Following multiple earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria earlier this month, the European Union will provide additional emergency support to both countries through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and emergency humanitarian assistance.
A total of €7 billion were pledged by the international community at the International Donors’ Conference ‘Together for the people in Türkiye and Syria’, co-hosted on 20 March by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, for the Swedish Presidency of the Council. These funds will be used to cover humanitarian needs, help the reconstruction of the affected regions, and support recovery in Türkiye and Syria.
“Today is a very good day for international solidarity. Together with our partners, we have raised €7 billion in total to support the people in Türkiye and Syria, following the devastating earthquakes. More than half of this pledge comes from Team Europe. We have shown to the world that we are supporting those in need. And we always stand by our partners.”, said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
More than 60 delegations from the European Union, its Member States and partners, including the UN, international and European financial institutions such as the EIB and the EBRD, and other relevant stakeholders met in Brussels to mobilise support for the people in Türkiye and Syria after the devastating earthquakes of February 2023 and to coordinate the response in the affected areas in both countries.
EU journalism prize awarded for investigation into migrant boat shipwreck
A Greek, German and British consortium has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigating the Adriana shipwreck, which left over 600 migrants dead off Pylos in Greece.
The joint investigation by the Greek investigative outlet Solomon, in collaboration with Forensis, the German public broadcaster StrgF/ARD, and the British newspaper The Guardian revealed how the deadliest migrant shipwreck in recent history happened as a result of the actions taken by the Greek Coast Guard. It also reveals inconsistencies in the Greek authorities’ official accounts.
Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno, Vice-President responsible for the Prize, and Juliane Hielscher, President of the Berlin Press Club and representative of the 28 members of the independent European-wide Jury, participated in the award ceremony held in the Daphne Caruana Galizia Press Room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“Today, as every year, we honour Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memory with a prize that is a powerful reminder of her fight for truth and justice. Journalists around the world continue to be targeted just for doing their job, but they refuse to be silenced. This Parliament stands by their side in this long-standing battle to safeguard press freedom and media pluralism in Europe and beyond”, said Metsola.
When accepting the prize on behalf of the winning consortium, Iliana Papangeli of Solomon said: “The fatal event has forced us to confront questions about so-called European values and where the EU really stands on protecting human life – regardless of passport, ethnicity, race, gender, disability, or class. This joint investigation showed how violent and restrictive EU migration policies are, ultimately leading to a massive loss of life”.
Between 3 May and 31 July 2023, more than 700 journalists from the 27 EU countries submitted their stories for consideration. Twelve of these submissions were shortlisted by the jury before the overall winner was decided.
About the winning story
The investigation took an in-depth look into the events surrounding the loss of the fishing trawler Adriana on 14 June this year some 50 nautical miles off Pylos, in south-western Greece, killing over 600 migrants who had left Libya some days earlier.
Over 20 interviews were made with survivors, and court documents and coastguard sources were looked into. The findings detail missed rescue opportunities and offers of assistance that were ignored, whereas the survivors’ testimonies indicate that it was the attempts by the Greek coastguard to tow the trawler that ultimately caused its sinking. The Greek coastguard denied that it attempted to tow the trawler.
The fateful night was simulated by Forensis using interactive 3D modelling of the trawler thanks to data from the coastguard’s log and testimony of the coast guard vessel’s captain, as well as from flight paths, maritime traffic data, satellite imagery and videos taken by nearby shipping vessels and other sources.
Three countries to receive over €450 million in EU aid after natural disasters
The European Parliament has approved nearly €455 million in EU Solidarity Fund aid in response to recent natural disasters in Romania, Italy and Türkiye.
MEPs expressed their “deepest solidarity with all the victims, their families and all the individuals affected” by the natural disasters in Romania, Italy and Türkyie. They pointed out to the “increasing number of severe and destructive natural disasters in Europe”, stressing that “due to climate change extreme weather events such as those observed in Romania and Italy resulting in emergencies are going to further intensify and multiply”.
The European Commission has proposed to use the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to grant financial assistance of € 454,835,030to the three countries. EUSF assistance will cover parts of the costs of emergency and recovery operations like repairing damaged infrastructure, securing preventive infrastructure and the protection of cultural heritage, as well as clean-up operations. Under the fund’s rules, emergency and recovery operations may be financed by the EUSF retroactively from day one of a disaster.
The aid package was approved by 593 votes in favour, 11 votes against and 22 abstentions.
Writing competition for children in the UK is open for submissions
A writing competition for children in the UK is currently receiving submissions.
Primary school aged children from across the UK can submit their own original short until 8pm Friday 10 November.
The competition, which is supported by BBC Teach, encourages children of all abilities to dive deep into their imagination and write the story they would love to read in 500 words or less, without fear of spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.
50 finalists, along with their parents or carers, will be invited to attend the grand final in February 2024 at Buckingham Palace. The event will be shown as part of a special 500 Words programme with The One Show on World Book Day®, Thursday 7 March 2024.
At the event, the bronze, silver and gold winners of both age groups, 5-7 and 8-11, will receive a selection of exciting prizes, including having their stories read by famous faces and a bundle of books to help continue their love of the written word.
The two gold winners will receive not only the height of judge, Sir Lenny Henry, in books, but 500 books for their schools.
Silver winners will get their hands on the height of Her Majesty in books, and bronze winners will receive the average height of a 7 or 11 year old in books.
All of their stories will be illustrated by children’s illustrators – Joelle Avelino, Axel Scheffler, Fiona Lumbers, Sue Cheung, Jamie Smart, and Steven Lenton – framed, and put into a 500 Words winners’ book.
Every finalist will receive a £20 National Book Token and their stories will be recorded and published to the BBC Teach website.
“We are delighted to be running this year’s 500 Words competition. It goes to the heart of everything we do in BBC Education. Ever since it began, the short story writing competition has always been for every child, no matter what their ability. It is all about creativity with no need to worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar”, says Helen Foulkes, Head of BBC Education.
Every story will be entered into a random draw, where one lucky winner will receive a ticket to the grand final, and their school will receive a bundle of 500 books and literacy wall art of their choice.
Since the competition first launched in 2011, it has received over one million entries.
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