‘Mare Nostrum’ – the largest search and rescue immigration operation ever carried out in the Mediterranean Sea – has become an issue of bitter brinkmanship between human rights groups and anti-immigrant lobbies.
The woman who walked into the Islamic Front (IF) media office near the Turkish border was on the verge of fainting under the hot Syrian sun, but all she cared about was her infant son.
"My child became blind and lost the ability to speak, his dad died and his three brothers are seriously wounded. He still has not been told about the loss of his dad,” says the mother of 7-year-old Mohamad Badran.
The Shatila Palestinian camp has no library, nor does adjacent Sabra or Ain El-Hilweh in the south. And, after recent statements by Lebanon’s foreign minister, some fear that the thousands of Syrian refugee children within them will soon have even slimmer chances of learning to read and write.
His journey started four years ago in Conakry, Guinea. Now that Mamoudou* has finally reached Italy, he hopes this will be his final stop.
Among the labyrinth of winding narrow streets just outside a major shopping centre in the Kumkapi neighbourhood of Istanbul is a rundown road, congested with shops and apartments stacked atop one another.
With Italy having taken over presidency of the European Union (EU) until December 2014, questions remain regarding Europe’s migration policies as reports of migrants dying at sea while trying to reach Italy regularly make the headlines.
In front of Osman Bin Affan Mosque, in a central but narrow street of Beirut, several tank trucks are being filled with large amounts of water. The mosque has its own well, which allows it to pump water directly from the aquifers that cross the Lebanese underground. Once filled, the trucks will start going through the city to supply hundreds of homes and shops.
As a result of over two weeks of Israeli bombardment, thousands of Palestinian civilians have fled their homes in the north of Gaza and sought refuge in schools run by the UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.
A declining economy and a severe drought have raised concerns in Lebanon over food security as the country faces one of its worst refugee crises, resulting from the nearby Syria war, and it is these refugees and impoverished Lebanese border populations that are most vulnerable to this new threat.
Gaunt, haggard Syrian children begging and selling gum have become a fixture in streets of the Lebanese capital; having fled the ongoing conflict, they continue to be stalked by its effects.
Hezbollah clashes with Syrian rebels on the outskirts of Ersal seem to be widening the divide between residents of the Eastern Bekaa town – increasingly dominated by Syrian rebels, including the radical Nusra Front – and other regions as well as the Lebanese state.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Syria have been uprooted since the violent government crackdown on the uprising and the ensuing battles that ensnared their communities. For around 50,000 of them, Lebanon was their only safe route out but now it seems this door is being closed on them.
People with long beards and dressed like Afghans broke into our neighbourhood after they had bombed it. We were lucky to escape from that nightmare,” Aum Ahmad, a46-year-old woman from Mosul – 400 km northwest of Baghdad – told IPS from the recently set up Khazar refugee camp, 25 km east of the besieged city.
Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in their home country have come up against a less than accommodating “Fortress Europe”.