First Christian Church

Chemical plant fire decimates Danvers, Massachusetts neighboorhood

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Chemical plant fire decimates Danvers, Massachusetts neighboorhood

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

According to outgoing Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, an explosion that was “equivalent to a 2,000 lb. bomb” and registered 0.5 on the Richter scale decimated an area of Danvers and is also a “Thanksgiving miracle.”

The explosion occurred around 2:45 am EST, this morning in the Danversport area of Danvers, Massachusetts at the plant for solvent and ink manufacturer, CAI Inc. The explosion, which was caught on security camera and was heard up to over 25-50 miles away in southern Maine and New Hampshire.

The explosion damaged over 90 homes, blowing out windows and knocking some houses off their foundations. Officials believe that some of the more extensively damaged houses will have to be leveled and rebuilt. Some of the buildings damaged included a bakery, boats at a close by marina and the New England Home for the Deaf, an assisted-living facility for people who are deaf or deafblind and elderly residents requiring constant care. “These people are extremely fragile,” said state Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers, whose district includes the affected area. “Many of them have Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. It’s clear they can’t stay here long, but it’s clear they won’t be able to return for quite a while.”

Danvers Fire Chief James P. Tutko toured the area by helicopter and said many residents would be kept from their homes for the foreseeable future. “It looks like a war zone, that’s the only thing I can say,” Tutko said. When asked about the loss of no life at all, he responded “Somebody out there likes us.” Finally, he said that finding out the cause of the explosion would take days.

Outgoing governor Mitt Romney toured the area and said the explosion was a “Thanksgiving miracle” as the explosion was “equivalent to a 2,000 lb bomb going off in a residential neighborhood,” and that no one was killed and only about 10 people suffered only minor injuries in area that included over 300 residents. Residents of the area have been evacuated to the Danvers High School where temporary shelter has been set up by the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay. Donations are being taken for residents affected by the explosion. Residents are also being told to start filing insurance claims right away and to keep track of their expenses for items bought.

There were minor environmental concerns due to water runoff of chemicals. According the Environmental Protection Agency‘s on-scene coordinator Mike Nalipinski, preliminary tests showed low levels of toluene, a solvent, but said it was nothing of significance. Water runoff from the water used by firefighters left a purple sheen on the river and tests were being conducted. However, the water is not a local drinking water supply and the chemical evaporates quickly. Chief Tutko said there was no risk of toxic fumes getting into the air.

An Eastern Propane facility was also located near the area, however, it was not the source of the explosion. A spokesman for the company said that although the property suffered some minor damage, their tanks are secure.

According to WHDH television, a person who answered the telephone at CAI’s Georgetown, Massachusetts headquarters refused comment, and a telephone message left at the company president’s home was not immediately returned.

Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

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Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evansville, Indiana, United States — This past week marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program, and this program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers and patrons.

The USI art gallery celebrated the Thursday opening with its display of Warhol’s Polaroids, gelatin silver prints and several colored screen prints. USI’s exhibit, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, is to run from January 23 through March 9.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at USI bases its exhibit around roughly 100 Polaroids selected from its collection. The Polaroids were all donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, according to Kristen Wilkins, assistant professor of photography and curator of the exhibit. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made two donations to USI Art Collections, in 2007 and a second recently.

Kathryn Waters, director of the gallery, expressed interest in further donations from the foundation in the future.

Since 2007 the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has seeded university art galleries throughout the United States with over 28,000 Andy Warhol photographs and other artifacts. The program takes a decentralized approach to Warhol’s photography collection and encourages university art galleries to regularly disseminate and educate audiences about Warhol’s artistic vision, especially in the area of photography.

Contents

  • 1 University exhibits
  • 2 Superstars
  • 3 Warhol’s photographic legacy
  • 4 USI exhibit
  • 5 Sources

Wikinews provides additional video, audio and photographs so our readers may learn more.

Wilkins observed that the 2007 starting date of the donation program, which is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, coincided with the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. USI was not alone in receiving a donation.

K.C. Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation, said 500 institutions received the initial invitation and currently 190 universities have accepted one or more donations. Institutional recipients, said Mauer, are required to exhibit their donated Warhol photographs every ten years as one stipulation.

While USI is holding its exhibit, there are also Warhol Polaroid exhibits at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an Edward Steichen and Andy Warhol exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. All have received Polaroids from the foundation.

University exhibits can reach out and attract large audiences. For example, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saw attendance levels reach 11,000 visitors when it exhibited its Warhol collection in 2010, according to curator Elaine Gustafon. That exhibit was part of a collaboration combining the collections from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also were recipients of donated items from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.

Each collection donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program holds Polaroids of well-known celebrities. The successful UNC Greensboro exhibit included Polaroids of author Truman Capote and singer-songwriter Carly Simon.

“I think America’s obsession with celebrity culture is as strong today as it was when Warhol was living”, said Gustafon. “People are still intrigued by how stars live, dress and socialize, since it is so different from most people’s every day lives.”

Wilkins explained Warhol’s obsession with celebrities began when he first collected head shots as a kid and continued as a passion throughout his life. “He’s hanging out with the celebrities, and has kind of become the same sort of celebrity he was interested in documenting earlier in his career”, Wilkins said.

The exhibit at USI includes Polaroids of actor Dennis Hopper; musician Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran; publishers Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine and Carlo De Benedetti of Italy’s la Repubblica; disco club owner Steve Rubell of Studio 54; photographers Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos and Felice Quinto; and athletes Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis) and Jack Nicklaus (golf).

Wikinews observed the USI exhibit identifies and features Polaroids of fashion designer Halston, a former resident of Evansville.

University collections across the United States also include Polaroids of “unknowns” who have not yet had their fifteen minutes of fame. Cynthia Thompson, curator and director of exhibits at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said, “These images serve as documentation of people in his every day life and art — one which many of us enjoy a glimpse into.”

Warhol was close to important touchstones of the 1960s, including art, music, consumer culture, fashion, and celebrity worship, which were all buzzwords and images Wikinews observed at USI’s opening exhibit.

He was also an influential figure in the pop art movement. “Pop art was about what popular American culture really thought was important”, Kathryn Waters said. “That’s why he did the Campbell Soup cans or the Marilyn pictures, these iconic products of American culture whether they be in film, video or actually products we consumed. So even back in the sixties, he was very aware of this part of our culture. Which as we all know in 2014, has only increased probably a thousand fold.”

“I think everybody knows Andy Warhol’s name, even non-art people, that’s a name they might know because he was such a personality”, Water said.

Hilary Braysmith, USI associate professor of art history, said, “I think his photography is equally influential as his graphic works, his more famous pictures of Marilyn. In terms of the evolution of photography and experimentation, like painting on them or the celebrity fascination, I think he was really ground-breaking in that regard.”

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The Polaroid format is not what made Warhol famous, however, he is in the company of other well-known photographers who used the camera, such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton.

Wilkins said, “[Warhol] liked the way photo booths and the Polaroid’s front flash looked”. She explained how Warhol’s adoption of the Polaroid camera revealed his process. According to Wilkins, Warhol was able to reproduce the Polaroid photograph and create an enlargement of it, which he then could use to commit the image to the silk screen medium by applying paint or manipulating them further. One of the silk screens exhibited at USI this time was the Annie Oakley screen print called “Cowboys and Indians” from 1987.

Wilkins also said Warhol was both an artist and a businessperson. “As a way to commercialize his work, he would make a blue Marilyn and a pink Marilyn and a yellow Marilyn, and then you could pick your favorite color and buy that. It was a very practical salesman approach to his work. He was very prolific but very business minded about that.”

“He wanted to be rich and famous and he made lots of choices to go that way”, Wilkins said.

It’s Warhol. He is a legend.

Kiara Perkins, a second year USI art major, admitted she was willing to skip class Thursday night to attend the opening exhibit but then circumstances allowed for her to attend the exhibit. Why did she so badly want to attend? “It’s Warhol. He is a legend.”

For Kevin Allton, a USI instructor in English, Warhol was also a legend. He said, “Andy Warhol was the center of the Zeitgeist for the 20th century and everything since. He is a post-modern diety.”

Allton said he had only seen the Silver Clouds installation before in film. The Silver Clouds installation were silver balloons blown up with helium, and those balloons filled one of the smaller rooms in the gallery. “I thought that in real life it was really kind of magical,” Allton said. “I smacked them around.”

Elements of the Zeitgeist were also playfully recreated on USI’s opening night. In her opening remarks for attendees, Waters pointed out those features to attendees, noting the touches of the Warhol Factory, or the studio where he worked, that were present around them. She pointed to the refreshment table with Campbell’s Soup served with “electric” Kool Aid and tables adorned with colorful gumball “pills”. The music in the background was from such bands as The Velvet Underground.

The big hit of the evening, Wikinews observed from the long line, was the Polaroid-room where attendees could wear a Warhol-like wig or don crazy glasses and have their own Polaroid taken. The Polaroids were ready in an instant and immediately displayed at the entry of the exhibit. Exhibit goers then became part of the very exhibit they had wanted to attend. In fact, many people Wikinews observed took out their mobiles as they left for the evening and used their own phone cameras to make one further record of the moment — a photo of a photo. Perhaps they had learned an important lesson from the Warhol exhibit that cultural events like these were ripe for use and reuse. We might even call these exit instant snap shots, the self selfie.

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Children enjoy interacting with the “Silver Clouds” at the Andy Warhol exhibit. Image: Snbehnke.

Kathryn Waters opens the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the Andy Warhol exhibit, hosts document all the names of attendees who have a sitting at the Polaroid booth. Image: Snbehnke.

Curator Kristin Wilkins shares with attendees the story behind his famous Polaroids. Image: Snbehnke.

A table decoration at the exhibit where the “pills” were represented by bubble gum. Image: Snbehnke.

Two women pose to get their picture taken with a Polaroid camera. Their instant pics will be hung on the wall. Image: Snbehnke.

Even adults enjoyed the “Silver Clouds” installation at the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people from the area enjoyed Andy Warhol’s famous works at the exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Katie Waters talks with a couple in the Silver Clouds area. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people showed up to the new Andy Warhol exhibit, which opened at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the exhibit there was food and beverages inspired to look like the 1960s. Image: Snbehnke.

A woman has the giggles while getting her Polaroid taken. Image: Snbehnke.

A man poses to get his picture taken by a Polaroid camera, with a white wig and a pair of sunglasses. Image: Snbehnke.

Finished product of the Polaroid camera film of many people wanting to dress up and celebrate Andy Warhol. Image: Snbehnke.

Interview: Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Interview: Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January’s second Interview of the Month was with Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on 23 January in IRC.

The EFF is coming off a series of high-profile successes in their campaigns to educate the public, press, and policy makers regarding online rights in a digital world, and defending those rights in the legislature and the courtroom. Their settlement with Sony/BMG, the amazingly confused MGM v Grokster decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the disturbing cases surrounding Diebold have earned the advocacy organization considerable attention.

When asked if the EFF would be interested in a live interview in IRC by Wikinews, the answer was a nearly immediate yes, but just a little after Ricardo Lobo. With two such interesting interview candidates agreeing so quickly, it was hard to say no to either so schedules were juggled to have both. By chance, the timing worked out to have the EFF interview the day before the U.S. Senate schedule hearings concerning the Broadcast flag rule of the FCC, a form of digital rights management which the recording and movie industries have been lobbying hard for – and the EFF has been lobbying hard to prevent.

categories Uncategorized | December 12, 2018 | comments Comments (0)

Dubai leader Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum dead

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Dubai leader Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum dead

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

“His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai has passed away. He was 62 years old.”

The above statement from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs confirmed that the ruler of Dubai died earlier this morning in Australia. The statement added that “the UAE had lost a historical leader from its leaders who dedicated his life to building the country, and strove to do his best for its people.”

The official mourning period will last for 40 days, during which all UAE flags will fly at half mast. Ministries and government organisations will be closed for seven days, starting Wednesday.

Local stock markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai shed 1.8% and 3.3%, respectively, in early trading.

The Dubai Shopping Festival, the largest business & cultural event in Dubai’s calendar, has been postponed until further notice, in a statement by CEO Saeed Al Nabouda.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been named the new ruler of Dubai, in an accession process that officials described as being automatic.

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Typhoon Ketsana leaves over 140 dead in the Philippines after heavy flooding

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Typhoon Ketsana leaves over 140 dead in the Philippines after heavy flooding

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Philippines has appealed for international assistance following the worst flooding in more than 40 years. At least 140 people have been killed and another 32 are missing as a result of the heavy rains, and the death toll from the disaster continues to rise.

The Philippine government has been attempting to provide shelter, food and basic supplies for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the floods.

Typhoon Ketsana brought torrential rains to the northern Philippines on Saturday, inundating most of the capital Manila and surrounding provinces. Surging water washed away buildings and cars. Scores of people were killed and many are still missing.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called the disaster an “extreme event” that has strained the government’s capabilities to the limit. She said rescue efforts will continue until all residents are accounted for.

Two days after the flooding, rescue and relief operations continue to be hampered by the lack of rubber boats and helicopters. Many victims are demanding answers from local authorities for the lack of advance warning and the slow response to the emergency. Victims said they were stranded on their rooftops for hours before help arrived.

“We are concentrating on massive relief operations. [But] the system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed,” said National Disaster Coordinating Council deputy administrator Anthony Golez to reporters Monday.

Flood waters in some areas subsided on Monday, but thousands of homes are still reported to be without power.

The government has appealed for international humanitarian assistance. Vilma Cabrera, assistant secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development of the Philippines, said Monday her agency needs donations of basic necessities.

“Right now we need mats, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils. We need hygiene kits and we need flashlights and lighting equipment,” said Cabrera.

“We are appealing for international humanitarian assistance,” said the Secretary of National Defense of the Philippines, Gilberto Teodoro. “The potential for a more serious situation is there and we cannot wait for that to happen.”

The United States donated about US$100,000 to the Philippines after the disaster, as well as deploying twenty US soldiers on five rubber boats and a helicopter. China and Japan gave $140,000 and $220,000 respectively for humanitarian disaster assistance to victims. Australia provided A$1 million and Thailand is providing medical staff and supplies. The World Food Programme and the UNICEF have both donated food and other materials.

People have been warned about the danger of water-borne diseases. Philippine schools have been closed until Tuesday, and many offices remained closed .

Storms lash the Philippines every year. Typhoon Ketsana, although not one of the strongest, brought very large amounts of rain. In Manila Saturday, a month’s worth of rain fell in just 12 hours.

categories Uncategorized | December 11, 2018 | comments Comments (0)

US Soccer: Seattle Sounders defeat Portland Timbers

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US Soccer: Seattle Sounders defeat Portland Timbers

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In Seattle, on Sunday, Seattle Sounders FC beat the Portland Timbers 1–0 in the Cascadia Cup battle. Stefan Frei notched his fourth shutout this season while Clint Dempsey scored the winning goal in the 77th minute with an assist from Andy Rose. Seattle is now 1–0 in the cup while Portland falls to 0–2.

Portland almost scored minutes later when sub Fanendo Adi rattled the crossbar in the 81st minute. The Timbers also led the Sounders in shots with 11–10. Seattle was glad to have points before hitting the road. Head Coach Sigi Schmid added “We’ve got 13 points now in seven games, so we’re happy with that and we want to come back from these three road games with as many as possible.”

The total crowd on Sunday was tallied at 41,451. Seattle now stands at 4-2-1 with Portland struggling at 2-3-3. Portland hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps next weekend and Seattle travels to face New York City FC.

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Four dead, at least 15 injured after gunman opens fire at fitness center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania

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Four dead, at least 15 injured after gunman opens fire at fitness center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Four people have been shot and killed and at least 15 wounded when a gunman opened fire inside a LA Fitness center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. The gunman was among the dead.

Reports say the man walked into a dance room where an all-female Latin dance class was in session, turned off the lights and began to shoot people. CNN reports that the gunman was a “middle-aged white male.” One witness said he was carrying a duffel bag, which he put down before shooting into the crowd. After opening fire, he turned the gun on himself. At least 30 people are reported to have been in the room at the time of the shooting.

Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said, “I’ve never seen nothing quite like this. It was very chaotic. […] There’s a good belief that the shooter is deceased.”

Collier Township Police Chief Tom Devin stated that the police, “believe the shooter committed suicide at the scene but we’re not positive.” Police report that the shooter’s motive may have been a domestic dispute with one of the exercisers.

Mike Hentosz, a witness who was inside the gym, said, “I feel like it’s a dream. I don’t know what to think of it.” A woman participating in the class, Nicole, said that 10 minutes into the class, “a middle-aged white male walked into the class. He had a big gym bag. […] He looked out of place in a class full of women.” When he began firing, she reported, she ran out of the gym and escaped in passerby’s car.

categories Uncategorized | December 10, 2018 | comments Comments (0)

Victoria Wyndham on Another World and another life

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Victoria Wyndham on Another World and another life

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Victoria Wyndham was one of the most seasoned and accomplished actresses in daytime soap opera television. She played Rachel Cory, the maven of Another World‘s fictional town, Bay City, from 1972 to 1999 when the show went off the air. Wyndham talks about how she was seen as the anchor of a show, and the political infighting to keep it on the air as NBC wanted to wrest control of the long-running soap from Procter & Gamble. Wyndham fought to keep it on the air, but eventually succumbed to the inevitable. She discusses life on the soap opera, and the seven years she spent wandering “in the woods” of Los Angeles seeking direction, now divorced from a character who had come to define her professional career. Happy, healthy and with a family she is proud of, Wyndham has found life after the death of Another World in painting and animals. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with the soap diva.

Contents

  • 1 Career and motherhood
  • 2 The politics behind the demise of Another World
  • 3 Wyndham’s efforts to save Another World
  • 4 The future of soap operas
  • 5 Wyndham’s career and making it as a creative
  • 6 Television’s lust for youth
  • 7 Her relationship today to the character Rachel Cory
  • 8 Wyndham on a higher power and the creative process
  • 9 After AW: Wyndham lost in California
  • 10 Wyndham discovers painting
  • 11 Wyndham on the state of the world
  • 12 Source

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Polish drug company Jelfa ordered to shut-down over mislabelled drugs

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Polish drug company Jelfa ordered to shut-down over mislabelled drugs

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Polish Prime Minister Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski has ordered the pharmaceutical company Jelfa to halt production following revelations that Jelfa had placed mislabelled medication on the market, whose use could be potentially fatal.

Jelfa distributed vials labelled as Corhydron, a hydrocortisone used to treat allergies and inflammation, but in fact containing Suxamethonium chloride, a drug normally used to cause muscle paralysis during emergency surgery.

The Health Ministry has appealed to people suffering from asthma or allergies to check their medication and return any Corhydron ampoules they possess to the pharmacy.

Polskie Radio reports that the mislabelling was discovered a month ago, but Jelfa and the Polish Health ministry did not inform of the problem.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski ordered Jelfa to halt production until it can assure the Polish Government that it can properly manage its production.

The Polish Outlook reports that that drug companies in Poland were operating unregulated since December, 2005 as the regulations has expired. The government was putting in place new regulations.

The owner of Jelfa is AB Sanitas, the largest drug producer in neighbouring Lithuania. The shut-down has been questioned by the Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, who expressed concern over the situation and said that he wants to try to settle the issue diplomatically.

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UN calls on international community to increase aid for Iraqi refugees

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UN calls on international community to increase aid for Iraqi refugees

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on the international community to increase aid and assistance to the two countries shouldering the bulk of displaced Iraqis. Syria and Jordan have received the largest number of Iraqi refugees and are having difficulty coping with the numbers.

The appeal was made by UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond at a press conference on Friday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He criticized governments for earlier expressing concern and pledging support for the refugees but not following through on promises. “Syria and Jordan have still received next to nothing in bilateral help from the world community,” said Redmond.

There are an estimated 2 million Iraqi refugees total in Syria and Jordan with the numbers increasing daily. Each day, Syria receives approximately 2,000 Iraqis and, of those, about 1,000 will stay for an extended time. There are a further 2 million displaced Iraqis who move and settle in safer areas within Iraq.

The large numbers of refugees is putting pressure on the infrastructure of the host countries, resulting in difficult living conditions for the inhabitants. Ron Redmond acknowledges that some US$70 million in donations have been received by the UNHCR, and a further $10 million promised since the Iraq displacement conference in April, 2007. He points out, however, that much more is required. “We stressed then and we say it again, donors must provide direct bilateral support to these host countries whose schools, hospitals, public services and infrastructure are seriously overstretched because of the presence of millions of Iraqis they have so generously welcomed,” said Redmond.

It is unconscionable that generous host countries be left on their own to deal with such a huge crisis. We strongly urge governments to step forward now to support them in dealing with this situation…

Schools are particularly difficult to set up and staff in a refugee situation. Syria has currently hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugee children, but only has resources for 32,000 students. Syria offers free access to public schools for refugees, but doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope. Some 14,000 Iraqi refugee children in Jordan attend school, out of the possible 250,000. The refugee children in Jordan don’t have access to public schools and instead go to private schools. UNHCR is partnering with UNICEF to provide 150,000 classroom spots in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, but the coordination of the required resources, such as buildings, teachers, and school supplies is proving difficult.

Health issues for the refugees is also a concern. UNHCR has set up three primary care medical facilities in Syria, with two more in the works. But approximately 10,000 Iraqis per month require a doctor’s attention, 3,000 of which require serious medical treatment.

Refugee situation in numbers
  • 2,000,000 in Jordan and Syria
  • 2,000,000 internally displaced
  • 750 in the United States
  • 14,000 out of 250,000 children in Jordan attend school

“It is unconscionable that generous host countries be left on their own to deal with such a huge crisis,” said Ron Redmond at the press conference. “We strongly urge governments to step forward now to support them in dealing with this situation and renew our call for international solidarity and burden sharing.”

The president of Refugees International, Ken Bacon, agrees that a more comprehensive approach to the situation is required and believes that it would be good investment for the United States to increase its aid to the region. “The United States ought to be pumping money into Jordan and Syria,” Bacon suggests. He feels that the sheer numbers of refugees can have a destabilizing influence in the Middle East. However, the complicated diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Syria has resulted in slow progress, according to Bacon, as bilateral discussions have not taken place and the UN is forced to mediate.

Both Jordan and Syria have put in place new entry and residency conditions, which has resulted in thousands of refugees being stranded on Iraq’s borders. Families have been separated based on a person’s age and type of passport held. Jordan and Syria have not signed on to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has been critical of Jordan and Syria on their policy of returning refugees, saying they “are violating on a daily basis the most fundamental principle of refugee protection – nonrefoulement, which prohibits the return of refugees to persecution or serious harm.”

To gain access to Jordan, Iraqi refugees must be over 40 or under 20, and must prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves in the country. They must also be in possession of a new generation passport.

Nasser Hikmat Jaafar drove 900 km from Baghdad with his family to reach Jordan in mid-June, 2007. Half of his family was refused entry to Jordan. “They allowed entry just for my wife and two daughters and denied me and my three sons. They didn’t tell us the reasons, but just said they are fed up with men of such ages [between 20 and 40 years old],” said Jaafar. He changed plans and traveled with all his family to the Syrian border, a distance of approximately 500 km from Iraq’s Jordanian border.

Syria has less restrictions on gaining entry, but has imposed residency conditions. Refugees can only stay up to three months and must then leave Syria and re-enter to be eligible to stay for another period.

The United States government has a program set up for Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan who meet specific criteria. If they meet the requirements, listed below, they may be eligible for resettlement under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

Interested asylum seekers are encouraged to apply directly with the U.S. Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) in Amman, Jordan, which is operated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Individual Iraqis and their immediate family that meet one of the conditions below may seek access through the direct program:

  • Individuals who worked on a full-time basis as interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government or Multi-National Forces (MNF-I);
  • Locally Employed Staff (LES) engaged by the U.S. Government under the authority of the Chief of Mission or the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA); or
  • Surviving immediate family members of interpreters/translators or LES.

According to the U.S. government information on the process, those individuals initiating a case with the OPE will not be guaranteed an interview for resettlement in the United States. Applicants would be screened for eligibility as per the requirements listed above and are subject to approval.

In a February 14, 2007 press briefing, U.S. Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky addressed the Iraq refugee crisis. “Our key immediate objectives are to assist internally displaced Iraqis and Iraqi refugees by building up the capacities of UN agencies and NGOs,” said Dobriansky. “This includes increasing opportunities for permanent resettlement for the most vulnerable Iraqis, to establish specialized programs to assist Iraqis who are at risk because of their employment or close association with the United States Government, to work diplomatically with regional governments through bilateral and multilateral channels to uphold the principle of first asylum,” she continued.

In the February press briefing, the U.S. committed to receive 7,000 Iraqi refugees by fiscal year end, September 30, but clarified that perhaps only half that number would be “travel-ready” subsequent to the interview process as described above. The U.S. could accommodate 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi refugees per year without difficulty, according to Ken Bacon of Refugees International.

To date, the U.S. has allowed 750 Iraqi refugees into the country.

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