refugees

By Toby Luckhurst
  • David Gardner explores the rebirth of the security state in Egypt, expressing fears that the west will once again support the governments that foster “Islamist delirium”.
  • James Fontanella-Khan interviews Romanian labour minister Mariana Campeanu, who warns that the exodus of the young and the skilled is beginning to seriously affect the economy. While net migration has balanced, the government is attempting to encourage home young workers with business incentives and mortgage subsidies.
  • Syrian architect Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj and his wife Syndi have opened their Beirut home to Syrian refugees, in an attempt to provide advice on practicalities of life in Lebanon but also to “keep the idea of the country alive”.
  • A Q&A with the filmmakers behind Oscar-nominated documentary “The Square”, chronicling over two years of Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square.
  • Anne Barnard writes in the New York Times that government promises of ceasefires are viewed with suspicion by Syrians, due to the army habit of using ceasefires to establish authority over rebel towns.

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♦ US Budget Deal: here are the details on the deal that was made. Ed Luce considers how the Republican party’s brinkmanship has squandered so much in such a short time and achieved nothing . The New Yorker has ten neat takeaways from the GOP cave-in. It seemed that despite the Senate being dominated by men, women in both parties were the driving force behind negotiations and compromises.
♦ Hassan Rouhani seeks to counter the commercial reach of the Revolutionary Guards as his government attempts to revive the economy and break free from international sanctions.
♦ Yevgeny Roizman’s victory in the Yekaterinburg mayoral election was a blow to the Kremlin, but he is keeping a low profile, aware of the price paid by previous opponents.
♦ Foreign Policy looks at Syrian refugees’ harrowing experiences of trying to get to Sweden and ending up in an Egyptian jail.
Steven A. Cook at the CFR looks at why “Egypt has reached the stage where, despite a roadmap for reconstituting an electoral political order, the goal remains for one group or another to impose its political will on the others, just as it has been since February 2011.” Read more

Esther Bintliff

JORDAN - JANUARY 29: Young children sit inside a tent as Syrian refugees go about their daily business in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 29, 2013 in Mafraq, Jordan (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Syrian children in the Za'atari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

The UN’s World Food Programme is running out of money to feed Syrians – both within the crisis-hit country and outside, in refugee camps where more than 1 million people have fled over the past two years. Javier Blas, the FT’s Commodities editor, has the full story.

The World blog spoke to Matthew Hollingworth, the Damascus-based officer in charge of WFP’s Syria operation, about the practicalities of getting food to people in a war zone.

Q: What kind of food do you provide?

A: When we deliver food to people we’re delivering them a family ration or parcel – a box of food. The idea is that each box has enough food to support a family of five for a whole month. The rations are very simple, non-luxury goods – rice, pasta, bulgur wheat, canned beans, lentils, sugar, salt and vegetable oil. The reason we give them some canned goods is because it’s easier for them to cook and eat those things if they have a problem receiving fuel. Next month we’re adding wheat flour to the basket because there’s a recognition that access to bread is becoming a problem.

Q: How do you transport the food boxes throughout Syria? Read more

James Blitz

The inability of Russia and the US to forge a collective response to the Syria crisis at the United Nations is a significant moment in the 16-month-long uprising.

It makes it inevitable that the conflict between the Assad regime and rebels will develop into an even more bloody confrontation over the next few weeks, with a potentially significant impact on the wider region. The crisis now poses a range of security risks which will this weekend be much on the minds of policymakers in western states and in the Middle East. Read more