No space for grief

In the shelter, a girl on her way to work in the fields

by Aniek Santema

The floor in Ouzai where Mariam lives becomes a familiar place, I know the people in this corner of the tall building and they greet me happily when I visit them. Today, the stairs that lead up to this floor are slippery and covered with garbage like empty bags of chips, chocolate wraps and orange peels. While climbing up the stairs to the third floor, I pass by some small kids with stains on their clothes, faces and hands, running and playing on the stairs. The youngest must be around 2 years old. Many of the kids walk around on bare feet, even though it is not warmer than 12 degrees today. 3 boys come down the stairs while playing loud music on one of their phones. On Mariam’s floor, I find Aziza playing with some small kids in the gallery, away from the dark rooms, getting some daylight. The colourful laundry that hangs outside to dry gives some colour to the grey building that breaths hopelessness. I follow the small, dark corridor in the left corner of the floor and knock on Mariam’s door.
(taken from fieldnotes, 6 March 2017). Lees verder

Book release: living with the AK-47

younes

By Younes Saramifar   While reading (VU University Professor) Hallah Ghoreshi’s Ways to Survive, I recalled the December of 1994 with amusement. She has written about her fascination with weapons during her school years in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. It seemed similar to my own enchantment with the AK-47, particularly on that day when we had to pass the exam for the course called “Preparing for Defence”—the most exciting course for a 12-year old boy with a textbook full of pictures of weaponry and war machineries; the promise of an exam in the shooting range made it all the more attractive. I still remember the cold sensation of the barrel and the shining brass of exactly five Kalashnikov bullets that we had to push inside the magazine, against the force of the spring and the cold wind of winter in the shooting range. I passed my exam with a smile and exciting memories, but I never imagined a day would come when I would name my book after the AK-47!

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Potential famine among Syrian refugees has far-reaching implications for the Middle East

Erik van Ommering   Last week around 1.7 million refugees from Syria received the following text message on their cellphones:

“We deeply regret that WFP has not yet received funds to reload your blue card for food for December 2014. We will inform you by SMS as soon as funding is received and we can resume food assistance”

The message was sent by the World Food Program (WFP), one of the UN agencies that has played a vital role in supporting refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. Hosting refugees “in the region” has been a key policy pursued by the Netherlands and other countries. Accordingly they seek to both provide aid in efficient manners and discourage refugees from seeking asylum inside, for instance, the European Union.

Purchasing basic food items in a Lebanese grocery story (photo by WFP, link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/8713978464/in/set-72157633416163971)
Purchasing basic food items in a Lebanese grocery, © WFP

As refugees register in their respective host countries, they receive a special credit card (the ‘blue card’) that is charged monthly by the WFP with the amount of USD 30, enabling refugees to purchase basic food items in selected grocery stores. For many who own little more than the clothes they wore as they fled the brutalities of Syria’s war, this support has proved indispensable. Its suspension may therefore spur catastrophe.

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