UNHCR stops cash aid to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon

Syrian refugee children play on a street in the Palestinian Shatila refugee camp, on the southern outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on September 1, 2017. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Thursday said it has halted cash assistance to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon due to a shortage of international aid. (AFP / ANWAR AMRO)
Updated 15 September 2017
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UNHCR stops cash aid to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon

BEIRUT: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has halted cash assistance to 20,000 Syrian families in Lebanon due to a shortage of international aid.
Some 20,000 “more needy” Syrian families will receive cash assistance instead, UNHCR spokeswoman Lisa Abu Khaled told Arab News. “We’re making tough decisions, but we have to deal with limited resources,” she said.
The spokesman for Syrian refugees in Arsal, Lebanon, said about 10,000 of them received text messages from the UNHCR saying they will be removed from its cash assistance program from November.
“This will be a disaster for these families, who are already living under the poverty threshold and have no other resources apart from what they get from the UNHCR,” he told Arab News.
Lebanon’s state minister for refugee affairs, Mouin Merehbi, warned on Thursday that the shortage of international aid will worsen the circumstances of Syrian refugees in his country.
The rise in tensions between them and Lebanese host communities is due to “many factors, including pressure on public services and employment competition,” he told the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Lebanon, Chris Jarvis.
Meanwhile, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published on Thursday said: “Millions of dollars in aid money pledged to get Syrian refugee children in school last year did not reach them, arrived late, or could not be traced due to poor reporting practices.”
The report noted the lack of transparency in financing the education of Syrian refugees. It said HRW “followed the money trail from the largest donors to education in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, the three countries with the largest number of Syrian refugees, but found large discrepancies between the funds that the various parties said were given and the reported amounts that reached their intended targets in 2016. The lack of timely, transparent funding contributed to the fact that more than 530,000 Syrian schoolchildren in those three countries were still out of school at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.”
The report added: “Donors and host countries have promised that Syrian children will not become a lost generation, but this is exactly what is happening. More transparency in funding would help reveal the needs that aren’t being met so they could be addressed and get children into school.”


UK teen who joined Daesh gives birth in Syrian refugee camp

Updated 36 min 15 sec ago
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UK teen who joined Daesh gives birth in Syrian refugee camp

  • Renews appeal to be allowed back to Britain with her newborn baby
  • Shamima Begum and two friends fled London to join the terror network in 2015 aged just 15

LONDON: A teenager who joined the Daesh group in Syria but now wants to return to Britain on Sunday gave birth in a refugee camp, as European governments grapple with what to do with returning extremists ahead of a US troop pullout.
Shamima Begum, whose fate has stirred controversy ever since she and two friends fled London to join the terror network in 2015 aged just 15, told Sky News she had delivered a boy.
“I just gave birth so I’m really tired,” the 19-year-old said as she made a renewed appeal to be allowed back to Britain with her newborn baby.

“I’m afraid he might even die in this camp. I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through,” she said.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left. I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back,” she added.
Her case comes as European nations struggle with how to deal with extremists eager to return home following the disintegration of Daesh’s “caliphate” in eastern Syria.
US President Donald Trump again demanded on Saturday that they take back hundreds of captured Daesh fighters.
Trump said on Twitter that the United States was asking Britain and other continental allies “to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial.”
The demand came as he prepared — ahead of the pullout of US troops — to declare the group’s so-called “caliphate” destroyed, with US-led Arab and Kurdish forces close to capturing its last Syrian territorial holdout.
“The US does not want to watch as these Daesh fighters permeate Europe,” Trump added.
“Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!“
Begum, previously gave birth to two other children after marrying in Syria. Both children died.
Leading politicians, including interior minister Sajid Javid, have vowed to prevent her return, pointing to her lack of remorse for joining the terror group.
Begum told Sky News she was aware of Daesh’s brutal tactics, including conducting beheadings, but did not regret going to Syria.
“I knew about those things and I was OK with it at first,” she said. “They take care of you... you’re living under Islamic law.
“I don’t regret it because it’s changed me as a person, made me stronger, tougher.”
The teenager, who said she had had no contact with British officials, added the government should not block her homecoming because she was “just a housewife” while there.
“I never made propaganda, I never encouraged people to come to Syria.
“They don’t really have proof that I did anything that is dangerous,” she said.
Europe has long been grappling with how to respond to foreign fighters, and their supporters or dependants, caught in Syria.
However the looming US departure has created a deadline for those governments whose citizens joined IS and have now been captured by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Britain’s government appears split on the issue.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, a former attorney general — the country’s chief legal adviser — told the BBC on Sunday that it was “obliged, at some stage at least, to take them back.”
He noted it was “a matter of international law and domestic law.”
However, writing in The Sunday Times — under the headline “if you run away to join Daesh, I will use all my power to stop you coming back” — Javid insisted the government should strip “dangerous individuals of their British citizenship.”
He said Britain had already exercised this power more than 100 times.
“In considering what actions need to be taken now, I have to think about the safety and security of children living in our country,” Javid wrote.
Other European countries that have chosen to leave the extremists in SDF detention are now being forced to confront the situation.
“All German citizens — including those who are suspected of fighting for the so-called Islamic state — have a fundamental right to travel back into Germany,” a German foreign ministry source said Sunday.
Belgian justice minister Koen Geens told Flemish broadcaster VRT there was the need for a “European solution” to the issue, but appeared irked by Trump’s blunt call.
“It would have been nice for friendly nations to have these kinds of questions raised through the usual diplomatic channels rather than a tweet in the middle of the night,” he said in Dutch.