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freedom
January 09th, 2019

Migrants do not belong in prisons. Demand their release today!

type:NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

As Republicans and Democrats quarrel over the funding of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a rising number of migrants languish in detention facilities and are stuck in a perpetual limbo upon their release, dealing with a shattered and erratic immigration system.

It is easy to get caught up in the vortex of accusations and misinformation being hurled across the political realm concerning the issue of immigration. And as the president relentlessly depicts migrants as dangerous criminals seeking to inundate the United States, many seem to forget that the vast majority of those crossing the border are innocent human beings seeking shelter and safety. It also seems to escape us that while life goes on as usual for millions of Americans, such migrants suffer inhumane treatment on U.S. soil and have very little hope to cling to in the dark thicket of the American immigration system.

Reports abound of migrants suffering from undernourishment, abuse, disease under the federal and privately-run overcrowded detention facilities. Last month alone, two young children died from health complications while under the custody of the Department of Homeland Security.

Alas, those released from detention do not seem to fare any better- as they often grapple to find shelter and the proper tools to navigate the complex immigration proceedings and lodge asylum requests.

While the government is slow to respond to public places to alleviate the plight of migrants, privately run, non for profit organizations are toiling to fill in the gaps created by the chaotic immigration policies of the current administration.

One such organization is Freedom for Immigrants, a nonprofit NGO fighting to defend the rights of migrants both while in detention and upon release.

Through an extensive network of volunteers who carry out visits to immigration prisons and operate a national hotline, the organization monitors and reports on conditions and human rights abuses suffered by migrants in detention.

Founded by those who suffered themselves at the hands of the immigration system, the NGO also engages in community-based operations to assist migrants who were released from prison, develop alternatives for detention, advocate for their rights, and help them assimilate into the American society.

The organization’s mission is to utilize their support and monitoring efforts on the individual and communal level to advocate for and inspire change on a systemic, national level. Their end-goal is to see the abolishment of the immigration detention system.

One of the organization’s many initiatives is a virtual map of all immigration detention facilities in the U.S., which details the location, population, and information regarding each prison. Such a map could provide crucial data for individuals seeking to apply pressure on their local authorities and representatives, and monitor the plight of migrants as it unfolds in their own back yard.

Visit their website to learn more about their work and find out how to get involved and volunteer.

Image credit: Freedom for Immigrants

freedomforimmigrants.org
ffa
December 29th, 2018
Support and enjoy an online free library of activism documentary films
type:Donation, NGO
by:Yair Oded

On any given day, we are flooded with a barrage of information which often makes it hard to take the time to focus our attention on a specific issue. This is particularly true of socio-political and environmental matters, which undoubtedly deserve our attention, but frequently get drowned out by the noise.

Film is an incredibly effective medium to bring such issues to our attention.

Films For Action is a non-profit organization which operates an online, free library containing over 4,500 documentaries, short films, and videos as well as thousands of articles revolving around social, political, humanitarian, and environmental issues.

The website contains documentaries covering a wide range of issues- war, peace-building, sustainability and conservation, refugees and humanitarian crises, and more, and serves as an arena for people from across the globe to become socially and environmentally aware. The movies are available in a wide range of languages.

Many of the films featured on the website cover issues that don’t always make the mainstream media. As such, they constitute an excellent platform for independent and emerging filmmakers and journalists who wish to expose their work to the public.

Visit their website to gain access to their ever-growing library of films and learn how to post your own work on their website.

Films For Action launched a donations campaign in order to sustain their operation and guarantee its survival. Please consider donating to this important cause and help spawn a future generation of activists.

Image credit: Films For Action

filmsforaction.org
we+counter+hate+logo
December 23rd, 2018
Help former members of hate groups spread the message of tolerance and acceptance
type:Donation, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Racism and xenophobia are on the rise across the globe. While hate crimes have always plagued human society, there is no arguing with the fact that a tide of nationalism and totalitarianism in various parts of the world contribute to a surge in violent incidents inspired by hatred.

In the U.S., hate groups (many of which have lost prominence in the past several decades) now feel emboldened by the new administration and its xenophobic rhetoric and policies.

In 2017 alone, the FBI reported a 17 percent increase in hate crimes, and dozens of new hate groups were founded across the country. This is particularly true of white supremacy and far-right groups, who currently account for 73 percent of lethal extremist incidents in the U.S.

Among the most notorious hate crime attacks in the past few years are the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre, during which 11 Jews were killed, the Charleston church shooting, during which 9 African Americans were killed, and the murder of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville anti-fascist rally.

Alas, the atrocities that make the headline constitute but a fraction of the wave of hatred currently raging through the U.S., From defiling Jewish cemeteries to physically and verbally abusing racial minorities to inundating social media with racist vitriol- all have morphed into routine occurrences which together comprise an orgy of hatred.

While the current government seems only to flare up the inferno if racism, other individuals and organizations have taken it upon themselves to tackle the phenomenon. One such organization is Life After Hate, which for several years has been offering support to members of hate crimes who wish to abandon their life of hatred and reintegrate into society.

In addition to offering support to former members of hate groups, Life After Hate actively endeavors to spread information about the reality of hate-crimes in the U.S. and attempts to eradicate racism through education, lectures, and outreach.

One of its many programs, titled We Counter Hate, specifically aims to tackle hate speech on Twitter. Through advanced AI algorithms, the group identifies hateful Tweets and notifies the author that from now on every retweet of the post will generate a contribution to an organization that combats hate (using funds gathered by donation).

Please consider visiting their website to learn more about their programs and volunteer opportunities and donating to their cause.  

lifeafterhate.org
antiviolence
December 07th, 2018
Support the LGBTQ and HIV- affected victims of violence
type:NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

First established in 1980 in the streets of Chelsea, NYC by a group of activists, the Anti Violence Project (AVP) works to protect the safety of members of the LGBTQ community and those affected by HIV.

Violence both within and towards the LGBTQ community and those suffering from HIV remains acute. Alas, in many cases victims of such violence find themselves without access to resources and aid. Often, even those who do reach out and seek help come to realize their pleas fall on deaf ears. And even in 2018, police brutality towards LGBTQ members is still rampant. Particularly rife among the community is domestic violence and hate crimes targeting LBGTQs. 2017, for instance, saw an increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ people; during this year, the highest number of anti-LGBTQ homocides was recorded (52 in only the first half of the year, affecting mostly black and Latinx individuals).

AVP set out to ensure that LGBTQ people and those suffering from HIV can lead a life of dignity, free from violence in their homes and communities.

The organization runs a support network for LGBTQ victims of violence; it offers counseling services, legal services, and operate a hotline through which victims may get help or report a violence.

AVP also offer volunteer opportunities in various local communities around NYC as well as training programs for individuals who wish to learn more about the impact of violence on the LGBTQ community and offer support to survivors of violence.

Visit their website for more information on their counseling, volunteer, and training services.

Image credit: glaad.org

avp.org
refsupport
December 05th, 2018
Support refugees held in overcrowded makeshift camps in Greece
type:NGO, Project, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

As the refugee crisis in Europe exacerbates, the conditions in refugee camps (mostly in Greece) worsen. Unable to process the rising numbers of migrants and asylum seekers (often due to bureaucratic restrictions and a flawed asylum mechanism), the Greek government erects makeshift refugee camps which by now are overcrowded and inhospitable, and where refugees must wait for indefinite period of time until their case is reviewed.

One such camp, called Moria, currently holds 9,000 asylum seekers although its capacity is 3,000, where many of the migrants have thus far spent months waiting. Conditions in Moria are deplorable. In a New York Times piece from October, 2018, writer Patrick Kingsley describes the following about the camp: “The overcrowding is so extreme that asylum seekers spend as much as 12 hours a day waiting in line for food that is sometimes moldy. Last week, there were about 80 people for each shower, and around 70 per toilet, with aid workers complaining about raw sewage leaking into tents where children are living.” The dire reality in Moria has led to both a safety and mental health crises in the camp, with sexual assault, knife attacks, and suicide attempts occurring regularly.

Established in 2016, Refugee Support is a nonprofit organization working to alleviate the plight of migrants in refugee camps, as well as take some of the pressure off of the authorities and other NGOs as they grapple to handle the deteriorating conditions in the camps.

Untethered by bureaucratic chains, Refugee Support may offer quick and immediate relief to refugees; they do so through a group of hundreds of devout volunteers who operate in camps across Greece (and as of April 2017 in Bangladesh as well). Primarily, the organization provides food and essential supplies (including sanitation products) to refugees, acquired through donations, and distributed through warehouses and shops operated and maintained by Refugee Support volunteers. Each migrant (or migrant family) is allotted a certain number of tokens with which they can “purchase” goods. This way, migrants both get access to items they need and maintain a sense of dignity and ‘normalcy’ while doing so.  

Please consult the Refugee Support website to learn more about the conditions faced by migrants in camps across Greece, figure out how to donate (either money or items), and get more information about their various volunteer options.

Image credit: The Argus

refugeesupport.eu
thisis
December 03rd, 2018
Kafala legalizes slavery across Lebanon. Share the victims’ stories
type:Campaign, NGO
by:Yair Oded

Over the past few decades, abuse of domestic workers in Lebanon has become endemic. This is apparently the result of a Lebanese sponsorship program known as Kafala, according to which foreign nationals may come to Lebanon as domestic workers as long as they remain with the family that initially sponsored them; should they leave the household assigned to them, their status will be revoked.

In an increasing number of cases, domestic workers have reported unimaginable abuse suffered at the hands of their hosting families. Cases of abuse include withholding (often temporarily) payments, beating, humiliation, and sexual violence. In cases where migrants attempted to escape their abusive captors they often found themselves in limbo- without legal status or employment opportunities. Migrants who wished to return to their home countries through their respective embassies found themselves unable to do so since issuing a visa that would allow them to leave Lebanon would require paying hundreds of dollars in fines to the Lebanese government for violating their status (a sum of money that many of them simply don’t have available).

Kafala, though legal and widely used across the Gulf states as well as in Lebanon and Jordan, has been criticized internationally for its harsh restrictions; some have, accurately, referred to it as a gateway to slavery.

While the termination of Kafala may still be far off in the future, a growing number of individuals and organizations have taken it upon themselves to draw attention to the plight of domestic workers suffering at the hands of abusive hosting families and unable to help themselves due to the limitations of the Kafala system.

This Is Lebanon is an NGO committed to spreading testimonies of abused Kafala workers from across Lebanon. The organization publishes the harrowing tales of workers as well as the names and information of abusive patrons. This Is Lebanon’s content has been shared by prominent news agencies and human rights groups around the world.

If you or one of your loved ones is suffering abuse as a Kafala worker, or if you wish to acquaint yourself with the plight of domestic workers in the region and help spread the message- consult This Is Lebanon’s website.

Image credit: This Is Lebanon website. 

thisislebanon.org
violence
December 01st, 2018
Help make the impact of armed violence known and reduced
type:NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Civilian deaths due to armed violence is rising across the globe. From Pakistan to Mozambique to Sri Lanka, gun violence and explosives used in densely populated areas cost the lives of millions. In 2017, 92% of victims of armed violence were innocent civilians caught in the crossfire or residing in areas that were bombarded.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) is a nonprofit organization working to reduce the devastation created by armed violence, by researching, reporting on and monitoring cases of armed violence across the globe. Particularly, AOAV focus their research on damage and deaths caused by explosive weapons.

The organization complies detailed reports (by region, country, or year) regarding instances of armed violence and the use of explosive weapons. Their research exposes valuable information regarding the perpetrators of the attacks, the weapons that were used, and the victims. Among the areas they report on regularly are Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Gaza, Libya, and Turkey.

AOAV’s reports are disseminated internationally through various NGOs and think tanks, as well as the United Nations and several governments (including the British Parliament). Their aim is to pressure governments to curb the use of armed violence and ensure that international regulations are respected in areas of conflict.

AOAV offer several volunteer opportunities in two key areas: research (compiling reports on explosive violence and assisting in investigations into the arms trade) and social media advocacy (spreading the message and findings of the organization through various social media channels). If any of those appeal to you, please visit AOAV’s Volunteer Page for more information.

If you are a victim of armed violence, you may consult AOAV’s Victims’ Rights page, where valuable information regarding victim empowerment can be found.

You also may wish to donate to their cause, and assist them in making sure the international community acknowledges the dire consequences of armed violence and, hopefully, takes steps to reduce its impact.

Image credit: AOAV website.

aoav.org.uk
pcc-infographics-v5
November 30th, 2018
Support families’ lawsuit against EU’s reckless climate policy
type:Campaign, Petition
by:Yair Oded

The increasing devastation brought upon by climate change is becoming ever more apparent. Across the world, erratic weather patterns, heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and floods put the lives of millions at risk and significantly damage their livelihoods- whether they are farmers in Kenya or operators of a ski resort in northern Italy. When it comes to global warming- no one is off the hook.

In an attempt to grapple with the planet’s deteriorating climate, the EU has crafted a policy in October of 2014 according to which greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) would be cut by 40 percent compared to the 1990 levels between 2020 and 2030. Recognizing that the 2014 goals were simply not ambitious enough, and would still wreak havoc across the globe,  the EU adopted a more stringent series of GHG restrictions in the 2016 Paris Agreement. Alas, despite ratifying the agreement in October 2016, the EU maintained its emissions rate at the levels stipulated in the insufficient 2014 agreement.

In a thus far unparalleled move, families from several European countries, as well as from Kenya and Fiji, have taken the EU to court for violation of their fundamental human rights. The plaintiffs, supported by scientists, NGOs, and citizens, filed their claim at the Court of Justice of the European Union, accusing the Union of hurting their right to life, health, property, occupational freedom, and culture through its incompetent climate policy.

Under the name of People’s Climate Case, the plaintiffs seek to urge the European Union to make whatever efforts necessary to adhere to its environmental commitments stipulated in the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Please consider signing their petition and express solidarity with the plaintiffs’ cause. It is time to signal to policy makers that abating global temperature rise is an urgent task that must be prioritized.

peoplesclimatecase.caneurope.org
iraqueer
November 12th, 2018
Abolish discrimination and murder of LGBTQ Iraqis
type:Donation, Education, NGO
by:Yair Oded

Since the Western coalition’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, the lives of all Iraqis have been at risk. Yet, members of the LGBTQ community remain one of the most vulnerable in the country, as they are subject to relentless isolation, intimidation, and deadly violence.

Hateful campaigns against the LGBTQ community have become a cultural norm in Iraq- with the media, local leaders, militias, and government all clamouring for their demise. In 2017 alone, over 200 LGBTQ persons were murdered in Iraq due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Seeing as the government does not recognise LGBTQ members as citizens, it does not grant them any protection from persecution, and in fact often part-takes in it. It has been reported that 41 percent of violence against LGBTQ people was committed by militia members (including ISIS), 27 percent by the people’s own family members, 22 percent by the government of Iraq, and 10 percent by other elements.

IraQueer is a non-for-profit NGO committed to supporting, strengthening, and aiding the LGBTQ community in Iraq and Kurdistan. Founded in 2015, IraQueer is currently the only active LGBTQ advocacy group operating in Iraq and Kurdistan.

One of the organisation’s main areas of focus is raising awareness of the plight of LGBTQ Iraqis both internationally and at home, by partnering with international organisations, publishing statements and information kits, and conducting trainings and information sessions about the challenges facing the community, as well as dispelling prevalent myths, misconceptions, and vendettas against them.

IraQueer also assist LGBTQ Iraqis who seek asylum in other countries by connecting them with lawyers and organisations in their destination countries, providing information regarding the asylum process in each country, and furnishing them with documents they will need to present in order to support their case.

Another important aspect of the organisation’s mission is to increase the visability of LGBTQ Iraqis and boost their confidence and morale by urging them to share their stories, experiences, thoughts, and artistic talents on their website.

If you are an LGBTQ person residing in Iraq and are interested in having your work shared by IraQueer, please contact them at blog@iraqueer.org. If you are interested in publishing your personal story, you may contact them at stories@iraqueer.org

If you are a journalist, professor, or a member of any type of organisation and are interested in getting training on the issue, please contact IraQueer at info@iraqueer.org

And, of course, you may also choose to donate to the organisation by following this link: https://www.iraqueer.org/home/donate/

For more information about the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community in Iraq, you may consult the 2018 study published by IraQueer titled Fighting for the Right to Live; the State of LGBT + Human Rights in Iraq, visit their media section, or watch the BBC documentary titled Gay Witch Hunt in Iraq.

Image: retrieved from Iraqueer website

iraqueer.org
subsahara
November 09th, 2018
Support efforts to end hunger in Sub Saharan Africa
type:Donation, NGO
by:Yair Oded

Despite the economic promises researchers predict for Sub-Saharan countries in the next couple of decades, a humanitarian crisis still rages in South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria.

A deadly combination of climate change-induced droughts and inconsistent weather patterns, political corruption, surging food prices, and deepening poverty has wreaked havoc upon populations in the above mentioned countries. In Somalia, for instance, 73 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day, and life-threatening malnutrition affects a growing number of men, women, and children.

The road to recovery is still long in those countries, and establishing mechanisms that will render such communities self-reliant and resilient would require ongoing efforts by both public and private elements.  

In the meantime, urgent global response and attention are needed to save the lives of the over 20 million Sub Saharans at risk, and support the recovery process of their communities.

Mercy Corps is a humanitarian aid organisation which is dedicating to providing first response to communities facing emergencies. They operate locally and directly with the communities at risk.

The organisation has launched a campaign calling attention to the famine raging in Sub-Saharan Africa (and Yemen) and collecting donations in order to provide relief on the ground, help those communities overcome their current emergency, and build a better life.

Please consider visiting their website and donating to their cause.

Image: Mercy Corps

mercycorps.org