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Impact of COVID-19 on Syrian Refugee Crisis

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Netrika Mudgal
Amity University, Noida

The beginning of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, marked the huge amount of conflict that eventually killed thousands of people and ultimately turned the nation apart and as a result, it set back the standard of living of the lives of the people for years. Now it’s the 10th year and the Syrian refugee crisis is known as the largest refugee displacement crisis of all time. Nearly 5.6 million Syrians are refugees in Syria itself and another 6.2 million people are displaced within Syria. This war has destroyed crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread. Half of the Syrian population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Syrians who have already endured almost a decade of war and displaced are now facing unprecedented levels of hunger leaving millions of people acutely vulnerable to COVID-19. The last three months have raised the spike of these tensions between the Syrian refugees themselves as they urgently need assistance in any way possible. As mentioned by the UN refugee agency the number of vulnerable refugees who lack basic resources to survive has dramatically surged as a result of the public health emergency. And with the new crisis which has arrived due to the pandemic, it is more difficult for the Syrians to survive while taking other safety precautions in the mind.

Syria crisis: Hunger spreading amid Covid-19 and Economic collapse

Syrians have already faced displacement almost for a decade of war and are now facing unmatchable levels of hunger leaving many people vulnerable to COVID-19. The restrictions imposed due to the covid-19 collapsed the Syrian pound and a large number of families in Syria are no longer being able to put food on the table or cannot even make enough money to afford their necessities.

The Brussels conference which was held on 30 June 2020 hosted by the EU and UN aimed at raising funds and agree on policy changes that will help Syrians inside the country and in the region. The agencies like Oxfam, Humanity & inclusion, the International rescue committee, and the Norwegian Refugee council warn that unless funding and humanitarian access are increased many Syrians including those living as refugees in the region will be pushed to the edge of starvation. Almost a decade of war has thrown Syrians into a series of despair that keeps worsening every year. International assistance is needed now more than ever. Water is scarce and the health and civilian infrastructures are decimated.

In the northeast, the first cases of Covid-19 were confirmed over a month ago which ultimately resulted in concerns over a lack of preparedness. Lack of Covid-19 testing capacity chronically understocked health facilities and the main water pumping station which serviced 460,000 people regularly being out of commission which continue to be the daily reality. Like in the northwest taking measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus is especially difficult in the many overcrowded camps and informal settlements across the region.

Aid provided by United Nations:

International agencies are calling on global leaders to scale up financial support in comparison to previous years for Syrians in their country and those displaced in the region so that they can have a chance not only to survive but to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. The united nations security council called for renewing the Syria cross-border resolution for northwest Syria for 12 months and to re-authorize access to northeast Syria to ensure that vulnerable people can receive lifesaving assistance. More access to those in need is crucial right now so that the humanitarian community can support families as they struggle through pandemic and the economic crisis that is sweeping across the country. 

Impact of Covid-19 on Employment of Syrians

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in a high number of permanent and temporary job lay-offs, especially among informal workers. The majority of the respondents in Syria were permanently laid off as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Sixty percent of the Syrian refugees were permanently laid off and 31 percent were temporarily laid off. Those who were permanently laid off from their jobs were in agriculture and construction. This may be explained by the irregular and casual nature of work in these sectors. Higher lay-off rates were found among workers who lacked written contracts as well as among independent and self-employment workers.

In Jordan, one-third of the Syrian workers had lost their jobs permanently due to the crisis. While 35% of all Syrians who were in employment before the crisis lost their jobs permanently. Further, workers with a written contract have lower anticipation of losing their jobs 40% compared to those with a verbal agreement 57% or no contract 59%. Similarly, more workers with irregular types of employment 59% are concerned about the risks of losing their jobs as a result of the ongoing crisis. This again highlights the fact that workers in informal employment are most vulnerable and most affected by the crisis.

Reduction in household income-

The visible effects of lockdown measures include reduction and losses in wage income for the surveyed workers in Jordan and Lebanon. In Lebanon, the results show that income in March 2020 decreased by more than two-thirds for both Lebanese and Syrian workers compared to their average monthly income in the previous 12 months. 94% of the employed respondent from both nationalities reported large wage reductions.

Before the lockdown in Jordan, the average monthly income during the past 12 months had been 368 Jordanian Dinars while the average income in March 2020 was reduced to 215 Jordanian Dinars. This decline in income was attributed to reduced working hours as well as some workers being dismissed from their work permanently. Income loss is more pronounced for Syrian refugees; whose average income fell below the set monthly minimum wage of 220 Jordanian Dinars. This is partly explained by the temporary nature of work agreements obtained by large shares of Syrian workers. This implies that the COVID-19 pandemic substantially affects household income and more proportionately those households whose members are working in informal arrangements.

Food and Shelter-

Syrians have been facing an unpredictable hunger crisis with over 9.3 million people lacking adequate food while the country’s coronavirus outbreak has emerged. The UN world food program has helped these refugees by raising the foodstuff to over 1.4 million in the past six months. It is the highest number ever recorded. Food prices had also soared by more than 200 percent in less than a year due to the free-fall in neighboring economies of Lebanon and Covid-19 lockdown measures in Syria.

The growing hunger in Syria could trigger another mass exodus unless donor countries send more funds to alleviate hunger and the international community ensures aid shipments that could reach the war-derived countries.

Medical problems-

Evacuees frequently have complex clinical issues including physical wounds and mental injury. In United Nations, they regularly face helpless lodging and clean conditions, troublesome work conditions, lacking sustenance, and out-of-reach clinical consideration. The most pervasive afflictions are skin, stomach-related framework, and respiratory ailments just as injury-related mental and mental problems. Moreover, as a lower-center salary nation with a steady working-class, numerous Syrians have persistent medical issues including hypertension, diabetes, and malignant growth.

Negative ways of dealing with stress, for example, youngster work, kid relationships, and so forth add to the weights confronting displaced people, setting up the ground for intergenerational transmission of weaknesses. These difficult conditions imply that infections like polio that had been once in the past annihilated, have had episodes which, however, contained, underline the innate dangers. There are additional difficulties around perpetually drug safe strains of tuberculosis spreading with tuberculosis having just expanded inside Syria and neighboring nations.

Education sector-

Syrian displaced person kids in Jordan are defying obstructions to train that develop more intense as they progress into auxiliary instruction. Each kid has the option to quality essential and auxiliary instruction. However, just a fourth of optional young Syrian exile youngsters in Jordan are taken to school. 

As archived by Human Rights Watch in this report, the fundamental driver of progressively lower enlistment of Syrian displaced people in Jordan is destitution, absence of moderate and safe transportation, the low quality of training in schools for Syrian youngsters, the low benefit of proceeding with instruction for Syrians given their restricted proficient open doors in Jordan, authoritative obstructions to enlistment, and absence of facilities for kids with inabilities. Inability to guarantee auxiliary training for dislodged youngsters and teenagers denies them the abilities they need, stops future financial chances, and dangers sabotaging monetary turn of events. Schools can be defensive and sustain expectations, and kids with optional instruction are normally more advantageous and likelier to look for some kind of employment as grown-ups and get away from neediness. Youngsters who drop out are at an expanded danger of kid work, kid marriage, sexual brutality, being caught in destitution, and being enrolled by radical outfitted gatherings.

Inequalities in the education sector-

Syrian exiles were taken a crack at 76 of Jordan’s 1,175 auxiliary schools: 65 in have networks, and 11 optional schools in the primary evacuee camps, Zaatari and Azraq, as per a Sussex University investigation of the latest accessible information (from 2017-18). The measure of guidance understudies get can vary by up to 34 percent, contingent upon the school. In the camp schools, exercises keep going for 30 to 35 minutes; in twofold move schools in Jordanian host networks, exercises keep going for 30 to 40 minutes; in practically all ordinary schools, exercises keep going for 45 minutes, given testing of 100 schools with almost 48,000 understudies, under an EU-supported program to improve the nature of instruction. Throughout 10 years of fundamental training, the disparities between camp schools and normal schools add up to three years of guidance. In the evacuee camps, young men dwarf young ladies in each class level, and in second-move schools in having networks, a normal of 18 Syrian young men and only 14 young ladies were joined up with class 10, as per the Sussex University study. In schools with both Jordanian and Syrian understudies, Syrian young ladies’ enlistment surpasses Syrian young men’s enlistment by class 10. More exploration is expected to decide the purposes behind these striking aberrations. 

Syrian just as Jordanian youngsters with handicaps face extreme snags to training, with hardly any comprehensive and open government-funded schools. Jordan was the main Arab nation to approve the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has passed an inability rights law that is comprehensively defensive on paper, yet its 10-year methodology to make instruction more comprehensive tries to enlist just 10% of the complete number of young kids with incapacities by 2031. Syrian kids with handicaps are in extreme danger of being barred from optional training, yet deficient information has been gathered about this in danger gathering.

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Eric Zemmour, Far-Right Pundit Often Compared to Donald Trump, Running for French Presidency

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Eric Zemmour, a far-right former TV pundit with multiple hate speech convictions, officially announced his candidacy for the French presidency Tuesday.

According to The Associated Press, the author and former journalist has polled in the low double digits since September despite having no hands-on political experience. Many have compared him to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Zemmour made the candidacy announcement with a pre-recorded video filled with far-right anti-immigration and anti-Islam sentiments. In the video, Zemmour, reading from notes and speaking into a microphone, said France is “in the process of disappearing” due to immigration.

“You feel that you are no longer in the country that you knew,” Zemmour said. “Your feel like foreigners in your own country. You are exiles, from the inside.”

The video’s messaging was clear, showing mostly white men making honest livings as teachers and business leaders, while people of color were shown lining up for food and in tent cities filled with litter.

Then Zemmour warned supporters to be ready for the campaign ahead, saying they could face backlash for supporting him.

“They will tell you that you are racist,” he said. “They will say the worst things about me.”

Current French President Emmanuel Macron’s interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, called the video “absolutely revolting.”

Macron is expected to run in the April election for a second term, though he has not announced his candidacy yet.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Eric Zemmour, far-right
Far-right political talk-show star Eric Zemmour has officially entered the race for France’s presidency, having already shaken it up with his anti-immigration, anti-Islam invective. Above, Zemmour acknowledges applauses as he arrived on stage during a meeting to promote his latest book “La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot” (France has not yet said its last word) in Versailles, west of Paris, Oct. 19.
Michel Euler, File/AP Photo

The launch of Eric Zemmour’s run for the presidency made official a candidacy that had been gathering steam for months before it then stumbled of late — notably after the 63-year-old raised a middle finger at a woman who did likewise to him over the weekend.

That flash of temper — which Zemmour later acknowledged on Twitter was “very inelegant” — cast fresh doubt on his temperament and electability.

Name-dropping Joan of Arc, Napoléon Bonaparte, Gen. Charles de Gaulle and others who shaped France’s history, Zemmour announced his candidacy for the election in a pre-recorded video. The pose evoked imagery of radio addresses that De Gaulle famously delivered during World War II, urging France to rally against Nazi Germany.

But the message Zemmour delivered was steeped in far-right thinking and language and far from that of the wartime leader who later served as president from 1959-1969.

The people that Zemmour was shown meeting in the video and the campaign supporters and crowds filmed at his rallies were nearly all white. And the vast majority of people shown doing jobs in the video — a mathematics teacher, a nuclear worker, cooks, suited business leaders, a butcher, a cattle farmer and others — were nearly all white men.

People of color, in contrast, were shown lining up for food handouts, pushing into a crowded train, milling around in a litter-strewn tent city and on a street corner and, in a scene at the start, seemingly taking part in a street deal. Other images showed Paris streets filled with Muslims kneeling down in prayer. Images of women protesting, some with breasts bared, were cut with violent scenes of people attacking police.

“It is no longer time to reform France but to save it,” Zemmour said. “That is why I have decided to stand in the presidential election.”

Zemmour joins a crowded spectrum of candidates, from far-left to far right. Polls have for months given Macron a sizeable but not impregnable lead over Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader roundly beaten by Macron in the presidential run-off in 2017. The 2022 campaign seemed likely to be a sequel of that battle before Zemmour started siphoning off Le Pen supporters.

The campaign launch video left many questions unanswered about Zemmour’s election platform. He didn’t mention France’s resurgent coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed 119,000 people. He spoke of creating jobs, building France’s industries and reducing its debts but didn’t say how.

The group SOS Racisme said Zemmour’s video demonstrated “pathological racism.”

Eric Zemmour, French president candidate
Eric Zemmour announced his French presidential candidacy in a video attempting to evoke imagery of Charles de Gaulle’s famous WWII radio addresses. Above, Zemmour delivers a speech to announce his candidacy in a video broadcast on social media, on Nov. 3 in Paris.
Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images
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All adults to be offered third Covid jab by end of January, says Boris Johnson | Coronavirus

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Every eligible adult in the UK should be offered a Covid booster by the end of January as ministers race to increase protection against the Omicron variant, Boris Johnson has announced.

“We’re going to be throwing everything at it, to ensure everyone eligible is offered a booster in just over two months,” the prime minister said, adding that he would be getting his own third vaccine on Thursday.

He said the government’s aim was for the pace of the rollout to match that seen for earlier courses of the vaccine. “There will be temporary vaccine centres popping up like Christmas trees,” he said.

As before, age groups will be invited one at a time, eldest to youngest, to receive their booster. “We’ll move down the cohorts rapidly,” Johnson said.

The prime minister was speaking at a Downing Street press conference alongside the health secretary, Sajid Javid, and the chief executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard.

Shortly before the briefing began, the UK Health Security Agency announced that a further eight cases of the Omicron variant had been discovered in England, bringing the UK total to 22.

The prime minister urged the public not to be gloomy about news of the emergence of the new variant, insisting the country was in a much better position with vaccines available. “Right now, our best single defence against Omicron is to get vaccinated and to get boosted,” the prime minister said.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended on Monday that all over-18s be offered a third jab, and the gap between the second and third doses be halved to three months.

Javid said: “We’re now able to put our booster programme on steroids, and protect even more people, even more quickly … If we want to give ourselves the chance of a Christmas with our loved ones, the best thing we can do is step up, roll up our sleeves, and get protected when the time comes.”

Pritchard said for the time being only those already eligible for a booster, which includes over-40s whose second jab was six months ago, would be able to book an appointment, and it would later be opened more widely. She urged people to wait until they are contacted by the NHS before trying to book.

Pritchard said the NHS now has almost 3,000 vaccination sites available across the UK. But she stressed that while the NHS was confident it could meet the end-January target for offering all adults a booster, she warned “it can’t happen overnight”, pointing to the pressures on health service staff.

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Cast, Plot, Trailer, Release Date

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Cash cow Disney is combining American’s insatiable appetite for K-Pop with its newfound, equally insatiable appetite for Korean TV and movies (lest we forget that two months ago, you couldn’t go online without seeing the words Squid Game) with Snowdrop, a drama starring Kim Jisoo of BLACKPINK and Jung Hae-in about two college students in a romance in South Korea in 1987, a year when a mass pro-democracy movement rocked the country politically, forcing the country to hold elections. Jung Hae-in will play a graduate student with a secret past and Jisoo will play a college student. The series premieres on Disney+ on December 18 and will air on the weekends at 10:30 pm KST, which is 8:30 am EST, a gift for those whose New Year’s resolution is to get up earlier.

We don’t know much about the series yet — but based on the cast and promo art, we can safely assume it will rock streaming records and take over your Twitter feed in due time.

New ‘Snowdrop’ character posters deliver on the drama

New character posters of Josoo and Jung Hae-In were released on November 30, showing sultry photos of Jisoo and Hae-in behind what appears to be broken glass, conjuring images of big street protests.

JTBC, the series’ broadcasting company, also released a poster earlier this month, showing the two gazing lovingly — dare we say skeptically? — into each other’s eyes. Side note: We love the white collar and blush sweater.

It’s not Jisoo’s first foray into acting

Besides being a drama club kid in high school, the virtuoso Jisoo had cameos in the 2015 K-drama The Producers and 2019’s Arthdal Chronicles, though Snowdrop marks her first major step into acting.

It’s a romance amidst an intense political backdrop

According to NME, the plot of Snowdrop follows a graduate student who, after being attacked at a protest, hides out in a female dormitory at the Hosoo Women’s University, with the help of a student who finds him — eventually developing a romantic relationship.

Three teaser trailers have been released

You can watch the most recent one here, which combines dreamy piano, big 1980s sleeves, and gorgeous shots of the wind in Jisoo’s hair as she rides on the back of a bike with a bone-chilling, thriller moment where she’s pointing a weapon.

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