15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refused to return home

15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refuse to return home
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ADDIS ABABA – Fifteen Ethiopian peacekeepers have said they do not want to return to Ethiopia from South Sudan, according to the UN.

According to their report, 169 South Sudanese peacekeepers were returning to Addis Ababa, but 15 members of the force said they did not want to return to Ethiopia. The 15 were all from Tigray.

The Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) Facebook page, citing the army’s director general of indoctrination, Major General Mohamed Tesema, said the news was that the peacekeepers were members of the 15th Motorized Peacekeeping Battalion. Tesema said the battalion is returning to Ethiopia after completing its stay in South Sudan.

“Those peacekeepers have been trying to create chaos by rolling and shouting at Juba airport saying they will not go to our country,” Tesema stated.

He described the actions of the individuals as “disgraceful” and said they did not represent the members of the armed forces.

The privately-owned Sudan Post reported that the soldiers, who did not want to return to Ethiopia, said they were concerned about the “law enforcement” being carried out by the Tigray regional government and that they were concerned about what would happen to them once they returned. The soldiers were said to have been forced to board the plane.

The troops are currently under the protection of the South Sudanese National Security Service.

Ethiopia was one of the first countries to contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping mission, and currently there are around 8,000 troops serving, representing about 8% of the UN’s peacekeeping force worldwide.

The military overthrew the TPLF leadership in the wake of the Oct. 24, 2013 military offensive between the federal government and the TPLF. In connection with this, several suspected members of the TPLF and members of the armed forces were arrested, and arrest warrants were issued. The exact number of people killed in the conflict is unknown, but it is expected to be in the thousands.

In addition, more than 60,000 people have fled the conflict to Sudan, and millions more are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to humanitarian organizations. Following the announcement of the end of the military operation in Tigray State, an agreement was reached with the UN to provide humanitarian assistance to the region. But the International Committee of the Red Cross warns that the number of people in need is “extremely high.”

By Henok Aleayehu

Malaysia defies court order and deports 1086 Myanmar nationals

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Despite a Kuala Lumpur high court’s temporary stay barring the removal of some 1,200 refugees, the country’s director-general of immigration said in a statement that those sent back on Myanmar Navy ships left voluntarily, adding that no persecuted Rohingya or asylum-seekers were included in the group. The court’s stay was issued at the request of Amnesty International who argued the lives of people would be at risk in deteriorating conditions under a regime with a track record of cruelty.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Bangladesh relocating Rohingyas to isolated Bhasan Char island

Bhasan Char
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The government of Bangladesh has started a controversial program to relocate Muslim Rohingya refugees who escaped from persecution in Myanmar to the small isolated island Bhasan Char that is particularly vulnerable to storms and has never been permanently inhabited.

Despite claims by the government in Dhaka that the resettlement is voluntary, refugees interviewed by CNN said they were being forced and beaten when refused.

The sedimentary 40-sq. kilometer island was discovered 18 years ago and has only ever occasionally served as a shelter for smugglers and pirates. Although the island has been considered unsafe for living due to its constant shape-changing as sand deposits shift, Bangladesh has build flood barriers and insists the island is safe.

Rohingyas say they are descendants of Muslim traders who have lived in the region for generations; Myanmar says they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, making them stateless people.

Nearly one-million Rohingyas have escaped discrimination and persecution in Myanmar, and Bangladesh plans on resettling as many as 100,000 to the island. Once there, they will have little chance of leaving, say human rights groups, fearing the island will flood and they will die.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Wurzburg Video Message Warns of Attack

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The video, released by the Islamic State shortly after the train attack in Wurzburg, Germany, has been confirmed by the Bavarian interior minister to be the attacker, a 17-year-old Afghani asylum seeker Muhammad Riyad.

The video the Islamic State published shows the youth explaining the motive for his actions, placing his attack in the context of perceived injustices committed against Muslims by Western nations.

He also explains that he planned the attack well in advance, while living in Germany

Translation by Gatestone Institute

On How North Korean Defectors Resettle In South Korea

Seoul, South Korea
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Following the lead of Germany, more and more European countries are accepting asylum seekers who are mostly from war-torn Syria. The countries, including the United Kingdom and France, are to set out plans to resettle refugees.

In 1990s, South Korea faced similar issues regarding refugees, as the number of North Korean residents who defected to the South drastically increased due to famine and the economic crisis in the North.

Currently, there are about 280,133 North Korean defectors living in the South, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Unification, issued in June 2015.

When North Korean residents arrive in South Korea, first they have to go through investigations and interviews, conducted by the South Korean Intelligence Service, in order to clarify their identity. They stay at the Defector Protection Centre during that period. It usually takes a minimum of four weeks, but it can be extended if a defector confesses false truths. After the investigation processes are completed, they are finally able to reside in the South.

The South Korean government has been helping North Korean defectors to settle in the South under the “Protection and Resettlement Aid Act for Defecting North Korean Residents,” introduced in 1997.

Resettlement Funds

The government arranges a rental apartment for every North Korean defector. The rental deposit fee of an apartment is up to 13 million Won (US$11,000). Although the government pays a significant amount of the fee for them, they need to bear their monthly rental fees and utility bills.

They also receive 7 million Won (about US$5,900) as the initial resettlement fund, apart from housing expenses. However, defectors do not receive this fund at once, just in case that they lose it in a short time before settling down. Therefore, firstly 4 million Won is provided to those who finish the 12-week education program at Hanawon and then they later receive the remaining 3 million Won, at a rate of 1 million Won every three months.

However, the 7 million resettlement fund is only offered to defectors who come to South Korea without any family members. If he or she brings a family member to the South, less than 7 million Won is paid to each person. Also, a bigger apartment is prepared for them.

Moreover, they can obtain up to 25.1 million Won (about US$ 21,100) from the encouragement fund. In the past, it was also included in the resettlement fund, but from 2005 defectors who are looking for a full-time job through a professional job training school have also been eligible. People over sixty and with impairments are also able to get extra fund to the tune of a maximum 15.4 million Won (US$13,000) for treatment.

Education

Hanawon (the Settlement Support Center for North Korean refugees) is a facility where defectors  are educated about life in the South. It was established in 1997, and has a 392-hour course that spans 12 weeks.

“Hanawon is the first place where North Korean defectors start their life in South Korea. Through education, we help them to be part of South Korean society not only physically, but also mentally,” Kim Joong-Tae, former head of Hanawon, told Daily NK.

In general, the course consists of social adjustment and occupational education, but it is customized by each age group. For example, teenage defectors focus on a local school curriculum, as they will be sent to a South Korean school three months later, while adults spend more time on studying an employment system. Also, there are programs and counselors to take care of the newcomers physical and mental health.

Despite Hanawon’s education offerings, many young North Korean defectors still have difficulties in adjusting to a competitive local South Korean school system. Therefore Hankyoreh High School, a specialised school for teenage defectors, was founded in 2006. It assists young defectors to catch up on the regular school curriculum and to understand democratic society, South Korean culture, and the local language which includes many English words, compared to the Korean used in the North. If they want, they can transfer to a regular high school later on.

In 2008, the Ministry of Education organized an academic deliberation committee for North Korean defectors who finished their high school in the North, in order to evaluate their secondary academic ability. If they pass the examination, they are able to enter a South Korean university. National and public universities offer free tuition to defectors under age 35 if they enroll in a university within five years after their high school diploma is recognized.  There is no age limit to study at colleges and online universities without fees.

Employment

Most North Korean defectors say that the biggest challenge after they arrive is to find a job in South Korea, as they have a lack of occupational skills and understanding of capitalism. To resolve these problems, the Ministry of Unification and the Ministry of Employment and Labor introduced a basic job adaptation training program at Hanawon in 2006. Defectors are able to have practical training as well as field experience at a company through the program. Furthermore, the South Korean government pays half of the wages that each North Korea defector worker receive.

Although the South Korean government continues to improve policies and laws to improve the lives of North Korean defectors, many are still left wandering.

North Korean prison escapee Dong-Hyuk Shin said that it is very difficult for North Korean defectors to fully adjust to the capitalist system.

Read more: North Korean camp survivor Dong-Hyuk Shin tells true feelings about his book and campaign

“In the North, we are just happy if we don’t starve. However, here we should compete consistently to achieve what we need and want. It is a totally different lifestyle between the two Koreas, so it is kind of understandable that some of North Korean defectors came back to the North again,” Shin said.

Moreover, discrimination against defectors is rampant, particularly in the workplace. According to research data from the Ministry of Unification and the Korea Hana Foundation, defectors’ average wage per week is 760,000 Won (US$638) lower than that of South Korean citizens, even though they work more hours. Also, their unemployment rate is four times higher.

For improvement of defectors’ human rights in the South, most of all it is important that South Korean citizens should accept them as members of their society, in order to prepare for the two Koreas’ unification. Also, North Korean defectors should acknowledge the different social systems of the two countries, and put more effort into following a new lifestyle.

Analysis by EJ Monica Kim

Kosovo, still fragile after seven years of independence

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Kosovo is well known for the war and consequent NATO campaign against Serbia. Armed conflict ended in 1999, and the forces of the Western alliance took control of the Serbian province, where they maintain a fragile peace over the area.

Tuesday, the young state celebrated seven years of independence, but a fancy and expensive ceremony is not going to be seen this year. Spend Ahmeti, mayor of Pristina, explained that due to a lack of money there has been a massive exodus of Kosovar citizens, an event that started in the beginning of 2015.

Albanians from Kosovars are often seen all over Western Europe. Most of them are hard working and stay away from crime, but some are notorious for organized control of drug trafficking, human trafficking,and other illicit activities.

482262_pristina-twitter_fFor many years, poverty and instability drove them, just like members of many other nations, towards the West. And this flow was constant and balanced, legal or illegal. But from December last year, numbers have dramatically increased, topping up to 18,000 immigrants from Kosovo registered in Germany in January alone.

Every night, dozens of busses are packed with people carrying light luggage only. A 50-seat bus often takes 150 people on board. Whole families, with children and bare essentials, are starting the trip to the unknown. Dramatic pictures have waved through the world, photos and videos showing masses of Balkans on their way to Europe.

And, of course, many theories have been offered, many reasons given for the exodus. As someone who was in the country for 15 years, working with UN and EU missions, I see this as the only way toward a brighter future for those involved, fully aware that such a future is not waiting for them in Kosovo.

The United Nations maintained peace and showed presence, but failed to fight corruption and some UN officials were even found to be involved in it. The EU came in with great ideas and an even greater budget, but results were hardly visible. A system has been built, but corrupted. Many laws and regulations passed the Assembly; however, their implementation is yet to be seen. The highest local officials are involved in a series of illegal activities. Low-scale corruption is widely present and is an everyday experience.

There is now a proven record of a much higher rate of cancer in the region, often explained with regards to the bombing campaigns and the usage of depleted uranium for anti-armor ammunition.

On top of everything, a full day’s wage on a construction site (10 to 12 hours) is five to six Euros. And those that get such a job are happy; there is a long queue of people waiting for one.

Kosovo is now poorer for hundreds of thousands of Serbs; they all fled to Serbia proper, having safety as a priority in life. Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, had a pre-war population of 40,000 Serbs — counting few dozen these days.

albancikosovoodlazak01This sudden and massive outbreak of immigrants is obviously organized, since there is no war conflict now. Poverty was there last summer as well. Most likely, organized crime has a huge interest in this. They are the ones trafficking people across borders and away from police patrols. Those that can’t pay will be in debt and pay later, but more. There are established prices for safe passage through certain critical areas. The rumour is borders are to be closed; a new war in Macedonia and a possible conflict with the Serbian minority, etc, initiated the exodus. Many of them reported intimidation, suffered from Wahabi activists recruiting fighters for Syria. And if people have nothing to lose, they will resort to desperate measures.

European countries are facing the problem with great concern; these numbers are too high, especially when combined with those coming from Syria, Africa and other places. Austria has organized direct flights for repatriation purposes only. Hungarian and Serbian police are working together, trying to prevent thousands of illegal crossing attempts every single night.

A stable economy and personal prosperity in a safe environment are the only conditions required for people of any nation to stay put and abandon any idea of risky change.

Analysis by Miroslav Velimirovic