Have You Seen What’s Happening to Syrian Refugee Women and Girls?

By Maha Abu Shama, Syria Campaigner at Amnesty International

“We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.

Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls.

“I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in the Jordanian capital of Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.

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How Many More? Syria Conflict Refugees Top 2 Million

The U.N. refugee agency has announced that the refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict have surpassed 2 million (Photo Credit: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images).

The U.N. refugee agency has announced that the refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict have surpassed 2 million (Photo Credit: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images).

By Charlotte Phillips, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Refugee and Migrants’ Rights

It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the scale and brutality of the conflict in Syria, the massive displacement and deep suffering it is causing countless human beings.

António Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, has described the Syrian conflict as “the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”

This situation has deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks after videos emerged showing scores of civilians apparently killed by chemical weapons in towns outside Damascus.

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Enough Hand-Wringing: The World Needs to Take Action on Syria

The U.N. chemical weapons investigation team arrives in Damascus on August 18, 2013 (Photo Credit: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images).

The U.N. chemical weapons investigation team arrives in Damascus on August 18, 2013 (Photo Credit: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images).

By Cilina Nasser, Amnesty International’s researcher on Syria

This op-ed originally appeared in MSN UK under the title “Enough hand-wringing on Syria – the world needs to take action.”

The global community has been given one last chance to turn the corner on Syria. We must take it.

It is impossible to watch the videos that emanated from Syria yesterday and not be moved, yet again, to rage about the international community’s repeated failure to end the slaughter of civilians amid the country’s internal armed conflict.

The videos – showing the deadly effects of an alleged chemical weapons attack on scores of civilians, including children, in towns outside Damascus – are just the latest chilling indication of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

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“The World Has Forgotten Us”: Syrian Mother Speaks

TURKEY-SYRIA-CONFLICT-REFUGEES

A child looks on next to a woman at a Syrian refugee camp 5 km from Diyarbakir after a snowfall. This past winter, refugees faced further misery due to increasing shortages of supplies, low temperatures and snowfall (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images).

On a recent visit to a camp near Atmeh, just inside Syria near the Turkish border, some 21,000 people were sheltering amid hellish conditions.

Heavy rain leaked into the tents and had turned the clay soil into thick slippery mud; raw sewage flowed between the tents. There wasn’t enough food and little medical aid.

Children and families have borne the brunt of the bloodshed in Syria. Most at risk are those fleeing the violence – refugees and the displaced still trapped within Syria, for whom the global community is still not doing enough.

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What Does Your Cell Phone Have to Do with Armed Conflict?

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s long war, which has claimed an estimated three million lives as a result of fighting or disease and malnutrition, was fuelled by the regions vast mineral wealth (Photo Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images).

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s long war, which has claimed an estimated three million lives as a result of fighting or disease and malnutrition, was fueled by the regions vast mineral wealth (Photo Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images).

You know that phone you’re texting on? Do you know how its microchips are made?

Thanks to work by Amnesty International and partner organizations, companies that rely on certain minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries now have to investigate and report on whether those minerals fund armed groups.

And it’s about more than just smartphones – conflict minerals” (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) are used in products like your laptop and even your car. Public disclosure of companies’ sourcing practices can have a real impact on entire industries, pushing companies to take human rights into account as they do business. Can you hear me now?

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Stand With Malala Yousafzai & the Right to Education at the United Nations

In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, but survived. Now, in her first public appearance since the attack, she will stand with the UN in calling for youth around the world to have access to education (Photo Credit: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images).

In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, but survived. Now, in her first public appearance since the attack, she will stand with the UN in calling for youth around the world to have access to education (Photo Credit: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images).

By Luka Mutinda, 2013 Ladis Kristof Fellow, AIUSA National Youth Action Committee Co-Chair

Nine months ago, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai stood up in brave defiance of the Taliban’s ban against female education. She was shot by Taliban gunmen in a senseless act of violence, but her powerful statement drew attention to education rights for millions of young people across the world.

This week, hundreds of youth leaders from around the world will come together at the United Nations headquarters in New York to stand in solidarity with Malala and the millions of young people who are denied access to education.

This Friday, Malala will be making her first public appearance since the shooting last fall. To commemorate her 16th birthday and highlight the urgency of the global education crisis, youth leaders will stand with Malala on July 12th to present the first-ever set of education policy demands drafted by youth.

I will join Emil Gronwall, an Amnesty youth leader from Sweden in representing Amnesty International at this historic event to address the UN youth assembly and deliver the “The Youth Resolution: The Education We Want” to world leaders in a collaborative global UN Youth Takeover.

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Natan Blanc is FREE

Natan Blanc released by JVPBy Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist for the Middle East Coordination Group

Natan Blanc, 19-year-old Israeli conscientious objector, was freed from detention on Tuesday and officially discharged from the Israeli army yesterday.

Our last blog on Natan Blanc’s case asked, “What Will it Take for the Israeli Military to Stop Imprisoning Natan Blanc?” We believed it would take Amnesty International members and other activists making their concerns known and taking action – and because you didNatan Blanc is now FREE after being forced to serve 10 consecutive prison sentences for his refusal to serve in the Israeli military based on his conscientiously held beliefs.

Natan Blanc’s father received a call on May 30th from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision follows a ruling by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not.

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