.

Bear in mind, this is just an estimate. The fact that this number could be (and most likely is) significantly higher is extremely sickening. That’s what the precious lives of these people, these angels has been reduced to, a number

Inna lilahi’ wa ina ilayhi la raji’oon

I made these cupcakes today for a bake sale they were holding at my school for Syria.

March 15th today marks two years since the start of the Syrian revolution, two years of uprisings and protests against one of the most barbaric regimes in history. I could go on about the number of people martyred since then, the plight of the refugees, the innocent civilians caught in the middle of it all etc. but I hate the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy that overcome you when you look at those statistics. I can’t even begin to put into words the amount of suffering that the Syrian people have gone through, the heartaches and the struggles. These struggles have all been documented, analysed, written about and commented on. What people often forget to document is the sheer perseverance and resilience of the Syrian people: the bravery of the protesters and their inspiring creativity, the dedication of citizen journalists and activists working tirelessly on the ground, the patience of the families who have to flee their homes and neighbourhoods, the refugees who left with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their faith in God. There’s nothing ‘romantic’ about this grim reality but too often we forget to look beyond it. The situation in Syria is not hopeless. How can we allow ourselves to give up on the Syrian cause when the Syrian people refuse to give in?

A beautiful reminder for those who feel hopeless:

This picture was taken in the Damascus Suburb of Douma, Syria by Bassam Al-Hakeem. The writing on the wall reads:  ‘You have killed nothing but our fear,  Douma will never kneel to anyone but Allah.’

This picture was taken in the Damascus Suburb of Douma, Syria by Bassam Al-Hakeem. The writing on the wall reads:

‘You have killed nothing but our fear,

Douma will never kneel to anyone but Allah.’

Childhood Under Fire - Syria’s children are paying the heaviest price.

Two million children trapped inside Syria are innocent victims of a bloody conflict that has already claimed 70,000 lives, UK-based charity Save the Children warned Wednesday saying that these children are under constant risk of malnutrition, disease, trauma and early marriage.

In a new report, “Childhood Under Fire,” launched to mark two years of violence in Syria, Save the Children details the impact of the conflict on children, showing that many are struggling to find enough to eat; are living in barns, parks and caves; are unable to go to school with teachers having fled and schools being attacked; and that damage to sanitation systems is forcing some children to defecate in the street.

Citing new research carried out amongst refugee children by Bahcesehir University in Turkey, the report also reveals the extent to which children have been directly targeted in the war, with one in three children reporting having been hit, kicked or shot at.

Combined with the breakdown of society in parts of the country and more than three million people displaced, the conflict has led to the collapse of childhood for millions of youngsters.

"Childhood under Fire" details how some young boys are being used by armed groups as porters, runners and human shields, bringing them close to the frontline, while some girls are being married off early to ‘protect’ them from a widely-perceived threat of sexual violence.

The report’s key findings are:

  • Thousands of children are facing malnutrition as food production is wiped out and severe shortages take hold. "Why did we leave? Hunger. Food. There was none. No bread. If I stayed my children would have died from hunger," — Rami, father of three.
  • Millions of children have been forced from their homes and tens of thousands are living in parks, barns and caves. "There were 13 of us in total, crammed into one room. We did not leave that room for two weeks."- Yasmine, 12.
  • Girls are being married off early in an effort to protect them from perceived threat of sexual violence. "My daughter is 16 and she loved school. She is innocent and very pretty. I know that men are hurting women. We could not protect her, so we had to marry her. We needed her to have a protector." — Um Ali, mother of two.
  • Families have been left without heating in winter as fuel prices have risen by up to 500 percent. "In one area of Syria where Save the Children is responding, during the bitter winter, school benches were stolen for firewood; desperate, understandable measures to stay warm, but further erosion of children"s opportunities to learn and play."- Childhood Under Fire.

"For millions of Syrian children, the innocence of childhood has been replaced by the cruel realities of trying to survive this vicious war," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "Many are now living out in the open, struggling to find enough to eat, without the right medicine if they become sick or injured. As society has broken down, in the worst cases, hunger, homelessness and terror have replaced school for some of these young people. We cannot allow this to continue unchecked; the lives of too many children are at stake. "

The research by the Bahcesehir University also reveals the extent to which children have been affected by war, with nearly one third of children surveyed saying that they had been separated from members of their families due to the conflict. Three quarters of those surveyed had experienced the death of a close friend or family member. Many are showing signs of emotional difficulties as they struggle to come to terms with their experiences.

Save the Children, which is providing humanitarian relief in Syria and neighboring countries, is calling for all parties to the conflict to allow unfettered, safe access to populations in need and to ensure that everything is done to bring the fighting to an end.

It welcomes pledges to fund the $1.5 billion humanitarian appeal for Syria, and calls on governments to urgently deliver the money, which is designed to target aid both inside the stricken country and to refugees living on Syria”s borders.

To shine a light of solidarity for the children of Syria, Save the Children is planning a series of vigils in 21 countries around the world on Thursday, March 14th to mark two years of conflict in Syria. The real-life vigils will be complemented by a virtual vigil amplified by a “thunderclap" — a single, coordinated message that will synchronize social media with a united voice of support for the #SyriaCrisis. Virtual supporters can simply sign up to synchronize their own messages on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Save the Children on Twitter and Facebook.

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About the girl in the photo: Sana* is three years old and fled Syria with her mother and three sisters. An increasingly brutal civil war is tearing Syria apart. One million people have now fled Syria and are sheltering in neighbouring countries. Read her story.

Fleeing Syria for their lives

 

Picture 1: Abdul and his family fled from their apartment in Syria after his wife was shot in the street during cross-fire between armed groups. The most important thing he was able to bring from Syria are the keys to his home that he holds in this photograph. Though he doesn’t know whether the family’s apartment is still standing, he dreams every day of returning home.

Picture 2: Tamara’s home in Syria was partially destroyed in September, and the family decided their best chance of safety was to reach the Syrian-Turkish border. “When we left our house, we felt the sky was raining bullets,” Tamara recalled. “We were moving from one shelter to another in order to protect ourselves.” The most important thing that she was able to bring with her is her diploma. With it she will be able to continue her education in Turkey.

Picture 3: Ahmed, 82, and his wife Fatima, 67, fled from their home in August 2012 after their  neighbour was killed for asking soldiers why they had executed his son. The most important thing Ahmed was able to bring with him from Syria is his wife. “She’s the best woman that I’ve met in my life,” he says. “Even if I were to go back 55 years, I would choose you again.”

Picture 4: Iman, 25, decided to flee with her son and daughter when she heard accounts of sexual harassment against women in her home city in Syria. The most important thing Iman was able to bring with her is the Koran that she holds here. She says religion is the most important aspect of her life, and that the Koran gives her a sense of protection. “As long as I have it with me, I’m connected to God,” she says.

Picture 5: Marwa, 8, and her family arrived in a refugee camp in Iraq by foot. She says she wept as she made the journey through the cold, over a rough trail, as her mother carried her and her baby brother.  She is now attending school and says that she finally feels safe. The most important thing she was able to bring with her when she left are the bracelets she displays in this photograph.

Picture 6: Salma, 24, and her family were forced to flee their home last summer. Confined to a wheelchair and blind in both eyes, she says she was terrified by what was happening around her. Salma says the only important thing that she brought with her “is my soul, nothing more - nothing material”. When asked about her wheelchair, she seemed surprised, saying that she considers it an extension of her body, not an object.

Picture 7: Abdulaziz, 37, fled his home in Syria the night his neighbors were killed. The next day he used the majority of his savings to hire a truck to flee with his wife and his two sons. The most important thing that he was able to bring with him is the instrument he holds here. It is called a buzuq and he says that “playing it fills me with a sense of nostalgia and reminds me of my homeland”.

Picture 8: Hisham, 37, and his family fled Syria early in 2012, paying a smuggler $1,100 to take them across the border. The most important thing Hisham was able to bring with him is the photograph of his wife that he holds here. “This is important,” he says, “because she gave me this photo back home before we were married, during the time when we were dating. It always brings me great memories and reminds me of my happiest time back home in Syria.”

Picture 9: Neda, approximately 100 years old (age between 90 and 107 according to family members), fled from her home last December when the apartments surrounding hers were destroyed. Crossing the border into Iraq was a very difficult process for her, and the journey on foot lasted the better part of a day. The most important thing she was able to bring with her is the ring that she displays here. When she was ten years old, her mother gave it to her from her death bed, saying, “Keep this ring and remember me.”

Picture 10: Mohammed, 70, and his family fled Syria when their family home in Damascus was destroyed by a bomb. They escaped in the back of a truck after covering themselves with plastic sheeting. The most important thing Mohammed was able to bring with him is the cane that he holds in this photograph. He says that without it, he wouldn’t have been able to make the two-hour crossing on foot to the Iraqi border.

China’s Powerful UNICEF Ad Campaign.

In 2008, the advertising firm of Ogilvy and Mather was commissioned to design an ad campaign for the Shanghai branch of UNICEF aimed at drawing attention to the over 1.5 million children who continue to live in extreme poverty in China in spite of 30 years of continuous economic growth. 

These image were part of a series of outdoor ads displayed throughout the city of Shanghai, which were also featured as print ads. The sign next to the children in the ads reads “Don’t ignore me. China has over 1.5 million underprivileged children.”

The most shocking photo of Beijing air pollution.

Both photos were taken in Beijing by Bill Bishop. The photo on the left shows his view on a clear day. That tall building is the mammoth China World Trade Center Tower III. On the right is a photo of the same view, taken late on Wednesday, U.S. East Coast time, or about 8 a.m. Beijing time. The 81-story skyscraper is all but invisible, shrouded by a layer of pollution so dense that even close-up objects are a blur.

Air quality in China’s capital, Beijing, has hit serious levels, with thick smog and a sandstorm blanketing the city. State news agency Xinhua, quoting officials, said the pollution levels were “dangerous”. Beijing’s environment agency blamed large amounts of dust blowing in on strong winds from Inner Mongolia, and urged people to stay indoors.

Last month, air pollution also soared past levels considered hazardous.The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said high pollutions were also recorded in others parts of China, including Tianjin and Hebei province.

stay-human:

Pictures (top to bottom, left to right): 1) From twitter account of Osher Maman of the Israeli Golani Brigade. 2) A montage posted by Osher Maman which includes a dehumanizing picture of a blindfolded Palestinian. 3) Hebrew over Gaza says “Soon to be a giant theme part” 4) Also from Osher Maman’s instagram. 5) Maman violating Israeli laws about mishandling weaponry.

This is “the most moral army in the world,” everybody.

As Mor Ostrovski’s now infamous Instagram image of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle generated disgust around the world, the Israeli army claimed that the photograph was “a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values.”

It is understandable that an occupation army that markets itself as the “most moral army in the world” would attempt such damage control.

Those who follow matters closely know that the photograph was an apt symbol for the Israeli army’s contempt for the lives of Palestinian children, as well as for the total impunity soldiers accused of crimes against Palestinian civilians enjoy. Even in terms of “misuse” of social media, it was no isolated incident.

Israeli soldiers’ use of social media has given a unique insight into an “army” that functions more like a rabble – with soldiers misusing weapons, breaking laws, and expressing violent and extreme views and posting images of themselves doing it online.

Electronic Intifada

Once upon a time, night had been his friend.

Underneath her cloak he would sit and watch the city. If the city slept, night was his comrade and his companion. She was his armchair for reflection, his schoolbook, inspiring him with lines of poetry and undiscovered treasures of imagination.

And if the city was alive, if she danced to the tunes of a wedding, burst with the beeps and bustle of traffic, winked at him with her lights; she opened for him the doors of discovery, curiosity, and adventure. His heart raced with the music, his feet itched with delight and longing. The shop lights would beckon at him as he pictured chicken on rotating skewers, the knife coming down on them gently. The quick wrap of bread by nimble fingers. Saha- good health- move on. What’s your order?

Often he would sit on the roadside with his friends, wraps shared between them. Meat and yoghurt sauce lingering between their teeth. Pass me your unwanted pickles, fat Hassan would laugh. But most of us liked our pickles anyway. The stones are gathered. Who can flick the farthest? Giggles and banter replaced by concentration. Sharp, successive flicks- the sounds of “chinks” recoiling against the wall. Hassan as usual not getting very far. We gather to survey the results, negotiate stones, and take our positions once again. Pause, as a family decide to walk past.

This was the night. It was life and bustle, peace and discovery, friendship and comfort. And that night was no more.

She had disappeared into history books, stacked away in an unknown classroom. She was a dream no longer sought. Her memories were numb. His eyes did not search for her. His arms did not seek her embrace.

He stood outside in the darkness. A sharp wind tugged against the tents. Stones scuffled beneath his soles, welcoming him with a familiar pierce. The hot air dried the sweat of a nightmare off his face. Around him, behind him, he heard soft sobs, muffled cries, heavy breathing, and an overwhelming silence. The silence of uncertainty, of fear.

The vast sky could have meant endless horizons… but it didn’t. Its twinkling stars may one day have spoken to him, but tonight they did not seem to know him. Its sea of blue could have been the ink of his imagination- his poetry. But all he saw was blackness and rejection.

Not peace, but turbulence. In his heart. Its rapid beatings brought back the flashbacks of his nightmare, of things his young eyes should not have seen. “Hassan, is that you?” Hand sticking out of rubble, as if waving… but ever so still. Like when they performed a play at school and that Mahmoud, ever so brilliant at acting, kept the audience on their toes and brought tears to the mother’s eyes as he lay dead in pretence. But this time… this was real death? Not an actor on the floor in a school hall who would get up and laugh at the end of it… but someone who would remain still… forever. Hassan was forever still.

Another jolt, another memory. A terrible sound- like a thousand trays had crashed to the floor. And flashes of light that made them run to their mother. Feelings he did not know, could not describe, were pulling and grabbing at his throat. Why was he shaking, shivering, his flesh jumping, crying ecstatically? O mama, what are these sounds? O Mama, save me!

This now was the night. Not friendly beckoning lights, but images of fire raging angrily in his face. No sound of music or life, but memories of explosions- of screams from hell. Night was his sister’s hollow eyes. Night had destroyed his home, stolen his brother. Night was Hassan’s white face, sometimes asking for pickles, bursting into a smile, and then forever remaining still.

Night fought with his head: tumbling images, tightly wrapped emotions, till exhausted, he sunk to his knees.  I don’t know.

I don’t know.

What would Mr. Ahmed say? I can’t even write poetry anymore. Hassan… why is your face so white? Why did you wave at me if you weren’t going to come back? Why didn’t you hide yourself underneath all that rubble? Night… why did you betray me?

And like he did in every night… he released. To horror’s indescribable. To miseries far reaching. A sticky wetness spread into his trousers as he pulled himself together and sobbed his shame into the night.

And night, powerless, wishing she could reach out and bring back their days of happiness… cried out in anguish and sorrow at what humanity had made of her.

But humanity, dumb and blind, never heard her.

By: Amal Saffour studied English Language and Literature at Kings College London and thereafter did her PGCE at the Institute of Education. A qualified teacher, she recently left teaching to work in a Syrian Human Rights organisation, as well as the charitable sector. As someone who loves and values the power of words, she blogs her poetry and reflections at www.homeboundblogger.wordpress.com, with plans to develop it further. Amal was also Vice President of FOSIS between 2010-12 and has been active in community and youth work in the UK.

image

Happy valentines day to the man who lost his wife as his home was bombed.

Happy valentines day to the man who watched his sister get raped before his eyes.

Happy valentines day to the man who had his skin burnt with acid and his eyes pulled out in Assad’s prisons.

Happy valentines day to the man who was pushed out of his home to become a refugee.

Happy valentines day to the man who held onto the left over finger and toe of his baby under the rubble.

Happy valentines day to the man who kissed his mothers head and went out to protest and never returned.

Happy valentines day to the man speaking to media every day risking his life.

Happy valentines day to the man running under sniper shots to get bread for his family.

Happy valentines day to the man run over by a tank.

Happy valentines day to the man now left mentally ill after suffering rape by Assad’s forces.

Happy valentines to the man who ran to save a child from the shooting only to end up dead as well.

Happy valentines day to the men who have stolen my heart, the men of Syria in prison, at home, in the street, in a mass grave, in a fridge or in a tent…

The greatest and bravest men of all times.

[Photo taken in Baba Amr, Homs, on the 10th Feb 2012. More photos here http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.303998612971814.71099.303981849640157&type=3 ]

By RoseAlhomsi. Follow Rose on Twitter.

(via fattysaid)

This is actually horrific! The bodies of at least 80 young men and boys, all executed with a single gunshot to the head or neck, have been found in a river in the Syrian city of Aleppo, a watchdog and rebels said.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 65 bodies were found in the Quweiq River, which separates the Bustan al-Qasr district from Ansari in the southwest of the city, but that the toll could rise significantly.

A Free Syrian Army fighter at the scene said the death toll is higher, pointing out that many more bodies were still being dragged from the water, in a rebel-held area.

"Until now we have recovered 68 bodies, some of them just teens," said Captain Abu Sada, adding that all of them had been "executed by the regime."

Read more here…

unicef:

More than 600,000 have fled the conflict in Syria and registered as refugees. The number of Syrians who have left without registering is unknown but is likely to be hundreds of thousands.

We do know, however, that children make up around half the number of refugees and that is certainly no way for any child to live their childhood.

What is going to happen and when will a Syrian child be able to simply be a child?

Follow UNICEF’s activites regarding the Syrian crisis here: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/syriancrisis_67185.html

These numbers by no means represent the true picture. The numbers you see above in the graphic are of those refugees who were able to register with the UN. Many either don’t have the right paperwork or they refuse to. I know for a fact that refugees in Egypt are 10x more than the number you see in the graphic. They’re also some of the luckiest. Refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are living in dismal conditions. Many fled Syria with just the clothes on their backs. Children have had to pay the heaviest price due to lack of resources and supplies which has left them unprepared for the harsh winter months. A large majority also suffer from psychological trauma as a result of witnessing death and the destruction of familiar buildings and neighborhoods that used to signify safety and continuity.  

You don’t have to feel bad for these refugees. Pity and tears will do nothing for them. They need real help on the ground. Please donate and keep them in your thoughts! 

Hand In hand For Syria - Registered non-political UK charity that has verified it’s aid is entering into Syria and helping those most in need.

Syrian Orphans - A collection of Non-Profit Org’s supporting orphans in Syria

Rise 4 Humanity - Dedicated to helping the children of Syria via donations and awareness campaigns 

Humanitarian Relief For Syria - Supports needy families and orphans as well as distributing aid in Syria

Syrian Sunrise Foundation -  Promotes social and economic opportunity and growth in Syria through humanitarian relief efforts.

Syrian Assistance - Independent, Non-Profit Org of volunteers set up to raise money for the basic humanitarian needs in Syria

Medecins Sans Frontieres - The only reputable international org. with doctors and a purpose built medical facility on the ground in Northern Syria.

Syrian Expatriates Organization - Provides various medical, humanitarian and logistical aid across Syria to those that need it the most 

Kahyr Charity Foundation - Saudi based charity that provides food, blankets, monetary support and more for families in Syria 

The Maram Foundation - Supporting Syrian Refugees inside Syria, specifically the Atmeh Camp. 

The Syrian American Alliance - Non-profit organization in the USA that aims to build a new future for a unified, non-sectarian, democratic, and free Syria that respects due process, freedom of expression and human rights. 

(via darksilenceinsuburbia)

simply-war:

The 6 Best Dresses At The Golden Globes

Shout out to The Onion for reminding us that there are more important things to be worried about than what celebrities are wearing.

(via allahyil3analsohyouniyeh)

Child in camp for Syrian refugees

Not a single Syrian refugee child we met in northern Lebanon was dressed for winter. None had warm coats, or mittens. Some didn’t even have shoes.

Tiny hands were pink with cold in temperatures near zero. Like children anywhere, their hands still stretched out to greet us when we trudged up a hillside in the Bekaa Valley to reach the snowbound concrete blocks they now call home.

When they weren’t laughing, as children do, they were coughing and crying. One little boy in blue pyjamas and sandals gave us a warm smile, through chattering teeth.

It has been the worst of winters for Syrians fleeing the worst of wars. More than 600,000 have already fled into neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

Many are forced to live in tents or makeshift shelters that provide no refuge from the most severe storms in two decades. One aid worker told us people were “swimming in their tents” as snows melted.

Not a day goes by without someone standing up in some capital to express concern about Syria.

One centre we visited in the Bekaa Valley was distributing vouchers for food and fuel provided by the United Nations and some NGOs. But an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid is only about 25% funded.

In crudely-built refugee homes like the ones we saw, they’re doing battle with metal roofs that leak, blankets for windows that let the wind and cold in, and children getting sick.

"Its shameful to live like this," cried Najoud, a mother of eight, as she she broke down in tears. "We are also God’s creations."

Report by Lyse Doucet, chief international correspondent for the BBC. Follow her on twitter: @bbclysedoucet

israelfacts:

Palestinian Christians and Muslims jointly celebrate the lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestine, December 2012 

More than 170,000 Palestinian Christians live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, without proper political representation, freedom of travel, equality before the law, and many other civil and human rights. The occupation does not discriminate between Christians and Muslims — they both suffer the same.

See also: For the first time in the 2,000 year history of Christianity, Bethlehem and Jerusalem will be completely cut off by illegal Israeli settlements after Israel authorized the construction of more than 2,600 homes in Givat Hamatos. Bethlehem is now surrounded by 22 settlements, all built on stolen Palestinian land.

(Photographs: WAFA)

Seven people so far have died in Homs after they inhaled a “poisonous gas” used by government forces in a rebel-held neighbourhood, activists said.

Activists also told Al Jazeera on Sunday night that scores of others were affected in al-Bayyada neighbourhood. Side effects reported include nausea, relaxed muscles, blurred vision, and breathing difficulties.

Residents said they did not know the nature of the gas used.

"The situation is very difficult. We do not have enough facemasks. We don’t know what this gas is but medics are saying it’s something similar to Sarin gas," Raji Rahmet Rabbou, an activist in Homs, told Al Jazeera.

A doctor treating patients subsequently said the gas seemed to be a concentrated form of tear gas that has not been used in Homs before. Inhaling large amounts can lead to suffocation and death, he said.

The gas appears to have been used during a battle with rebel fighters.

We received the following videos from a field clinic in the city: (WARNING - some viewers may find scenes in these videos to be disturbing or upsetting)

Follow @tweets4peace for more updates on this story.