Posts tagged middle east
Posts tagged middle east
Some 10,000 Israelis took to the streets on Saturday to protest against impending austerity measures proposed by new Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1984, photographer Farzana Wahidy was only a teenager when the Taliban took over the country in 1996. At age 13 she was beaten in the street for not wearing a burqa, she recalls, and she describes those years as a “very closed, very dark time.” To carry a camera would have been unthinkable.
And yet, she says, “I felt lucky compared to other women at that time.” Women were banned from continuing their education during Taliban rule. But some, like Farzana, found ways to keep studying. She would carry books under her burqa and attended what she calls an “underground school” with about 300 other students in a residential area of Kabul.
When U.S.-led forces ended Taliban rule in 2001, Wahidy was able to attend high school. A friend encouraged her to apply for a photojournalism program, knowing that she had hopes of sharing her experiences with the world.
“Day by day, as I started learning about photography, I fell more in love with it,” she says. “There was a huge need for women photographers in Afghanistan.”
Wahidy became the first Afghan female photographer to work for the AFP and later AP, two leading wire agencies, and eventually received a scholarship to continue studies in a photojournalism program in Canada. In 2010, Wahidy returned home to Afghanistan.
“I try to show the bigger image, not just show we have problems,” she says. “And we do have a lot of problems, but I do want to show normal daily life.”
Wahidy focuses on women. “This subject was important to me because I am a woman,” she says, recognizing an advantage that gives her. When she wants to document their lives, “it’s easier for a woman to get access,” she says.
Her photos of daily life range from men selling balloons on the streets to the secret lives of female prostitutes. And Wahidy was not the only one to recognize the need for this type of photography in Afghanistan. She is now part of the recently created Afghan Photography Network.
“Many Afghan photographers are not well-connected,” she explains. “We hope it will create a better connection and show Afghanistan by Afghan photographers.”
It is a young website, still in development, but the Afghan Photography Network is already bringing increased visibility to the work of Afghan photographers.
Of the eight women in her original photojournalism program, Wahidy is the only one working as a full-time photographer. Some got married, and others stopped working for reasons unknown to Wahidy. Wahidy, meanwhile, plans to continue for a very long time.
“When I shoot and I get a good photo,” she says, “that is a beautiful day.”
Jordan is routinely and unlawfully rejecting Palestinian refugees, single males, and undocumented people seeking asylum at its border with Syria. President Obama should seek assurances from King Abdullah II that Jordan will not reject any asylum seekers at its border with Syria. The risks to their lives in Syria are too serious to send anyone back at the present time.
Photo: Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country cross into Jordanian territory, near Mafraq on February 18, 2013. © 2013 Reuters
A few weeks after the invasion of Iraq, coalition forces began a long occupation, marked by almost immediate chaos. Groups held down by Saddam’s regime rose up, and groups who opposed them struck back. Militias based in Iraq began a long insurgency against the occupation, and terrorist organizations joined the fight, escalating levels of brutality with each attack. Dozens of battles were fought across the country, with mounting tolls on the insurgents, the allied troops, and the civilian population caught in the middle. From 2003 to 2010, progress toward a new government and reconstruction was made in fits and starts, punctuated by frequent bombings, assassinations, and uprisings. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today’s entry focuses on the period during which the majority of the war took place, after the 2003 invasion and just prior to the 2011 withdrawal. This entry is part 2 of 3, be sure to see part 1 from yesterday, and come back tomorrow for part 3.
See more. [Image: AP/AFP/Getty/Reuters]
Meet some of the more than 120,000 Syrian refugees living in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon while their country is at war. Families are living in camps, unfinished houses, and abandoned buildings; most are not getting adequate aid.
A Palestinian protestor, with his face covered in the colours of his national flag, uses a plastic table as a shield during clashes with Israeli soldiers outside Ofer prison, near Ramallah, following a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails on March 6, 2013.
[Credit : Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images]
Recently, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai ordered U.S. forces to leave Wardak province, partly in response to U.S.-funded militias in the region accused of “torturing, harassing, and murdering” ordinary civilians. The U.S. has been training and funding tribal militias in Afghanistan for years, hoping to emulate the success of a similar strategy in Iraq. Journalist Vikram Singh has been been tracking these militias across Afghanistan over the last few months and says that “the accusations of torture and murder come as little surprise. … In my visits to different zones where militias are active, I’ve seen their leaders operate as quasi-warlords. Instances of abuse are common and well documented. In provinces like Kunduz, there are districts with no government unit strong enough to challenge the militia’s authority.” In this essay, Singh focused on two different militia groups. One is in Logar Province, set up by a construction company owner angry at the killing of his mother by the Taliban in 2012. The second group operates in the northeastern province of Kunduz, where it chased the Taliban away almost three years ago but did not disband afterward. The militia’s leader, an ex-mujahideen called Nabi Gecchi, has now started taxing the local population to finance its operations.
See more. [Images: Vikram Singh]
Mourners attend a commemoration ceremony and march for a protester killed during clashes with Egyptian security forces the previous night, at the Al Noor Mosque on February 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. 23-year old protester Mohammed Hussein Korani was killed after sustaining gunshot wounds to the neck and chest during fighting with riot police outside Egypt’s Presidential Palace in Cairo late on the night of February 1. Protests continued across Egypt nearly one week after the second anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak on January 25, 2011.
[Credit : Ed Giles/Getty Images]
Bahraini anti-government protesters carry national flags during a march on Feb. 3, 2013, in the western village of Malkiya, Bahrain. Hundreds shouted “down with the government” during the march, called by several opposition groups to demand freedom for political prisoners and democracy in the Gulf island kingdom
[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]
In early January, President Barack Obama met with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, indicating a series of decisions that may accelerate the planned handover of power to the government of Afghanistan. Terms are still being negotiated, and final troop levels have yet to be decided, but NATO troops will be withdrawing from villages this spring, and prisons holding terrorism suspects will soon be under Afghan control. One big condition still left unsettled: an immunity agreement in which remaining U.S. troops would not subjected to Afghan law. These photos show just a glimpse of this conflict over the past month, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.
See more. [Images: AP, Getty, Reuters]
Israeli airstrike hits truck convoy in Syria that may contain weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon
Israel conducted an airstrike inside Syria overnight near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks, U.S. and regional officials said Wednesday.
The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for the Islamist militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah.
Twenty-four months have passed since the start of the uprising that led to the overthrow of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. In that time, much has changed, but many of the most vocal revolutionaries are not yet satisfied. President Mohamed Morsi, who assumed office last summer, has frustrated the opposition within the new government. Morsi has sought to expand his powers by decree and has been accused of heavily favoring the wishes of his own political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is promoting a new Islamist constitution for Egypt. In the midst of all this, many of the same activists who set things in motion in 2011 took to the streets again this past weekend, feeling that their voices had been drowned out once again. At least 50 are now reported to have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and government (and pro-government) groups, and a state of emergency has been declared in three provinces.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters, Getty]
Syria crisis: Food aid ‘cannot reach a million people’
One million Syrians are going hungry and helpless due to the 22-month civil conflict in the country, the UN says.
The World Food Program (WFP) says it is helping 1.5 million Syrians, but continued fighting and an inability to use the port of Tartus to deliver food mean many people are not receiving aid.
The UN estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising, which began in March 2011.
Rebels have gained control of swathes of northern Syria in recent months.
The increasingly dangerous situation meant the WFP had pulled its staff out of its offices in Homs, Aleppo, Tartus and Qamisly, said agency spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.
Late 2012 saw a sharp rise in the number of attacks on WFP aid trucks, said the agency, which has also been hit by fuel shortages.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said the number of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria had leapt by nearly 100,000 in the past month.
Two years after construction began, Israelhas finished the bulk of the work on a fence along its border with Egypt.
Closing off the rambling, 140-mile-long stretch of desert border will prevent the “unfettered flow of illegal infiltrators, the smuggling of drugs and weapons,” said a statement from the Defense Ministry, which oversaw the $400-million engineering project.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the completion of the main section, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the effort to curb the illegal entry of migrants from Africa, reduced from more than 2,000 a month in January 2012 to fewer than 40 in December.
Stopping the migrants is one aim of the fence, which stands about 15 to 20 feet high and includes multiple layers of barbed wire, communications equipment, a patrol road and asphalt track. It is similar to portions of the barrier that seals off the occupied West Bank from Israel, although that fence includes sections of concrete wall.
Early last year, Netanyahu said Israel would build a similar fence along the desert border with Jordan.
The government says all African migrants entering Israel illegally in recent months have been placed in detention facilities before reaching Israeli cities, where an estimated 60,000 migrants and asylum seekers — widely called “infiltrators” — already live.
“Just as we have stopped infiltration into Israeli cities, so too we shall succeed in the next mission, repatriating the tens of thousands of infiltrators to their countries of origin,” Netanyahu said.
He recently appointed Hagai Hadas, a former Mossad official, to oversee repatriation efforts.
Israel deported nearly 4,000 Africans in 2012, but more sweeping repatriation could be difficult. Many migrants hail from war-torn areas or from countries that have no ties with Israel, according to Sigal Rozen, an official with a local migrant assistance organization.
The influx of African migrants, most of whom slipped across the Egyptian border, has became a divisive social and political issue, as Israelis from already-disadvantaged areas express resentment toward the foreigners and politicians warn of a demographic threat.
The tension has boiled over on several occasions in recent years, with demonstrators calling for the deportation of the Africans and extremists committing hate crimes, including firebombings of migrants’ houses last spring.
Pictured: African refugees sit on the ground behind a border fence after they attempted to cross illegally from Egypt into Israel, as Israeli soldiers stand guard near the border with Egypt, in southern Israel.(Ariel Schalit / Associated Press / September 4, 2012)
Air strike aftermath in Syria - Rough Cuts
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air force continued launching strikes across Syria on Thursday. The U.N. estimates more than 60,000 people have been killed since the civil war began there. (January 3, 2013)