Jordan, Turkey lead top 10 countries hosting half of world’s refugees

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Syrian refugees stand next to tents at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in this Jan. 11, 2015, file photo. (AFP)
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Syrian students at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan receive school supplies from the Saudi Campaign to support Syrian refugees. (SPA)
Updated 04 October 2016
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Jordan, Turkey lead top 10 countries hosting half of world’s refugees

LONDON: Ten countries accounting for a meager 2.5 percent of world GDP are hosting 56 percent of the world’s refugees, with Jordan and Turkey on top of the list, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
A report by Agence France Presse quoted the London-based group as saying it is unfortunate that many of the world’s wealthiest nations “host the fewest and do the least.”
“A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbors to a crisis,” said Amnesty secretary-general Salil Shetty, presenting the report entitled “Tackling the global refugee crisis: from shirking to sharing responsibility.”
Amnesty said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has placed the number of world’s refugees at 21 million.
Jordan is the top refugee hosting country, taking in more than 2.7 million people, followed by Turkey (more than 2.5 million); Pakistan (1.6 million) and Lebanon (more than 1.5 million).
The remaining six nations listed in the top 10 each hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees: Iran (979,400); Ethiopia (736,100); Kenya (553,900); Uganda (477,200); Democratic Republic of Congo (383,100), and Chad (369,500).
“That situation is inherently unsustainable, exposing the millions fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq to intolerable misery and suffering.
“It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution.”
“It is not simply a matter of sending aid money. Rich countries cannot pay to keep people ‘over there’,” it said.
The “self-interest” of such countries meant the international refugee crisis was set to get worse, not better, Amnesty claimed.
“If every one of the wealthiest countries in the world were to take in refugees in proportion to their size, wealth and unemployment rate, finding a home for more of the world’s refugees would be an eminently solvable challenge,” said Shetty.

Saudi Arabia’s role
The Amnesty report, however, failed to take into account the fact that some countries have taken in people displaced by war in their countries but are not treating them as refugees.
One such hosting country is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has welcomed some 2.5 million Syrians who have fled since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011.
As explained repeatedly by Saudi officials, these Syrians are not treated as refugees in the Kingdom, but are instead given free health care and education and access to the Kingdom’s job market.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif also stressed this point when he spoke at the Leaders Summit on Refugees in New York last month.
In his speech, Prince Mohammed noted that aside from taking in displaced Syrians and giving free education to students among them, the Kingdom has provided support to millions of refugees in the countries neighboring Syria with aid amounting to more than $800 million, in addition to charity given by Saudi citizens.
He added that for the Yemenis who sought refuge, Saudi Arabia considers them as visitors and have provided them with numerous facilities, including exemption from residence and work regulations.
The crown prince also said the Kingdom is offering free education to around 285,000 Yemeni students. He further assured the forum that Saudi Arabia is committed to providing more support to aid refugees.


10 killed in Nicaragua protests against pension reform plan

Updated 16 min 32 sec ago
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10 killed in Nicaragua protests against pension reform plan

  • Students from Polytechnic University have been holed up on their campus since Thursday evading police.
  • Murillo compared the protesters to "vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda."
MANAGUA: Violent protests against a proposed change to Nicaragua's pension system have left at least 10 people dead over two days, the government said Friday.
In the biggest protests in President Daniel Ortega's 11 years in office in this poor Central American country, people are angry over the plan because workers and employers would have to chip in more toward the retirement system.
The government is willing to hold a dialogue and Ortega will issue a formal call on Saturday, Vice President Rosario Murillo said, adding: "At least 10 compatriots have died."
Demonstrations rocked the capital Managua and nearby cities for a third day.
The new law, besides increasing employer and employee contributions, would cut the overall pension amount by five percent.
"We are against these reforms, which means we're against this government taking from the pockets of Nicaraguans," said Juan Bautista.
He said riot police brutally attacked demonstrators like him because "the dictator does not like people to protest."
A woman nearby shouted: "The people are tired of this repression!"
Students from Polytechnic University have been holed up on their campus since Thursday evading police. Other students took refuge in nearby buildings or residences.
In Las Colinas, south of the capital, demonstrators raised small barricades and with their hands raised asked the riot police not to target them.
Four independent television outlets were taken off the air after they broadcast the demonstrations on Thursday, and two were still blocked on Friday.
Murillo compared the protesters to "vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda."
The opposition said more than 20 people were wounded while the writers group Pen Nicaragua said that at least 11 journalists were attacked while covering the demonstrations.
"We call on the Nicaraguan authorities to act to prevent further attacks on demonstrators and on the media," said Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights."
She urged the government to let people "exercise their right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly and association," and urged protesters to demonstrate "peacefully."
She also said demonstrators were attacked by government supporters in the city of Masaya.
Miguel Mora, director of the private television channel 100% Noticias -- which the government blocked -- accused Ortega of applying the same censorship he imposed in the 1980s during the Sandinista Revolution.
When Ortega returned to power in 2007 he promised to "never censor a media outlet -- and today he is doing just that," Mora told Channel 14.