Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Volunteer hotline saves desperate migrants from the Med <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>From his office in Strasbourg in eastern France, Hatem Gheribi picks up the phone to a desperate woman who says she has washed up on a tiny Greek island.</p><p>As part of the &quot;Watch the Med&quot; team, Gheribi answers lots of calls like this.</p><p>The women talks rapidly in Arabic, saying she is on the islet with several hundred other migrants and refugees.</p><p>Looking over Gheribi&#39;s shoulder is Pavlos Antoniadis, a Greek musicologist from the University of Strasbourg, who is soon on the phone to the Greek police, passing on all the information they have.</p><p>&quot;This system saves lives,&quot; says Antoniadis. &quot;Civil society has a role to play in overseeing how the authorities carry out their duties.&quot;</p><p>While Antoniadis is persuading the Greek police of the urgency of the situation, his colleague is trying to pinpoint the source of an earlier call.</p><p>&quot;For the first call I received, we didn&#39;t have a GPS position, but the man sent me a photo,&quot; says Gheribi, bringing up an image of several men, women and children huddled on the deck of a boat.</p><p>Another member of the team, in Tunisia, starts putting together a simulation based on the apparent size of the boat and the information they have about the departure point, the currents and the wind in the area -- narrowing down the possibilities for the coastguard.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>- &#39;A right to critique&#39; -</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Formed by a group of activists and researchers in 2012, &quot;Watch the Med&quot; has around 100 volunteers dotted around Europe, North Africa and the United States, although Germans make up the biggest number.</p><p>Their hotline number -- +33 4865 17161 -- has been widely distributed around destination and departure hotspots, and has spread fast among the migrant community via social media and word of mouth.</p><p>In Strasbourg, much of the work is done by members of the Maghreb Workers of France group, each volunteering for three of four shifts a month, although Gheribi says he does a bit more, especially during the busy summer season.</p><p>&quot;As European citizens, we have a right to watch and critique Frontex,&quot; he says, referring to the EU&#39;s border agency.</p><p>The global team of volunteers work out their timetable via the Internet and fed into a coordinator based in Italy. Each gives a few hours of their time each week to ensure the phones are manned 24 hours a day.</p><p>Some alerts come indirectly. Mussie Zerai, a well-known priest from Eritrea, regularly passes on distress calls to Watch the Med. The brutal regime in Eritrea is one of the main causes of migration into Europe, and Zerai&#39;s number is passed widely around Eritreans on the move.</p><p>The NGO also keeps track of rights violations, mapping their location. It states its ultimate goal as &quot;contributing to ending the deaths of migrants at sea and promoting an alternative vision for the Mediterranean&quot;.</p><p>They have their work cut out. Latest figures from the International Organisation for Migration showed that more than 350,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean since January, and more than 2,600 have died in the process.</p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:33:00 +0000 AFP 2457044 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/04/499612/a_volunteer_helpline_is_taking_phonecalls_from_desperate_migrants_and_trying_to_assist_them.jpg Cameron bows to pressure to take more Syrian refugees <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that Britain would welcome &quot;thousands more&quot;&nbsp;<a href="" title="Full coverage of Syria">Syria</a>n refugees, after an outpouring of emotion over the image of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish beach put him under pressure to act.</p><p>Cameron, who spent two days refusing to commit Britain to taking in more migrants in response to a surge in numbers reaching Europe, gave no precise figure.</p><p>A spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency told reporters in Geneva that Britain would offer 4,000 spaces for Syrian refugees.</p><p>Later in Madrid, Cameron said his government would spend another 100 million pounds ($152 million) on humanitarian aid, taking its total contribution to 1 billion pounds since 2012.</p><p>With Europe seemingly at a loss over how to cope with a huge increase in numbers of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa seeking safety or better lives, Cameron had previously said he did not think the answer was to take in more.</p><p>Many at home and abroad accused his government of being uncaring and inflexible, and several of his own Conservative legislators and the human rights chief of the Council of Europe urged Britain to welcome more refugees.</p><p>&quot;Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people, today I can announce that we will do more in providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees,&quot; Cameron told reporters in Lisbon after meeting his Portuguese counterpart.</p><p>About 5,000 Syrians who made their own way to Britain since the start of the war in their country have been granted asylum, and another 216 were brought to Britain under a U.N.-backed relocation scheme.</p><p>&quot;We will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review,&quot; Cameron said, adding that the government would speak with humanitarian organisations and announce further details next week.</p><p><strong>OTHERS MORE WELCOMING</strong></p><p>Other European countries including&nbsp;<a href="" title="Full coverage of Germany">Germany</a>&nbsp;and Sweden have taken in far more refugees than Britain in recent times, and London declined to take part in a proposed EU scheme to allocate quotas to member states.</p><p>Germany alone expects 800,000 people to file for asylum this year. About 25,000 people applied for asylum in Britain in the 12 months to March, of whom two-fifths were granted some form of protection.</p><p>Cameron&#39;s announcement concerned only Syrians, the focus of popular anguish after the widespread publication of photographs of Aylan Kurdi, the toddler who drowned with his brother and mother as the family tried to cross from Turkey to&nbsp;<a href="" title="Full coverage of Greece">Greece</a>.</p><p>&quot;We will continue with our approach of taking them (Syrian refugees) directly from refugee camps. This provides them with a more direct and safe route to the United Kingdom rather than risking the hazardous journey which has tragically cost so many of their lives,&quot; Cameron said.</p><p>Cameron had on Wednesday insisted Britain was already doing its bit, not least by sending aid to Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East and dispatching the Royal Navy to the Mediterranean to help rescue migrants from unsafe boats.</p><p>($1 = 0.6588 pounds)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>(Additional reporting by&nbsp;<a href=";n=tom.miles&amp;">Tom Miles</a>&nbsp;in Geneva, writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by&nbsp;<a href=";n=kevin.liffey&amp;">Kevin Liffey</a>&nbsp;and John Stonestreet)</p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 17:03:00 +0000 Reuters 2457041 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/19/484151/cameron.jpg Ahead of Greek election, Syriza's 'lost generation' deserts Tsipras <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>&nbsp;So divided has Syriza&#39;s youth wing become over the direction of Greece&#39;s leftist party, that when its council planned to convene at the end of August, the meeting was abandoned. Too many of its 71 members were on the point of quitting.</p><p>The incident showed the disillusionment Syriza&#39;s twenty-somethings feel with leader Alexis Tsipras, the former Communist student activist they once celebrated as one of their own.</p><p>In just seven months as premier, Tsipras, under pressure from Greece&#39;s creditors, has backtracked on his pre-election promises to end austerity.</p><p>&quot;Syriza&#39;s youth is almost over, very few people are staying behind,&quot; said one of those who walked out.</p><p>Tsipras has called an election on Sept. 20 in an effort to win a fresh mandate to push through the economic reforms that are a condition of Greece&#39;s latest 86 billion euro bailout.</p><p>But Syriza&#39;s lead over its rivals has crumbled, with one poll this week showing the conservative New Democracy party in front.</p><p>Support from those aged 18-44 - once the backbone of Syriza&#39;s support according to pollsters - has plummeted. The most popular party for 18-24-year-olds now is the far right Golden Dawn, while Syriza languishes in fourth place, data by the pollster Alco show.</p><p>A fractured election result could spell more turmoil for a country battered by recession and high unemployment, and risks derailing the implementation of the bailout programme that is up for review by the creditors in October.</p><p>&quot;These elections started as something &#39;easy&#39; for Tsipras and have evolved into something extremely complicated,&quot; said Thomas Gerakis, the head of pollster Marc.</p><p>&quot;The key issue in this race is what the former Syriza voters will do. Will Syriza manage to rally its former voters?&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;LOST GENERATION&quot;</p><p>Having failed to muster the numbers for a formal meeting, the majority of Syriza&#39;s central youth council confined itself to issuing a statement on Tuesday, denouncing the party&#39;s &quot;bankruptcy&quot; and withdrawing its support for the election. The council was left with just 27 members at the last count.</p><p>It is a remarkable turnaround for a party that stormed to power in January promising voters more jobs and an end to years of wage and pension cuts.</p><p>During that election, Syriza&#39;s young supporters played an outsize role on the frontline of the campaign, be it handing out leaflets, holding rallies or organising festivals.</p><p>At forty years of age, Tsipras became the country&#39;s youngest ever prime minister, and to many seemed a breath of fresh air compared to the dynasties that have dominated Greek politics for years. His government&#39;s former spokesman is 35 years old.</p><p>But after months of bad-tempered negotiations with the country&#39;s lenders, and with banks shut and the economy on the brink of collapse, Tsipras capitulated to the creditors&#39; demands to raise taxes and slash spending to tackle Greece&#39;s debt.</p><p>Even though the standoff with the creditors worsened the country&#39;s economic pain, opinion polls initially suggested that Tsipras remained Greece&#39;s most popular leader, because he had at least put up a decent fight. His decision to call a referendum on the bailout incensed the creditors but played well at home.</p><p>But now many are furious and may switch their allegiance to smaller parties or boycott the vote. Young Greeks have been hit especially hard by the debt crisis, with more than half of those aged 15-24 out of work, the highest proportion in Europe. Many live at home, supported by their parents and grandparents, or emigrate.</p><p>&quot;He didn&#39;t try hard enough,&quot; said Yannis Aggelidis, a 22-year-old university student who voted for Tsipras in January but may abstain or vote for a small anti-capitalist party next time.</p><p>&quot;He had a chance and he lost it. If he had fulfilled only part of what Syriza had promised he would have stayed in power for a very long time.&quot;</p><p>Divisions in Syriza&#39;s youth wing began to emerge after Greek voters delivered a resounding &#39;no&#39; to the bailout terms in July, then saw their government capitulate to Greece&#39;s creditors on point after point in the weeks that followed.</p><p>For many of Syriza&#39;s youth council members, the final straw was an interview Tsipras gave in August to Alpha TV, in which he wrote off the prospects of today&#39;s young people but hoped his own younger children could prosper.</p><p>&quot;Sadly, we lost this generation due to the bailouts. The generation of people in their twenties today, young people, young scientists go abroad, unfortunately,&quot; Tsipras said.</p><p>To be sure, there is still time for Syriza to claw back support. Pollsters say that about half of the undecided voters, especially women, are former Syriza backers.</p><p>&quot;The people who were Syriza&#39;s core voters are scattered, and are deeply concerned,&quot; Dimitris Mavros from pollster MRB said.</p><p>But rival parties, including New Democracy and PASOK, which was in power in the early years of the crisis, are stepping up their efforts to win young voters. For example, PASOK has appointed 33-year-old Pavlos Christidis as its new spokesman.</p><p>For undecided voters like Nefeli Tsikrika, a 24-year-old law student and former Syriza supporter, it&#39;s hard to know which party to turn to.</p><p>&quot;We are disappointed. It&#39;s not what we expected,&quot; she said. &quot;I was a supporter, but I&#39;m not proud of it.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Then again you reach a deadlock, you don&#39;t know what to vote for. Is any government in Greece actually free to govern or is it bound to the demands of foreign powers?&quot;</p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:17:00 +0000 Reuters 2457031 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/26/499612/syriza.jpg One dead, one injured in California college shooting <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>One man was killed and another seriously wounded in a shooting at a Sacramento, California college campus, police said .</p><p>&quot;Campus is clear... investigation is underway,&quot; Sam Somers, police chief in the California capital city said in a tweet, adding that the lone suspect in the case remains at large.</p><p>The shooting at Sacramento City College, a community college near downtown, occurred just before 4:00 pm local time (1100 GMT), police said.</p><p>The campus went into lockdown following the shooting, which authorities said occurred at a parking lot on campus. Police said a male suspect was seen fleeing on foot.</p><p>Students said the violence -- and the ensuing police pursuit of the shooter -- rattled the campus.</p><p>&quot;We saw the cop cars just zoom through&quot; as classes let out, 18-year-old student Kimberly Jenkins told the Sacramento Bee newspaper.</p><p>Jackie Flores, 50, who lives across the street from the campus and told the paper he heard four or five gunshots.</p><p>&quot;The situation is still unfolding -- but I&#39;m heartbroken about the shooting at Sacramento City College. I&#39;m sick and tired of this,&quot; Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said on Facebook, in an apparent reference to a rash of shootings across the United States.</p><p>The past week saw two TV reporters shot dead live on-air, a university student in Georgia shot and killed, and a police officer in Texas shot from behind, in addition to the many less-publicized shootings in US cities that occur every day.</p><p>Thirty-one Americans are shot and killed each day, according to The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.</p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 08:58:00 +0000 AFP 2457012 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/04/499612/sacramento_city_college_a_community_college_near_downtown_went_into_lockdown_following_the_shooting_which_authorities_said_occurred_at_a_parking_lot_on_campus.jpg