Refugees in the Balkans

When we talk about the European Refugee Crisis everyone’s thoughts turn almost solely to Greece and Italy. Greece and Italy are overrun with refugees trying to reach safety because of their geographical location. Asylum seekers crossing from Turkey first reach Greece, and those coming from North Africa first reach Italy. Subsequently, the situation in Greece and Italy often makes the headlines with aid organisation directing their resources to help the thousands residing in the camps near the borders. However, other lesser known regions have also recently found themselves with an influx of refugees and not enough resources to cope. Thus, in this post we will focus on the plight of those who find themselves stranded in the Balkans. With the help of Collective Aid NGO who work tirelessly in the region to provide aid to those trying to pass through, we will unveil the reality of the situation in the Balkans.

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History of the Balkans

The Balkan states most commonly refer to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. In 2015 whenRead More »

Syria: A Breakdown of the Seven Year War

Syria is like a buzzword in the news today. We hear Syria, we know it is bad, we know we feel terrible for anyone from Syria, and we know that we need to help the Syrians. However, after a couple of conversations it’s come to light that whilst people understand there is war, not everyone really understands the cause of the conflict in Syria and what is going on now. So lets break it down.

The Beginning

7 years ago is when the conflict started. It is now longer than the second world war. For many years prior to this the political situation in Syria had been tense. Syrians complained of corruption, economic downfall and a hinderance on their freedom. However, it was the Arab Springs (the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia) which fuelled the start of this war. Encouraged by the successful overthrowing of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, in March 2011, Syrians began their own pro-democracy protests against president Bashar al-Assad.Read More »

Report Released on Human Rights Violations Affecting Refugees in Northern France

A short update today as I bring your attention to a newly released report co-produced by Help Refugees and Refugee Rights Europe. The report was released today on the two-year anniversary of the shut down of the ‘Calais Jungle’. The purpose is to highlight the increasingly dire situation for refugees in Northern France over the past few decades, and draw attention to the critical need for authorities and the British government to intervene and implement change.

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The two organisations have produced a time line which covers activities of asylum seekers, government authorities and aid agencies from 1994 to the present day. The time line is easy to understand and highlights the critical information that you need to be able understand the message. The message being that the situation for the asylum seekers is worsening. They are enduring police brutality, harsh conditions, infringements of their rights and exclusion from the society they are trying to survive in. Read More »

The Rohingya Crisis: Was it Genocide?

To continue on the very large theme that is the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, I bring you another post to discuss just one legal concept….genocide. A sombre concept but frighteningly applicable to the events leading up to the Rohingya refugee crisis (background of this in last post). As previously stated, UN officials have gone as far as to describe the actions of the Myanmarese military and their Buddhist counterparts towards the Rohingya as genocidal. Unarguably the violence directed at the Rohingya was grave, devastating and fatal in nature. It was horrific enough to undoubtedly violate many international human rights, humanitarian and criminal laws. Yet, however much we would like to penalise the guilty party for genocide, does it legally fit the bill?

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Definition of Genocide

We may all have in our minds our own idea of genocide that I imagine resembles something like ‘an outstandingly vile and catastrophic event whereby mass amounts of humans are arbitrarily killed’. However, to hold someone/something accountable for Read More »

The Rohingya Muslim Refugee Crisis

Inspired by the last post on statelessness, I thought it fitting that the next one should be a whole post dedicated to one of the largest stateless populations in the world, the Rohingya Muslims. What follows is not a post focused on a specific human rights issues, but a more general overview, almost a story, of a population plunged into complete crisis and forced to battle numerous human rights issues everyday. It is not the briefest of posts but decades of unwarranted suffering endured by the Rohingya has earned them more respect than a ‘summary’.

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The Rohingya Muslims. A population who are victims of relentless persecution. The majority of Rohingya Muslims alive today have never experienced a life free from persecution. The Rohingya population reside in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, one of the poorest and most basic in the country, and claim to be descendants of Muslim traders who settled in the region centuries ago. However, a long history which has seen Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country home to over one hundred different ethnicities, unwilling to accept Rohingya Muslims, has made survival for the Rohingya a constant battle.

The more than one million Rohingya Muslims are described as the ‘world’s most persecuted minority‘” – Al Jazeera

Read More »

Trafficking of migrant children on the rise as the European Refugee Crisis continues

kid trafficking post

First post, let’s not sugar coat it, let’s dive straight in with the real issues. Trafficking is an abhorrent violation of anyone’s human rights, let alone a vulnerable child. It might not be the shortest post but we’ll give such an important issue the time it deserves. Read on to unpack the realities of our legal system and the effect on the trafficking of migrant children.

The ‘Refugee Crisis’, a term bounced around our media since 2015, but what does it mean? The current Refugee Crisis refers to the sudden and large influx of migrants crossing European borders as triggered by the increasingly in-habitable environments in Syria, South Sudan and Iraq to name but a few. Consequently, there has been mounting pressure on European states to accept those seeking refuge and assist them. This pressure on the states, as we have recently seen reach breaking point in Italy, makes the term Refugee Crisis two fold. Firstly, it is a crisis because of the conditions that the refugees are fleeing in their home states. Secondly, it is a crisis because of the insurmountable pressure being piled onto European states, putting a strain on resources and funds.

As time goes on and the number of migrants attempting to cross into Europe increases, resources become more and more stretched and the conditions to which they arrive in Europe rapidly deteriorate. As one can imagine, such factors are not conducive to a safe environment for children. When we combine increasingly cramped and unsafe environments, with overloaded European governments and a lack of protective legal provisions, it is no surprise that it has become a breeding ground for the trafficking of migrant children.

“Europe is the world’s most dangerous destination for “irregular” migration”. – International Organization for Migration

The very fact that these children are placed at risk of trafficking through no fault of their own tugs at my heart strings. As if they haven’t already been through enough? They are a refugee by virtue of the fact they are fleeing persecution of some kind in their home country, not by choice. Yet, they are greeted in Europe with another form of persecution (albeit complex to prove under the Refugee Convention), which may be equally as horrifying as the one they were running from in the first place.

girls in camp

So, why is trafficking on the rise? Of course there are many angles from which we could approach this, however we will proceed from a legal perspective. Look away now if brief descriptions of legal instruments is not your thing. Read More »