Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book

Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book
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Forty Turkish and Syrian children living in Turkiye’s southeastern province of Gaziantep have collaborated to write and illustrate a book titled ‘Gokce’ (sky in Turkish). (Supplied)
Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book
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Forty Turkish and Syrian children living in Turkiye’s southeastern province of Gaziantep have collaborated to write and illustrate a book titled ‘Gokce’ (sky in Turkish). (Supplied)
Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book
3 / 4
Forty Turkish and Syrian children living in Turkiye’s southeastern province of Gaziantep have collaborated to write and illustrate a book titled ‘Gokce’ (sky in Turkish). (Supplied)
Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book
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Forty Turkish and Syrian children living in Turkiye’s southeastern province of Gaziantep have collaborated to write and illustrate a book titled ‘Gokce’ (sky in Turkish). (Supplied)
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Updated 01 April 2023

Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book

Turkish, Syrian children collaborate on bilingual book
  • The book — which has been published in Turkish and Arabic — is currently being distributed to libraries, schools and museums in the city
  • “These children are the heroes of a common story,” Asli Gokgoz, a teacher and the project coordinator, told Arab News

ANKARA: As part of a project jointly funded by the Goethe Institute, the Dutch Embassy, the Swedish Consulate, the French Cultural Center, the Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation, and the Anadolu Kultur Foundation, 40 Turkish and Syrian children living in Turkiye’s southeastern province of Gaziantep have collaborated to write and illustrate a book titled “Gokce” (sky in Turkish), alluding to the fact that people of all races, cultures and creeds live together under the same sky.
Gaziantep, whose population is nearly 2 million, is home to about half a million Syrian refugees. The city has the second-highest population of Syrians after Istanbul. Currently, there are 3.6 million Syrian refugees across Turkiye, including 1.6 million children.
The book — which has been published in Turkish and Arabic — is currently being distributed to libraries, schools and museums in the city, including mobile libraries for children that were set up following the earthquake in February that left more than 50,000 people dead in Turkiye and Syria. The book’s cover bears the fingerprints of all the children who helped to produce it.
“These children are the heroes of a common story,” Asli Gokgoz, a teacher and the project coordinator, told Arab News. “They grew up with different stories, but they showed that they could come together to produce a common narrative that symbolizes the cultural, ethnical and linguistic heterogeneity of Gaziantep province.”
The book opens with a well-known sentence: Once upon a time. Then, children began developing the story jointly by consensus. It is about the adventures of a girl named Gokce, who lives with her lambs and family on a green upland full of colorful flowers.
The children received creative-writing training and attended interactive reading and drawing workshops to enable them to better express their feelings through words and drawings.
“These workshops helped them listen to their own voices while at the same time paying attention to what their peers were saying. We tried to contribute to their own journey of self-discovery and help to reestablish their self-confidence,” Gokgoz said.
“They are aware of their differences but they also know that they enjoy the same child rights. Such a project helped them establish a common story by a collective effort to blend these disparities around a common dream,” Gokgoz continued.
Several Syrian children who took part in the project came to Gaziantep to escape the brutal war in their home country, and are still struggling to rebuild their lives, especially following February’s earthquake. One of them, 14-year-old Mariam Nasser, told Arab News: “In spite of differences in ages and cultural backgrounds, we can integrate our efforts to produce valuable results. Social cohesion is an important factor for healthy communities.”
Nasser, who was born in Syria and came to Gaziantep as a refugee several years ago, said the project’s workshops had helped her develop her imagination and writing abilities.
“I liked getting to know Turkish children and playing with them. I even felt my self-confidence growing. Our common project also helped our families, because Turkish and Syrian families also built bridges between themselves and left behind several prejudices,” she said. “This book is a clear sign that children can achieve anything when they come together under the same sky.”
Another Turkish participant shares the same feeling.
“After this project, I learned how to live together under the same sky,” 10-year-old Ege Mai, a resident of Gaziantep, told Arab News. “I understood that people can be different from each other, but that we are all basically the same.”
 


OIC welcomes extension of Sudan armistice

OIC welcomes extension of Sudan armistice
Updated 7 sec ago

OIC welcomes extension of Sudan armistice

OIC welcomes extension of Sudan armistice

 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation welcomed on Tuesday the decision reached during talks in Jeddah to extend the Sudan armistice and ceasefire for 5 days.

The Secretary-General of the organization, Hissein Brahim Taha, said the agreement was a path towards a permanent ceasefire and an end to the armed conflict in Sudan.

The Secretary-General also commend the efforts of Saudi Arabia and the US to reach the armistice agreement.


IAEA resolves nuclear issues with Iran – Iranian media

IAEA resolves nuclear issues with Iran – Iranian media
Updated 27 min 5 sec ago

IAEA resolves nuclear issues with Iran – Iranian media

IAEA resolves nuclear issues with Iran – Iranian media

DUBAI: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has resolved nuclear issues with Iran relating to one of three sites being investigated over the presence of uranium particles, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
The agency’s alleged case regarding the findings of uranium particles with 83.7 purity has also been closed, a source told the semi-official Mehr news agency.
The IAEA is due to issue quarterly reports on Iran this week, ahead of a regular meeting of its 35-nation Board of Governors next week.


UAE to send spaceship to asteroid belt by 2028

UAE to send spaceship to asteroid belt by 2028
Updated 30 May 2023

UAE to send spaceship to asteroid belt by 2028

UAE to send spaceship to asteroid belt by 2028
  • The spaceship would travel 5 billion km on a voyage to seek clues to life’s origins found in the asteroid belt

DUBAI: The UAE has unveiled plans to send a spaceship to explore the main asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter in a new space mission.

Dubbed MBR Explorer, the spaceship would be expected to launch within a three-week period in March 2028.

Unveiling details on Monday, the UAE said the spaceship would travel 5 billion km on a voyage to help understand the foundation of the solar system and seek clues to life’s origins found in the asteroid belt.

It will pass Mars to explore seven asteroids in the main asteroid belt before finally deploying a landing craft on one of the asteroids in 2034.

The 13-year mission “will cover 10 times the distance” travelled by the ‘Hope Probe,’ which the UAE launched in 2021 to provide new insight into Mars, tweeted Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

“The Emirates Mission to the asteroid belt is a massive scientific project that will result in the establishment of private Emirati companies specialized in space science and technology,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

 

 

The mission comprises a six-year development phase of the spacecraft followed by a seven-year flight to the main asteroid belt beyond Mars, and a series of close flybys to conduct unique observations of seven main belt asteroids, said state news agency (WAM). It will culminate in the deployment of a landing craft, fully developed by UAE private start-up companies, onto a seventh, rare “red” asteroid that scientists say may hold insight into the building blocks of life on Earth.

The multiple-asteroid tour would “investigate the potential of water-rich asteroids as a usable resource and evaluate the presence of volatile and organic compounds in the asteroid belt – the building blocks of life on Earth,” read the WAM statement.

It would also allow for possible future resource extraction from the asteroids.

The UAE became the first Arab country and the second country ever to successfully enter Mars’ orbit on its first try when its Hope probe reached the red planet in February 2021.

The unmanned spacecraft aims to provide the first complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers, helping answer key questions about the Red Planet's climate and composition.


Rescue groups say Malta coordinated the return of 500 migrants to Libya instead of saving them

Rescue groups say Malta coordinated the return of 500 migrants to Libya instead of saving them
Updated 30 May 2023

Rescue groups say Malta coordinated the return of 500 migrants to Libya instead of saving them

Rescue groups say Malta coordinated the return of 500 migrants to Libya instead of saving them
  • The migrants, who included 55 children and several pregnant women, had been trying to reach Europe on May 23 aboard a fishing vessel
  • Three days later they were reportedly disembarked in eastern Libya and sent to a detention center in Benghazi

BARCELONA: A group of non-governmental organizations dedicated to rescuing migrants in the central Mediterranean is accusing the European island nation of Malta of coordinating the return of around 500 people to Libya where they were subsequently imprisoned, in violation of international maritime law.
The group of migrants, which included 55 children and pregnant women, had been trying to reach Europe on May 23 aboard a rusty iron fishing vessel when they reported to Alarm Phone — a hotline for migrants in distress — that they were adrift and taking in water, the NGOs said in a statement.
People smugglers have increasingly packed migrants and refugees into old and dangerous fishing vessels that set out from Libya to Italy or Malta.
Migrants aboard the vessel shared their GPS location with Alarm Phone showing they were in international waters in an area of the Mediterranean where Malta is responsible for search and rescue.
Despite repeated requests for help sent to Maltese authorities, the migrants were reportedly taken back to Benghazi in eastern Libya three days later, Alarm Phone said, citing relatives of the migrants.
“Instead of bringing people who had tried to escape from the extreme violence people on the move experience in Libya to a place of safety, … (the Rescue Coordination Center of) Malta — decided to organize a mass pushback by proxy at sea, forcing 500 people across 330km into a Libyan prison,” read the joint statement issued by Alarm Phone, Sea-Watch, Mediterranea Saving Humans and EMERGENCY on Monday.
The Maltese Armed Forces responsible for search and rescue operations did not immediately respond to the AP’s questions sent by email or answer the phone.
The International Organization for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency told the Associated Press that 485 people were reportedly brought back to Benghazi by a vessel belonging to the self-styled Libyan National Army, a force in the east of the country led by military commander Khalifa Haftar. The UN agencies could not immediately confirm it was the same group of migrants reported by Alarm Phone.
The vessel that intercepted the 485 migrants, the Tareq Bin Zeyad, is named after a militia led by Haftar’s son. In a report last year, Amnesty International accused the Tareq Bin Zeyad militia of subjecting “thousands of Libyans and migrants to brutal and relentless abuses since 2016.”
In their statement Monday, the NGOs said the Tareq Bin Zeyad had been spotted navigating in “peculiar patterns” close to the last known location of the boat in distress on May 24, suggesting the militia was looking for it.
Separately, eastern Libyan forces said over the weekend they had intercepted a large vessel carrying over 800 migrants, including entire families and children. The migrants were brought back to Libyan shores in Benghazi on May 26, three days after their vessel broke down in the Mediterranean.
In a video posted by the same east-based forces on May 27 showing the disembarkation of migrants intercepted at sea, one migrant interviewed says that the vessel broke down off Maltese shores, and that the Libyan navy rushed to rescue them. The AP could not independently confirm if this was the same vessel that had reached out to the NGOs near Malta.
Both the IOM and the UNHCR have repeatedly condemned the return of migrants and refugees to Libya, saying the lawless nation should not be considered a safe place for disembarkation as required by international maritime law.
Migrants returned to Libya are subject to arbitrary detention, extortion, torture and enforced disappearances by militias and human traffickers, in what a UN panel of experts said may amount to crimes against humanity.
Human rights organizations have long accused Malta of a policy of “non-assistance” and of colluding with Libyan forces, who are trained and funded by the European Union, to take back the migrants.
Alarm Phone said it was contacted by relatives of some of the intercepted migrants on May 26 to denounce their detention in Benghazi.
“The people fled wars and prisons in Syria, and now, unfortunately, they have been returned to Libya,” the statement read, quoting one relative.


Turkiye’s Erdogan retains power, now faces challenges over the economy and earthquake recovery

Turkiye’s Erdogan retains power, now faces challenges over the economy and earthquake recovery
Updated 30 May 2023

Turkiye’s Erdogan retains power, now faces challenges over the economy and earthquake recovery

Turkiye’s Erdogan retains power, now faces challenges over the economy and earthquake recovery
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a mandate to rule until 2028
  • Erdogan secured more than 52 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential runoff

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a mandate to rule until 2028, securing five more years as leader of a country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia that plays a key role in NATO. He must now confront skyrocketing inflation that has fueled a cost-of-living crisis and rebuild in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.
Erdogan secured more than 52 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential runoff, two weeks after he fell short of scoring an outright victory in the first round. His opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, had sought to reverse Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian leanings, promising to return to democratic norms, adopt more conventional economic policies and improve ties with the West. But in the end, voters chose the man they see as a strong, proven leader.
Erdogan thanked the nation for entrusting him with the presidency again in two speeches he delivered in Istanbul and Ankara.
“The only winner today is Turkiye,” Erdogan said outside the presidential palace in Ankara, promising to work hard for Turkiye’s second century, which he called the “Turkish century.” The country marks its centennial this year.
Kilicdaroglu said the election was “the most unjust ever,” with all state resources mobilized for Erdogan.
“We will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle until real democracy comes to our country,” he said in Ankara.
Supporters of Erdogan, a divisive populist and masterful orator, took to the streets to celebrate, waving Turkish or ruling party flags, honking car horns and chanting his name. Celebratory gunfire was heard in several Istanbul neighborhoods.
Leaders across the world sent their congratulations, highlighting Turkiye’s, and Erdogan’s, enlarged role in global politics. His next term is certain to include more delicate maneuvering with fellow NATO members over the future of the alliance and the war in Ukraine.
Western politicians said they are ready to continue working with Erdogan despite years of sometimes tense relations. Most imminently, Turkiye holds the cards for Sweden’s hopes to join NATO. The bid aims to strengthen the military alliance against Russia. Turkiye is also central to the continuity of a deal to allow Ukrainian grain shipments and avert a global food crisis.
In his victory remarks, Erdogan said rebuilding the quake-struck cities would be his priority. He also said a million Syrian refugees would go back to Turkish-controlled “safe zones” in Syria as part of a resettlement project being run with Qatar.
Erdogan has retained the backing of conservative voters who remain devoted to him for lifting Islam’s profile in Turkiye, which was founded on secular principles, and raising the country’s influence in international politics.
Erdogan’s rival was a soft-mannered former civil servant who has led the pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, since 2010. The opposition took months to unite behind Kilicdaroglu. He and his party have not won any elections in which Erdogan ran.
In a frantic outreach effort to nationalist voters in the runoff, Kilicdaroglu had vowed to send back refugees and ruled out peace negotiations with Kurdish militants if he was elected.
Erdogan and pro-government media portrayed Kilicdaroglu, who received the backing of the country’s pro-Kurdish party, as colluding with “terrorists” and supporting what they described as “deviant” LGBTQ rights.
In his victory speech, Erdogan repeated those themes, saying LGBTQ people cannot “infiltrate” his ruling party or its nationalist allies.
Erdogan transformed the presidency from a largely ceremonial role to a powerful office through a narrowly won 2017 referendum that scrapped Turkiye’s parliamentary system of governance. He was the first directly elected president in 2014 and won the 2018 election that ushered in the executive presidency.
Erdogan is now serving his second term as president under the executive presidency. He could run again for another term if parliament — where his ruling party and allies hold a majority — calls early elections. The number of terms was a point of contention ahead of the elections when critics argued Erdogan would be ineligible to run again since he had also held the office before the system change but he pointed to the constitutional amendments that brought in the executive presidency as justification.
The first half of Erdogan’s tenure included reforms allowing the country to begin talks to join the European Union, as well as economic growth that lifted many out of poverty.
But he later moved to suppress freedoms and the media and concentrated more power in his own hands, especially after a failed coup attempt that Turkiye says was orchestrated by the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. The cleric denies involvement.