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Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria further intensify refugee crisis

The recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit along the border between Turkey and Syria has left heavy casualties among the 42,000 displaced Syrian refugees living across southeast Turkey’s six refugee camps.

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A group of volunteers helps with donations in Syria and Turkey after an earthquake disaster in February 2023
In Turkey, the number of people killed has risen to 6,957, according to the country's disaster agency.

The recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit along the border between Turkey and Syria has left heavy casualties among the 42,000 displaced Syrian refugees living across southeast Turkey’s six refugee camps.

More than 6.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee their country since 2011,
according to UNHCR. And approximately 5.2 million have found refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.  Another 6.9 million Syrians are internally displaced.   

In Syria, the earthquake has temporarily closed the northeast Bab-al-Hawa corridor linking
northern Syria with Turkey. The corridor is the lifeline for over four million people left isolated and heavily dependent on humanitarian aid. Out of 5.6 million people the World Food Project provides food assistance to in Syria, 1.4 million live in the northwest.

It would be timely for the U.S. and European countries to lift the sanctions against Syria to allow for critical earthquake relief aid to reach the population in need.

The Sweden-based non-profit international advocacy and humanitarian aid
organization A Demand for Action (ADFA) is one of the first responders reaching Syria. With private donors funding the all-volunteer organization, ADFA’s first aid shipments arrived in Syria on Tuesday, February 7.

“It’s been a race against time to get to the front lines of the disastrous earthquake in Syria and Turkey,” says Nuri Kino, ADFA founder and award-winning Swedish investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, and human rights advocate.  

Working in cooperation with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo, Butrus Qasis, ADFA volunteers are organizing the distribution of thermal blankets and other necessities for the earthquake victims to withstand the frigid winter temperature. They are distributing food and
personal hygiene products to 300 displaced families now housed in three shelters within churches across Aleppo.

“We’ve raised $40,000 thus far from our generous donors, and since we don’t have any administration costs, we are able to do more,” says Kino. “We are scanning the cities close to Aleppo to find food, blankets, everything we can.”

The worst part of the day, Kino says, is “speaking to parents whose children are under houses that have collapsed.”

“What we do is a drop in the ocean, but an important one,” says Kino, who is simultaneously coordinating a bus to Sweden of Ukrainian refugees that will depart in two days .

“We never feel that we are doing enough, for anyone or anywhere. The need is enormous around the world.” Kino says ADFA has started a new chapter in Aleppo and may start one in Antakya in the southernmost region of Turkey.

This is ADFA’s first operation in response to the massive earthquake that continues to ravage Syria and Turkey.

“The ADFA volunteers have set aside their own family responsibilities for a while, and are generously giving their time to do this work of compassion. We will not rest until we have helped as many as possible,” Kino explains.

The recent earthquake in Turkey is the deadliest in the country since 1999.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces, according to news agency Reuters. But residents in several damaged Turkish cities have voiced anger and despair at what they said has been a slow and inadequate response by the authorities. In Syria, already devastated by 11 years of war, the confirmed toll climbed to more than 2,500 overnight, according to the Syrian government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.

Jackie Abramian is committed to amplifying the work of women peace-builders, change makers and social entrepreneurs. She is a social enterprise advisor and the founder of Global Cadence consultancy.

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Jonathan Munro to become BBC News Global Director

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Jonathan Munro to become BBC News Global Director
Jonathan Munro, currently Director of Journalism and Deputy CEO of BBC News

Jonathan Munro, currently Director of Journalism and Deputy CEO of BBC News, will take up the post of BBC News Global Director from September. In this new role, spanning international services, he will be Director of the BBC World Service, oversee BBC Monitoring and remain Deputy CEO of BBC News and Current Affairs.

Jonathan says: “I am thrilled and daunted in equal measure to be taking on the enormous responsibilities of leading the BBC World Service, along with other international activities for our global audiences.

“As I’ve travelled around the world with the BBC over the last decade or so, everywhere I have been I’ve been told of the enduring value of impartial news, in English and our more than 40 other languages. The need for independent news is growing, not shrinking, and the BBC’s role in pursuing truth and enriching knowledge has never been more important.

“The BBC teams I have met across the world are dedicated, professional and talented. I can’t wait to start working with them all.”

Munro joined the BBC in 2014 and has led BBC News coverage through every major story over the last decade, from Brexit to UK general elections and recent political upheaval, the Israel/Gaza and Ukraine conflicts and the death of HM The Queen. He recently led the complex transformation of the BBC’s business in India, putting in place a new structure and operating model.

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22-Year-Old Sam Carling Becomes Labour MP in UK’s 2024 Elections

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22-Year-Old Sam Carling Becomes Labour MP in UK's 2024 Elections
22-year-old Sam Carling was elected as the Labour MP for North West Cambridgeshire

After the Labour Party’s landslide victory in the UK general elections on July 4th, 2024, one elected candidate has been trending on social media for days. Sam Carling, a 22-year-old Cambridge University science graduate student, secured a narrow victory over veteran Conservative MP Shailesh Vara to become the Labour MP for North West Cambridgeshire. His win, by a mere 39 votes, didn’t go unnoticed online.

Carling’s election has been met with a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism. Supporters argue that his fresh perspective and youthful energy are exactly what is needed to bring about meaningful change.

On social media platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter), reactions were divided.

“It doesn’t matter how many people try to explain. He won’t work this out until he’s older,” said social media user Maurice Mo. Podcaster and journalist Adam Hurd defended Carling, stating, “Yeah cause all those older people have done a banging job so far. His age doesn’t matter, what matters is his honesty, his beliefs and his work ethic”.

Other internet users joined the debated about the life experience of the newly elected politician. Cameraman Tom Jeffs noted: “Try telling a 22-year-old who can’t afford to buy or even rent their first home that they don’t have ‘life experience’ and that their opinion doesn’t matter”. And Edinburgh-based Jonny Bell argued about Sam Carling being elected as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons at the age of 22 questioning his suitability for the position, given that the MP will receive a basic annual salary of £91,346 plus expenses.

“… He’s never worked for years to afford a house, he’s childless, he’s never struggled…he knows nothing… He’s everything wrong in politics…” .

Others, however, highlighted the potential wisdom of youth.

“Age doesn’t always equal wisdom. My grandfather was always one to blow his own trumpet about ‘university of life’ experience. He thought the vikings founded London and were defeated by Romans… and evolution wasn’t true because ‘there is no way we evolved from dinosaurs,”  quipped internet user Steve Barrett.

“Imagine thinking that young people can’t add value to democracy by being elected representatives. This country is made up of young AND older. Good for this young man,” celebrated Joseph Gaunt, a project director at app e-lectorate.

Alexander Marsh, a Master of Arts at CCCU, also believes that young blood can be beneficial in British politics moving forward.

“He’s a young person in a group largely ignored by older politicians. The fact the public has lost so much confidence in the conservative party they rather elect a 22-year-old Labour candidate over an experienced conservative MP goes to show that experience means diddly squat” .

The Youngest MP in UK History

Sam Carling is not the youngest MP ever elected in the UK. That title goes to James Dickson, who was 21 years old when he was elected as an MP in Ireland in 1832.

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Lakshmi Narayanan awarded at Global Wealth Conference 2024

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Entrepreneur Lakshmi Narayanan Honored as Freeman of the City of London at Global Wealth Conference 2024
SWFI Chairman Lakshmi Narayanan Honored as Freeman of the City of London at Global Wealth Conference 2024

Lakshmi Narayanan, Chairman of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI), has been awarded the title of Freeman of the City of London during the Global Wealth Conference (GWC) 2024.

The Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies dating back to 1237 and it has been awarded to numerous notable figures throughout history. Narayanan has been recognised for his pioneering work with SWFI, which has become a leading platform for research, analysis, and networking in the global capital and sovereign wealth fund sector.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Freedom of the City of London. This recognition not only celebrates our work at SWFI but also underscores the growing importance of sovereign wealth funds in the global financial landscape. As we continue to foster collaboration and innovation in this sector, this title will serve as a reminder of the responsibility we bear in shaping the future of international finance,” said Lakshmi Narayanan  while receiving the award.

The conference, now in its second year, featured critical discussions on sustainable finance, innovation, and the potential formation of a UK sovereign wealth fund, bringing together sovereign wealth funds and leading asset managers from around the world, representing a combined assets under management (AUM) value of 10 trillion pounds.

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