Ramallah – alquds.com – Ahmed Daraghmeh
Lena,* a Palestinian refugee, advises anyone considering crossing the Mediterranean as an illegal migrant against setting out on the journey. She does not hesitate to express her regret for embarking on the hazardous voyage, after living through moments of death in all its horrific details and suffering ordeals similar to the pains experienced by Palestinian refugees following the Nakba, as she made her way to Europe in search of a better life, which is still elusive two years after her arrival.
Twenty year old Lena’s life is just one more chapter in the long novel of Palestinian exile and alienation. Her family were forced out of Palestine in 1948 and driven to Lebanon, where they were again forced to depart, fleeing the civil war. Lena has now been settled in a building beside her twin sister in a refugee camp in Roskelda in Denmark, after leaving her sister and mother behind in Algeria.
Her father had been working in the Palestinian embassy in Algeria for almost four years when the Algerian authorities asked him to leave the country. He returned to Palestine, where his attempts to reunify the family in Gaza met with failure.
Lena was unable to find any work in Algeria, which suffers from high unemployment, and so she decided to migrate. In 2014, she headed to Libya, where she spent 25 days in a house with 200 other refugees, among them elderly people and children with faces full of tears. Everyone was afraid to leave the house as the smugglers had told them they ran the risk of being arrested by the Libyan police.
After 25 demoralising days, as described by Lena, the smugglers removed them from the house without any of their bags, due to the large number of migrants and the small size of the boat. Fifteen minutes after the launch of this “boat of death,” the engine failed, and they spent six hours adrift on the open sea, unable to return to the coast for fear of arrest.
Lena says that she and the other passengers had lost all hope, before the sound of another boat brought them back to life. It processed to tow them across the sea for twelve hours, and they were then transferred to a larger ship which conveyed them across the Mediterranean. It was as five days before Lena arrived at a refugee camp in the Danish capital. Her time there was very difficult, and ended with the camp’s closure, after which she was relocated to the camp in Roskelda.
Despite her successful crossing and safe arrival on terra firma, unlike the thousands of other refugees who have drowned in the sea or were returned to their countries, Lena describes her experience as “cruel and degrading,” and is certain that she would not embark on the crossing if she could go back and face the decision again.
Lena adds that even after her settlement in Denmark, “Europe is not a path strewn with roses, and adaptation to life there is not easy.”
After having experienced the long pain of asylum and the ravages of migration and exile, Lena was given a chance to train as a journalist with a paper belonging to the Red Cross. She now writes stories about refugees and their bitter experiences, but says, “I have accomplished nothing in the last two years, and I feel as though I have lost my future. I wanted to study veterinary medicine.”
She also adds, “The training has helped improve my English, and it fills up my time. I get to know a lot of the refugees and their tragic stories.”
For now, Lena works three days a week in a Red Cross headquarters, about an hour and a half’s journey from the camp in which she lives.
Translated by Conor Fagan
View the original article here.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) ratified today, without a vote, on a resolution on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. The resolution had been ratified last October by the Fourth Committee as the UNGA renewed the UN’s support for the a search to a negotiated political solution to the issue based on the standards of negotiations the UN Security Council (UNSC) set in 2007.
This resolution confirmed that the UNGA “supports the series of negotiations which began in accordance with Resolutions 1754 (2007), supported by Resolutions 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013) and 2152 (2014), issued by the UNSC in order to reach a political solution that is just, lasting and acceptable to all parties.” It also acknowledged the efforts made in this regard.
In particular, the resolution calls for countries of the region to fully cooperate with the efforts undertaken under the supervision of the UN and with each other in order to reach an acceptable political solution by all of the parties to the regional conflict over the Sahara.
The resolution also called on the parties to continue to show the political will and to operate in an atmosphere of dialogue in order to enter with good faith and without preconditions into a phase of even more intensive negotiations, taking into account the efforts made and developments that have occurred since 2006 in order to ensure the implementation of the aforementioned UNSC resolutions.
The UNGA supported the UNSC’s approach since ratifying Resolution 1754 (2007), in reference to Morocco’s provision of its autonomy initiative in the Sahara, which has garnered praise from the executive body and the entire international community as a serious and credible initiative to finally settle the regional conflict over the Sahara.
Through its support for the UNSC resolutions, including Resolution 2152 (April 2014), the UNGA has adopted the fixed norms determined by the UNSC to reach a final solution to this issue, which the resolution describes as a “disagreement.”
A number of observers confirmed that by ratifying this new resolution, the UNGA has joined the UNSC in its call for other parties, which remain in a locked in a rigged and extremist position, to express the necessary political will to contribute to reaching a consensual political solution under UN auspices.
Translated by Kevin Moore.
Access original article here.
The French Foreign Ministry confirmed the kidnapping of a French citizen in the mountainous Tikjda region where he was on vacation in an area near Tizi Ouzou in eastern Algeria. The Foreign Ministry did not mention that the kidnappers were from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in the area, or another gang.
In a Monday statement, the French Foreign Ministry confirmed the kidnapping of a French citizen in the mountainous Tikjda region, located between the Tizi Ouzou and Bouira provinces (120 km east of Algiers), on Sunday evening as he was on vacation in the area.
The ministry confirmed that “a French citizen was kidnapped in the Tizi Ouzou region that he was visiting,” and that there had been no declaration of responsibility.
The ministry said that “all efforts are being made to find our citizen. The authorities have been mobilized and nothing is out of the question,” adding that “we are in constant contact with the Algerian authorities who are cooperating with us and supporting us fully.”
Security sources previously confirmed that the matter is related to a French tourist who was on a tour in the Tikjda region, the highest summit of of the Djurdjura mountain range.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates in the area
Sources did not mention that that kidnappers were from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in the area, or if the issue was related to armed gangs that have previously kidnapped Algerian citizens for the purpose of demanding a ransom.
According to the “al-Hadath al-Djazaïri” news website, the victim “entered Algeria two days prior where him and his Algerian friends rented a chalet in Tikjda.”
The site added that, according to a high-level security source, the French citizen “went out last night for a tourist outing with his friends, when a terrorist group from Aït Ourban surprised them after confirmed that he was a French national. They kidnapped him a released the Algerians.”
Over the last ten years, approximately 80 people have been kidnapped to Tizi Ouzou, all of them Algerians. Most of them were released after a ransom was payed, while three were killed according to the press.
The most recent victim was a 19-year-old man who was found dead a week after being kidnapped in October 2012.
The three perpetrators were arrested and sentenced to death in November 2013 on charges of murder and kidnap for ransom.
In 2011, Algerian security forces arrested members of a criminal organization charged with being behind a number of kidnapping incidents in the Kabylie region.
The members of this gang were charged with belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and placing fake security barriers in the Aghrib region, near Azeffoun.
Investigation revealed that the members of the gang were responsible for three kidnappings and the killing of a contractor who tried to escape his capture in 2010.
The had been no news of the kidnapping of a foreigner in the region prior to this incident, which comes hours after the Islamic State released a call to kill every citizen affiliated with the countries of the coalition (including France), which have formed to fight this group in Syria and Iraq.
Translated by Kevin Moore.
Original article available here.
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