Kalashnikov ‘feared he was to blame’ for AK-47 rifle deaths

The inventor of the Kalashnikov assault rifle apparently wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church before he died expressing fears he was morally responsible for the people it killed.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died last month aged 94, wrote a long emotional letter to Patriarch Kirill in May 2012, church officials say.

He said he was suffering “spiritual pain” over the many deaths it caused.

Kalashnikov had previously refused to accept responsibility for those killed.

‘Devilish desires’

The letter published by Izvestia provides a fascinating insight into the mind of the man who created Russia’s most famous weapon.

Mikhail Kalashnikov spent his career designing and perfecting assault rifles. More than 100 million Kalashnikovs have been sold worldwide. The gun brought Kalashnikov fame and a string of awards.

Kalashnikov, when younger, refused to accept responsibility for the many people killed by his weapon, blaming the policies of other countries that acquired it.

However, pride in his invention was tempered with sadness at its use by criminals and child soldiers.

“It is painful for me to see when criminal elements of all kinds fire from my weapon,” Kalashnikov said in 2008.

But his letter to the Patriarch suggests that, towards the end of his life, Kalashnikov felt a degree of guilt – or “spiritual pain” as he puts it – for having invented a killing machine.

It’s unclear, though, how much of this he wrote himself. Izvestia quotes Kalashnikov’s daughter, Elena, as saying she believes a priest helped her father compose the letter.

But in a letter, published in Russia’s pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, he wrote: “My spiritual pain is unbearable. I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I… a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?” he asked.

“The longer I live,” he continued, “the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression”.

The letter is typed on Kalashnikov’s personal writing paper, and is signed with a wavering hand by the man who describes himself as “a slave of God, the designer Mikhail Kalashnikov”.

The Kalashnikov, or AK-47, is one of the world’s most familiar and widely used weapons.

Its comparative simplicity made it cheap to manufacture, as well as reliable and easy to maintain.

It is thought that more than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide.

He designed this rifle to defend his country, not so terrorists could use it in Saudi Arabia”

Defend his country

In his letter to Patriarch Kirill, Kalashnikov said that he first went into a church at the age of 91 and was later baptised.

The BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says it is unclear how much of it he wrote himself. Izvestia quotes Kalashnikov’s daughter, Elena, as saying she believes a priest helped her father compose the letter.

The press secretary for the Russian Patriarch, Cyril Alexander Volkov, told the paper the religious leader had received Kalashnikov’s letter and had written a reply.

“The Church has a very definite position: when weapons serve to protect the Fatherland, the Church supports both its creators and the soldiers who use it,” Mr Volkov was quoted as saying.

“He designed this rifle to defend his country, not so terrorists could use it in Saudi Arabia.”

Kalashnikov received many Russian state honors, including the Order of Lenin and the Hero of Socialist Labor, but made little money from his gun.

He died on 23 December 2013 after being admitted to hospital a month earlier with internal bleeding.

AK-47s now being made in America: 

Resistance Arms Will Make AK-47s In America [Interview]

History and world-wide use of the AK-47: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AK-47

Close Guantánamo prison, says first US commander on 12th anniversary

Close Guantánamo prison, says first US commander on 12th anniversary

• Major General Michael Lehnert says facility is a liability.   ‘Terrorists aim to change our behaviour. They have succeeded’

 

By Martin Pengelly in New York/11 January 2014/theguardian.com

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/11/close-guantanamo-prison-general

 

 

On the 12th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, the first commanding general of the base has said that it should be closed.

In a statement released by the advocacy organisation Human Rights First, Major General Michael Lehnert – who has spoken out on the issue before – said: “While there were compelling operational reasons to stand up Guantánamo prison early in the war [in Iraq and Afghanistan], we squandered international goodwill and lost opportunities by failing to adhere to the Geneva Conventions and to our own rule of law. Those decisions turned Guantánamo into a liability.”

Last May, in a major speech at the National Defense University, President Barack Obama detailed his continuing determination to close Guantánamo. Nonetheless, the base still holds 155 prisoners, of whom 76 have been cleared for release.

Lehnert continued: “The objective of terrorists is to change our behaviour and make us live in fear. By those standards our adversaries have been successful. We must reclaim our moral position.”

Guantánamo, which has been the subject of international protest since it opened, is sited on land controversially leased by the US from Cuba under a 1934 treaty.

“The Constitution does not stop at the waters’ edge,” Lehnert said. “We can defeat terrorism only if we do so in a manner that is consistent with American values. Guantánamo does not serve America’s interests. As long as it remains open, it will undermine America’s security and status as a land where human rights and the rule of law matter.”

Administrative attempts to reform Guantánamo continue. On Thursday, a government review panel that was established by an executive order from Obama cleared for release Mahmud Mujahid, a Yemeni prisoner who has been held January 2002. Mujahid, who had been accused but not charged of being a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, is now deemed not to pose any danger to the US.

In December, after Congress passed a defence bill that cleared up transfer restrictions at the base, three Uighur detainees who had been held without charge for 12 years – and had been determined to pose no threat to the US – were transferred to Slovakia. The men could not be sent back to China, as their minority is persecuted there.

Such concerns are said to affect a number of prisoners remaining in Guantánamo, although December also saw two Saudi prisoners returned to their own country. One British resident, the Saudi citizen Shaker Aamer, remains in custody at Guantánamo

In a statement accompanying Lehnert’s comments, Dixon Osburn of Human Rights First said: “The United States has a legal obligation to find lawful dispositions for all law of war detainees when the war in Afghanistan ends this year.

“The administration must vastly accelerate the administrative review boards and obtain appropriate security assurances from host nations so that those detainees cleared for release can be sent home or resettled. The clock is ticking.”

Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of the US torture center at Guantanamo, Cuba!

We must reject indefinite detention and offshore prisons.

We must no longer use our fear of terror to inflict terror

on the world

 

by Molly Crabapple/Saturday 11 January 2014/theguardian.com

Today, 11 January, the Guantánamo Bay prison “celebrates” its 12th birthday.

In case anyone needs a refresher, $4.7bn has been spent running Guantánamo. Nearly 800 men have been imprisoned, many losing over a decade of their lives. Nine have died. The world will never look at America in the same way again.

Barack Obama, who promised to close Gitmo in 2008, transferred out 11 men since the summer. These are men long since proven innocent, men too obese to walk and too schizophrenic to make any sense. These transfers are the first signs that the US may close a prison that exists to hold enemy combatants in the war on terror – a war whose battlefield, opponents, scope, and ending have never been defined. But the prison built to “protect our freedom” after 9/11 has made us no safer. According to Major General Michael Lehnert, Guantánamo’s first commander, many of the detainees should never have ended up there at all.

I’ve seen Guantánamo’s absurdities first hand. In the summer of 2012, I became the fourth artist to visit the facility. I saw the razor wire-ringed cellblocks in which we keep the 155 remaining detainees. According to a 2005 report by Seton Hall University (pdf), the vast majority of these prisoners were captured by Afghan and Pakistani forces, then sold to us for bounties. Of these, Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor General Mark Martins told me, only 20 were even chargeable with crimes.

Medics with Shakespearean psuedonyms showed me the chair where, at one time, 45 hunger strikers were strapped down and force-fed twice a day. They were refusing food to protest their indefinite detention. The US military had taken away their lives as they knew them. We would keep them alive by force.

Detainees are allowed to speak to their families, via Skype, only four times a year. The prison library bans many books, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago about Soviet forced labor. The librarian told me it might sow dissent. Instead, they offer handbooks on reducing stress. Military police showed me the room where hunger strikers were shackled, alone, to watch TV. A guard snickered about how the prisoners liked the show Top Model.

I visited Guantánamo twice, but I only saw detainees once, for seven minutes, through a one-way mirror. They were skinny, middle aged men, joking and praying. Detainees are forbidden to speak with the press. According to Rear Admiral Richard Butler, who is responsible for prison operations, this is to avoid “making a spectacle” of them, which is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. But Brandon Davis, who served as a guard in 2002, told me that soldiers were instructed that the Geneva Conventions were not in effect.

Captain Robert Durand, a Guantanamo spokesman, assured me that detainees now attend interrogations in return for Happy Meals. In the past 12 years, all the information we have suggests that every detainee has been tortured. A 2002 memo by military lawyer Diane Beaver approved waterboarding, beatings, extreme temperatures, and making a detainee believe his family was in danger of death. Mr Davis told me he and fellow guards beat detainees. At the start of every shift superiors told them “[the detainees] would kill you and your families in a heartbeat”.

In Guantánamo’s courtroom, I drew Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators. He is being tried in a military commission system that has produced eight convictions out of the nearly 800 men who have been detained on the island. Though it is over a decade since 9/11, Mr Mohammed’s trial has not yet started. Lawyers are still hashing out the new legal system – half military, half civilian – that President George Bush created for Guantánamo. For a week, they fought over co-conspirator Mr Bin Attesh’s stomach problems.

Press watched the hearings through layers of bulletproof glass. Soldiers confiscated my opera glasses (brought to better see Mr Mohammed’s face) as “prohibited ocular amplification”. An official censor put stickers on my drawings before they were allowed to leave the room.

With several exceptions, Guantánamo’s detainees are not criminals serving a sentence. They are enemy combatants, held until the end of the war on terror. But terror is not a nation – it’s a concept. Colonel Morris Davis, who served as Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor from 2006 to 2007, told me, “We never really had a discussion about when the conflict was going to end.”

Meanwhile, we keep 155 men in cages, at the cost of $1.7m per man, per year. When they try to starve themselves in protest, we keep them alive with tubes shoved into their stomachs. Guantánamo Bay’s official slogan is “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom”. Like so much of Guantánamo, it is easy to mock. But freedom, like terror, is a slippery word. What is its meaning amidst Gitmo’s cameras and razor wire – where captives, cleared to leave the prison for years, are only flown home in shackles and hoods?

Clifford Sloan, Obama’s newly appointed envoy to transfer prisoners out of Guantánamo, recently told PBS that he was sure the prison would be closed in the foreseeable future. I suppose the 11 men that Obama released in recent months given some hope that this may come true.

But even if we close the prison, we must make sure we do not build new Guantánamos. America must never again start a war with no defined enemy. We must reject indefinite detention and offshore prisons. We must no longer use our fear of terror to inflict terror on the world.

America must no longer must no longer write “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom” on the walls of its most notorious prison. Instead, we must mean it.

Look who controls the USA. No surprises from me!

For first time, majority of Congress

worth $1 million or more

Al Jazerra America/01.09.2014

by Dexter Mullins @DexterMullins January 9, 2014 7:30PM ET

 

 

Financial disclosure forms show that a majority of Congress members are millionaires, and experts say there is a growing concern about the disconnect between lawmakers and average Americans.

At least 50 percent of current members of Congress reported an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, an increase of two percent, based on financial disclosures analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) that members must file by May 15 of each year.

Sarah Bryner, research director at CRP told Al Jazeera that while Congress being wealthy isn’t new, people are more aware of the growing gap, and it’s more important now than ever as the future of food stamps, the minimum wage, unemployment benefits and changes to the tax code are being debated by lawmakers.

“I think that it’s a classic transparency issue,” said Bryner. “Over time we have seen Congress get wealthier and wealthier, and it certainly begs the question as to whether we have an elected body that represents everyone.”

Median net worth for all members of the House of Representatives was $896,000; in the Senate it was $2.7 million. Democrats are more wealthy in the House, and Republicans are more wealthy in the Senate, with Senate Democrats being the only group to report a drop in net worth because two of the wealthiest members — former senator John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, and Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in June of 2013 — are no longer on the list.

Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif) is the wealthiest member of Congress, with an estimated net worth of $597 million.

By comparison, median family net worth has been on a steady decline, dropping 40 percent in 2010 to just $77,300 in the face of the greatest economic crisis in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

The sharp decrease is also tied to home values, which have plummeted substainially but are just beginning to rebound.

Because of the complicated disclosure rules, it’s hard to get an exact figure on just how much a member of Congress is worth, Bryner says.

Calculating members’ net worth, the difference between the value of someone’s assets in relation to his or her liabilities, is tricky because lawmakers do not have to disclose the exact dollar value of an asset. Instead, assets are reported by listing the value a particular asset may have.

For example, a member of Congress could say his or her second home is worth between $200,000 and $500,000. The higher value the asset, the wider the range.

The wealthiest member of Congress, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., reported his net worth to be between $330 million and $597 million.

Recent changes to disclosure rules in the STOCK act also allow lawmakers to report high-value assets as being worth “$1 million or more,” and disclosure reports no longer have to be digitized, making it much more difficult to review the data.

Previously, the regulations required a much more specific value report, which explains how Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, could drop from the top spot last year at $500.6 million to fifth wealthiest at an average of $143 million.

The disclosures also include assets that belong to a spouse or dependent children.

Bryner said it takes six months for CRP to translate complicated forms and financial reports into understandable information and then manually enter the information into their database.

A great political/poetic voice is gone–Amiri Baraka dies

Amiri Baraka, radical playwright and poet, dies in Newark, aged 79

Provocative writer and leader of the 1960s Black Arts movement had been in hospital since the end of last year

Associated Press/Thursday 9 January 2014[/theguardian.com

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/09/amir-baraka-playwright-poet-dies

—-

Amiri Baraka, the radical man of letters whose poems, plays and criticism made him a provocative and groundbreaking force in American culture, has died aged 79.

Baraka, who had been in hospital since last month, died on Thursday at Newark Beth Israel Medical Centre, said his agent Celeste Bateman.

Perhaps no writer of the 1960s and 1970s was more radical or polarising than the man formerly known as LeRoi Jones and no one did more to extend the political debates of the civil rights era to the world of the arts.

He inspired a generation of poets, playwrights and musicians and his immersion in spoken word traditions and raw street language anticipated rap, hip-hop and slam poetry. The FBI feared him to the point of flattery, identifying Baraka as “the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States.”

Baraka transformed first to join the Beat caravan of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and then to lead the Black Arts Movement, an ally of the Black Power movement, that rejected the liberal optimism of the early 1960s and intensified a divide over how and whether the black artist should take on social issues. Scorning art for art’s sake and the pursuit of racial unity, Barak was part of a philosophy that called for the teaching of black art and history and producing works that bluntly called for revolution.

“We want poems that kill,'” Baraka wrote in his landmark Black Art manifesto published in 1965, the year he helped found the Black Arts Movement. “Assassin poems. Poems that shoot guns/ Poems that wrestle cops into alleys/ and take their weapons leaving them dead/ with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland.”

He was as eclectic as he was prolific. His influences ranged from Ray Bradbury and Mao Zedong to Ginsberg and John Coltrane. Baraka wrote poems, short stories, novels, essays, plays, musical and cultural criticism and jazz operas.

His 1963 book, Blues People: Negro Music in White America, has been called the first major history of black music to be written by an African-American. A line from his poem Black People! – “Up against the wall mother fucker” – became a counterculture slogan for everyone from student protesters to the rock band Jefferson Airplane. A 2002 poem he wrote alleging that some Israelis had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks led to widespread outrage.

Decades earlier, Baraka had declared himself a black nationalist out to “break the deathly grip of the White Eyes,” then a Marxist-Leninist out to destroy imperialists of all colours. No matter his name or ideology, he was committed to “struggle, change, struggle, unity, change, movement.”

“All of the oaths I swore were sincere reflections of what I felt – what I thought I knew and understood,” he wrote in a 1990 essay. “But those beliefs change, and the work shows this, too.”

He was denounced by critics as buffoonish, homophobic, antisemitic, a demagogue. He was called by others a genius, a prophet, the Malcolm X of literature. Eldridge Cleaver hailed him as the bard of the “funky facts.” Ishmael Reed credited the Black Arts Movement for encouraging artists of all backgrounds and enabling the rise of multiculturalism. The scholar Arnold Rampersad placed him alongside Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright in the pantheon of black cultural influences.

First published in the 1950s, Baraka crashed the literary party in 1964, at the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village, when Dutchman opened and made instant history at the height of the civil rights movement. Baraka’s play was a one-act showdown between a middle class black man, Clay, and a sexually daring white woman, Lula, ending in a brawl of murderous taunts and confessions.

Baraka was born Everett LeRoy Jones, in 1934, a postal worker’s son who grew up in a racially mixed neighbourhood in Newark and remembered his family’s passion for songs and storytelling. He showed early talents for sports and music and did well enough in high school to graduate with honours and receive a scholarship from Rutgers University.

Feeling out of place at Rutgers, he transferred to a leading black college, Howard University. He hated it there (“Howard University shocked me into realising how desperately sick the Negro could be,” he later wrote) and joined the Air Force, from which he was later discharged. By 1958, he had settled in Greenwich Village, met Ginsberg, married fellow writer Hettie Cohen and was editing an avant-garde journal, Yugen.

Baraka divorced Cohen in 1965 and a year later married Sylvia Robinson, whose name became Bibi Amina Baraka. He had seven children, two with his first wife and five with his second. A son, Ras Baraka, became a councilman in Newark. A daughter, Shani Baraka, was murdered in 2003.

Baraka taught at Yale University and George Washington University and spent 20 years on the faculty of the State University of New York in Stonybrook. He received numerous grants and prizes, including a Guggenheim fellowship and a poetry award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Baraka was the subject of a 1983 documentary, In Motion, and holds a minor place in Hollywood history. In Bulworth, Warren Beatty’s 1998 satire about a senator’s break from the political establishment, Baraka plays a homeless poet who cheers on the title character. “You got to be a spirit,” the poet tells him. “You got to sing – don’t be no ghost.”

A step toward peace by a US arms maker!

From Reddit, retrieved 01/06/21014

Utah gun maker turns down $15M deal with Pakistan

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) — A Utah-based gun manufacturer has turned down a $15 million deal to supply Pakistan with precision rifles, citing concerns they could eventually be used against U.S. troops.

Mike Davis, sales manager at Desert Tech, said the company was on a short list for a contract with Pakistan, but spurned the opportunity because of unrest in Pakistan and ethical concerns.

It was a difficult decision because of the amount of money involved, he said, and the sale of rifles to Pakistan would have been legal.

“We don’t know that those guns would’ve went somewhere bad, but with the unrest we just ended up not feeling right about it,” Davis told KTVX-TV.

The company, based in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City, was founded in 2007 on the principle of keeping America and its allies safe, he added.

“As a business owner you always want to be successful, but I think ethically and morally you want to go about it the right way and stick behind your founding principles,” Davis told KSL.

Weapons sales to allies such as Pakistan are nothing new but they can be complicated, especially in a country with an al-Qaida presence. The U.S. often targets al-Qaida, Taliban and their Pakistani supporters in the country’s tribal regions.

“I’ve got to admire Desert Tech for potentially turning down what could have been a very lucrative contract in the interest of protecting American service members,” said Col. Steven R. Watt of the Utah National Guard.

The rifles can change caliber within minutes and have the capacity to shoot as far as 3,000 yards.

Desert Tech, formerly known as Desert Tactical Arms, has had military contracts with other countries but declined to reveal specifics.

Syria’s children suffering the cost of war

More than a million Syrian children could miss out on education, and child labour is a big problem, warns refugee agency

by Harriet Grant and Lee Harper

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/nov/29/syrian-refugee-children-catastrophe-exile-un

—-

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian children already traumatised by war are facing a life of “catastrophe” in exile, without education or normal childhood freedoms, the UN refugee agency has warned.

Child labour is a huge problem across the refugee communities of Jordan and Lebanon, with children as young as seven taking on the role of breadwinner for their fractured families.

More than a million Syrian children are refugees, most of them in neighbouring countries. The report, the Future of Syria: refugee children in crisis, published by the UNHCR on Friday, involved four months of research across Jordan and Lebanon, speaking to children and the international workers supporting them.

Registration workers at refugee camps are used to recognising the signs of acute distress or depression in the children and families they register each day. Sheeraz Mukhaimer, a case manager with the International Medical Corps, described children telling her about seeing family members killed and then having to bury the bodies. Parents report children suffering sleep problems, flashbacks to the war, bedwetting and speech difficulties. Constant crying is common.

Volker Türk, director of international protection at UNHCR, says the scale of the unravelling crisis is what sets it apart from other refugee situations. “In terms of numbers, we are talking about a crisis of major proportions. Over 1 million children, it’s the sheer magnitude of it. One striking feature is the impact on the psychosocial wellbeing of children. They are severely traumatised children coping with things adults would find difficult to cope with.”

As families fall apart, tens of thousands of Syrian children are living without their fathers. In a female-headed household, a male child is likely to be sent out to work. Child labour is illegal in Lebanon and Jordan, but children are commonly taking menial work for low pay. Their meagre wages are sometimes the family’s only source of income.

A previous report by the UN children’s agency, Unicef, published in March, estimated that one in 10 Syrian refugee children in the region is engaged in child labour. In Jordan Valley, the agency found that 1,700 out of 3,500 school-aged children (nearly 49%) were working.

An inspector at the Jordanian ministry of labour, Maysoon Al Remawi, told the Guardian that refugee children were directly competing with Jordanian adults.

“Syrian children work in larger numbers than Jordanians due to their culture – 60-70% of child labour in Jordan is made up of Syrians, according to our estimates,” he said. “They have higher skills than Jordanians and therefore compete with Jordanians on the same market segment… Syrian children work in sectors Jordanians would want to work in and are as much of a competition as adult Syrians.”

The Guardian spoke to a number of young people who are forced to work in Irbid, near Jordan’s border.

Samir works all night, six nights a week, cleaning and making tea in a pool hall. He is 13 and was at school in Syria, but now the family has no option but to send him to work.

For his 12-hour shift he earns about $4, but even this tiny income is desperately needed. His father was killed when a bomb hit their house in Homs, leaving his mother paralysed. His 15-year-old sister has been married off to a 50-year-old Syrian man, because his mother thinks this is the best chance she has of a normal life.

Samir works hard for his money. “I offer coffee, tea and clean the tables between six in the evening and five in the morning. I don’t get a break, but if it’s quiet I will sit down,” he told the Guardian.

Hassan, 14, is the eldest of four children, who now live in an apartment in Irbid with their father. They are from Daraa in Syria. Hassan sells books on the street, because his father can’t work. “He was shot in the leg, sometimes he tries to work one or two days,” he says.

Hassan works a 14-hour day to provide for his family, running a book stall for a man he says is good to him. He earns $5 a day.

“When it’s quiet I rest, but he doesn’t give me a break. The man is nice to me, he brings me two meals a day … Sometimes I get half a dinar extra, which I keep myself. We pay JD250 ($350) for rent, we cannot pay every month. The landlord tells us, if you don’t pay I will kick you out.”

While boys are sent to work, many girls described startling levels of isolation and loneliness. Almost a third (29%) of children said they left their homes only once a week. One father in Zaatari refugee camp was so worried about the safety of his daughters he made them stay in their tent for the entire month they lived in the camp. Noor, 13, and her sister passed the time playing with rocks.

Despite a massive effort by international NGOs and the governments in Lebanon and Jordan to support the children and provide them with education, more youngsters are out of school than in it. The number of Syrian school-aged children in Lebanon is soon likely to exceed the number of Lebanese children who were enrolled in the public system last year.

Türk says the infrastructure in the host countries cannot expand indefinitely. “Lebanon and Jordan have been extremely generous about this,” he says. “The problem is of course that we need different shifts – children going at different times of the day. There are very overcrowded classes and a need for double the number of teachers.”

The UNHCR is calling for more support for Jordan and Lebanon as they struggle to provide for Syrian children. One fear among humanitarian agencies is that countries will begin to close their borders if this support does not materialise.

Türk says there needs to be more visible solidarity for Syria’s neighbours from the international community, including offers of resettlement in Europe for the most vulnerable refugees. “I was very taken by the incredible amount of generosity I saw on the part of both Lebanese and Jordanian families … but the longer the crisis lasts, the more it is a burden. We have to support the host communities.

“The longer it goes on, the less people envision their future in Syria itself – there is a tipping point. We need to constantly reinvigorate the hope that there is as solution in sight, and that people will … when the conflict is over, be able to go back.”