UN agency ‘broke’ as Syria refugee funds run out



Source: bbc.co.uk

A UN agency has said it will soon be unable to provide “life-saving” aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan and other countries due to funds running out.

“The needs are rising exponentially and we are broke,” said Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for children’s charity Unicef.

Some 1.2 million Syrians have fled since the uprising began in March 2011.

Around 385,500 have escaped to Jordan, with figures set to triple by the end of the year, Ms Mercado said.

This would bring the number of Syrian refugees there close to 1.2 million – the equivalent of one-fifth of Jordan’s total population.

“Since the beginning of year, more than 2000 refugees have streamed across the border [into Jordan] every day,” Ms Mercado told reporters at a UN news conference in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday.

“We expect these numbers to more than double by July and triple by December.”

Many of the refugees are children, the spokeswoman added.


Unicef is currently providing water, sanitation, vaccines, education and other essential services in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which houses nearly 150,000 refugees.

So far the agency has only received $12m (£7.8m), or 19%, of the $57m it appealed for to fund its Jordan operations this year.

As a result, it will soon need to “scale back life-saving support”, Ms Mercado said.

“In concrete terms, this means that by June, we will stop delivering 3.5m litres of water every day to Zaatari camp.”

She added that the money shortage also meant Unicef would be unable to provide supplies to two new camps slated to open in the coming weeks.

UN officials said the lack of funding did not only apply to Jordan, but also to other countries hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, including Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

The head of the UN’s refugee agency, UNHRC, echoed Ms Mercado’s warning, saying Syria’s conflict was on the verge of overwhelming the UN.

“This is the type of crisis that humanitarian agencies at some point cannot handle,” Filippo Grandi told the New York Times on Thursday.

“It is unmanageable and dangerous.”

The UN estimates that at least 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began, just over two years ago.

‘Labour must join forces with the Tories to help eject Qatada’



Source: express.co.uk(Jimmy McCloskey)

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling called on leader Ed Miliband to help end the “madness” of letting him stay.

Mr Grayling said the Tories‘ attempt to change the human rights laws preventing Qatada from being deported to Jordan are constantly thwarted by their Lib Dem coalition partners.

Writing in a newspaper comment piece, Mr Grayling said the system had gone “badly wrong” in preventing the deportation of a man “who so obviously despises what we stand for”.

He called on Labour to support “radical reform” of human rights laws, adding: “We have given up far too much of our own sovereignty.

“We have given up too many of our democratic rights. We need to reverse the changes.”

Some high-profile Labour politicians including ex-Home Secretary John Reid have said the Qatada fiasco is making a mockery of human rights laws.

However the Human Rights Act, passed by Tony Blair in 1998, is seen as unalterable by many Labour MPs.

Mr Grayling’s plea comes a week after the Appeal Court ruled Qatada could not be deported to Jordan over fears he would be denied a fair trial.

Abu Qatada: Government loses deportation appeal


Source : bbc.co.uk


                            Abu Qatada was returned to prison following an alleged bail breach on 9 March

 Home Secretary Theresa May has lost her appeal against a ruling preventing the deportation of preacher Abu Qatada.

She acted after the Special Immigration Appeals Commission said the radical cleric could not be returned to Jordan.

Judges say he could face an unfair trial involving evidence obtained by torturing others.


The Home Office said it would further appeal, adding: “This is not the end of the road. The government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.”

A spokesman added: “In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation.”

In their judgement, Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias, said the appeals commission was entitled to think there was a risk the “impugned statements” would be admitted in evidence at a retrial. This meant there was “a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice”.

The judges said the court accepted that Qatada “is regarded as a very dangerous person”, but that was not “a relevant consideration” under human rights laws.

Immigration legislation
Abu Qatada’s legal team has not yet lodged a bail application with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

Judges would not be able to hear any application before the Easter break which means he remains in prison for the time being.

Continue reading the main story

Dominic Casciani
Home affairs correspondent
The legal battle over Abu Qatada has gone on so long, he’s seen off six home secretaries. It’s now very, very, difficult to see where Theresa May can go from here.

The Court of Appeal’s ruling makes clear that the chances of an appeal to the Supreme Court are very slim.

The immediate effect is that the preacher can’t be detained under immigration law because there’s no realistic chance he is going to be deported anytime soon.

So if the home secretary wants to get rid of the cleric, she’ll have to start all over again trying to convince judges that the facts on the ground in Jordan have changed.

Critics of this legal saga say it would never have been necessary if Abu Qatada had been charged with a crime and put on trial.

Read more from Dominic
This law can only be used to hold someone if there is a realistic prospect the person is going to be deported – a prospect this ruling undermines.

Abu Qatada was re-arrested and returned to Belmarsh prison earlier this month following an alleged breach of bail conditions, concerning the use of communications equipment at his home.

The Metropolitan Police said his breach was linked to an investigation into extremist internet material.

If the police arrested and charged him with an offence in relation to that investigation, or another accusation, they could ask a judge to remand him in prison before trial.

Abu Qatada has never been charged with an offence in the UK.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This is an extremely serious and disappointing judgment which rips apart Theresa May’s strategy for deporting Abu Qatada and contradicts her repeated assurances to Parliament that her approach would get him swiftly on to a plane.

“The home secretary needs to pursue all legal avenues, demonstrate further work with Jordan, take urgent action to keep the public safe, and get this deportation back on track.”

Siac ruled in November there was a “real risk” evidence gained by torture could be used against Abu Qatada at a retrial in Jordan, meaning that he would not get a fair hearing.

In April 1999, he was convicted in his absence on terror charges in Jordan and sentenced to life imprisonment, and it is on these charges that he faces a retrial.

‘Compelling evidence’
At a Court of Appeal hearing earlier this month, lawyers for the UK government argued a block on his deportation should be lifted, saying a “fair” trial in Jordan was possible.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire: ”This is certainly not the end of the road”
James Eadie QC, appearing for Mrs May, said Siac had taken an “erroneous” view of the situation in Jordan and the legal tests that had to be applied when it came to assessing the conditions Abu Qatada could face there.

He said Jordanian law bans the use of torture and reliance on statements extracted under duress.

Jordanians will do everything in their power to make sure Abu Qatada receives a trial that was “fair and seen to be so”, he added.

But lawyers for Abu Qatada told the court that the UK should not send someone back to a country with a “dubious human rights record”.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for the cleric, argued the Siac ruling was right and there was “concrete and compelling evidence” that his co-defendants were tortured into providing evidence.

He said government lawyers had “identified no error of law” and were “quarrelling with findings of fact”.

Abu Qatada was first arrested in October 2002 in south London and detained in Belmarsh high-security prison. He was re-arrested and released on bail number of times over the years that followed.

In November 2012, he was released on bail from prison in when the courts blocked the home secretary’s latest attempt to deport him to Jordan.