UN and US have failed to deliver promised support for Syrian refugees, says expert

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Updated 23 September 2022

UN and US have failed to deliver promised support for Syrian refugees, says expert

UN and US have failed to deliver promised support for Syrian refugees, says expert
  • Zaher Sahloul, president of humanitarian organization MedGlobal, said Ukrainian refugees have received more help in 7 months than Syrians have received in 11 years

Promises by the UN and US to take action to help ease the worsening global refugee crisis have not be fulfilled, according to an expert playing a leading role in efforts to provide healthcare services to displaced people.

Zaher Sahloul, president of humanitarian organization MedGlobal and founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, told Arab News there are more than 26 million refugees in the world who were forced to leave their home nations, and about a quarter of them are Syrians who fled the 11-year civil war in their country.

He said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has personally visited Ukrainian refugees since the conflict in their country began seven months ago but has never visited Syrian refugees during a conflict that has lasted more than a decade.

Meanwhile, he added, despite promises by President Joe Biden that his administration would help Syrian refugees, only a small number have actually made it to the US.



“We’ve seen the secretary-general of the UN recently in Kiev,” Sahloul said on Wednesday during an appearance on The Ray Hanania Radio Show. “He was pictured greeting the president of Ukraine.

“He never went to the Syrian border. He never met with (Syrian) refugees and made this big deal of this issue. It is his responsibility to respond to crises and he is not doing his job when it comes to Syria.

“Unfortunately, the global refugee crisis is getting worse by the day. Every day you have thousands of refugees fleeing oppression, fleeing the brutalities of war, fleeing climate change, floods and natural disasters and, of course, economic and governance deterioration in countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia — and now in Europe, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where you suddenly, within a few months, have 6 million Ukrainian refugees.

“Right now there are about 26 (to) 29 million refugees in the world. Many of them came from countries that are going through wars, whether it is wars with other countries or civil wars, including in Syria. There are still 6.5 million Syrian refugees. One out of four refugees in the world are from Syria, still, after 11 years of crisis.”

Sahloul said US authorities have consistently promised to help Syrian refugees and yet have not. Former President Barack Obama pledged assistance but it was delayed for more than five years. When Donald Trump because president, all efforts to help Syrian refugees were derailed by his “Muslim ban” policies.

When Biden took over in 2021 he promised to address the problem but this has not yet happened. Approval to enter the US has been granted to as many as 25,000 refugees, Sahloul said, but in many cases their arrival has been delayed by politics.



“Let’s just put things into perspective,” he said. “President Biden, after one week of war in Ukraine, he said we would be welcoming 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to the United States. It took five years for the Obama administration to welcome the first Syrian refugees.”

Sahloul said that Obama had “humanized” the perception of refugees and added: “The Trump administration had their refugee ban, or ‘Muslim ban’ or whatever you want to call it, where they prevented any resettlement of Syrian refugees and other refugees from the Middle East.

“And then the Biden administration, in spite of their pledges to rectify the policies of the Trump administration, they were slow, still are very slow, in resettling Syrian refugees. So far (the US has) settled 3,500 (refugees).”

During 11 years of war in Syria, 1 million refugees have been killed and 100,000 have “disappeared,” Sahloul said.

“When it comes to the Middle East, we treat them a different way than any other country in the world,” he added.



“It took 70 years of war with Israel to have 6.5 million Palestinian refugees. It took six years to have 6.5 million Syrian refugees. That will give you the scale of brutality between Arab regimes and Israel, which is considered the eternal enemy of everyone in the Middle East,” Sahloul said, by way of highlighting the sheer intensity of the Syrian conflict and its refugee crisis.

In total about 89 million people in the world are “displaced” after being forced to leave their homes, he added. Some are able to remain in their own countries while others become refugees in other nations.



“In this UN General Assembly week, there are some strong voices in support of the Syrian refugees in general, including the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, although there are question marks about his politics and policies and things like that,” said Sahloul.

“One of the best speeches about refugees came from the emir of Qatar; he talked about the moral responsibility of the UN and the fact that we forgot about Syria and we forgot about the Syrian Refugees. It was a very inspiring speech.

“Unfortunately, the United Nations and other countries are not treating the root cause of the problems, they are treating the symptoms with Band-Aids.”

Hosted on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News, The Ray Hanania Radio Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and Washington D.C. on WDMV AM 700, and rebroadcast in Chicago on Thursday at 12 noon CST on WNWI AM 1080.


You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death
Updated 10 sec ago

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death
LONDON: King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, visited Scotland Monday in their first joint public engagement since the royal mourning period to remember Queen Elizabeth II ended.
Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch. Charles, who wore a kilt for the visit, spent some time shaking hands with well-wishers after he greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders.
The royal couple were visiting to formally give city status to Dunfermline, the birthplace of another King Charles: Charles I, who reigned in the 17th century before his execution, was the last British monarch born in Scotland.
Dunfermline was among towns that won city status as part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.
Later Monday, Charles and Camilla will host a reception for around 300 guests at Edinburgh to celebrate the British South Asian community. The royals will meet British Indians, Pakistanis, and many others and pay tribute to the contributions they made to the UK
Charles became sovereign immediately upon the death of his mother Elizabeth in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on Sept. 8. Britain held 10 days of national mourning, while the royal family extended the mourning period for a week after the queen’s funeral on Sept. 19.

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt
Updated 03 October 2022

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt
  • Abdullahi Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012

MOGADISHU: The Somali government announced on Monday a top Al-Shabab militant, who had a $3.0-million US bounty on his head, had been killed in a joint air strike in southern Somalia.
The drone strike on October 1, launched by the Somali army and international security partners, killed Abdullahi Yare near the coastal town of Haramka, the ministry of information said in a statement dated Sunday but posted online on Monday.
“This leader... was the head preacher of the group and one of the most notorious members of the Shabab group,” it said.
“He was former head of the Shoura council and the group’s director for finances,” the ministry said, referring to a powerful consultation body within Al-Shabab.
A co-founder of the Al-Qaeda-linked group, Yare was believed to be next in line to take over the leadership of the movement from its ailing chief Ahmed Diriye, according to the ministry.
“His elimination is like a thorn removed from Somalia as a nation,” the ministry said.
Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012. Washington offered three million dollars for his capture.
The announcement of the strike comes weeks after Somalia’s recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to stage all-out war on the jihadists, following a string of deadly attacks. They include a 30-hour hotel siege in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed 21 people.
Mohamud last month urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by Al-Shabab as he vowed to ratchet up offensives against the militants.
US forces have in the past partnered with African Union soldiers and Somali troops in counterterrorism operations, and have conducted frequent raids and drone strikes on Al-Shabab training camps throughout Somalia.
Last month, the US military said it had killed 27 jihadist fighters in an air strike near Bulobarde, the main town on the road linking Mogadishu to Beledweyne, a key city on the border with Ethiopia.
It said the air strike was carried out “at the request” of the Somali government.
Al-Shabab, which espouses a strict version of sharia or Islamic law, has waged a bloody insurrection against the Mogadishu government for 15 years and remains a potent force despite an African Union operation against the group.
Its fighters were ousted from the capital in 2011 but continue to stage attacks on military, government and civilian targets.
The group last week claimed responsibility for a bomb blast that killed a top Somali police officer near the Al-Shabab-controlled village of Bursa, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Mogadishu.

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran
Updated 03 October 2022

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran
  • The air force said it later received information from Iran’s capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare

NEW DELHI: India’s air force (IAF) said on Monday it had scrambled fighter jets after receiving information of a bomb scare on an airline bearing Iranian registration transiting through Indian airspace.
The air force said it later received information from Iran’s capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare and the flight continued its journey.
The jets followed the aircraft at a safe distance and the aircraft was offered the option to land at two airports in north-western India.
“However, the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of the two airports,” the IAF said in a statement.
Data from FlightRadar24 showed Mahan Air flight W581, which originated from Tehran and was destined for China’s Guangzhou, fly in circles a handful of times above northern India, west of New Delhi, before continuing to fly across the country and into Myanmar.
An Indian Air Force spokesman did not confirm the flight number for which fighter jets were scrambled.

Afghanistan classroom bombing death toll jumps to 43: UN

Afghanistan classroom bombing death toll jumps to 43: UN
Updated 03 October 2022

Afghanistan classroom bombing death toll jumps to 43: UN

Afghanistan classroom bombing death toll jumps to 43: UN
  • No group has so far claimed responsibility

KABUL: The death toll from a suicide bomb attack on an education center in the Afghan capital last week has risen to at least 43, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said on Monday.
A suicide bomber blew himself up next to women at a gender-segregated study hall in a Kabul neighborhood on Friday, home to the historically oppressed Shiite Muslim Hazara community.
“Forty three killed. 83 wounded. Girls & young women were the main victims,” the UN mission said in a tweet, adding that casualties were expected to rise further.
The bomber detonated as hundreds of students were sitting a practice test ahead of an entrance exam for university admissions.
No group has so far claimed responsibility, but the Daesh group which considers Shiites as heretics has carried out several deadly attacks in the area targeting girls, schools and mosques.
The Taliban authorities have so far said 25 people were killed and 33 others were wounded in the attack.
The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan last year brought an end to a two-decade war against the Western-backed government, and led to a significant reduction in violence, but security has begun to deteriorate in recent months.
The extremist hard-liners, accused of failing to protect minorities, have often tried to downplay attacks challenging their regime.
Friday’s attack triggered sporadic women-led protests in Kabul and some other cities.
Around 50 women chanted, “Stop Hazara genocide, it’s not a crime to be a Shiite,” as they marched on Saturday in Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood where the attack happened.
The rallies have been dispersed by Taliban forces often firing shots into the air and beating protesters.
Afghanistan’s Hazaras have regularly faced attacks in the majority Sunni Muslim country.
They have faced persecution for decades, targeted by the Taliban during their insurgency against the former US-backed government and by Daesh — both of which consider Shiites heretics.
In May last year, before the Taliban’s return to power, at least 85 people — mainly girls — were killed and about 300 were wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.
Again, no group claimed responsibility, but a year earlier Daesh claimed a suicide attack on an educational center in the same area that killed 24.

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote
Updated 03 October 2022

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote
  • Since neither of the two got a majority of support, a second-round vote was scheduled on Oct. 30
  • Bolsonaro beat pre-election polls giving da Silva a commanding lead of 50 percent against 36 percent for him

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s top two presidential candidates will face each other in a runoff vote following a polarized election to decide if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.
With 98 percent of the votes tallied on Sunday’s election, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had 48 percent support and incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro had 43.6 percent support. Brazil’s election authority said the result made a second round vote between the two candidates a mathematical certainty.
Nine other candidates were also competing, but their support pales to that for Bolsonaro and da Silva.
The tightness of the election result came as a surprise, since pre-election polls had given da Silva a commanding lead. The last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50 percent to 36 percent advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
“This tight difference between Lula and Bolsonaro wasn’t predicted,” said Nara Pavão, who teaches political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco.

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for another term, watch the vote count of election in Brasilia on Oct. 2, 2022. (AP)

Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, said: “It is too soon to go too deep, but this election shows Bolsonaro’s victory in 2018 was not a hiccup.”
Bolsonaro outperformed in Brazil’s southeast region, which includes populous Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states, according to Rafael Cortez, who oversees political risk at consultancy Tendencias Consultoria.
“The polls didn’t capture that growth,” Cortez said.
Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.
But he has built a devoted base by defending conservative values, rebuffing political correctness and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.
While voting earlier Sunday, Marley Melo, a 53-year-old trader in capital Brasilia, sported the yellow of the Brazilian flag, which Bolsonaro and his supporters have coopted for demonstrations. Melo said he is once again voting for Bolsonaro, who met his expectations, and he doesn’t believe the surveys that show him trailing.
“Polls can be manipulated. They all belong to companies with interests,” he said.
A slow economic recovery has yet to reach the poor, with 33 million Brazilians going hungry despite higher welfare payments. Like several of its Latin American neighbors coping with high inflation and a vast number of people excluded from formal employment, Brazil is considering a shift to the political left.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned the reliability not just of opinion polls, but also of Brazil’s electronic voting machines. Analysts fear he has laid the groundwork to reject results.
At one point, Bolsonaro claimed to possess evidence of fraud, but never presented any, even after the electoral authority set a deadline to do so. He said as recently as Sept. 18 that if he doesn’t win in the first round, something must be “abnormal.”
Da Silva, 76, was once a metalworker who rose from poverty to the presidency and is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class.
But he is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption scandals that entangled politicians and business executives.
Da Silva’s own convictions for corruption and money laundering led to 19 months imprisonment, sidelining him from the 2018 presidential race that polls indicated he had been leading against Bolsonaro. The Supreme Court later annulled da Silva’s convictions on grounds that the judge was biased and colluded with prosecutors.

Supporters of presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva react as they watch the vote count of the election in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 2, 2022. (AFP)

Social worker Nadja Oliveira, 59, said she voted for da Silva and even attended his rallies, but since 2018 votes for Bolsonaro.
“Unfortunately the Workers’ Party disappointed us. It promised to be different,” she said in Brasilia.
Others, like Marialva Pereira, are more forgiving. She said she would vote for the former president for the first time since 2002.
“I didn’t like the scandals in his first administration, never voted for the Workers’ Party again. Now I will, because I think he was unjustly jailed and because Bolsonaro is such a bad president that it makes everyone else look better,” said Pereira, 47.
Speaking after casting his ballot in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the manufacturing hub in Sao Paulo state where he was a union leader, da Silva recalled that four years ago he was imprisoned and unable to vote.
Bolsonaro grew up in a lower-middle-class family before joining the army. He turned to politics after being forced out of the military for openly pushing to raise servicemen’s pay. During his seven terms as a fringe lawmaker in Congress’ lower house, he regularly expressed nostalgia for the country’s two-decade military dictatorship.
His overtures to the armed forces have raised concern that his possible rejection of election results could be backed by top brass.
On Saturday, Bolsonaro shared social media posts by right-leaning foreign politicians, including former US President Donald Trump, who called on Brazilians to vote for him. Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed gratitude for stronger bilateral relations and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also praised him.
After voting Sunday morning, Bolsonaro told journalists that “clean elections must be respected” and that the first round would be decisive. Asked if he would respect results, he gave a thumbs up and walked away.
Leda Wasem, 68, had no doubt Bolsonaro will not just be reelected. Wearing a jersey of the national soccer squad at a polling place in downtown Curitiba, the real estate agent said an eventual da Silva victory could have only one explanation: fraud.
“I wouldn’t believe it. Where I work, where I go every day, I don’t see a single person who supports Lula,” she said.