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Kalimantan haze – a human-made disaster

Some are calling it a crime against humanity. What is certain is that the haze crisis in Kalimantan and other areas of Indonesia, which is just starting to abate thanks to the rains, is a man-made disaster. Slash and burn methods of clearing lands bring about this problem with depressing regularity, the biggest culprits being big companies like palm oil plantations often partly owned by foreign interests.

At the height of the current crisis, over 43 million people were breathing in the toxic fumes from forest and peat fires, leading the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to speak of a “crime against humanity of extraordinary proportions.” [Source: Jakarta Globe]

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A drop of solidarity in an ocean of exclusion

As we write, a crisis unfolds across Europe. Thousands of refugees and migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, are desperately trying to find a safe haven. Although as a rule 75% of migrants take refuge in other majority world (south) countries, according to the EU’s border agency Frontex, more than half a million migrants have appeared at Europe’s borders in the first eight months of the year. Recently several countries have reintroduced or tightened their border controls, and people continue to drown at sea trying to get here. Meanwhile in France, thousands of refugees have set up temporary home in ‘the Jungle’ in Calais, hoping to reach the United Kingdom, but the UK is trying to keep them out.

Back in February, Pollard Blakely and Britain’s Subud Lewes group Chair, Pam Hewitt, made the first trip, taking with them a van load of supplies donated by the people of Lewes. Then came a second trip, this time in early September, when Lilian Simonsson, a filmmaker from the Lewes group , together with a small group of friends, was moved to make another trip to Calais to deliver donations to refugees in ‘the Jungle’. Below are some insights from Lili, gathered in conversation on 15th September.

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