Focus India: Indian Sex Slaves Are Being ‘Hidden’ in Secret Passageways and Cupboards #HumanTrafficking #Prostitution

Rescued child sex workers in India reveal hidden cells in brothels.

NEW DELHI, Dec 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A ladder propped against a stained wall leads up into a dark passage on the second floor of an Indian brothel, lined by a series of locked doors. Hidden inside are tiny cubicles, stashed with sex workers’ clothes, blankets, cosmetics and condoms.

The barely-lit passageway meanders along, intersected by many other dank corridors, and arrives at a trap door, which swings open to reveal another secret space, rarely seen by clients or outsiders.

“They are actually meant to deceive and hide,” one sex worker said quietly.

“A person can get lost and then simply disappear.”

Trafficked young girls are being “broken into prostitution” – and hidden from the law – behind a maze of passages and secret cells in crumbling brothels across New Delhi and other major cities, campaigners say.

Of an estimated 20 million commercial prostitutes in India, 16 million women and girls are victims of sex trafficking, according to campaigners.

Thousands of children, largely from poor families, are lured or abducted by traffickers every year, and sold on to pimps and brothels who force them into sexual slavery.

“These tehkhanas (hidden cells) harbour minors and have also become an escape route for them when there are raids,” said Swati Jai Hind, head of the Delhi Commission for Women, which has rescued 57 girls this year.

“We get specific tip-offs about children being brought here but when we come for rescue, we sometimes find no girls – they vanish.”

The government has introduced a number of measures to combat sex trafficking – from strengthening laws to boosting social welfare schemes.

But reports of young girls being sold for sex and hidden in labyrinths are rising, campaigners say.

“There are increasing cases where girls are describing life inside these dark and dirty places,” said Rishi Kant of the anti-slavery charity Shakti Vahini.

“We were part of a rescue where a seemingly regular cupboard led to a hidden passage from where girls were found. Urgent action is needed.”


When policeman Prabir Kumar Ball started investigating a missing persons complaint in India’s eastern West Bengal state this year, he thought it was a routine case.

But the search for a teenage girl led him to the brothels of New Delhi and Agra, a popular tourist destination some 200 km (124 miles) south of the capital and home to Taj Mahal.

“The brothels in Agra had bunkers, just like the ones found along international borders,” he said.

“We had to break into them to rescue the girl. We found six others hidden in these bunkers. Rescuing them was like going to war,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ball said the traffickers take girls from West Bengal to Delhi safe houses, then sell them on to brothels in other towns.

The arrest of a couple from Delhi in November dismantled one of the region’s biggest trafficking networks and gave “a rare insight into how bunkers and tunnels are used to hide young girls when police raids happen”, he said.

Many trafficked young girls end up on the congested streets of New Delhi’s largest red light district, known as GB Road.

Dimly lit staircases, next to ground floor hardware stores, lead up to hundreds of multi-storied brothels. Pimps haggle with customers, older women solicit and younger ones watch quietly.

As exchanges are agreed, customers enter the brothels. They are led to small, windowless rooms and the doors are closed.

“Nothing in this place has changed since I was brought here 20 years ago,” a sex worker said as she applied make-up and got ready for clients.

“It was a dirty place when I came and still is. The maze of rooms, the way deals are struck and the plight of the women stuck here is frozen in time.”

More and more survivor testimonies are providing evidence about brothel layouts and the extent of exploitation in them, spurring many agencies to push for their closure.

West Bengal’s child welfare committee ordered the police in May to demolish “hidden places” in GB Road brothels, after listening to the testimony of a rescued girl.

The Delhi Commission for Women has also written to the police and civic authorities, demanding they identify and seal the cells and passages.

“No action has been taken,” said Hind.

“We are working on a database of people who own these brothels and are determined to see they are shut down.”


Climate Action: NASA Time-Lapse Video Shows Stunning Effects of Climate Change

Climate change can be hard to recognize up-close, on a human scale — the storms, floods, and heat waves it causes can seem, on a year-to-year basis, like slightly more intense versions of past events

If you zoom out, however, the effects of climate change become more apparent.

That’s what NASA has been doing for decades now. Through its satellites, particularly the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), the US space agency is able to track planetary-scale events over long periods of time.

And then through the collapsing magic of time-lapse videos, all that information becomes startlingly comprehensible to the untrained eye.

For the 20th anniversary of the SeaWiFS satellite, NASA recently released a time-lapse compilation of the global footage it gathered.

“These are incredibly evocative visualizations of our living planet,” said Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in a press release. “That’s the Earth, that is it breathing every single day, changing with the seasons, responding to the Sun, to the changing winds, ocean currents and temperatures.”

The short video shows continental and ocean-wide changes occurring, visible as shifting concentrations of colour. Some of the changes are of the seasonal variety, such as plants coming back to life in the spring. Others are stoked by accumulating carbon in the atmosphere.

As the ocean warms and absorbs more carbon, for example, the bedrock of the marine food chain is being threatened — microscopic phytoplankton.

“As the surface waters warm, it creates a stronger boundary between the deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters and the sunlit, generally nutrient-poor surface waters,” Feldman said in the press release.

As a result, phytoplankton are often unable to receive nutrients and “biological deserts” form.

“It’s not just the amount of food, it’s the location and timing that are just as critical,” Feldman added. “Spring bloom is coming earlier, and that’s going to impact the ecosystem in ways we don’t yet understand.”

These changes are expected to cause reactions across marine ecosystems, according to NASA.

On land, one of the most visually striking sequence of images took place in Alaska. Some of the state’s biggest forest fires in history occurred in 2004 and 2015, NASA notes.

“These fires were amazing in the amount of forest area they burned and how hot they burned, ”said Chris Potter, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the press release. “When the air temperature hits 90 degrees Fahrenheit in late May up there, and all these lightning strikes occurred, the forest burned very extensively — close to rivers, close to villages — and nothing could stop it.”

Ultimately, the 20 years worth of images distill the slow-moving, sometimes irrevocable, changes that are happening to the planet and they could serve as a wake-up call, especially in the US, where climate action remains a stubbornly partisan issue.

Earlier in the year, the US was battered by three powerful hurricanes that gave a glimpse of the future of climate change — more extreme storms — and prompted enormous relief efforts.

Real-time disasters can serve as catalysts for policy change. But taking the long-view, as NASA does, provides more solid footing for action.

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Women & Girls: Angelina Jolie Gave a Powerful Speech About Sexual Violence to the UN

One of the strongest voices in Hollywood has finally spoken out on the topic that has gripped the industry over the past two months: sexual violence against women.

Angelina Jolie delivered an urgent call for an end to sexual violence in all industries around the world during a speech at a United Nations conference in Vancouver on Wednesday.

“Sexual violence is everywhere — in the industry where I work, in business, in universities, in politics, in the military, and across the world,” Jolie said .

“All too often, these kinds of crimes against women are laughed off, depicted as a minor offense by someone who cannot control themselves, as an illness, or as some kind of exaggerated sexual need,” Jolie, who also holds the title as special envoy for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said. “But a man who mistreats women is not oversexed. He is abusive.”

The Hollywood actress took the issue a step further, noting how sexual violence against women is often used as a form of warfare and how it prevents women from achieving full equality and human rights in many places around the world.

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.5, for gender equality.  campaigns to end gender violence and enact laws that ensure women and girls have the same protections as men everywhere in the world; Not only in Nigeria and the African Diaspora.

Jolie cited the sexual crimes against the Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar as an example of gender violence is “a critical obstacle to achieving women’s equality and our full human rights.”

“It is cheaper than a bullet, and it has lasting consequences that unfold with sickening predictability that make it so cruelly effective,” she explained.

Jolie didn’t reference Harvey Weinstein or the sexual abuse scandal in Hollywood by name but spoke about the insidious way crimes against women prevent women’s equality. She has previously spoken about Weinstein to the New York Times, saying she had a “bad experience” with the Hollywood mogul.

On Wednesday she called for an end to sexual violence to a conference of UN Peacekeepers, a group that has had members accused of sexual violence in the countries they are supposed to be protecting, according to The Guardian .

“This is rape and assault designed to torture, to terrorize, to force people to flee, and to humiliate them. It has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with the abuse of power. It is criminal behaviour,” the actress and humanitarian said.

Jolie urged the UN to work toward ending sexual violence once and for all.

“[It’s] hard, but it is not impossible,” she said. “We have the laws, the institutions, and the expertise in gathering evidence. We are able to identify perpetrators. What is missing is the political will.”



Partnerships For the Goals: Women, Transgender, Queer, Indigenous, and All Oppressed People Need to Come Together to FIGHT HATE, Say Activists

The feminist movement needs to forge relationships with all oppressed people — including transgender, queer, and indigenous populations — to form intersectional alliances.

Activists and campaigners have on Thursday come together to call for collaboration between all movements that demand social change.

“There’s a rise of the right-wing, hate is the new common sense,” Indian lawyer and human rights activist Vrinda Grover, told the audience during a panel discussion on re-assessing women’s rights at the Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust conference in London.

“There is nothing like a common enemy to strengthen the relationships between those who are oppressed,” asserted another panel member, Colombian reproductive rights consultant Monica Roa. “This is the time to come together to connect the dots.”

Bahrain human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja agreed, saying: “We need to have intersectionality in our struggles.”

The diverse panel included people fighting for women’s rights from the US, Bahrain, India, and Latin America, and spanned a vast range of issues — including child marriage, family planning, and domestic violence — and how we can come together to move forward in these areas.

“People don’t know what a big problem child marriage is in America,” said panellist Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained at Last, the only non-profit in the US dedicated to helping women escape or resist arranged and forced marriages.

Read more: Child Marriage in America NOT AS RARE AS YOU THINK!

“In just the 38 states that actually track marriage ages, more than 160,000 children, some as young as 10, were married, and almost all were married to adult men,” Reiss continued. “I thought legislators just didn’t know. But that’s not the case unfortunately. They do know. What’s preventing these laws from passing is very simple. It’s misogyny.”

“If you can solve misogyny, you can figure out how to end child marriage in America,” she said. “The entire world needs to end child marriage.” 

Reiss also highlighted the “hypocrisy” of the US “telling the rest of the world to end child marriage,” through reports such as a Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls — a report launched in March 2016.

“The report defined marriage before 18 as a human rights abuse, and shook its finger at the rest of the world saying they were forcing girls into adulthood before they were ready,” said Reiss. “And at the same time, it’s legal in all 50 states in the US. Twenty-five states don’t even set a minimum age for marriage. And that puts the US in line with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.”

While most US states have set 18 as the legal marriage age, every state has loopholes that still allow for children under 18 to get married — for example, in the case of pregnancy, or with parental approval.

The panel also discussed the recent law change in Saudi Arabia that will all women to legally drive in the country as of next year.

“A lot of people are applauding Saudi Arabia for giving women the right to drive in 2018,” said Al-Khawaja. “But driving is not the biggest issue. It’s only the very tip of the iceberg.”

She added: “They’ve done it the way they do everything else. There was no awareness campaign. There was no attempt the change the social construct that they’re created. [There was nothing to ensure] that women in Saudi Arabia are not going to be attacked by their spouses, by their family, by their community, for driving.”

Al-Khawaja said the biggest problem for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is the guardianship system — which dictates that women must be accompanied by a male guardian such as their husband, father, brother, or even son, in order to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, get married, exit prison, or access healthcare.

Read more: Proposed Iraq Law Would Allow Girls as Young as 9 to Marry

As well as calling for greater intersectionality between movements, the panellists said that a greater presence of women is needed in the human rights arena.

“We need more female legislators,” said Reiss, “more people like [murdered British MP] Jo Cox. And we need to not let the small things go, but to keep pushing and keep pointing out misogyny and patriarchy wherever we see it and never give up.” 

Al-Khawaja reiterated the point, saying: “We need to change our discourse around women. We say, women took part in the revolution, they joined the protest, as though they’re not naturally meant to be there on the frontline.”

“Women human rights defenders are some of the strongest, most inspirational women I have ever met,” she continued. “They do not need saving. They need support, they need to be heard, and recognised for the heroes that they are.”

The Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust Conference is a two-day conference on human rights, particularly addressing the issues of modern slavery and re-assessing the rights of women and girls.

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Good Health & Well-Being: #Tuberculosis Will Cost the World $1 Trillion by 2030 — Unless Countries “TAKE ACTION”

Tuberculosis, a preventable disease, killed more than 30 million people between 2000 and 2015.

Global health experts have warned that the highly contagious respiratory disease tuberculosis will kill millions — and cost the global economy $1 trillion — by 2030 if countries don’t act to eradicate it.

The Price of a Pandemic report, compiled by the 130-state Global Tuberculosis Caucus, coincides with a landmark gathering of global public health experts, world leaders and funders this week for the first World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ministerial Conference on tuberculosis in Moscow, Russia.

Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is an airborne illness that typically affects the respiratory system and kills 5,000 people every day, according to WHO. It causes a prolonged, at times bloody, cough in addition to chest pain and weakness.

“There are a lot of intractable problems in the world but TB should not be one of them — we can treat and cure it,” Global Tuberculosis Caucus co-chair Nick Herbert said in a statement. “Governments around the world want to boost economic growth, and investments in TB care and prevention will not only dramatically improve the health of their populations, but also yield a major economic dividend.”

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal 3, Good Health & Well-Being. which partly campaigns on reducing the spread of infectious disease around the world. 

In 2016, TB killed more than 1.7 million people In 2014, more than a quarter of those individuals who died from TB also had HIV/AIDS, which compromises people’s immune systems and makes them more susceptible to TB and other infectious diseases.

Read More: This Was the Deadliest Infectious Disease of 2016, According to WHO

According to the report, more than 171 million people contracted TB and 33 million people died from the illness between 2000 and 2015. Over half of these deaths occurred in G20 countries, including nearly 10 million in India, more than 1.5 million in South Africa and more than 1.1 million in China

TB exacts a devastating human toll and poses a significant burden to the global economy.

The total cost to G20 countries will reach $675 billion, but less developed nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa like Lesotho and Mozambique will lose roughly 1% of their GDP to TB.

The report urges countries to increase funding for TB treatment and prevention, part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“It is primarily a matter of political will, because the overall sum of money that has to be found between the world’s nations is perfectly within reach if we all act together,” Herbert said.


Climate Action: Britain & Germany Just Gave £117 Million To Fight Deforestation & #ClimateChange in the #Amazon

The UK and Germany are joining forces to help save the Amazon rainforest from deforestation.

Brazil’s government announced on Tuesday, at the UN climate change summit in Bonn, that the two countries are giving a cash injection of £117 million to conservation projects. 

The money will go to expand programmes that are fighting climate change and deforestation in the Amazon — the world’s largest rainforest.

Around £67 million will go to support an existing programme that pays indigenous people and farmers to maintain forest cover in two Brazilian states, according to Reuters news agency .

Read more: The UN Has Called This the Second Biggest Environmental Problem Facing Our World

The programme also provides funding to help develop sustainable economies in communities.

The additional funding also means the project can expand to include the state of Mato Grosso for the first time — Brazil’s top producer of soybeans.

Mato Grosso has seen rapid deforestation in recent years, with the growing demand for soy particularly, as well as beef.

The programme is already underway in the far western state of Acre, and the additional money will go to continuing it.

Germany has also agreed to increase its existing investments in the Amazon Fund by £30 million, while Britain will put the remaining £19 million towards a regional forest preservation project that spans Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.

Read more: These Are 6 of the Most Exploited Resources on Earth

While deforestation is falling in Brazil — by 16% between August 2016 and July 2017 — the deforested areas are still too large for Brazil to reach its climate targets.

According to National Geographic, up to 20% of the Amazon has been deforested in the last 40 years alone — with logging and cattle ranching operations being largely to blame.

It has far-reaching consequences. It can cause severe droughts in the region — and has in 2005 and 2010 — that threaten fishermen and farmers

Preserving the Amazon — where 40-100 different varieties of tree can be found in a single acre — is also an essential step in decreasing carbon dioxide levels around the world, and is therefore vital in the fight against climate change.

Progress so far can be attributed to environmental enforcement in the country, but Brazil’s Environment Minister Jose Sarney Filho said last month that the country can’t only rely on enforcement to stop deforestation.

He said that financial incentives to preserve the forest must also be launched, and that he plans to raise the issue of how to finance that potential solution at the Bonn summit.

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Good Health & Well-Being: Bill Gates Just Pledged $100,000,000 to Research #Dementia in honour of the 47 Million people!

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is adding yet another complex global problem to his to-do list.

This time, Gates is investing $50 million into the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), a partnership between charity, government, and industry that supports innovative research on one of the world’s most common neurocognitive diseases.

Gates said that his investment in DDF will be mirrored by another $50 million donated to startups working in dementia research.

Typically, Gates has invested his money into research efforts aimed at eradicating communicable and infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

Read More: For Bill Gates’ 62nd Birthday, Here Are 9 Must-Read Quotes

However, Gates commented that dementia cannot be ignored as a massive medical problem that affects millions around the world.

“It’s a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy — even for the people who stay alive — is very high,” Gates said in an interview with Reuters.

Dementia is a neurocognitive disease estimated to affect 47 million people around the world. It comes in many forms, all of which are characterized by decline in cognitive functioning severe enough to hamper daily activities. Its most common form is alzheimer’s, a disease to which there is currently no cure and only a handful of treatments that can limit the severity of symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Disease International, a nonprofit advocacy group, estimates that someone develops dementia every 3 seconds around the world, and that the disease will cost about $1 billion per year by 2018.

Recent statistics released by the group indicate that the number of cases around the world is expected to rise significantly over the next 30 years as life-expectancy increases. The group also predicts that the majority of increased cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries. Currently, almost 60% of all dementia cases occur in lower-income countries, but that number is expected to rise 10% by 2050.

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.3, Good Health & Well-Being means supporting research initiatives that can improve health outcomes for everyone around the world.

Industry Innovation & Infrastructure: Giant Balloons Are Delivering Internet to 100K People in Puerto Rico

Free internet, courtesy of Google’s Project Loon.

Six weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, destroying roads, caving in roofs, and knocking down power lines, cell service on the island remains limited. As of Thursday, 44% of cell sites remained out-of-service, according to FCC statistics.

For hundreds of thousands of people in rural, hard-to-reach areas, this means that a crucial lifeline for gathering information, contacting family, and accessing emergency services is not available.

But Google is fixing this for some of the island’s most isolated residents.

As a part of its Project Loon, the company that owns Google, Alphabet, has launched a fleet of wifi-carrying balloons that they estimate will serve 100,000 people on the island, the company announced in a blog post in late October

And now, Alphabet announced, the service is up and running.

“In times of crisis, being able to communicate with loved ones, emergency services and critical information is key,” Alistair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, said in a statement provided to the technology site Engadget. “We hope that the connectivity Project Loon has provided over the last few weeks has been helpful, and would like to thank AT&T, T-Mobile, and our government partners who made these efforts possible.”


In Puerto Rico, about 68% of adults own a smartphone, and about 70% of Puerto Ricans have regular access to the internet, compared to nearly 90% of people on the US mainland.

“We plan to continue to offer emergency internet connectivity in areas where it’s needed for as long as it is useful and we’re able to do so,” Westgarth wrote in a blog post.

This is not the first time Project Loon has deployed its balloons to individuals suffering in the wake of a natural disaster. 

Earlier this year, Project Loon partnered with the Peruvian cellular provider Telefonica to bring internet service to tens of thousands of people affected by flooding in that country. The balloons covered an area of about 40,000 square kilometers and provided basic wifi connection that allowed for the transfer of about 160 gigabytes of data in total — enough to send about 30 million WhatsApp messages or 2 million emails, according to the company.


Although the initiative is still in its early stages, Google hopes Project Loon will be able connect as many as 1 billion people in developing countries to the internet.

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.9 Industry Innovation & Infrastructure.

Still only about one in three people across Africa and fewer than one in two across Asia have access to the internet, according to statistics from Nielsen Online.

Food & Hunger: One Simple Thing You Can Do to Reduce the Impact of Food Waste

Around the world, fruits and vegetables are wasted at much higher rates than meats and fish. Roughly 40%-50% of fruits and vegetables are thrown in the garbage on average, versus just 20% of meats and 35% of fish, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

But according to Max Elder, a researcher at Food Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future, those wasted meats and fish, although smaller in quantity, might be doing a lot more harm to the environment than the fruits and veggies.

“Not all food waste is created equal,” Elder wrote in an op-ed for Quartz. “It turns out that all of the different costs of food waste, whether measured in terms of water, the economy, the environment, or animal welfare, vary greatly by the type of food that is being tossed in the trash.”

One of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of food waste, Elder argued, is to simply not throw away meat and fish — and maybe eat a bit less of it to begin with.

According to Elder, the environmental impact of wasted meats, for example, is exacerbated by the amount of water it takes to produce meat. The production one pound of meat uses about 54 times the amount of water used to produce one pound of fruits or vegetables, he wrote. 

In other words, the resources that go into a wasted hamburger are much higher than the resources that go into a wasted apricot. If one in five hamburgers are thrown out and two in five apricots go to rot, those wasted hamburgers are still far more damaging to the environment.

That’s not to mention that the amount of CO2 emitted by fruit and vegetable production is lower than the carbon emissions for meats and fish, which can emit anywhere from two to 25 times more carbon into the atmosphere than their counterparts.

Reducing meat consumption is by no means the only way to lower the amount of food waste.

Studies have shown that frozen foods are wasted at much lower rates than fresh foods — although consumers may have to sacrifice quality by eating more frozen foods.

Governments can also play a role in reducing food waste from supermarkets, school canteens, and public offices. The European Union’s Environment Committee pledged to reduce food waste by half by 2030, a decision pushed for the actions of 31,000 Global Citizens. Individual countries, like France and Italy, had already begun implementing policies toward that end.

In the United States, the state of New York is giving tax breaks to companies that don’t let any food go to waste in an effort to eliminate food waste by 2030.

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The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.2 Zero Hunger 


Reduced Inequalities: The UK Has Welcomed More Than 8,000 Syrian #Refugees #SDGs #RefugeesWelcome

Britain has welcomed more than 8,000 refugees who have been forced to flee from conflict in Syria.

The families have been offered shelter as part of the government’s refugee resettlement programme, which was launched in 2014.

The scheme committed to rehousing 20,000 refugees by 2020, however, which means there is still a lot of work to be done — with a further 12,000 people to be resettled in the next 2 years. 

Resettled families told the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, that they are grateful for the “genuine” welcome that they’ve received in the UK, while the boss of charity Refugee Action said Britons should “feel proud.”
The vulnerable person resettlement scheme (VPRS) was launched after a spike in public pressure to help people fleeing the Syrian conflict — which sparked one of the largest refugee crises of recent decades.
It was expanded in July 2017, to include those affected by the Syrian conflict who weren’t Syrian nationals.
“Resettlement programmes, like the VPRS, offer a vital lifeline, allowing them to rebuild their lives without embarking on perilous journeys,” said a statement released by the UNHCR.

“Brits should feed proud that thousands of families have already been welcomed as part of this programme,” Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, told the Independent. “But it’s essential that refugees resettled here are given the right support to successfully rebuild their lives.”

The UNHCR released a report on Thursday, entitled “ Towards Integration ”, that outlines the successes of the integration system, and where there is more work to be done.

With two-thirds of people in the scheme being survivors of violence and torture, or with specific medical needs, one of the particular successes is that these people have been able to access in some cases life-saving medical treatment.

Parents also expressed in the report their relief that their children can attend school again and catch up on years of lost education, and can feel safe in their home and in their neighbourhood.

One family, Hamza, Asma, and their three children, arrived in the UK in 2016, and now live in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Hamza spoke of the warm welcome he and his family had received.
“People are so friendly here,” he told UNHCR.
Ramzy, another VPRS refugee living in Abingdon, also felt happy and settled.
“I like it here,” he said. “People have been very welcoming.” 
UNHCR also spoke to 12-year-old Mohammad, who arrived with his family in Scotland in 2016 and was about to start school in Edinburgh.
“I miss Damascus, but I look forward to school,” said Mohammad. “I want to be a doctor. I want to help people.”

The UNHCR interviewed 167 refugees for the report — the majority of those interviewed were previously refugees in Lebanon, while the remainder had travelled from Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq.
Many also said they were impressed by the efficiency of local and national government in the UK.
For the resettlement process, the UNHCR refers refugees to the Home Office for eligibility, medical, and security checks. When accepted, refugees are referred to the local authorities for resettlement.
“The UK clearly has the capacity to resettle meaningful numbers of refugees,” said Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, the UNHCR representative in London.

“Integration of refugees is complex. By and large, it is working and support for integration — from the public, local authorities, and government — has been striking. We hope that with development, this model can help more refugees from Syria and elsewhere resettle here after 2020.” 

But the report also highlighted the areas where there is room for improvement.
Part of the resettlement scheme includes the opportunity to learn the English language, and, while classes were well attended, many adults were found to be struggling with the language. Some schools were found not to be aware of extra funding available for lessons.
Refugees also reported a lack of further support for housing, and for finding a job. Some said that affordable rented property was becoming increasingly hard to find, while it was found that integration in the local community was harder in rural areas of the UK.
Meanwhile, many who said they wanted to start working and making a contribution to society said it was difficult to find work — although some had only been in the UK for a short time.
The UNHCR is calling for the establishment of a national integration strategy to better inform and guide those supporting refugees, as well as supporting the refugees themselves, for example, with more work promotion schemes.
“Our hope is that, building on the success of the VPRS to date, the UK will commit to resettling 10,000 vulnerable refugees a year,” added Llosa.

But while the number of resettled families is promising, Britain “could and should” shelter thousands more people, according to Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party.

“We are living through the worst refugee crisis on record,” he said, according to the Independent . “As well as resettling refugees from the camps in Syria, the government must do more to help those who have made perilous journeys to get here, especially lone children.”

More than six years since the Syrian conflict began, Syrians still constitute the largest refugee population in the world — over five million people have had to flee to neighbouring countries. 

As fighting is still flaring in the country, conditions are not yet in place for the refugees to return.

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns to ensure that everyone can live in safety, with access to Quality Education and Healthcare.

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