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11/june/2018, Galway County Council offices.

So proud to have been in Galway today as Galway County Council became the fourth Irish local authority to support BDS after Derry, Dublin and Donegal.

The motion, moved by Cllr. Billy Cameron of the Labour Party, in full: “The state of Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and has refused to comply with international law; noting also that Israel continues to illegally occupy and colonise Palestinian land, discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, imposes an inhumane blockade and siege of Gaza and denies Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes, Galway City Council fully supports and endorses the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for freedom, equality and justice.”

 

The world and its conscience has once again let down the Palestinians of Gaza. Their lives, their homes and their lands are being  ripped apart, destroyed by a callous and highly backed occupation force of which the leaders of the world are backing and again capitulating to. The Palestinian people, as with all nations, have a right to defend themselves. Resistance to an aggressor , an aggressor made of steel and bombs, is human nature, an inbuilt instinct in all of us, to defend our loved ones, our homes and our lives. The slow genocidal killing by 17 hour electricity cuts in 40 degree heat, the polluted water system, shortage of fresh foods, low or no wages and a high percentage of post traumatic stress related ailments, high cancer and diabetic statistics with a constant shortage of medicines and medical equipment is now compounded with an above average,( even for Gaza) need for medical attention after a six-week onslaught by Israel during the great march of return. I refuse to call it clashes at the border, as one would assume from using the word “clashes ” there would be injury or death on both sides… there isn’t.

Palestinians : 118 dead and over 13,190 injured
Israeli :1 slightly wounded[7]
(as of 21 May 2018)

And to use the word “Border” when speaking of Israel? what Border? Israel have never defined their border? Any of their borders!

 

Most of us feel useless, wondering what if anything we can do? Is it ever enough? My answer is always NO. It will be enough once Palestine is free. For now though, despite feeling like this, we can’t and shouldn’t give up. The resilience of the Palestinian people, their determination never to give up should be ample encouragement to continue to do what little we can. Make your voices heard, write, blog, shout, find a platform, wave a flag… and always always Boycott.

 

Derek and I have left part of us in Gaza, We will return as soon as it is remotely possible which it is not now. We have been in Ireland now for a few months, family was the priority for us in the last while but feel now is the time to get back to doing what we are good at…. and we are only good at it because of the massive and unyielding support of so many.

KOFINOU REFUGEE CAMP’

Kofinou refugee camp in southern Cyprus is pretty much an all but forgotten state-run camp, rarely mentioned,rarely documented. It was opened in 2004 to host a maximum of 120 people but now hosts ( badly) a minimum of 400. Most of those seeking refuge there are middle eastern , quite a percentage being Palestinian, and African. There is no determined time limit on their stay and so many have been there, quietly fighting the system but coming up against NGO and state red tape, for months or years.The living conditions are well below standard acceptance with raw sewage running between tin containers, freezers in winter and hot boxes in summer.The raw sewage is an ongoing problem with a pond of stagnant water next to some of the “Houses”. The Cypriot authorities have admitted to the isolated camp being a “mistake” in interviews but despite this nothing has been done to rectify, improve or move the camp.

Kofinou camp is situated as far away from the rest of society as possible, by chance or design I dont know, but after being in other camps, none surrounded by a opportunity to integrate or feel welcome too easily, I do wonder..

And so, we prepare to travel, to offer whatever assistance we can, to at least let the world know what is still happening, to let at least those in this camp, regardless of nationality, know some of us care, some of us are listening and some of us are aware. We have some ideas of what we can and want to do there, but we always remain fluid to adapt to circumstances once we get there. We expect the usual bureaucracy and resistance of authorities on arrival but feel sure we can be of some little help so will do whatever needed to get into the camp and remain for as long as possible.

No dates are set yet, but sooner rather than later. We will again set up our paypal account and go fund me page and will plead and pray for your support once again as together we take on another mission .

We will update further as we make plans and set dates etc, Though we will remain in Ireland for a few weeks yet. Thank you in advance for all you have already done for us, and we hope we can continue to support each other in any way possible,

Derek and Jenny Graham.

GO FUND ME:  https://www.gofundme.com/cyprus-camp-campaign

PAYPAL          :  http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by    Paypal     ( jennygraham7@gmail.com)

If you prefer direct bank transfer, please email or pm Facebook ( jenny Graham) for details

Thank you ….

 

 

 

 

Picture and Sculpture by Mohamed AbuAmro, One of Palestine’s Martyrs, 30/3/2018

Palestinians did not die in Gaza, Land day 2018. Their lives, like their lands , were stolen from them. Their blood and the blood of the hundreds of injured seeped in to a ground already drenched with the blood of so many , the sweat of their forebearer’s, the tears of their children and the cries of so many.

The world watched again as Israel targeted, shot, maimed and killed. Snippets were shown or mentioned on mainstream media channels with wording such as, “clashes on Israeli border”. The truth is Israeli occupation forces rained down tear gas, used live ammunition, snipers chose their prey and in a deliberate and obvious breach of International law, cowardly dropped tear gas canisters from remote controlled drones onto Palestinian land and  so it continued, all day. Palestinians were standing, marching , chanting for their right to their lands, villages, homes.  Stolen…Taken… Destroyed.

Israel did so with total impunity, there will be no consequences apart from a few meaningless statements , no expulsions , no tribunals, no sanctions, Nothing.

But, What the world seems to forget is they are up against the resilience of the Palestinian people. Palestine runs through their blood, the blood in their veins and the blood spilled yesterday and on so many other yesterdays.. It nourishes the ground, the foundations of all they are and it provides the strength to continue to resist, to insist on right of humanity, right of peace, right of homeland and #RIGHT OF RETURN.!!

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I do not have the names of all the Palestinian’s martyred yesterday but those I do have deserve I name with honour.

Mohammad Al-Najjar
Waheed Abu Sammour 
Ameen Abu Mo’mar
Mohammad Abu Amr
Hamad Ouda
Mahmoud Ruhmi
Eyad Andellal
Jehad Farena
Abdelfattah Abdelnaby
Ibrahim Abu Shaa’r
Jehad Al-Najjar
Abdelkader Al-Hawajry
Sary Abu Ouda
Hamdan Abu Amsha

According to the ministry of health in #Gaza:
Types of injuries in the first day of #GreatMarchofReturn:
– 758 live bullets.
– 148 Rubber.
– 422 Tear gas inhalation.
– 88 Other.

 

All pictures are taken from the facebook pages of

Nader R Abdelnaby,

Walid Mahmoud

Shehab news Agency

Mohammed Matter and

Mohamed AbuAmr.

 

 

#saltwaterchallenge In solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. Samos refugee camp, Greece, 2017

I have watched for years now as people pick up a clipboard, put on a badge and a vest and turn humanity into a business using people seeking refugee or help as a commodity for business. I see the intolerance and impatience shown to those merely asking for help. I hear the numbers being called instead of a name, I see the queues been formed for the daily conveyor belt of something resembling food to be handed out without even looking up, the muted or very sharp conversations being held through wire fences with those seeking assistance on one side and those with the option to help, usually with hot coffee in one hand and a G4S security man beside them, on the other side. I see the woman fighting to do her best for her child. She has fled war and unimaginable atrocities so standing her ground to get what she needs is not going to deter her and certainly not by the person with the clipboard who has now donned a pair of disposable gloves and a surgical mask because the child’s hair is not shiny, or her nails are not clean or the clothes she is wearing have certainly seen better days.  Or the man with his wheelchair bound mother who he has just pushed up the steep incline of Samos camp as her name had been called out over the inaudible tannoy system, just to be told by someone he is too late and come back tomorrow. So we sit with them, if possible get them what they need, play with the child, ask their name, make a cup of tea for the woman in the wheelchair and promise the man we will come back to help him the next day…because this is what I would expect someone to do for me or mine…

There are always people in need. Although many of the problems of the camp are the same and not something we can fix, there are also individuals. They are people not just numbers en masse! Different stories, hopes, dreams, nightmares, needs, problems, worry concerns. There are medical problems, psychological problems, family problems, there are bad days and good days, there is the hopes dashed, the little hope left for the next interview, the chance of a phone call from home after weeks and weeks. There is the sadness at the death of another family member back home, the joy/sadness of the birth of a new baby whom you may never get to see. There are daily concerns of not having enough to feed your children, the embarrassment of having to ask for sanitary products that may be needed on a day not allocated for them. There is the annoyance of being handed documents in a language you don’t speak and without an interpreter present to help.

We have come through yet another cold wet winter together and will now face into a hot, humid Greek summer. The camp residents are still “living “in canvas tents or in metal container boxes. The heat inside in the summer, as opposed to the freezing cold and wet of the winter, is unbearable. Some of the containers have 20 to 25 people inside; it is the kitchen (for those with a one ring stove and some food), the bedroom, the living area…. It is a tent or a metal container. There is no dressing it up as anything other than that. There is no privacy, little hygiene, no comfort and no way for people to be forced to live for a month or a year. As with previous years, we will be surrounded by hundreds of mosquitoes, the water will be off regularly in the camp, there is little to no shelter or shade from a scorching sun, except of course over the NGO and authorities area of the camp.

We now have a rise in the number of new arrivals. These numbers for sure will rise even further in the next few weeks. Our youngest in the camp at the minute is a beautiful one month old little girl. We have more children coming each week. We also have people in the camp who have now entered their second year of these living conditions… 12 months of living in limbo for daring to ask for help, 12 months of separation from loved ones, 12 months of not knowing if today you will be sent back or someone playing God decides you can live again, but  will decide where…

Because the weather has improved, our café nights are now back to a more social aspect with people finding a chance to sit together and talk. During the wet nights, we literally went tent to tent or container to container to offer at least a hot drink for the terrible nights. Now we are back to juice and games for the children, and groups of adults being able to sit on stools ( there are no stools or chairs in the camp to sit on except for the ones we lay out on these nights) and speak to us, to each other and enjoy a decent cup of coffee with dignity.

But last summer was also the time when these café nights became the place for the new arrivals to integrate into the camp with a bit more dignity than is offered when they first arrive and  given a blanket, a bottle of water and a number stamped on their hand and told to find a tent. Summer time is also the time when the smugglers make most their money by overcrowding not fit for purpose boats leading to many lives being lost at sea. For those of you who have been with us for a while now, even from afar, you will remember the posts we had to write regarding the funerals of the 3 little children, or the families torn apart and lost at sea, the young girl left alone as the only survivor of a shipwreck, the fathers forced to decide where to bury their wives while trying to tend to their grieving children. The nights we sat cradling young distressed children who had witnessed the deaths of loved ones at sea or the night we finally retrieved the bodies of a father and son lost at sea days earlier and so much more unbearable memories.

So we will continue, Derek and I, for a little while longer on this journey with them. Many of you have travelled with us, offered support, at times financial at other times emotional, moral, and physical, some of you since Gaza some of you since Greece. And we need you again, we don’t brandish clipboards or masks ( we do have a to wear a badge for ID in the camp) , and we have always relied on the kindness and support of you all. If you still believe in us, trust in us, we ask for your help once more but desperately and urgently. Our funds are diminishing but the need for help has not.

Can you help, Will you help once again? We have options for donations, PayPal, Go fund me or email us for bank details. We do not spend money on administration; we spend your donations totally on the needs of those you have offered to help. Our expenses are covered by ourselves and are kept to an absolute minimum.  Your support too in sharing our posts, following us online or just staying in touch is also immensely important to us.

So once more, please donate /share /support to help us help those we can.

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https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

Derek and Jenny.

“Nowruz Pirouz”!

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We had the honour last night of celebrating NOWRUZ with friends in the camp in Samos, Afghani, Kurdish, Iranian. Nowruz is a traditional festival ,  commencing the start of the spring. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians along with some other ethno-linguistic groups and marks one of the most important holidays for so many. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”.

As those seeking refuge dream , pray and long for their families back home, their old lives, a brighter future , It is important they can carry on their cultures and traditions. Any of us, All of us, who have left home by choice, for economic reasons or for personal reasons have the duty to integrate but also an absolute right to remain who we are by tradition and culture, beit through our religion, our food, our dance or our festivals and holiday’s, and none more so than those who  have been driven from their land through fear and war.

The flow of the night was led by those celebrating, we merely were friends handing out tea and coffee, joining the dancing, listening to the stories and feeling a part of a new experience. Many mentioned their sadness at not being at home for the celebrations but many also thanked us and others for allowing them to remember their culture, giving them a platform to celebrate and sharing it with them. We were honoured to do so.

On our behalf and on theirs, Thank you for your support and your donations which allow us to share these moments.

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

 

 

“The basic guiding principle in any child care and protection action is the principle of the “best interests of the child”. Effective protection and assistance should be delivered to unaccompanied children in a systematic, comprehensive and integrated manner.

Definition

An unaccompanied child is a person who is under the age of eighteen, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is, attained earlier and who is “separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who by law or custom has responsibility to do so” * {UNHCR Executive summary general principles 1997}

At any one time we have between 25 and 40 unaccompanied minors inside the RIC ( The camp here in Samos). They are not offered enough protection, they are not secure in any one area of the camp, they are living amongst the general population and are extremely vulnerable young people. They are all young boys at the moment. The younger children , the female minors and some of the male minors are house outside of the camp but numbers in the shelters are limited.

While they are , like a million teenagers the world over, arrogant and overconfident at times, hard work and moody, once time is taken to speak to them, become a friend as well as an “elder figure” their demeanor and characters change. They are scared, lonely, hurt and in the end….just children.They will spend hours scrolling through pictures of their families, their mama, sister, best friend, their homes, school pets. They will open up and tell you stories that haunt their eyes and will haunt your sleep. They weep for home, for structure, for support , for their lives back.

Many were sent alone by family members hoping for safety and refuge for their children. Parents believing and praying that a dangerous sea journey, an unknown country, is at least a chance of life while staying behind is almost certain death, incarceration or a forced joining of a war not of their making. Some did not start out as “Unaccompanied” but the said perilous journey, the borders, the depths and dangers of the sea, the running, the cold, the thousands of people, the numerous camps in numerous countries has led to separation in one form or another. Some have become orphans along the way.

Now think of their families, their mama, their father…

The despair they must feel for nights on end when they can not make contact. Hoping someone is looking after or at least looking  out for their child. Is he hurt? Is she hungry? Has he a bed? Is she safe ? Are they alive?

We have focused a lot of our attention this mission on these young people. We , thanks again to donations , supply a full weeks shopping to supplement their diets. Archipelagos Institute of Marine conservation and their supporters and students generously supply us with additional fruit and veg each week. The weekly shop consists of pasta, rice, fruit, veg, tuna/sardines, milk bread etc… We try to vary but supply healthy options. We are also limited due to their basic living conditions. We have supplied a two ring cooker, a kettle, pots and frying pans also ( Verligboerne friendly humans samos) We have given them quick and basic instruction on cooking meals.

We are proud to know these kids, be able to at least check in on them daily. To say hello to their mama on a whatsapp video call, to reassure their parents that , at least for right now, they are ok…not great… but OK.

Tell them they are not hurt ( physically), they have food, a bed, and someone to talk to… that their children are alive.

We hope to continue doing whatever we can. We desperately , they desperately, need your help in these days. .

To offer your support, and please do, continue to read, follow and share our updates. To offer financial support as we aim to continue here on Samos , options for donating are below.

GO FUND ME:https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by    Paypal

Or email/pm for bank details.

As always, your support , in all forms and all amounts , is greatly appreciated.

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