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Over 1,100 unaccompanied refugees, migrant children in Greece need shelter, UNICEF

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Over 1,100 unaccompanied refugees, migrant children in Greece need shelter, UNICEF

According to UNICEF, the number of separated children in the centres was the largest since the beginning of 2016.


Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, said recently, a child lost his life and two more were injured in a violent incident in the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria.

“This latest tragedy is a stark reminder that the situation, in the Reception Centres in Greece, is at a breaking point.

She promised that UNICEF would continue to appeal to Greek authorities to transfer children to adequate accommodation on the mainland.

She added that the Greek government could not do that alone.

Khan stressed the need for the European governments to increase pledges to relocate unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children and fast-track family reunifications for those whose relatives reside in Europe.

However, UNICEF said it had released a short film documenting the dreams and despair of boys staying in “Section B’’.

The section is an area meant to provide specialised protection for unaccompanied children in the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria on the Greek Island of Lesvos.

The Reception Centre in Moria is meant to accommodate 3,000 people, but currently, it has more than 8,700, including 3,000 children.

Section B, including the adjacent area, has room for 160 unaccompanied children, but now accommodating more than 520.

According to UNICEF, presently there were more than 32,000 refugee and migrant children in Greece, including more than 4,000 unaccompanied and separated.

It said over the last three years, UNICEF had supported more than 60,000 refugee and migrant children, and their families in Greece. (Xinhua/)

YI/AIB

Yahaya Isah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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Spotlight: UK teachers concerned over school reopening, call for national plan

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When Emily Proffitt became headteacher of Cooper Perry Primary School in Stafford, England, in January this year, she oversaw a welcome assembly of around 230 children of the school. For months, that would be the size of her daily assembly.


Now, due to lockdown restrictions, Profitt’s school has only been able to host between five to 10 pupils daily.

“This has been the most challenging time in my career, not only as a leader but as a teacher,” she told Xinhua.

Before taking on the role at Cooper Perry Primary, Proffitt worked as a headteacher for around four years. Nothing, she said, had prepared her or her colleagues for this.

“What teachers and leaders of education have been through is unprecedented and nothing that any of us are trained or prepared for. It’s very much been taking it a day at a time and working with what we’ve got.”

CONCERNED OVER PREMATURE RETURN

Cooper Perry Primary school has remained partially open throughout to critical workers’ children, in line with government guidelines. Since June 1, Proffitt has been allowed to open up the school wider to Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children.

Now, with the latest British government guidelines published this week by the Department for Education, primary school headteachers are being given greater flexibility to invite back more pupils — but only if the schools have the capacity within existing guidelines and if protective measures are in place.

In the coming days, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is due to set out the details of his summer “catch-up” plans — which comes after he scrapped plans for primary schools to bring back all pupils for a month before the summer break.

For Proffitt, the level of uncertainty around the situation and lack of clarification from the government have affected the return of pupils to her school.

“Most of my parent community have chosen not to send their children back, we’ve had roughly 25 percent returned from the key year groups — not from the entire school,” she said.

“Gradually that’s starting to build now, because parents have found out that the other key year groups aren’t going back and that we’ve got a very short space before September — and we still don’t know what September is going to look like yet.

“Nervousness, uncertainty and not knowing what the future holds is making them more nervy,” she said.

Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT — The Teachers’ Union, believed that most teachers and parents are rightly concerned about a premature return to school that could endanger lives.

“I think most parents want to be sure that when they send their child off to school that they’re going to be safe and we want that as well. It’s important that we put those safety concerns at the fore of whatever plans schools are doing to safely return,” he told Xinhua.

Only when children are safe to return does he believe that schools can consider what the nature of their curriculum is going to be.

“Whilst we want all children to be returning to their lessons, we also want to ensure that there’s breadth and there’s balance in relation to children’s learning,” he said.

NEW CHALLENGES FOR SCHOOLS

The lockdown has not only had an impact on the short-term closures of schools, but also has the potential to affect the long-term academic and emotional development of children.

This is something that Proffitt has seen firsthand at Cooper Perry Primary, where she has tried to encourage disadvantaged children to attend school through the lockdown.

For the Year 6 pupils who have returned they’re displaying more emotional issues now than before they left — with “more uncertainties, more anxieties that are building and developing” and that the teachers have to deal with.

“We’re putting programs into place for those who have returned, but of course they’re transitioning into high school very soon so to them this is huge — and they don’t know what that will look like in September either. So I think the long-term emotional effects on children will be our hardest battle,” Proffitt said.

Schools across the country have had to rearrange classroom layouts, hallways and play areas — but many buildings are old with limited flexibility for renovation.

For Cooper Perry Primary School, which is a mixture of a Victorian hall and new build classrooms, little pod areas have been introduced for early year children and tables have been turned into “L” shaped desks for those in the older years.

But this now means that a typical Year 6 class, which would have had 30 to 35 students before lockdown, can now just have a maximum of eight children in one classroom.

Then it comes to monitoring children’s play time, which is also having to be reconsidered.

“The younger children are harder to keep social distance than the older children. When they go out to play and they have their outdoor time naturally they migrate together. We’re not stopping that, we’re just trying to encourage that to be reduced throughout the day and the opportunity for that not to be there,” said Proffitt.

Official guidance from the government shows that it has been accepted that the two meter social distancing rule is not practicable in schools — so this has forced schools to find alternative solutions.

One of those solutions, Roach explained, is finding an educational and social bubble around smaller groups of children. This, he said, would minimize the levels of social interaction between increasing numbers of children, young people and adults.

“But is it sustainable? Well it’s only going to be sustainable if there’s sufficient space in schools to make it available and there’s sufficient numbers of teachers available to schools in order to teach in smaller group sizes,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest reassurance for a safe return of schools, Roach said, would be for the government to ensure teachers and parents have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) in schools.

CALL FOR NATIONAL PLAN

In March, the British government shut schools to all children but those of key workers and who were vulnerable. Since then, individual schools have been given the responsibility to make their own way to a safe reopening.

On Monday, Education Secretary Williamson said he wanted to make sure as many pupils as possible could get back into the classroom before summer to “support their wellbeing and education.”

But according to Roach, a rush to bring schooling back has seen education not feature as central to the government’s plans, but rather on how schools could help to play a part in the reopening of the economy as childcare locations.

“They’ve focused on childcare. For us, that’s not good enough,” Roach told Xinhua.

Roach believes key investment needs to be made into educating children through this period, especially those who have been more disadvantaged compared to other classmates during the pandemic, and not just using schools as “provisions of childcare for arbitrarily selected year groups of pupils.”

He called for a decisive national plan for the return of schools.

“We also need to recognise that you can have a national plan but each school has its own idiosyncrasies, its own unique features and characteristics, its own catchment which will impact how any national plan needs to be translated in practice,” he said.

According to Roach, giving head teachers a degree of flexibility about how to apply a national government framework for the safe return of individual schools, where that school could meet the safety standards, would help to bring schools back to be fully operational.

“We’d love nothing more than to have all of our children back in school,” said Proffitt.

“However, I will not open my school fully until we are given the health and safety green light to be able to do it,” she said.

(XINHUA)

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Over 25 pct of shops in Lebanon’s capital shut down amid economic crisis

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The head of Beirut Traders’ Association said on Tuesday that over 25 percent of the shops in the Lebanese capital closed in the past six months over the United States dollar shortage and drop in people’s purchasing power, the National News Agency reported.


“We also expect 25 percent more of shops to close during the coming six months given the current economic crisis,” Nicolas Chammas said during a meeting held at Beirut’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture with representatives of the different trade sectors in Lebanon.

Chammas urged officials to provide all traders with facilities to enable them to withdraw their deposits from banks and transfer money to buy products from abroad to maintain their businesses.

He also urged exemption of traders from income and municipality taxes in 2020.

Lebanon has witnessed in the past few months a shortage in the United States dollar amid an economic slowdown and the drop in cash injections from Lebanese abroad.

(XINHUA)

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Spotlight: Over 100 arrested in central London in violent protests against anti-racism

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Over 100 people were arrested during Saturday’s far-right protests in central London, which turned violent later and left six police officers with minor injuries, Scotland Yard said.


A crowd of people, mainly white men, converged on Parliament Square, before moving to Trafalgar Square and other areas in central London on Saturday to “guard” statues as part of counter-protests against anti-racism demonstrations.

Around 200 protesters later broke the police curfew by remaining in the area past 17:00 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), most of whom congregated around the statue of Winston Churchill.

Among those gathered was Paul Golding, leader of the far-right group Britain First, who had called on supporters to descend on the British capital while claiming authorities had “allowed vandalism against national monuments.”

The protests then turned violent, with demonstrators pelting bottles and at least one smoke bomb at police officers on foot and on horseback. Chants of “England” rang out around the Whitehall road as many of those present were drinking.

Six police officers and at least 13 other members of the public were injured during the protests, and six of them were taken to hospital, the ambulance service said.

As of 21:00 p.m. local time, at least 100 were arrested for offenses including violent disorder, assaulting police officers, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of class A drugs, being drunk and disorderly and breach of the peace, Scotland Yard said.

“Millions of Londoners will have been disgusted by the shameful scenes of violence, desecration and racism displayed by the right-wing extremists who gathered in our city today,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote on Twitter following the protests.

“In the face of attacks and abuse, our police did a fantastic job to control the situation. Thank you,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also condemned the violence on Twitter, posting, “Racist thuggery has no place on our streets. Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law.”

“These marches and protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines. Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality,” he wrote.

“Any perpetrators of violence or vandalism should expect to face the full force of the law,” Home Secretary Priti Patel wrote on Twitter, calling the violence “unacceptable thuggery.”

“Violence towards our police officers will not be tolerated. Coronavirus remains a threat to us all. Go home to stop the spread of this virus & save lives,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds joined the condemnation, saying the protesters seemed “intent on causing violence and division.”

The latest far-right protests took place after a series of anti-racism demonstrations across the country, sparked by the death of African American man George Floyd on May 25 in the United States city of Minneapolis.

Floyd, 46, died after a white United States police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes until he stopped breathing. In a video footage, Floyd was heard saying “I can’t breathe” while three other police officers stood by.

Last weekend, anti-racism protesters in London defaced the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square in central London, and toppled a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston in the southern British city of Bristol. They had also arranged further protests this weekend, prompting statues to be boxed up.

In response, Mayor Khan said Friday that key statues and monuments in London, including the Cenotaph in Whitehall, statues of Churchill and Nelson Mandela, are to be covered and protected.

Anthony Glees, former director of the University of Buckingham’s Center for Security and Intelligence Studies, told Xinhua in a recent interview that he was not surprised the anger over Floyd’s killing spread across the Atlantic to Britain.

“My sense is black people in Britain share the anxieties and resentments felt by American black people, and associate with them very strongly,” Glees said.

“The murder of George Floyd has visibly awakened many people,” Brussels Times newspaper quoted Ange Kazi, spokesperson of the Belgian Network for Black Lives Matter, which called for the protest, as saying.

“Many people are fed up with police violence, which systematically affects Blacks,” she said.

(XINHUA)

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Over 100 people nabbed in violent protests in central London: police

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More than 100 people were arrested during Saturday’s far-right protests in London, which turned violent later and left six police officers injured, Scotland Yard said.


As of 21:00 BST (2000 GMT), at least 100 were arrested for offenses including violent disorder, assaulting police officers, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of class A drugs, being drunk and disorderly and breach of the peace, Scotland Yard said.

Six police officers and at least 13 other members of the public were injured during the protests. Six of the people were taken to hospital, the ambulance service said.

It came after around 200 breached the 17:00 curfew with most congregating around the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square in central London.

The protests came despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan urging people to leave by the deadline, which was set by the Metropolitan Police under the Public Order Act.

Six officers suffered minor injuries after “pockets of violence” were directed toward the Metropolitan Police, police said.

By 19:00, police blocked off two pedestrian bridges between Embankment and Waterloo in London as Black Lives Matter protesters had been on them attempting to get north in the capital.

Police officers also marched anti-racism protesters across Westminster Bridge, preventing anyone from passing their cordon.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the violence. He said on Twitter: “Racist thuggery has no place on our streets. Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law.”

“These marches and protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines. Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality,” he wrote.

Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the violence as “appalling and shameful” the “desecration” of a memorial to murdered Keith Palmer during the far-right protest in Westminster. She said a “small minority” had behaved with “extreme thuggery.”

For his part, Khan wrote on Twitter: “Millions of Londoners will have been disgusted by the shameful scenes of violence, desecration and racism displayed by the right-wing extremists who gathered in our city today.”

“In the face of attacks and abuse, our police did a fantastic job to control the situation. Thank you.”

The latest protests took place following a series of anti-racism demonstrations across Britain, sparked by the United States police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 in the United States city of Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed facing down and repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

(XINHUA)

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