Stories written by Ray Smith
Ray Smith is a freelance journalist based in Switzerland. Most of his writing is from the Middle East, where he sporadically lives or visits. From Switzerland, Smith reports on migrants' issues, environmental topics and other social or political subjects.

Some Swiss Parcels With Migrants In Them

Two years ago, a Nigerian asylum seeker died during a forced deportation attempt from Switzerland. Now, the prosecution has dismissed the case, leaving nobody responsible for the young man's death. Instead of re-assessing the deportation system, Swiss authorities prefer ignorance.

SWITZERLAND: Resistance Rises to Asylum Seekers

Switzerland saw a 45 percent increase in asylum requests compared in 2011 to the year before. The country struggles to accommodate the new asylum seekers while efforts to put up new centres face fierce resistance by local people.

The signpost in Switzerland warns of glacier retreat. Credit: Ray Smith/IPS.

Europe Headed for Water Crisis

Future glacier retreat in the Alps could affect the hydrology of large streams more strongly than previously assumed, a new study shows. Water shortages in summer could become more frequent.

Swiss Bid Disputed Goodbye to Nuclear Energy

Switzerland is witnessing a drastic turnaround in energy policy. Half a year ago, plans for the construction of new nuclear reactors were heavily debated. Now, three months after the disaster in Fukushima, the initial steps for a staged nuclear shutdown have been taken.

A new Ramallah is coming up. Credit:  Ray Smith/IPS

MIDEAST: Music Runs Into Walls

In the West Bank, dissident voices questioning the Palestinian Authority's increasingly authoritarian rule have become rare. But a young musician in Ramallah refuses to hold his tongue.

Historic Nablus attracts few visitors. Credit: Ray Smith

MIDEAST: Nablus Stands Beautiful and Unvisited

Palestine experiences a boom in tourism, as herds of tourists storm the cities of Jerusalem, Jericho and Bethlehem. Meanwhile, the West Bank city of Nablus, rich in historic and religious sites, hardly attracts visitors.

A textile enterprise in the old city of Nablus. Credit: Ray Smith

MIDEAST: Palestinians Find Trade, Not an Economy

The Palestinian Authority is preapring to establish a state in near future. But the Palestinian economy remains strongly tied to Israel, and manufacturers are struggling to recover from the second Intifadah.

A Swiss People's Party campaign poster. Credit: Ray Smith

MIGRATION: Swiss Vote In an ‘Illegal Law’

Just a year after banning the construction of minarets, Swiss voters have approved a right-wing initiative demanding the automatic expulsion of criminal foreigners. The initiative violates international law.

A Palestinian enterprise in Lebanon. Credit: Ray Smith

Lebanon Pressured to Improve Palestinians’ Lot

Abu Yussif doesn't want to talk about his work any more. "It's not going to help and nothing will change anyway," he says. The tall, white-haired Palestinian has just returned from work and relaxes in his little garden in the refugee camp Bourj ash-Shamali near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.

Wolf Back at Swiss Doors

Wolves have resettled in Switzerland. Their appetite for sheep and even cattle has sparked fierce debates in the mountain republic. Nature conservation organisations demand the implementation of herd-protection measures. However, alp farmers are sceptical about their practicability and costs.

Swiss Knives Out for Migrants

The disputed 'black sheep' placards may soon return to Swiss streets. The country's Federal Council and parliament have validated a right-wing initiative calling for the automatic deportation of criminal foreigners.

Swiss Plan to Gag Refugees

Only two years after its last revision, the Swiss Asylum Act is about to be 'reformed' again. The changes include a gag order on political activism for asylum-seekers and a modification of the concept of a refugee.

Deportation prison at Zurich airport. Credit: Ray Smith/IPS

RIGHTS-SWITZERLAND: Calls to End Forced Deportations Follow Custodial Death

Human rights organisations have been demanding an independent inquiry into the death of a Nigerian asylum seeker died while being deported and a stop to all forced repatriations.

LEBANON: Spy On Thy Neighbour

Recent inter-factional clashes in Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp once more illustrated the fragile security situation in some of its Palestinian camps. Lebanese plans to take over security within the camps are rejected by the Palestinians.

SWITZERLAND: Police Smash School for Undocumented Migrants

The Zurich police have raided and demolished an autonomously run school where undocumented migrants held language classes. The raid came as the Swiss government admitted that its harsh treatment of undocumented asylum- seekers has partly failed, and following an announcement that it is again planning a revision of federal asylum law.

Farhan Abu Siyam aka MC Tamarrod at the battle-scarred Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camp.  Credit: Ray Smith/IPS

LEBANON: Hip-hop Kindles Hopes in Destroyed Refugee Camp

The hip-hop beats ringing through the muddy, unlit streets of this burnt-out Palestinian refugee camp seem incongruous. But the rhymes are camp-grown - and courageous.

Reconstruction begins at Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in Lebanon. Credit: Ray Smith/IPS

LEBANON: Refugees Remain Sceptical of Nahr al-Bared Reconstruction

More than two years after their refugee camp was destroyed in a war between the Lebanese army and the Islamist militant group Fatah al-Islam, Nahr al-Bared refugees Wednesday witnessed the start of the camp’s reconstruction. Their relief is mixed with scepticism, however.

SWITZERLAND: Muslims Targeted in the Name of Minarets

Switzerland's Muslim community is witnessing a xenophobic campaign by the political right-wing ahead of a vote next month on the banning of Islamic minarets.

At the school for undocumented migrants in Zurich. Credit: a-films

SWITZERLAND: Undocumented Migrants Run Their Own School

Switzerland is a tough place for asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. In Zurich, they have been running a remarkable campaign for the past year, challenging the canton's asylum policy. Now, they have opened their own school.

Destroyed homes around Nahr Al-Bared remain sealed off. Credit: a-films

LEBANON: Shattered Camp Revives Under Military Eyes

Palestinian refugees at Nahr Al-Bared in North Lebanon are living under tight military siege two years after a war destroyed the refugee camp. It has now become a test case for a new approach in Lebanon's security policy towards Palestinian refugee camps.

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