Omran Daqneesh, the face of suffering in Aleppo.

Omran Daqneesh, a five year old child, has become the symbol of 100,000 children that are currently suffering constant bombings and the subsequent loss of their homes and hopes for the future.

Pain is the first feeling that we can see through the children’s eyes. They have witnessed how their playgrounds have been reduced to ashes. This is just one of the consequences of the terrible bombings that are taking place in this country. Not only militaries, but also civilians have been affected by these attacks. The insurgents are the ones that are killing thousands of people by bombarding hospitals, homes, schools or even markets.

With regard to El Confidencial, people are leaving underground, save of shrapnel and of the collapse of buildings that have been attacked. They have created an atmosphere where children can feel safer than leaving outside.

More than one million people have seen the pictures of Omran Daqneesh, pictures that talk without words. In Aleppo, you can constantly hear the weeping of the children that is interrupted by the bombs. They have seen how everything has been destroyed: from hospitals to schools. And no one has been able to help them. They are captured in a city that is in ruins and is becoming a cemetery of dreams and hopes. Aleppo has stopped being the city that saw them born.

According to the executive director of Unicef Justin Forsyth “the children in Aleppo are trapped in a truly nightmare.” There are not enough doctors or medicines to attend all of the injured people, people are letting others die in the streets when they

cannot do anything more for them.

 As the Time sais, there are lots of NGOs that were created with the purpose of helping all the families affected by the war, like Save the Children that helps providing kids and their families warm clothes, water, protection and medical care. Another example is Hand in Hand for Syria that was created after the beginning of the war in Syria helping with the emergency appeal. Thirdly, International committee of the Red Cross acts as a neutral and impartial humanitarian intermediary.

To understand the situation that Aleppo is facing we have to go back to 2012. Back then, the regime of Bashar Al Assad took place in Aleppo, Syria´s martyr city. Aleppo has been four years fighting against this regime when it became a battlefield where the insurgents attacked to try to get the governmental forces out and gain power over the North of Syria.

 In relation with the Courrier International, the president of Syria was looking for the legitimacy of the war arguing that all the enemies are terrorists and showing the military operations as liberation of war. However, we can’t talk about liberation when thousands of children have had to escape because of the offensive.

Moreover, how can we talk about liberation when the most important part of the city has become a big open sky cemetery?

So is there a solution to bring hope to the children of Aleppo?

The end of the conflict might seem quite far but we need to prevent the future. Not only humanitarian help is needed but strong agreements between countries to stop the conflict. After all, if kids are born in this hostile environment they will not grow as strong and educated adults and we will have to face a lost generation. However, as agreements between countries are very arduous, NGOs must support the most vulnerable group: kids.

 

Angela Cantero, Marie Camacho and Alejandra Torres.

An Interview with Irina Feldman

My name is Pablo Llamas Aparicio and I am a first-year student of Translation at the UEM. On June 9, 2016, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Irina Feldman, who teaches Spanish language and Latin American literature at Middlebury College, in Vermont, United States. I thought it could be interesting to know the opinion of someone who lives in a state that usually remains unnoticed for Europeans in comparison to some of the states where we get the idea that everything seems to happen. On top of that, being born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Feldman’s own intercultural experience only added spice to this amazing interview.

First, it seemed a good idea to me that Ms. Feldman introduced herself to my readers. She told me that she had moved to the U.S. when she was fifteen years old, short after the U.S.S.R. had dissolved, because her mother –a single mother- was not sure of whether it would be possible for them to live safely in Russia during the transition. After a period of time during which she was not precisely infatuated with the States, Ms. Feldman took her high education in Georgetown, Washington D.C. and graduated in Hispanic literature. After living a couple of years in South America, she got a job in Middlebury College. She explained me that her research focuses on left-winged movements in South America, as well as the authors of those movements, especially in the Andean area (Bolivia, Peru…).

My next question to her was about the origin of her interest on Hispanic literature, given that she was born in Russia and works in the United States. She confessed me that one major factor was the fact that she did not really like the English language when she moved to the U.S. or the country itself, for that matter. She also told me that she had had wonderful Spanish teachers when she was in high school and later at college. She had had really positive experiences with teachers and professors from Spain, so she started studying Peninsularists, that is studies on the Iberian Peninsula, and she was highly interested on Medieval Spain. However, once she got in contact with studies on Latin America, she finally made up her mind and started focusing her studies on Latin America.

Wanting to know more details about what made her like the Hispanic literature so much, I asked her whether Hispanic literature had traditionally had a big impact on the Russian culture, as well as the American. To that question, she answered that actually, it had a great impact on the Soviet culture, when she was young. In that time, the classics from the Golden Age of the Spanish literature, like Cervantes or Lope de Vega, were indeed very famous in Russia. She told me that her first contact with the Spanish literature came when she was young and lived in Russia. She would read all these classics that are so important for the history of Spanish culture and literature. She also told me about a Russian-made movie of El Quijote, saying that it was “a very impressive movie.” As for Latin American literature, she answered that both in Russia and the U.S. it was famous for “the Boom” of authors like Gabriel García Márquez or Mario Vargas Llosa. However, she expressed her disappointment on the newer generations of students in the U.S. due to their little knowledge on Hispanic literature, even in the case of her own students at the very beginning of their degrees.

Next, I thought it was time we spoke about current affairs. Laughing, Ms. Feldman said that she could already guess what I was going to ask her (and she happened to be right). First, given that only two days before, Hillary Clinton had become the first woman to be an official candidate to the U.S. presidential elections, I asked Ms. Feldman why she thought Clinton received so much supporting from the U.S. citizens. She explained that Vermont is a state that traditionally votes as much to the left as it can. So then, she asks, why does Hillary Clinton receive so much supporting? In her opinion, Hillary’s popularity has been supported by her relation with former president Bill Clinton. She thinks that Hillary’s stand on immigration is not progressive, but she receives so much supporting because people think of Hillary as a professional who knows what she is doing. However, according to Ms. Feldman, Hillary’s presidency would not mean the revolutionary change that a lot of people seem to ask for.

When asked about Donald Trump, she answered that it was completely the other way round: people think of Trump as an anti-establishment candidate. From what she told me, a lot of people seem to believe that because Trump is so rich, he will not accept bribes. People, Ms. Feldman says, are sick of the system, they think that the government does not represent the people, they think that the state is corrupted by the big money, and want someone who can change the game. She, however, thinks that these people are wrong. She can’t see the logic behind the bribes argument, and sees Trump as the main example of the decay of the political system in the U.S.

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Chile should not yield before Bolivia.

Bolivia is asking once again for a sovereign access to the sea over Chile’s territory.

The conflict between Chile and Bolivia dates back to different issues caused because of different treaties that were sing related with the economical situation and borders. In the 1879’s treaty, the Bolivian government relent the taxes of Chilean Companies’ products, but four years after, this same government  decreed the increased of the same taxes, contradicting themselves and the Treaty, and causing threats by Bolivia to confiscate Chilean Products if taxes were not paid. So, in this way we can speak that Bolivian government was who tempt the griefs that began war. On that same year, a Chilean warship with 200 soldiers was sent to occupied the areas in which the auction of Chilean Companies was taking place in Bolivia. In reaction, the Bolivian government declared the War, invoking the secret alliance they maintain with Peru, also Chile declared the War and ended as the winner of it. This was call the War of Pacific.

After the War, in 1904, Bolivia and Chile signed a Peace Treaty which ended the war, stablished the boarders between the countries and ceded 240 miles of Bolivias’s coastline — Bolivia’s only outlet to the sea — to the Chilean victors.  Since then, Bolivia has repeatedly asked Chile for a sovereign access to the sea, something that Chile has always rejected for obvious reasons:

In first place, the reason why Bolivia is interested on recovering this territory, is not in their best geopolitical interest, but trading. Also, Bolivia recently brought the case before the Hague. They support their demands on  the repeated promises from Chile, as long as Bolivia thinks this promises are binding, because they constitute a source of law called international costume.

In contrast, we consider that it is enough for Bolivia the access they already have through Atacama’s Corridor, which is an area over Chilean territory that allows Bolivia to trade, the free movement of people and some privileges related to taxes.

Honestly, the International Court of Justice has no legal jurisdiction over the request, because the controversy is already regulated by the 1904 Treaty. Furthermore, there is the opinion that if Chile yield before the request, this could mean to the international arena, including Peru –which was also involve into the Pacific War- , a complaint over  territories lost during wars.

It is very important to highlight that this area has been benefited from Chilean legal system, investment and citizens’ work from more than a hundred years, so in consequence, the concession of this area would imply social disruption.

Finally, we consider that the most suitable option, gave by Chile’s President, is to permit Bolivia to build a harbor in the north-west of the country, so in this way import/export merchandise with destination to Bolivia would only pass trough Bolivian Customs and avoid Chilean ones, which would be a great advantage.

Europe, you are not doing it properly

In the last few months, people all over the world wonder if Europe is doing enough in order to overwhelm ISIS and its organization. Every week, some Heads of State meet and, in their agenda, there are always ISIS, the Syrian civil war, refugees and other hot topics. Although ISIS is one of the up-to-date issues about which leaders discuss, is European Union really doing its best to crush ISIS? Definitely not.

For the first months of ISIS’ existence, Europe has maintained a passive attitude towards the jihadist organization, just looking from far the place where millions of people were cruelly killed. European leaders reacted when threats started to be addressed against the society around them. In other words, their attitude changed when Paris became one of the main targets of the jihadist organization as in the attacks in January and November 2015.

France-vs-ISIS-650x468

France vs ISIS. Cartoon by Latuff. PoliticalCartoons.

“An eye for an eye: you bomb us, we bomb you”. That is what we suppose the French President, François Hollande, thought when he commanded to launch a massive airstrike on ISIS stronghold of Raqqa after the Paris attacks in November. It is about a series of raids throughout months that has killed jihadists, of course, but innocent people too. In our point of view, trying to put an end to violence with more violence is not the solution. People may die but ideals will survive.

One of the most striking aspects of this issue is the fact that the European Union has only focused on the Middle East and not inside its own borders, where there is a real big problem. In fact, European leaders should delve into the causes that have led and still lead hundreds of young people who live in this continent to join the terrorist groups. Europe is doubtlessly ill-equipped to deal with the problem of young people travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State because not enough work has been done to comprehend why they leave. It is vital to understand why young people want to head off to jihad. We know that it is not easy. To be honest, it is something very complex to discover.

karikatur für tribüne- zwischen not und elend

Refugees. Cartoon by Petar Pismestrovic and Kleine Zeitrung. PoliticalCartoons.

Instead of that, Europe blames Syrian people with any reason and closes its borders. Europe is afraid, so it does not want to offer refugees a shelter because people think that among refugees there could be terrorists. Nevertheless, up to the present days ISIS followers who have attacked Europe, in particular Paris and Brussels, are European citizens with Muslim origins, and they have lived their entire lives here in Europe. To sum up, why do European countries deny a safer life to people who escape from ISIS? Europe and refugees are at the same side, both are victims of this war of terror.

In conclusion, we think that the current European strategy against terrorism is not enough to face what ISIS represents. Since it has been a new kind of terrorism, it requires extraordinary measures. ISIS is winning the battles, but Europe and Middle East countries will win the war if they start to work together.

The World Humanitarian Aid by the UN isn’t good enough

Turkey is as many other countries directly involved in the refugee crisis, which is at the top of the list of problems the World Humanitarian Summit hopes to resolve this week. Turkey needs the help of the United Nations and European Union to end this crisis. However, these international organizations are not helping with enough humanitarian aid and supplies for the people that are suffering.

The United Nations’ main goals are to maintain international peace and security, also to promote the respect of human rights, in which they’re not doing a really good job currently. In countries neighbouring Syria, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) supports host communities to cope with the influx of refugees by improving infrastructure, and improving local economic and employment opportunities focusing especially on vulnerable groups engaging the local population in its projects.

Speaking in Geneva the UN emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien said that the Syrian government had in fact disregarded ‘countless’ efforts for aid to be allowed in, residents of the town last received aid in November 2012. Although the UN conducted a needs assessment which they came to the conclusion that resources which are in urgent need include medicine, food along with shortages in drinking water due to supplies being destroyed. While the UN’s announcements have been helpful in condemning Assad’s regime actions, it has not taken enough action to help those who need their assistance most.

Lack of aid might be the issue in the besieged areas in Syria, but that’s not the biggest problem. The quality of the humanitarian aid in the world today is not developed to where it should be, and it can be improved to a much higher level than it is. David Millband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, stated in a speech he held a month ago at Georgetown University, that the world humanitarian aid need to be reformed. Further on he expressed, “the scale and complexity of current humanitarian needs are increasingly out of step with the resources, policies and practices available to meet them.”

whs

Source:  The World Humanitarian Summit

 

The organisation that directs the World Humanitarian Summit is the United Nations. Examples the media covers every single week shows that this organisation is not the most efficient when it comes to humanitarian aid. Actually, one of the biggest and high-profiled international NGOs was absent. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had withdrawn from the event with the statement; “We no longer have any hope that the WHS will address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response, particularly in conflict areas or epidemic situations.”

This week the World Humanitarian summit took place in Istanbul to revise and improve the structure of humanitarian aid. It only lasted two days, and as expected it was not enough time to improve the humanitarian aid in any way. The gathered world leaders did establish a core document with commitments, but it’s non-binding and therefore it becomes another declaration of intent, rather than action.

“It is shameful that rich countries are moaning, complaining, sending refugees back, cutting deals behind their backs… We want to see rich countries step up to the plate, absorb refugees and give them opportunities in their countries,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the aid group Oxfam International, told Al Jazeera after the summit closing.

Humanitarian action not only saves lives, it prepares communities to respond to disasters, protects hard-won development gains, and helps people get back on their feet after a crisis strikes. It is important that there soon will be taken some action rather than several conferences and summits that gather publicity for world leaders and organizations.
The United Nations is to bureaucratic and inefficient to handle the different crisis that are ongoing right now. The institutions should involve other NGOs to get action when it’s needed.

Are we the foreigners responsible for prostitution in Thailand?

The West has always been seen as the dissolute, immoral and corrupt part of the world from many perspectives. Should we redefine our position?

If we talk about the illegal prostitution and the sex-slavery trade in the emergent-underdeveloped countries which is Thailand there is strong discourse and opinion indicating that the prominent prostitution and it is coinciding boom in the industry, sex Tourism (which accounts for 3% of Thailand’s GDP per year) is a direct result from Western influence and demand for such services. Is this proposition accurate or correct?

This question make us reflect about this ‘dangerous‘topic.  Dangerous because this world-epidemy is the new business from the twenty-first century, an industry that generates more than 108.000.000$ per year.  Human trade is a less lucrative business, generating ‘just‘32.000.000$ per year. After knowing that, who wants to study hard to create an enterprise?

The UNO (United Nations Organization) recognizes cases of sex-trafficking only if the girls/women are crossing borders. But what happens in the cases of women in Thailand that are kidnapped, beaten and sexually abused inside the country without crossing any border?

To fight against the illegal prostitution in Thailand, we should fight the source of the problem and cut the root of the issue. Instead of thinking that it is a external problem, we must fight against the local people that stimulates and promote such crime. If the Thai Government fight and exterminates this problem, the world community and the rest of the states would see Thailand as the hero of this issue. In our opinion, the local people that abuses of this women have the same, or even more fault as the tourists.

I will be exploring the origins of prostitution in Thailand, as well as the ebbs and flows that it, as an industry, has experienced. Also will touch upon the influence that globalization has had on the prostitution market in Thailand as well as the cultural and economic factors that sustain the environment.  Previously prostitution in Thailand was legal because it generated huge profits through taxes, however nowadays prostitution there has become illegal since 1960 when a law was passed under pressure from the United Nations.

That´s why Thailand’s teen pregnancy and HIV infection numbers are worryingly high, and the fact that sex remains a social taboo only makes for a tough battle. Despite being well known for a large community of ladyboys and gay friendliness, Thai society lacks understanding and knowledge about gender rights. While sex is in part intuitive and subjective, many aspects of it actually require education. And before sexism, homophobia or anti-sex enters the list of social values of so called ‘Thainess’, we need to talk about sex.

From our point of view, this problem has to be faced in order to prevent this society of the risks that it generates for women.

Prostitution is illegal in Thailand and still there are estimated 500,000 sex workers, if you include all the freelancers and sideline girls it gets close to a million. A good explanation why the authorities don’t take steps against prostitution might be because there wouldn’t be enough prisons in the country that can house them all. And police officers don’t mind anyway to let the bars close late at night for some extra cash in hand (bribes) every month.

After reading this, do you think that everybody take pleasure of their human rights? Does not sound a bit ironically phrases like ‚ ‘no one can take away your human rights ‘or ‘you have right to live without any kind of torture‘.