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Future of aid work at risk in Iran due to U.S. sanctions
by Jan Egeland
Norwegian Refugee Council
Aug. 2019
The delivery of aid to Afghan refugees and flood victims in Iran is at risk because banks are refusing to transfer money to aid agencies due to fear of sanctions.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is calling on donor governments to enable humanitarian organisations to continue to reach vulnerable people in Iran.
“Humanitarian organisations are left hamstrung by politically motivated sanctions that now punish the poorest. We have now, for a full year, tried to find banks that are able and willing to transfer money from donors to support our work for Afghan refugees and disaster victims in Iran, but we are hitting brick walls on every side,” said Secretary-General of NRC Jan Egeland.
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Iran are so comprehensive that banks are unwilling to facilitate transfers for humanitarian work. If all bank channels are blocked, then so is the delivery of critical aid to people in need.
“Norwegian and other international banks are afraid of U.S. sanctions to transfer the money that governments have given for our vital aid work,” Egeland explained.
More than three million Afghans, one of the world''s largest refugee populations, are living in Iran, and some of them have been there for the past four decades. In addition, 10 million vulnerable men, women and children are trying to recover from the effects of devastating floods in March. Many are critically dependent on humanitarian aid for access to food, water and shelter.
“Refugee families are already skipping meals due to the growing economic crisis. They are selling the few assets they have to cover basic costs. Many Afghans that had some work in tailoring have been laid off because of sanctions that lead to workshop closures,” he added. “Our cash assistance programme allows thousands of families to cope with this worsening situation. This lifeline cannot be discontinued."
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is the largest of only five international NGOs working in Iran along with the UN. All aid organisations are impacted by the consequences of existing sanctions.
“As humanitarians on the ground, it is our responsibility to draw attention to this neglected, but devastating collateral damage of the US-Iranian tension that appears to escalate every day. The U.S. and European donor governments must find ways to enable humanitarian organisations to operate.
We need clear arrangements that will assure banks that they can move donor money into Iran for humanitarian purposes without fear of legal penalties. We need a solution that will prevent millions of vulnerable people from slipping deeper into emergency levels of poverty and hardship.”

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El Paso Shooting - the sickening consequences of hate
by Karen Baynes-Dunning
President, Southern Poverty Law Center, agencies
5 Aug. 2019
Our hearts are heavy. Again. This weekend, we saw the sickening consequences of hate – as we’ve seen over and over in recent months. Twenty-two people were killed by a gunman in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.
He wasn’t an ISIS fighter. He wasn’t a brown-skinned “invader.” He was an angry white man, U.S.-born, who had access to weapons capable of killing dozens of people within seconds.
Although the motives are unclear in two other mass shootings over the last eight days in Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, Calif., those acts also were committed by white men. This is the truth our country must confront.
The suspected killer in El Paso – who wore body armor and used military-style weapons to kill 22 people – appears to have been fully indoctrinated in the same white nationalist movement that has spawned numerous other domestic terrorists in recent months.
This is nothing less than a global terrorist movement, one animated by white supremacy and the belief that white people are being systematically replaced by people of color in Western countries.
And make no mistake: It’s a movement that has been energized and encouraged by our own president, who uses words like “invasion” and “infestation” when talking about people of color. In describing U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black congressional district in Baltimore, he said “no human being would want to live there.”
A racist “manifesto” apparently posted online by the suspect in El Paso echoes the same themes that President Trump invokes to stoke militant anger and hate among the campaign rally-goers who roar chants like “Send her back!” in reference to women of color in Congress.
In the post, the writer frets about a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and warns that white people are being replaced by foreigners.
This fear and resentment of our nation’s growing diversity is at the heart of the hate that’s swelling across America.
It’s no coincidence that the number of hate groups we’re tracking across America rose for the fourth consecutive year in 2018 – for a cumulative 30 percent increase that coincides with the last presidential campaign and the current administration. Hate crimes also have risen by about the same amount during this period, following three years of declines. Words matter. Especially the words of our political leaders.
In 1963, in the midst of his feud with civil rights leaders, Alabama Gov. George Wallace said, “What this country needs is a few first-class funerals.” Just days later, Klansmen bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, a meeting place for civil rights activists, killing four little girls.
Today, more and more, we are seeing hate crimes and terror attacks committed by white nationalists. Unfortunately, El Paso may not be the last.
This white nationalist fever will not break on its own. It’s up to people of decency and goodwill across America to work together toward an agenda of love and hope – of opportunity, equality and true justice. We must reject the politicians who traffic in fear and hate. And we must relentlessly call out those who enable them.
Aug. 2019
Hate is Alive in America - El Paso Shooting
A manifesto from shooter promotes white nationalist talking points as white nationalists mock those killed in the shooting.
On August 3, 2019, the United States witnessed another mass shooting — this time in El Paso, Texas where 22 people were killed and more than 20 were injured. The shooter reportedly drove more than 9 hours to target a heavily Hispanic shopping center that he believed would be full of Mexican nationals. The shooting took place at Cielo Vista Mall on Saturday morning near El Paso’s border with Juarez. The shooter was taken into custody by law enforcement.
Shortly before the shooting took place, a four page manifesto appeared online, and was reported by multiple outlets as belonging to the shooter. The manifesto contained white nationalist talking points on “demographic displacement,” “white genocide” and “illegal immigration,” along with references to the anti-Muslim mass shooting in New Zealand in March earlier this year. Much of the manifesto’s language mirrors that of President Trump’s sentiments of an “immigrant invasion,” posing threats to American jobs and safety.
Technology, especially social media platforms and message boards, play a huge role in the spread of hateful rhetoric and ideas, which can lead to the radicalization of people online. We have now seen a fringe site like 8chan be the origin of three manifestos in the past six months left by accused white supremacist killers.
Aug. 2019
US shootings: Use of racist language to gain votes or power must stop, say UN rights experts
Following the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the USA must take swift and decisive action that demonstrates its commitment to human rights, including the right to equal protection under the law, say a group of UN human rights experts.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who were murdered,” said the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The Chairperson of the Working Group, Ahmed Reid, said: “The United States must recognise the direct impact that racism, xenophobia and intolerance have in promoting violence and in creating fear and instability in ethnic and religious minority communities. Perpetuating racism perpetuates violence.”
Special Rapporteur Tendayi Achiume added: “There should be no doubt that the use of hate speech, intolerance, bigotry and racism by politicians and leaders to secure or maintain popular support renders those individuals complicit in the violence that follows.”
The Group of Experts and the Special Rapporteur, speaking jointly said: “The increasing use of divisive language and attempts to marginalise racial, ethnic and religious minorities in political speech has functioned as a call to action, facilitating violence, intolerance and bigotry. The connections between mass shootings and white extremist ideology are well-established, and celebration of these atrocities in white nationalist social media is common.”
“The manifestos and social media posts of these attackers reflect political discourse that devalues and dehumanises people on the basis of their race, religion, immigration status and/or ethnicity. The attackers in several mass shootings cited this rhetoric, along with ideas propounded by white nationalist movements and populist movements, as inspiration.
“The refusal, in the face of repeated incidents to pursue immediate and direct action to prevent further acts of domestic terrorism exacerbates these politicians and leaders’ complicity in the violence. Particularly in the light of the American Psychological Association’s recent statement confirming that mental illness insufficiently explains the proliferation of mass shootings, we encourage the United States to address such violence without delay as a matter of white supremacy and racism,” the Working Group and the Special Rapporteur said.
“The use of race to instil fear, gain votes or power, or mask injustices must stop. Those with privilege and power have a heightened responsibility to mitigate, not encourage, racism, intolerance, and bigotry. Communities and leaders throughout the United States should take seriously their obligations to prevent further tragedies and protect the human rights of all equally and without condition.”

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