Author: Gill

Refugee Camps: Urgent Investment Needed

Disclaimer: The blogs on this site are written by our volunteers and guest writers. They do not reflect the views of the WCIA. We hope that sharing a range of views will encourage discussion and debate. Please get in touch if you wish to contribute a blog. Blogs are published in the language the volunteer has chosen to write in (whether that is Welsh or English) and we welcome submissions in both languages.

by Ellie Kimpton, work experience placement, Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth

Some perceive refugee camps as a safe haven for those who have fled terrible situations, but it is quite the opposite in many places. Recently conditions in several camps have come to light, and are quite unspeakable.

At the one on the Greek paradise island of Lesbos, critics have gone as far as to name it ‘The worst refugee camp in the world.” In a camp that should hold a maximum of 3000 people, at 7,500, good facilities are non-existent. There have been reports of a 6-hour queue for breakfast, leaving refugees to wake at 3 a.m. in order to start queuing to ensure that their family are fed at least something. Additionally, with a short water supply and at one toilet per 70 people, tensions in the camp are constantly high, plaguing it with constant fighting, disease and trauma. As a result, many charities have stopped working in the camp in protest.

Children as young as 10 years old have attempted to commit suicide and with no psychologists present, it is difficult to even comprehend the conditions. People there at feel like they “have no life”.

In a BBC report, Luca Fontana, who works at the Lesbos camp, spoke about camps he witnessed in Congo during the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak and still thought that the Lesbos camps were worse; “I’ve never seen the level of suffering witnessed here every day.”

With sectarianism and racism a constant factor, and crimes such as rape and sexual harassment being committed on a daily basis, it is hard to imagine this a place for a 4-year-old to grow up. Unfortunately, this is the case for many, and because of a deal between the EU and Turkey, the Greek government are holding more people in Lesbos rather than releasing them onto the mainland. People keep trying to seek asylum but the centre at the camp is always ‘closed’.

With insufficient funds, the camp is in desperate need. Greece being a MEDC (more economically developed country), I question whether enough money is being invested in camps like this one, and if it was, would the conditions be different? We are right to see conditions in camps on the American border with Mexico deplored, but shouldn’t forget camps closer to home have not been much better. I will leave you with a comment from a refugee currently staying at Lesbos that I believe sums up the refugee camp crisis well;

“For 3 years I have trusted the sea would take me somewhere better…but the sea has betrayed me”

Information References – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v-OHi3iGQI

Photo credit: Iordanis Stylidis

WCIA work recognised in UK Report to United Nations on progress towards the SDGs

We are delighted that several of the WCIA programmes are recognized as making a positive contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals says Susie Ventris- Field WCIA CEO.

The Sustainable Development Goals, set after much consultation and based on the experience of the Millennium Goals, set out a vision for the future where lives are transformed and the planet protected. Governments are accountable for their progress and it is the UK Government turn to submit its Voluntary National Review.The report is detailed and covers each of the 17 interlinked Goals. It includes a devolved perspective as well as balancing domestic and international actions.

WCIA is delighted that some of our programmes are highlighted as making a contribution towards achieving those Goals. The Peace School Scheme, which aims to improve the quality of education (Goal 4) and promote peace (Goal 16) by developing a culture of peace based on human rights and non-violent problem-solving in schools and their local communities. The report states, “ The project has reduced records of negative behaviour; increased involvement in pupil voice (up 300%); increased engagement in assemblies; and social action taken in the community.” The Changemakers project, delivered with Oxfam Cymru in high schools across Wales, which develops global citizenship skills was noted for its contribution towards quality education. The collaborative project, working with Size of Wales, delivering regional schools Mock UN COP conferences on climate change, encouraging and inspiring climate champions was also cited for supporting Goal 13 – Climate Action.

The VNR report, has been criticized for not including the voices of the more vulnerable. It is also however, largely a mapping exercise of what is currently being done. “The UK VNR misses the chance to set out a UK action plan on how to reach these global goals.” Says CEO Susie Ventris-Field. There are some concerns about the report; more analysis and synthesis could have been done. The UK still has no clear and focused plan on how to achieve the ambitions of the SDGs. The data used is selective and at times contradictory from one section to the other. The UK Government needs to link up policy on trade, energy and consumption with the need to achieve the Goals. High level commitment to these Goals seems to be missing and once this report has been presented to the UN, that’s not the end of the process. WCIA will continue to take a lead in Wales to encourage the UK to develop its international commitment to the Goals.

Slavery Still Exists But Can Be Hard to Spot

Disclaimer: The blogs on this site are written by our volunteers and guest writers. They do not reflect the views of the WCIA. We hope that sharing a range of views will encourage discussion and debate. Please get in touch if you wish to contribute a blog. Blogs are published in the language the volunteer has chosen to write in (whether that is Welsh or English) and we welcome submissions in both languages. 

by Hannah Isaac, work experience placement, Howell’s School

Modern slaves can be hard to spot. Believe it or not many people are unaware that slavery still exists in our modern world. There have been some stories of human trafficking which have made their way into the headlines, however this will focus on a more specific and recent scandal, so we can raise awareness of this problem and learn how we can help stop it.

At the beginning of July 2019, it made the headlines that the UK’s largest modern slavery gang trafficked over 400 victims. The Polish gang cruelly exploited vulnerable people like the homeless, and those who had just come out of prison, in their homeland – bringing them over to the UK. Many people who flee from persecution or war in other countries are then vulnerable and are picked up by traffickers or slave gangs and brought over for illegal labour. Slavery is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

They were being starved, and when they did eat, their meals came from food banks and food kitchens. For all their toil some were paid 50p per hour, and sometimes their wages were stolen. They were forced to work on farms, rubbish recycling centres and poultry factories and made to live in squalor whilst the gang’s bosses maintained a luxurious lifestyle and made about £3 million over several years.

One victim even said, “I would say some homeless people here in the UK live better than I lived after I arrived over here,”. They were kept tightly under lock and key – their identity cards were taken from them; if any complained they would be threatened and beaten.

Nobody knew the troubles they were going through, which were hidden right in plain sight. An anti- trafficking charity noticed an increase in the amount of Polish people attending one of their soup kitchens and alerted the authorities.

These tragedies are taking place right under our noses – and if we become more aware of them and learn signs which may help us to spot and prevent misfortunes like this continuing. If you come into contact someone some signs that may help identify them is victims are if they look malnourished; if someone else is speaking for them. They may look reluctant to interact with others; they may not have personal identification with them; if they’re being dropped off and picked up from work at unusual times – consistently; and they may not able to move around freely. These are always things to look out for, because these people are living in fear, and do not have a voice and you could make the difference in their life. We must remember that when you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.

Spot the signs of slavery


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/modern-slavery-ring-victims-human-trafficking-uk-poland-a8990151.html
https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/spot-signs

 

Young Peacemakers Awards 2019

Time to celebrate all the young people who have been active in the pursuit of peace in their local or wider community this year. Many have been working towards achieving Peace School status.

 

The young people have inspired so many and we are all very excited by the entries. The WCIA Young Peacemakers Awards will be presented on Thursday 4 July at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen by the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

 

Young artists and writers from Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge almost swept the board on the art awards: Lois William’s Poem on meeting a Holocaust Survivor took first prize in the Young Writer category.

Elgan Edwards, with Peace quotes on black with doves, won the 2D art category; Llio Mutembo came joint first in the 3D art with Poppies, barbed wire & a bullet together with Tigi Hirst-Williams, who used natural materials in her art work to remind us of the link between peace and care of our planet.

 

Year 5 at Ysgol Tirdeunaw delighted the judges with their story and images about Bubbles Troubles (Tirdeunaw – Bubbles’ Troubles Tirdeunaw – Bwrlwm a’i broblem) a turtle, who finds friendship, overcomes discrimination and teaches us what we can all do to help the environment. (Gwern William, from Ysgol David Hughes, won the prize for digital peacemaker with his song about a victim of the Holocaust.

The young Kindness ambassadors at Peace School Ysgol Dyffryn Aman were absolute stars spreading peace in their school and community by random acts of kindness and took the first prize for Peacemakers.

 

Here is a selection of some of the great work. Visit our young Peacemakers Awards exhibition at the Eisteddfod to see more and check out the full entries list .

See more images on our twitter account