Europe’s politicians should probably be glad the youth can’t vote.
On a day when teenagers across the world again mobilized against climate inaction, the movement’s icon, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, said the continent’s policy makers -- including environmentalists -- are all failing to heed the climate crisis.
European Union citizens in the U.K. will be able to stay after Brexit -- but it will take more than dusting off an old wedding photo to do so.
As the British government unveiled its settlement scheme for EU citizens, it revealed that authorities won’t accept photographs, greetings cards or personal scrapbooks as evidence of how long someone has been in Britain. Proof of employment, mortgage statements or rent will be sufficient; utility bills, travel tickets or a doctor’s note could also be taken into account.
"Imagine it. You go outside at 11 in the morning and it's still dark. Still night-time. And by 3pm, it's dark all over again. That's what it's like here," says Mousa al-Saadi.
Saadi, a calm man in his mid-thirties, came to Iceland in October 2016, when he, his wife and their six children were granted asylum as refugees.
The family now live in an apartment in greater Reykjavik.
In Iceland's winter, temperatures can reach as low as -25 degrees Celsius, with just three hours of sunlight. At the peak of summer, meanwhile, it never gets dark.
"We thought we'd be safe in Lebanon. We left the war in Syria to be safe - but that was far from the reality," he tells The New Arab. "We were harassed by Hizballah gangs there, and I was eventually beaten up and put in hospital, so UNHCR moved us to Iceland."
Although exact figures are thought to be much higher, at least one million Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring Lebanon - a country with a previous total population below four million.
REYKJAVIK, Jan 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Valgerour Halla came into the world under unusual circumstances. The four-month-old was born in Reykjavik to Syrian asylum seekers who were so thankful they gave her an Icelandic name.
"One of our closest friends here, an Icelandic friend, is called Valgerour Halla," said her 36-year-old father Wael, who comes from western Syria. "She's helped us a lot, like all Icelandic people, so this was our way of saying 'thank you'."
In an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the family described an arduous flight from war in Syria, the long journey across Europe and how they chose a cold fishing island deep in the Arctic circle to start anew.
"I like it here, especially for my children. It's safe, everyone is friendly, and we're determined to stay," said Wael.
Wael and his wife, Ferayl, arrived in summer 2015 with two older daughters, Jana, 5, and Julie, 4. Their youngest daughter, Valgerour Halla Aliyadah, was born last September. It took several weeks for Wael to be able even to pronounce her name.
"My kids are always teaching my husband how to say Icelandic words or they translate for him with neighbours," said 19-year-old Ferayl. "Now when they play together, they speak in Icelandic, but we still speak to them in Arabic."
Four months of living in a broken tent by Athens’ Pireaus harbor, waiting for his asylum claim to be processed has caused Mustafa to bitterly regret his decision to leave Aleppo.
“Anywhere. Anything is better than this,” he said as a tear trickled down his cheek.
Only 38, Mustafa, who like many asylum seekers declined to give his full name, looks much older - as does his wife Nadia, 37, who sits beside him, sweaty and squashed in their small tent. Outside the temperature rises to more than 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
The couple left most of their family behind in Syria, except for Mustafa’s parents who made it to a refugee camp in Turkey.
“We didn’t think we’d be here long but we’ve yet to have our first (asylum) interview,” Mustafa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“They’ve delayed it over and over again. At this rate we’ll be here for years. Sometimes, I just want to take my wife’s hand and jump into the sea.”
Since 2015, Greece has been the main entry point into Europe for refugees and migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.
A European Union (EU) deal with Turkey has helped stem the flow of migrants making the narrow but precarious sea crossing from Turkish shores to outlying Greek islands - but many are still getting across.
More than 160,000 people have arrived in Greece by crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, almost half of them from Syria, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. The majority of new arrivals have applied for asylum in the EU.
When Warda left her hometown of Idlib in Syria, she knew she had a long, difficult journey ahead, but it never crossed her mind that she would face increased danger as a young woman.
For the past four months, the 18-year-old has been living in a makeshift refugee camp by Pireaus harbour in Athens with her fiancé and six relatives, who also made the perilous journey to Greece via Turkey.
Forced to share a tent with her parents and use a mixed bathroom, the lack of privacy is stifling. The large numbers of young, single Syrian and Afghan men, many of whom sit in groups, commenting on the women they see, is also unnerving.
“It’s hard for everyone here, but particularly for women,” said Warda, who like many asylum seekers declined to give her full name.
“I was asleep when I found out,” recalls former Bahraini citizen Taimoor Karimi. “My kids came in and woke me up. All they could say was, ‘Dad, we’ve got bad news. You’re on the list.’” His nationality had just been revoked. Karimi is one of 159 people made stateless by the Bahraini government since 2012. On three separate occasions, with no prior warning, the state has published lists of people whose citizenship has been annulled.
“If you lose your citizenship in Bahrain, you may as well be dead,” explains Abnulnabi al-Ekry, president of the Bahrain Transparency Society. “You can’t do anything if you’re stateless. You can’t buy or sell anything; you can’t use state services like health or education. Your private finances are done for. You’re told to leave the country, and if you disobey them, they’ll arrest you for being an illegal immigrant.”
Stateless people no longer possess identity papers and become invisible in the eyes of the law. Without these documents, simple day-to-day tasks become impossible. For instance, a person is unable to work legally or open a bank account. Likewise, without identification, a person cannot register to get married, see a local doctor, or attend a school. Before he lost his citizenship, Karimi was a well-respected lawyer. “After they took my citizenship, they took my law license so I had to close my firm,” he says. “Since then I’ve been jobless, I can’t work, and I have three kids that I’m unable to support. They’ve forced all the banks in Bahrain to close our accounts. We’re suffering a lot.”
The Bahraini government began revoking citizenship shortly after the Arab Spring engulfed large sections of the Middle East, Bahrain included, in 2011. On Feb. 14 of that year, both Shiite and Sunni Bahrainis took to the streets to demand the same rights and political freedoms for the majority Shiite population as for their Sunni compatriots. The regime of the ruling Al-Khalifa family, who are Sunnis, sent in troops to put down the movement. But four years later, demonstrators still protest every night on the streets of the country’s Shiite villages.
“The regime is running out of options. It has tortured people, starved thousands to death, openly killed hundreds of people in the street, and yet Bahrainis are still adamant on achieving change,” says doctor and activist Saeed Al-Shehabi, who was made stateless in 2012. “Revoking citizenship is just yet another tool to scare people and deter them from asking for their rights.” Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First have described cases of torture and unlawful killing committed by the government, and have called for it to end its repression of dissidents.
Authorities sentenced prominent television producer and writer, Mostafa Azizi, 53, to eight years in prison on Monday, June 8 on charges of “collusion against Iran” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”
It is thought the allegations stem from comments Azizi posted on social media.
"I'm still in shock," his daughter Parastoo Azizi told CBC. "My dad is innocent. He hasn't done anything wrong."
Azizi moved to Canada with his family in 2008. His children have Canadian citizenship, and Azizi, who is already a permanent resident, is in the process of obtaining nationality.
Azizi travelled back to Iran in January 2015 to visit his family and consider the possibility of returning home. But on February 1, the Iranian authorities arrested him and kept him in detention.
For a month, security agents held him in Cell Block 2A of Tehran’s Evin Prison – a section run by the Revolutionary Guards – where he was harshly interrogated and harassed before he was transferred to communal Ward 8.
Mostafa Azizi is now appealing his case.