Archive for the ‘press reports’ Category

Life (and death) in refugee camps

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Behind the wheel – An occasional series by Michael de Laine

Do Mr and Mrs Average really know what life is like in refugee camps – in terms of accommodation, food, work, learning, the effects of weather and the impact of armed conflicts?

And why people flee their homes to find a refugee camp in another country, when that country itself has problems similar to those they fled from?

My daughter, who came home in March after 18 months in South Sudan for first the Danish Refugee Council and then Save the Children – Denmark, has sent me this recent video and website link – – to work done by the Jesuit Refugee Service, in particular at Maban in northern South Sudan, close to the border with Sudan.

Here, refugees from Sudan make up more than two-thirds of the local population. The refugee camps at Maban are home to about 130,000 people.

In comparison, some 107,000 refugees have landed on the shores of Greece already this year, which no-one denies has great economic problems and which great problems dealing with these refugees.

South Sudan is in a far worse economic situation than Greece. The work there of aid organisations includes education and child protection, but it is hampered by the weather and recurrent armed conflicts, both resulting in breakdowns in food supplies and transport.

These refugees are alive – to understand a little of what some go through and die doing, read:

PM Fogh Rasmussen told US Denmark ‘would undoubtedly give its support’ to an invasion of Iraq a year before the war

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 3rd July 2015

According to the daily newspaper Politiken, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense in George W Bush’s administration, that Denmark ‘would undoubtedly give its support’ to a US-led invasion of Iraq a year before that war started.

Politiken says this information is contained in a classified note that it has accessed in the archives of the Prime Minister’s Office. The note minutes a meeting at the Pentagon between Fogh Rasmussen and Wolfowitz on 27th March 2002, when they reportedly discussed Iraq.

At the time, Fogh Rasmussen’s public line was that no decision had been made about possible participation in military action against Iraq.

Fogh Rasmussen apparently told Wolfowitz that going to war would require proof that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed and was developing weapons of mass destruction.

When it tabled a parliamentary motion – B118 – to participate in the invasion in Iraq, however, the Liberal-led coalition government with the Conservatives (and backed by the Danish People’s Party) cited Saddam Hussein’s failure to collaborate satisfactorily with the UN’s weapons inspectors as the reason for going to war.

The motion was adopted by a narrow majority in Folketinget, the Danish parliament, on 21st January 2003.

Whether Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed his comments at the meeting with Paul Wolfowitz, and his possible role as an early member of the US alliance against Saddam Hussein, with Per Stig Møller, the then Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the other members of the government is unclear: Fogh Rasmussen told Politiken that he did not wish to make any comments, while Møller ‘could not recall’ the meeting.

The report in the Danish daily Politiken comes the day after the commission charged with investigating the decision-making process behind Denmark’s participation in the war against Iraq (and later Afghanistan) – and its legitimacy under Danish and international law – was formally closed.

The commission was disbanded by the new Liberal minority government as one of its first acts after it took office on 29th June – according to Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen because ‘sufficient light has already been thrown’ on the decision-making process.

Due to internal disagreements and for other reasons, the commission, set up in 2012 by the coalition government of the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals and the Socialist People’s Party, had done little more than collect and read classified documents and prepare a time-line; the first interviews with leading politicians, civil servants and others would have been held later this year.

Click here to read Politiken‘s news story in Danish