Billions in Aid, But No Closer to the End

The largest amount of money raised in the shortest time ever for one of the worlds greatest humanitarian crisis.

World leaders pledged more than $10 billion to help Syrians affected by the conflict which has engulfed the nation for 5 years.

This was announced by David Cameron at a Syrian donors’ conference hosted in London, he said that the money will provide Syrians with, “Life saving food, medical care and shelter.”

The gathering of 70 nations was described as a great success by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and said, “Never has the international community raised so much money on a single day for a single crisis”. Among the Countries and organisations to commit to the fund included, UK, Germany, France, USA, Australia, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Japan, the UAE, Austria, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark and Finland, along with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Loans to neighbouring countries Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan would also be given in order to support the governments and also to allow the refugees jobs and access to education in those nations.

However, despite the success of the conference, it is still an incredibly dangerous and implicated problem being faced by a country ripped apart by conflict.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “After five years of fighting, it’s pretty incredible that as we come here in London, the situation on the ground is actually worse, not better…If people are reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive, that’s something that should tear at the conscience of all civilised people and we all have a responsibility to respond to it.”

The war is no closer to coming to an end and it is only likely to get worse before it gets any better.

The regime of President Bashar al Assad has used the last 10 days of London talks and diplomacy aimed at ending the conflict, to intensify air strikes by its Russian ally against rebel-held areas.

The effects on the rebels have been catastrophic. Their main supply route from Aleppo to Turkey has now been cut.

Blame for this turn of events has been laid towards the Kremlin.
David Cameron said: “We must urgently redouble our efforts to prevent the intolerable levels of violence against civilians, ensuring all parties in the conflict bring an immediate end to the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law… And we look to Russia to use its influence with the regime to end indiscriminate attacks, especially barrel bombing…Russia should support steps towards a ceasefire as envisaged by the Vienna process and mandated by the UN Security Council”

But this is only part of the bloody tapestry of Syria’s complex conflict.

Russia would be critical in bringing the Assad regime to peace talks and to getting a ceasefire ahead of effective diplomacy.

But Turkey has been blocking Kurd participation in the political process.

The Kurds are one of the most reliable partners for the American-led coalition fighting  Islamic State, and yet they are being bombed by Turkey – which is pledged to fight IS, too.

Gulf nations have given substantial humanitarian donations – yet they continue to sponsor extremist militia like the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front which is both fighting Mr Assad and seen as a terrorist group in the West.

 

The complexity and confusion regarding the war and conflict with so many different angles and perspectives is why there are no signs for an end to the conflict. Despite the generosity in funds and donations, if there can’t be a diplomatic solution then Syrians and the following refugees will continue to suffer.

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ISIS are Planning more Mass Strikes in Europe

The terrorist group ISIS are planning more mass strikes in Europe and according to Europol, the law enforcement agency for the EU, Isis has set up secret training camps across Europe to prepare fighters to carry out “special forces style” attacks in the UK or other EU countries.

The international police agency said that the barbaric organisation had “smaller scale training camps in the EU and Balkan countries”. They would include survival training and sports activities to help jihadists prepare for “combat and interrogation resistance”.

And ISIS could be looking to recruit refugees who have fled to Europe to launch terror attacks in the countries that have given them shelter, the agency said.

It emerged last year that remote villages in Bosnia were being turned in to terror training camps by ISIS.

Furthermore, the threat assessment also warned that ISIS has developed a new specialist style”external actions command” to plot and carry out attacks in the West and around the world. The ‘special forces’ style means attacks in the future could be more like the kind that took place in Mumbai in 2008 and also similar to the attacks seen in Paris last year.

The terror group released a new video on Sunday which indicated the UK would be the next target because of its decision to join air strikes in Syria.

The Europol assessment said: “In selecting what to attack, where, when and how, IS shows its capacity to strike at will, at any time and at almost any chosen target.

It also suggested that, after the Paris attacks- where 130 people were killed, there is “every reason to expect that Isis will undertake a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe again… intended to cause mass casualties amongst the civilian population”.

ISIS Fighters get a Pay Cut

It seems the coalitions’ air strikes and fighting being carried out by ground forces are starting to take a toll on ISIS. At least, on their source of income.

A document produced by the vicious terrorist organisations financial arm, says that it has been forced to cut the salaries of its murderous fighters by 50%. With indications that the group is struggling to make ends meet after losing territory and oil revenue.

It is reported that Islamic State generates around $80 million dollars a month through tax, oil sales and trading illegal drugs.

The US-led coalition has been mainly focused on targeting the Islamic State’s oil income – which makes up about 43 per cent of overall revenue, alongside this RAF air strikes have significantly degraded the group’s refining capacity, and ability to transport oil via tanker convoys. These tactics are now beginning to show signs of fruition.

A “cash distribution centre” reportedly used to pay fighters was recently bombed by the international coalition in Mosul, destroying millions of dollars stored there.

According to the document released by the Treasury Ministry of ISIS, fighters will now get just £100 a month because of these “exceptional circumstances”.

 

The news that ISIS is beginning to show struggle over it’s finances is a small, but important step to suggest that the attacks on the death cult are working.

Cuts to fighters’ salaries, price hikes on electricity and other basic services, and the introduction of new agricultural taxes will surely start to harm the groups influence and popularity as it attempts to establish itself over it’s claimed territories.

 

Extra Armed Officers to Tackle Terror

The Metropolitan police recently announced that the number of armed officers in London will be doubled. Before I carry on, it has to be said that we, as a country, should take pride in that the majority of police officers are not armed and are able to tackle crime without violence or harming any one. But, to tackle extremist threats, I whole heartedly believe that this is the right thing to do.

Scotland Yard revealed that there would be an extra 600 armed police in London, so that if an attack similar to Paris in November was to happen the force could effectively and quickly respond. After 130 innocent lives were taken away in the attacks on the French capital it seems an incredibly important measure to take to ensure the safety of citizens in London.

To introduce this, it will cost around £25 million, but will be made available through the existing Metropolitan police budget of £3.2 billion.

But, I feel that increasing armed offices should not be restricted to just in London. The threat of terrorism is being faced across many large cities in the UK and extra support and protection should be made available in those areas as well.

With the threat of violence at a high, it should be paramount that measures are taken to protect us citizens of the UK. And yes, through arming some of our police officers is one way to do this.

93% of the Met Police will still remain unarmed.