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September 7, 2018

Palestinian Roof Gardens Offer Hope

Palestinians in Gaza have been living under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade. In 2006 when Hamas, labeled as a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S., took control of the Gaza Strip, Israel reacted by enforcing a land, sea, and air blockade on Gaza. When Egypt decided to do the same, this effectively cut Gaza off from the outside world. Residents of Gaza have been affected by a devastated economy, unemployment, and inadequate electricity and healthcare.

Even through their oppression and lack of land, Palestinians have found ways to push forward. Many rooftops are bursting with color and scents from the gardens that have been cropping up. Palestinian grandmother Masyoona sees growing her garden as a way of resisting the blockade: even though she has no land, she is still able to grow anything. Using discarded items such as old buckets, water tanks, and a rusted satellite dish, Masyoona brings joy to others in community gardens while living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

Sweden’s Election is Underway

This coming Sunday, Swedes will be heading to the polls to elect new members to their parliament, the Riksdag. Those new elected members will, in turn, vote for the next prime minister. The recent uptick of migrants and asylum seekers and uncertainty around their relationship with Russia are expected to influence the election.There has been a rise in popularity of parties on the far right that are decidedly anti-immigrant and anti-EU and that are challenging establishment parties for votes.

The far-right Sweden Democrats are doing better than ordinarily would have been expected and could emerge as the largest single party. Recent headlines about gang activity in predominantly immigrant-heavy neighborhoods and youth setting fire to around 100 cars have been a major talking point for far-right parties who blame these events on mass immigration. Our colleagues at ActionAid Sweden encourage Swedes to choose hope instead of fear by voting for a party that stands for openness, diversity, and inclusion.

Latin America Accepting Venezuelans With Expired Passports

More than 2.3 million Venezuelans have been fleeing the hyperinflation and severe food and medicine shortages that have plagued the country. However, those with expired passports have felt trapped in Venezuela. Many have complained about the difficulty of getting passports and other essential documents like birth and marriage certificates. There have been reports of bribes up to $1,000 and fees of up to $5,000 if the passport is needed urgently.

This may soon change following a meeting in Quito, Ecuador, where 11 Latin American countries decided to accept Venezuelans with expired passports. They also called on the Venezuelan government to speed up the process of distributing passports. The solidarity displayed by these countries is a reminder that we must not ignore when others are going through a trying period. We must stand together with people fighting for their basic human rights.