Tag Archives: Sweden

A Plethora of Refugees in Europe


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Europe has a population of 740 million of which 500 million are in the European Union (EU). According to the European Union border agency the plethora of refugees entering Europe had increased over the past 10 months. More than 150,000 refugees entered the EU in August 2015 increasing the total influx of refugees to more than half a million for the year 2015.

Although this amount of refugees is not large enough to construe it as an invasion or being over-run when compared to the population of Europe, the European leaders were slow to respond. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration commissioner has called it “the worst refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II.

 

Europes refugee crisis (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)
Europes refugee crisis (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)

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For many refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and the abominable ISIS, the Greek islands have been the gateway to enter the European Union.  This year alone, more than 259,000 refugees entered Greece by boat via Turkey. The arrival of about 88,000 refugees in the Greek islands in August 2015 was the largest so far, an eleven-fold increase compared to the same month a year ago.  Almost 75% percent of the refugees seeking asylum were Syrians.

The Schengen Area

Six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany created the European Economic Community (EEC) by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This regional organization aimed to bring about economic integration between its member states, including a common market and customs union.

When the ten member states of the then EEC were not able to reach a consensus on the abolition of border controls, five of its members signed The Schengen Agreement on June 14, 1985, paving the way to the creation of Europe’s borderless Schengen Area. The treaty signed near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg was not implemented in full until 1995.

The Schengen Agreement proposed the gradual abolition of border checks and allow vehicles to cross the common borders of the signatories of the treaty without stopping. It permitted residents in the border areas to cross the borders away from fixed checkpoints.

In 1990, the Schengen Convention supplemented the Schengen Agreement by proposing the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy. For most purposes, the Schengen Area with a common visa policy functions as a single country for international travel purposes. The Schengen Agreement and the rules adopted under it were quite separate from the EU structures.

Map of Schengen Area (Source: wikipedia.org)
Map of Schengen Area (Source: wikipedia.org)

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The Schengen Area now comprises 26 European countries. These member states have strengthened their external border controls with non-Schengen states. Out of the current 28 European Union member states, 22 are participants in the Schengen Area.

Countries comprising The Schengen Area
State Area (km²) Population
Austria 83,871 8,414,638
Belgium 30,528 11,007,020
Czech Republic 78,866 10,535,811
Denmark (excluding Greenland
and the Faroe Islands)
43,094 5,564,219
Estonia 45,338 1,340,194
Finland (Including Åland Islands) 338,145 5,391,700
France (mainland and Corsica only) 551,695 63,929,000
Germany 357,050 81,799,600
Greece 131,990 10,815,197
Hungary 93,030 9,979,000
Iceland 103,000 318,452
Italy 301,318 60,681,514
Latvia 64,589 2,245,357
Liechtenstein 160 36,010
Lithuania 65,300 3,207,060
Luxembourg 2,586 511,840
Malta 316 417,608
Netherlands (excluding Aruba,
Curaçao,  Sint Maarten
and the Caribbean Netherlands)

41,526

16,703,700

Norway (excluding Svalbard) 385,155 5,063,709
Poland 312,683 38,186,860
Portugal (Including Madeira and Azores) 92,391 10,647,763
Slovakia 49,037 5,440,078
Slovenia 20,273 2,048,951
Spain (with special provisions for
Ceuta and Melilla)
506,030 46,030,109
Sweden 449,964 9,415,570
 Switzerland 41,285 7,866,500
Schengen Area 4,189,111 417,597,460

Source: en.wikipedia.org

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Currently, the Schengen Area has an area of 1,617,4245 square miles (4,189,111 square kilometers) and a population of over 400 million people.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are four of the six EU members that do not form part of the Schengen Area, are legally obliged and wish to join the Area. The other two, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, maintain opt-outs.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland have signed the Schengen Agreement even though they are member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and are not in the EU.

The three European microstates, the Vatican, Monaco, and San Marino do not have border controls with the Schengen countries that surround them. Though considered as de facto within the Schengen Area they have not officially signed documents that make them part of the Schengen Area.

The influx of refugees

 

Since many Eastern European countries are guarding their borders in the face of the influx of refugees, the distribution of refugees among the 28-member EU is somewhat skewed. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), EU countries received more than 437,000 asylum applications from January 2015 to July 2015. Germany received the most applications, followed by Hungary, Sweden, Italy and France.

The migrants from African countries enter the EU through Italy and Spain. Many of those who enter Italy apply for asylum on landing there. Some try to cross into France.

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A group of migrants gathering near a line of trucks on the motorway that leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France. (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)
A group of migrants gathering near a line of trucks on the motorway that leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France. (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)

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From France, a few try to enter the United Kingdom by perilous means such as getting smuggled in containers through the Eurotunnel from Calais, northern France.

Many Syrians try to reach Italy from Greece while others head to Austria via Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia.

Most refugees try to reach the Schengen Area. From there, they move into Hungary through Macedonia and Serbia. Also, some refugees from Turkey reach Hungary via Bulgaria and Romania. The popular route to enter the Schengen zone is through Norway, by way of Russia and Lebanon.

From Hungary, most refugees continue their journey to richer countries such as Germany and Sweden that have liberal immigration policies.

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Handling Money Is a Dirty Business


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Dirty Money -2
Dirty Money: bacteria growth on one-dollar bill

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According to a recent study, the money we handle every day – notes and coins – are dirtier than the handrail on an escalator or a staircase, or a book you pick up at a library? So, if you do handle money at any time it is advisable to wash your hands afterwards.

In 2002, Southern Medical Journal published a study that found bacteria-laden paper money. Over 80% of cash tested carried germs harmful to people with lowered immunity. According to the study, 7% of bills showed traces of bacteria that cause serious illness, including Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia. Only 7% of the banknotes were germ-free.

According to SmartMoney.com, a study conducted in 2008 at Switzerland’s University Hospitals of Geneva found that some flu virus cells could last for up to 17 days on Swiss banknotes.

A study conducted by researchers at Oxford University concludes that paper money in Switzerland is among the dirtiest in Europe, second only to the money used in Sweden and Denmark. “Europeans’ perceptions of dirty cash are not without reason,” Ian Thompson, the professor from Oxford University who tested the cash, said in a news release. “The bank notes we tested harbored an average of 26,000 bacteria, which, for a number of pathogenic organisms, is enough for passing on infection.”

The study shows that Swiss banknotes – with denominations ranging from 10 to 1,000 francs – contain 32,400 bacteria. Even the newest, and therefore cleanest, notes tested contained 2,400 bacteria. The dirtiest currency was the Denmark krone with 40,226 bacteria followed by Swedish krona with 39,600.

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Dirty money research
Over half of Britons think money is the filthiest item they touch (Picture: PA)

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According to the result of a survey released by MasterCard on March 25, 2013, almost 60% of the people in Europe believe banknotes and coins are the dirtiest items they can come into contact with daily: dirtier than escalator handrails, buttons on ATMs and payment terminals, and library books.

A credit card company like MasterCard may have its own economic interests in pushing people away from cash. “(The bacteria) comes from multiple hands,” MasterCard’s Hany Fam told CNN’s Richard Quest. “These notes have a long time in circulation, they’re handed, hand to hand, from different people, and it’s inevitable that germs accumulate on them… No, I’m not just advocating credit cards: I’m just saying that consumers are increasingly flocking to other forms of payment – not only for cleanliness, obviously, but for ease, for convenience, for lots of reasons.

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14-year-old Students Given “Qualified for Sex” Certificate at a Church of Sweden Confirmation Camp


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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In the southeastern town of Rödeby in Sweden the badge and the certificate given to 14-year-old children after they attended a course on “Love and Sexuality” at a Church of Sweden confirmation camp shocked their parents. The certificate stated that the children “qualified for sex”.

Vicar Mats-Ola Nylen - 2
Vicar Mats-Ola Nylen

The enraged parents complained to Mats-Ola Nylen, the Vicar of the church about the certificate and the use of colloquial phrases in Swedish like “knullborgarmärke” that vaguely translates to “giving someone a blow job.” They also said that their 14-year-old children were not ready for sex yet because under Swedish law children do not have the right to engage in sexual activities until they are 15 years old.

The Vicar explained about the camp conducted over the weekend. “The whole camp revolves around different aspects of friendships and relationships … In the past, young people have complained that the Church does not discuss these issues … Young people who had more information were not necessarily sexually active at a younger age, but possibly at a later age,” he said.

The RFSU badge and the Rödeby Church in Sweden

He told them that a man purporting to come from the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) and wearing an RFSU shirt at the event organized the course. RFSU is the Swedish national affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Organization.

He had asked that man to allow him to sit during the session. However, the man asked him to stay away because he felt the Vicar’s presence would have an inhibiting effect on the participants.

The Vicar added that he felt betrayed by that man.

The church later found out he had not worked for RFSU in years. Although the man no longer worked for RFSU, they had hired him on several occasions with no complaints, said Pelle Ullholm, head of RFSU’s outreach programs.

Josefin Morge, a spokesperson for RFSU said the organization stopped using the sex certificate since 2007. She said they used that certificate at a campaign “not primarily meant for youths.”

The man who organized and conducted the course was not available for comment.

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Which Countries Voted for Palestine …


Palestine vote

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The UN general assembly has just voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a state. An astounding 138 nations chose to support the path of peace and justice.

Just weeks ago, the vote was expected to be much closer, with Israel and the US lobbying hard to deny Palestine key European support. But in the face of major public pressure and vigorous campaigning by the Avaaz community, countries such as France, Spain, Belgium and Sweden decided to vote yes to statehood for Palestine. In the end, just nine countries ended up on the wrong side of history: Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, Palau, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Celebrate this historic moment, share this map with everyone.

[Update: This map has been corrected to show New Zealand also voted in favor, rather than abstaining.]

Source: AVAAZ.ORG

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