The Islamic State on Refugees Leaving Syria

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For those who want to blame the attacks on Paris on refugees, you might want to get your facts straight. The reality is, The Islamic State (IS) loathes that individuals are fleeing Syria for Europe. It undermines IS’ message that its self-styled Caliphate is a refuge, because if it was, individuals would actually go there in droves since it’s so close instead of 100,000s of people risking their lives through arduous journeys that could lead to death en route to Europe.

Here are descriptions of the messaging that IS put out on refugees in mid-September. There is no sign that Syrians in any appreciable number have heeded IS’ calls.

Source: The Islamic State on Refugees Leaving Syria

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International women’s Day 2014: Let’s talk about trafficking….

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International Days is not a celebration of anything. They are dates to remind us of acute problems in need of solutions. Gender inequality is a fact and what women demand is equal treatment on the basis of traits/qualifications not gender, this being their right. A lot is going to be said/written today, as a tribute to what the day represents. Personally, I would like to raise the issue of female trafficking, out of concerne for those women and little girls exploited for money, because it’s huge, and deserves our attention. Because it is «modern slavery» and it has to be stopped. This is my token contribution to the day.

What the facts/statistics show us:

There are 27.000.OOO slaves in the world today. More slaves than at any other point in human history, men, women, and children are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will. The average age of trafficking victims is 12 years old. Women and children are often kidnapped into the industry or sold into it by family under desperate circumstances. The average age of victims continues to grow younger as clients
seek «fresh» product.(http://www.thea21campaign.org)
• Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 39 billion USD annually.
• Of the estimated 30 million people in forced labour internationally, 58% of victims are subjected to commercial sexual servitude,specifically in the Americas,
Europe and Central Asia.
• In recent years, the percentage of children trafficked has risen to 27%, with one out of every three victims a boy
• The International Organization of Labor estimates that 98% of sexual trafficking victims are female
• Globally, convictions against traffickers are few in number, and of the 132 countries monitored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 16% have not convicted a single individual for trafficking in persons.
• Concerning the sexual exploitation of trafficked human beings, there are a growing number of male victims, although services for these victims remain inadequate globally.
• Although most individuals involved in trafficking human beings are male, an increasing amount of women have been prosecuted and convicted, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
• Women under the age of 18 are particularly vulnerable to re-trafficking, specifically during the period immediately following their escape and transition.

The Problem and how to tackle it

«Human trafficking is an organized criminal industry that affects every nation. While the statistics can seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that every number represents the life of a human being. The A21 Campaingh has recognized a significant need and is committed to combating this injustice through rescuing one life at a time.»…. https://neutrinodata.s3.amazonaws.com/a21/userimages/TheProblem.pdf

What The A21 Campaign does towards «a solution to the problem»:http://neutrinodata.s3.amazonaws.com/a21/userimages/A21%20Website%20Resources-Our%20Solution.pdf

Inside the Brothels:Seven unforgettable stories in the battle against sex trafficking, collected over two decades of my reporting. (Nicholas Kristof)

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We think of slavery in terms of those sepia photographs in the history books, the horror that Abraham Lincoln helped end. That’s what I thought when I first reported on sex trafficking in 1996 — and saw a terrified Cambodian teenager being sold for her virginity. She was a slave, I realized, every bit as much as those slaves in the history books.

I never expected to write about the subject again. But when you’ve seen teenage girls locked up and gang raped daily, it’s tough to go back and write about exchange rates. Millions of girls are subjected to this form of modern slavery, and to prove my case, I purchased two girls in Cambodia and left with receipts. When you get a receipt for buying a human being in the 21st century, something is profoundly wrong.

Then I began reporting on the issue here in the United States. I found that the atrocities and scale aren’t as bad as in some foreign countries, but we still have a vast trafficking problem. We don’t have the moral authority to tell other countries what to do until we clean up our own act.

This is also a soluble problem, but that means prioritizing the arrest of pimps, traffickers and customers. So when people ask me why I keep tilting at these windmills and writing about sex trafficking, I think back to that Cambodia teenager, who is probably dead by now of AIDS.

Here are seven stories about sex trafficking that I wrote over the past 18 years, the ones I cannot forget — a highlight reel of inspiration and heartbreak at once.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/opinion/inside-the-brothels.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&WT.z_sma=InTheB2014

Stand with me: children’s rights, wronged

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As the Syrian conflict nears its fourth year, the situation for children affected by the crisis is becoming unbearable. Thousands of children have been killed, and millions more have been displaced. More than 4.3 million of these children remain in Syria, while more than 1.2 million have fled into neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan.

Often these children are fleeing conflict only to find themselves faced with devastating instability, poverty and desperation. Many live without protection. Many work instead of attending school. Many are left vulnerable to the worst forms of abuse. For many young children, this situation is quickly becoming a new normal, one in breach of all of their most basic rights.

The statistics are shocking, but nothing illustrates the depth of the impact on children more than the stories told by them personally..

Read the report here: http://www.wvi.org/syria-crisis/publication/stand-me-childrens-rights-wronged

Rigged rules mean economic growth increasingly “winner takes all” for rich elites all over world

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Housing for the wealthier middle classes rises above the insecure housing of a slum community in Lucknow, India. Photo:
Tom Pietrasik/Oxfam

Wealthy elites have co-opted political power to rig the rules of the economic game, undermining democracy and creating a world where the 85 richest people own the wealth of half of the world’s population, worldwide development organization Oxfam warns in a report published today.

Working For the Few, published ahead of this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, details the pernicious impact that widening inequality is having in both developed and developing countries, helping the richest undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promote their interests at the expense of everyone else.

The report says that there is a growing global public awareness of this power-grab. Polls done for Oxfam in six countries (Brazil, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and US) show that most people questioned in all those countries believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich.
Social stability and security are at risk: urgent action needed

Inequality has shot up the global agenda in recent years: US President Obama has made it a key priority for 2014. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified widening income disparities as the second greatest worldwide risk in the next 12-18 months. WEF’s Global Outlook report, published in November, warned inequality is undermining social stability and ‘threatening security on a global scale.’

Oxfam wants governments to take urgent action to reverse the trend. It is asking those attending the WEF to make six-point personal pledge to tackle the problem.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam Executive Director who will attend the Davos meetings, said: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world’s population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage.
Facing inequality is key

“We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table.

“In developed and developing countries alike, we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest.”
Wealth and power

Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it.

A recent US study presented compelling statistical evidence that the interests of the wealthy are overwhelmingly represented by the US Government compared with those of the middle classes. The preferences of the poorest had no impact on the votes of elected officials.

This capture of opportunities by the rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes has helped create a situation where seven out of every ten people in the world live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s and one per cent of the world’s families now own 46% of its wealth ($110 trillion).

The report says:

Globally, the richest individuals and companies hide trillions of dollars away from the tax man in a web of tax havens around the world. It is estimated that $21 trillion is held unrecorded and off-shore;

In the US, years of financial deregulation directly correlates to the increase in the income share of the top one per cent which is now at its highest level since the eve of the Great Depression;

In India, the number of billionaires increased tenfold in the past decade, aided by a highly regressive tax structure and the wealthy exploiting their government connections, while spending on the poorest remains remarkably low;

In Europe, austerity has been imposed on the poor and middle classes under huge pressure from financial markets whose wealthy investors have benefited from state bailouts of financial institutions;

In Africa, global corporations – particularly those in extractive industries – exploit their influence to avoid taxes and royalties, reducing the resources available to governments to fight poverty.

Oxfam is calling on those gathered at WEF to pledge to:

Support progressive taxation and not to dodge their own taxes;

Refrain from using their wealth to seek political favors that undermine the democratic will of their fellow citizens;

Make public all the investments in companies and trusts for which they are the ultimate beneficial owners;

Challenge governments to use tax revenue to provide universal healthcare, education and social protection for citizens;

Demand a living wage in all companies they own or control;

Challenge other members of the economic elite to join them in these pledges.

Oxfam is calling on governments to tackle inequality by cracking down on financial secrecy and tax dodging, including through the G20; investing in universal education and healthcare; and agreeing a global goal to end extreme inequality in every country as part of the post 2015 negotiations.
Notes to Editors

Oxfam’s report: WORKING FOR THE FEW Political capture and economic inequality http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-en.pdf