We protest so our children know we once had a home, say Palestinians

Bel Trew, The Times Bel Trew, Deir al-Balah, Gaza

Even though he knew there was a risk of being shot, as Abdel al-Mohsleh saw it there was a good reason to take his 11-year-old son to the border protests in Gaza. Like many parents in the blockaded strip, he feared that his children would grow up not knowing they were refugees forced from their ancestral lands in Israel when it was founded 70 years ago this week.

That was why he needed to take him towards the fence and teach him about the conflict.

“We fear that when the old people die, when we ourselves pass, the children will forget why we are even trapped here in Gaza,” Mr Mohsleh said.

Sixty-two people in total died in the clashes on Monday
Sixty-two people in total died in the clashes on MondayADEL HANA/AP

During the protests Mr Mohsleh, 42, whose family is originally from an area near Ashkelon, just a few miles north on Israel’s coast, was separated from Rakan when an Israeli drone dropped eight tear-gas canisters on them.

While they were apart his son, who had been waving a Palestinian flag, was hit by an Israeli bullet.

“I went to protest but I was shot while waving my flag,” said Rakan, whose arm hangs limp in a rudimentary sling at a hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. “There was no ambulance. I was all alone because of the gas. An old man found me and took me to the hospital.”

He was among 2,700 injured and 62 killed on Monday, the consequences of which continue to reverberate internationally. Hamas, which runs Gaza, said yesterday that 50 of the dead were its members. It said that 12 were not and were likely to include the eight children under 16 who died, including an eight-month-old baby.

Hamas accepted a convoy of aid sent from the Palestinian authority in the West Bank but declined lorry loads sent by Israel, some of which contained treadmills to help rehabilitate those hit in the legs by bullets.

Palestinians flee after tear gas is dropped from a drone
Palestinians flee after tear gas is dropped from a droneSPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

Turkey asked Israeli diplomats to leave the country, provoking a rebuke from Yair Netanyahu, the son of the Israeli prime minister, who posted an altered image of the Turkish flag on the internet using the Islamic crescent to help spell “F*C* Turkey”.

Rakan and many other children will need all the help they can get. Of the 10,000 people who were wounded since the rallies were first called six weeks ago at least 1,000 were minors, according to Save the Children, and at least 250 were hit with live ammunition…


For full story read: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/we-protest-so-our-children-know-we-once-had-a-home-say-palestinians-7zmbnbpgm


The Modern Slave Trade in Libya

Bel Trew, Tajoura, West Libya
The young Ghanaian migrant had already been robbed at gunpoint, left to die in the desert, kidnapped and tortured. Then he was sold into slavery.

From the moment that Abdulaziz, 25, crossed Libya’s vast desert border from Niger in 2015, he was at the mercy of heavily armed traffickers and militiamen. His story became even more violent in the past 12 months as Libya’s lucrative people-smuggling business morphed into a full-blown slave trade.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants, who like Abdulaziz travelled to Libya to make a living or to catch dinghies to Europe, are trapped in a hellish world where they are repeatedly bought and sold by rival gangs.

“I was a slave for one year in Qatrun,” said Abdulaziz, referring to a town in southwest Libya. The former teacher sat cross-legged in a detention centre beside a guard cradling a Kalashnikov. He had been arrested that day by the Libyan coastguard as he tried to get to Italy.

Qatrun, on the main road between Niger, Chad and Libya, is a hub for trafficking. “First I was kidnapped by an armed group in Qatrun and beaten so badly my body is still covered in torture wounds. When I couldn’t pay the money they demanded, they sold me for 5,000 dinars [about £550 on the black market],” he said. “The man who bought me had a business, so I became his slave labourer until after a year he felt sorry for me and let me go north.”

Abdulaziz had planned to stay in Libya and work but, fearing for his life, fled for Italy. He said that his dinghy, stuffed with 117 people, was stopped by the Libyan coastguard nearly 12 miles offshore, just short of international waters where they hoped to be rescued by a charity ship and taken to Italy.

Libya has long been a transit country for migrants and refugees desperate to get to Europe. In the past people fleeing war and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and southeast Asia would pay their way through the many legs of the journey. But trafficking has boomed in Libya’s security vacuum since the country toppled back into civil war three years ago. Many smugglers realise they can make double the profits treating migrants like slaves rather than clients.

For the full article click: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/migrant-crisis-from-slavery-to-street-battles-a-crisis-swamps-europe-and-africa-xkfxvvdv8


Migrant crisis: Libya calls for Europe to help stem the tide

The TimesBel Trew, Tripoli
Libya requires urgent help from Europe to stem the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the country’s prime minister told The Times.

Faiez Serraj, 57, head of the UN-backed unity government based in Tripoli, criticised Europe’s response — which he said did not “match the challenges Libya is facing”. Italy and Libya had been left to shoulder the burden alone, he said.

Years of conflict in Libya have ravaged the economy, created a security vacuum and left Tripoli unable to cope with the crisis. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed illegally into the country, eager to get to Italy.

“We can no longer handle illegal migration as we used to, due to the increasing numbers,” he said. “We have limited financial, logistical, and security resources. Europe’s response does not match the challenges we are facing.”

He said that Europe should help Libya to build an electronic fence along its southern borders; lift the six-year UN arms embargo on Tripoli so that it could arm its coastguard against traffickers; put pressure on migrants’ original countries to take them back; give humanitarian help to emergency migrant shelters and camps in Libya; and reject the long-term resettlement of migrants in Libya. He said the country could not sustain big camps.

Mr Serraj said: “We still need more pressure from the EU . . . to discourage uncontrolled flow from neighbouring and other African states. We are absolutely not after profiting from this assistance but we want to stop this humanitarian crisis.”

For full article read: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/migrant-crisis-libya-calls-for-europe-to-help-stem-the-tide-f869mpbzq