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January 15, 2014 - Image 6

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6A - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Wednesday, January15, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Syrian refugees in Lebanon
struggle to find aid in cold

In this Sept. 4,1957 file photo, Elizabeth Eckford, right, is turned away by Arkansas National Guardsmen as she approaches
Little Rock Central High.
Equal access to education
improves in Little Rock

Racial divides
remain nationwide,
but integration
efforts intensify
- Five decades and $1 billion
after an infamous racial epi-
sode made Little Rock, Ark., a
national symbol of school segre-
gation, the legal fight to ensure
that all of its children receive
equal access to education is
almost over.
But many challenges still
remain, in Little Rock and
across the country.
Some of the city's affluent
white neighborhoods have bet-
ter schools. The district's black
students on average have lower
grades and test scores and more
disciplinary problems than
white students. And racial divi-
sions linger within the integrat-
ed Central High School, where
riots erupted in 1957 as Gov.
Orval Faubus tried to prevent
black students from entering.
A dayafter alkey desegrega-
tion lawsuit was settled, such
stubborn disparities raised the
question: Do all children in
Little Rock now receive a high-
quality education?
"No," said Joel E. Anderson,

chancellor of the University of
Arkansas at Little Rock, who
led a task force that produced a
1997 report on the future of the
city's public schools.
"The plaintiffs in the law-
suit and school district officials
have all made a monumental
effort to achieve equal educa-
tional access for all children in
the district, but there is still a
considerable distance to go,"
Anderson said by email.
He said that the opening
statement of the report still
stands: If the people fighting for
equality in 1957 could look ahead
to the current Little Rock School
District, "they almost certainly
would have said, 'No, that is not
what we are seeking."'
Monday's settlement estab-
lished an end date for $70 mil-
lion in annual state payments
that fund desegregation efforts,
including programs that offer
poor black students better oppor-
tunities and attract affluent
white students into the district.
The extra fundinghas helped
make Central High School
one of the nation's best public
schools. Its-advanced classes
serve as a major draw for white
students who live far from cam-
pus and make it the flagship
school for the city, if not all of
"We produce more nationally

recognized scholars than any
part of the state," Superinten-
dent Dexter Suggs said Tuesday.
But at middle schools with a
higher percentage of black stu-
dents, twice as many students
score "below basic" on stan-
dardized math tests at the end
of eighth grade - a pattern that
repeats across grades and sub-
Data from the state Education
Department that tracked stu-
dents between their high school
years and their first year of col-
lege showed that students from
the area's private high schools
were better prepared for college
and scored higher on the ACT
college entrance exam. Using
data from 2011, the most recent
year available, all but one private
school had at least a quarter of
its students meet all of the ACT's
pre-college benchmarks.
No public school in the coun-
ty reached that mark - not even
Central - and the schools that
had the highest percentage of
black students fared worst on
the test, with less than 6 per-
cent of its graduates ready for
"The problem is not solved
yet," said John Kirk, chairman
of the history department at the
University of Arkansas at Little
Rock, who has studied the his-
tory of desegregation in the city.

Increasingly chaotic
security situation
overwhelms relief
ZAHLEH, Lebanon (AP)
- Fear, confusion and a lack
of information are preventing
many Syrian refugees in Leba-
non from knowing where to
turn for aid.
With a constant surge of
refugees now fighting the bit-
ter winter cold, humanitarian
organizations are struggling to
find ways to reach them with the
information they need to sur-
vive - and are recruiting some
refugees to help out.
In Lebanon, where displaced
Syrians now equal one-third
of the population, the problem
is made worse by the govern-
ment's refusal to establish offi-
cial refugee camps, leading to
a chaotic, fractured operation
with major gaps in coordina-
Many distrust a Lebanese
government they deem sym-
pathetic to President Bashar
Assad and are suspicious of
international aid organiza-
tions, making them hesitant to
register with the U.N. refugee
agency to become eligible for
"Everyone, who comes here is
confused and afraid," said Elyse
Maalouf, a UNHCR worker in
Zahleh, one of two registration
centers in Lebanon's Bekaa Val-
ley, where hundreds of infor-
mal refugee settlements have
sprung up. "Many refugees are
reluctant to register because
they fear their names would be
shared with the Syrian govern-
Of all of Syria's neighbors,
Lebanon has been the hard-
est hit by the exodus of Syrians
fleeing their country's violence.
Close to 1.5 million Syrians
are now in Lebanon, scattered
across the volatile country
often in makeshift substan-
dard accommodation. Unlike
in neighboring Turkey and Jor-
dan, there are no official refugee
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other health services, to educa-
tion and even basic aid to sur-
vive outside their war-stricken
homeland, most Syrians in
Lebanon feel lost in a world of
rumors and misinformation.
"Managing and disseminat-
ing information becomes much
more of a challenge than it
would have been if they were
in a camp setting," said Ninette
Kelley, UNHCR representative
in Lebanon.
A donors' conference for
Syria is set to open in Kuwait
on Wednesday. The U.N. last
month appealed for a staggering
$6.5 billion to cover this year's
funding needs - its largest-ever
request for a single crisis.
Experts say more money
needs to be allocated for infor-
mation programs, crucial to any
successful aid response.
"Information saves lives, and
a significant part of what we
have to do is advocate to funders
and donors that this actually is
a tremendous need," said Kir-
patrick Day of the International
Rescue Committee.
In an effort to deal with the
massive aid effort, U.N. agen-
cies and NGOs have concen-
trated their operations under
the "Inter-agency Information
Sharing Portal," where the work
of various groups can be fol-
But with each having its own
organizational mandate and the
geographic scatter of the refu-
gees, the effort has remained
largely uncoordinated.
Unregistered refugees, par-
ticularly in far-flung corners of
the country, are often left out
in the cold - literally - with no
access to aid except from sym-
pathetic locals. Surveys have
found few listen to the radio and
even fewer watch TV. Internet
and social media does not come
into play when it comes to needy
A recent survey by the glob-
al media development agency
Internews found 60 percent
of refugees cited their main
trusted source of informa-
tion as being "another person,
friend, family." Text messages
on mobile phones are often the
most advanced tools to reach
refugees with information such

as polio vaccination dates and
"When it comes to Syria, it's
really back to basics," Kelley
To deal with the problem, aid
agencies have started to train
and recruit refugees as vol-
unteers, not only to distribute
information to fellow Syrians
but also to provide important
feedback. UNHCR used 100 vol-
unteers last year and is planning
to increase that to 1,000 next
"Refugees often trust those
with whom they live, and this
is a great way to keep refugees
informed appropriately through
mediums that they have confi-
dence in," Kelley said.
Others are struggling to come
up with ways reach Syrians.
Internews recently partnered
with the International Rescue
Committee for a project called
Tawasul - Arabic for Connec-
tion. The project, still in the
preliminary stages, aims to find
innovative ways to get informa-
tion out.
"One of the things that we
feel is a pressing need that has
largely gone unmet is access to
information from sources that
people in the midst of the con-
flict can trust," said Day, the
project leader at ICR.
The U.N. has put the total
number of people in need of
humanitarian aid at 9.3 million.
They include some 2.3 million
Syrians who have fled the coun-
try, flooding neighbors such as
Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon,
which can barely keep up with
the strain.
At the UNHCR center in the
town of Zahleh in eastern Leb-
anon's Bekaa Valley, Syrians
stood in long lines in the biting
cold, waiting to register as refu-
"Nobody tells us what is hap-
pening," said Hajj Khater, an
elderly man from Syria's war-
shattered northern province of
Aleppo. "I registered a month
and a half ago. We were sup-
posed to start getting assistance
after 20 days but we're still
waiting, God only knows why,"
he said, drawing his red-and-
white checkered scarf closer to
his face from the cold.

of Iranian nuclear
deal approaches

RELEASEUAIE- Wednesday,January 1sn2014U l
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Rouhani calls
Geneva agreement a
surrender of
Western nations
VIENNA (AP) - As diplomats
worked on the next step of imple-
menting a landmark Iran nuclear
deal, the country's president
described it Tuesday as a "sur-
render" of Western powers to
Tehran's demands.
But the U.S. dismissed the
comment as playing to a home
audience and urged Iran to abide
by the deal.
The Nov. 24 agreement com-
mits Tehran to curb its nuclear
programs in exchange for initial
sanctions relief over six months
as the two sides work toward
a permanent agreement. The
accord designates the U.N.'s
International Atomic Energy
Agency to supervise Iranian
compliance with terms of the
The 35-nation IAEA board is
expected to approve that role at a
meetingset for Jan.24, according
to two diplomats. They demand-
ed anonymity because they were
not authorized to disclose the
date ahead of an official IAEA
Iranian officials have been
keen to portray the pact as advan-
tageous to their country in easing
sanctions in return for what they
say are minimal nuclear conces-
Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani's remarks about the
accord Tuesday appeared to be
part of efforts to bring around

hard-liners who have denounced
the deal, claiming it tramples on
Iran's nuclear rights.
"Do you know what the Gene-
va agreement means? It means
the surrender of the big powers
before the great Iranian nation,"
Rouhani told a crowd in the oil-
rich province of Khuzestan.
"The Geneva agreement
means the wall of sanctions has
broken. The unfair sanctions
were imposed on the revered and
peace-loving Iranian nation,"
he said. "It means an admission
by the world of Iran's peaceful
nuclear program."
Rouhani's comments drew a
dismissive U.S. response.
"It doesn't matter what they
say," White House spokes-
man Jay Carney told reporters
in Washington, describing the
statement as meant for a "domes-
tic audience."
"What matters to us ... is what
Iranian leaders do, what Iran
does in keeping its commitments
in this agreement," said Carney.
The U.N. agency did not con-
firm the board meeting but said
separate talks in Tehran between
Iran and IAEA experts were
postponed from Jan. 21 to Feb. 8.
One of the diplomats said the
Iran-IAEA talks were postponed
to allow Iran and the agency to
prepare for the implementation
of the Nov. 24 deal - a view the
United States appeared to share.
"There's a lot going on around
the same time," said Deputy
State Department Spokeswoman
Marie Harf. "So it's not a con-
Enactment of the Nov. 24
agreement is scheduled to begin
Jan. 20.


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