Day #24, MONDAY – Welcome back!

Hey guys! I hope you had a great and restful break!

Human Rights: L to J Terminology:
human rights, responsibility, obligation, universal, morality, nationality, conflict, privilege, dignity, slavery, power, influence, social dislocation, anti Semitism, torture, racism, scapegoating, genocide, ethnocentrism, monism, pluralism, empowerment, protest
REVIEWED TARGETS in this lesson:
€ I can define and explain human rights. 1.1a
€ I can explain what ‘moral entitlement’ means and how it applies to human rights. 1.1b
€ I can explain how and why human rights are ‘universal’. 1.2
€ I can make a timeline to explain the evolution of human rights. 1.3
€ I can explain what rights people have regardless to their contribution to society. 1.4
€ I can explain where and how conflicts arise in the upholding of human rights. 1.5
€ I can define who has the responsibility to uphold human rights. 1.8 a
€ I can explain why controversies exist when upholding human rights 1.8b
€ I can explain how and why some people are not given their human rights. 1.9
€ I can explain how morality applies to human rights. 1.10a
€ I can explain what is meant by a ‘life of dignity.’ 1.10b
€ I can define and explain what is meant by a ‘labour shortage’ 1.1b
€ I can explain how ‘labour shortages’ lead to unfair working conditions. 1.1c
€ I can define the term political prisoner. 1.38
€ I can define the term torture and offer insight into why some people torture. 1.39a
€ I can define and explain ‘xenophobia’ and how it an ‘distort’ reality. 1.39b
€ I can understand the impact that becoming a political prisoner can have on an individual(s). 1.40

Please read through the following:

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Crossing Borders

I had never imagined that I would be doing a refugee story practically on my own doorstep. I had been following reports for quite a while on what was happening in Syria and the tragedies in the Mediterranean where hundreds of refugees drowned after their boats sank. The wave of Syrian refugees, however, quickly took a different course—across the Balkans, through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, and now Slovenia, my homeland.

As early as September 2015, I decided to spend a week documenting the situation on the Croatian-Serbian border. I simply felt that I had to see and understand the situation with my own eyes. After a four-hour drive, the first scene I witnessed was a shock. A visibly exhausted pregnant woman, with her husband and child, were hurrying alongside a train calling for help. However, the police merely instructed them to keep calm and get on a train to continue their journey towards Hungary.

I began to realize the horrible reality and scale of it all. Every day, hundreds of buses arrived at the border, full of people from different countries—from Syria to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. I saw increasing numbers of young men and boys, wishing to find a better life in Northern Europe—Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.

Then a new wave of refugees hit Slovenia after Hungary closed its borders—a flood of people the likes of which Slovenia had never encountered before. In a single day, over 13,000 people would enter the country.

A colleague and I arrived at the eastern village of Rigonce, where most of the refugees arrived in the late evening. We received quite a shock. At the end of the village, on a meadow next to the Sotla River, a group of at least 1,000 people were waiting. They had entered Slovenia on foot, crossed a bridge from the Croatian side where they had arrived by train, and walked for about 15 minutes to reach the meadow. The scenes were startling, as if from another planet. The village that was once declared the most beautiful village in the Brežice municipality—the village where people tend to their farms, raise livestock, and lead peaceful lives—was suddenly faced with an incoming exodus. In the cold night, people were lying on the ground, trying to catch a few hours of sleep. They kept asking me: Where are we? When would we be allowed to proceed towards Northern Europe?

Mothers asked me for food and blankets, when they would be able to continue their journey, and where the camps were located. They made fires with whatever was at hand—from trash, plastic, and trees, to clothes discarded by previous groups. I walked around the families, sat down at the fire, and watched these faces from faraway lands now gathered in the tiny country beneath the Alps. The fire colored and warmed their faces, and brought to my mind scenes from Bethlehem.

In the first two weeks, 120,000 refugees and migrants crossed Slovenia, most of whom passed through the village of Rigonce in the first ten days. One night, I was traveling with a group of 3,000-4,000 migrants. Many of them were whole families; they were tired and trying to cope with the cold. In such moments, it’s hard to come up with words.

The wave of migrants flooding Europe is certainly huge. One wonders where all of these people are going to end up and what the future holds for them.

By far, the most touching moment for me occurred early one morning. A limping mother and son, who didn’t speak English, were unable to keep the pace of the group and fell behind. The expression on the woman’s face was full of fear and despair. Her son, whose boots were too big, struggled to carry a heavy backpack and at one moment he collapsed. I had no choice but to help him and carry his backpack for a while. Fortunately, a volunteer came along with a car and picked them up.

As of the beginning of 2016, the situation has improved. Croatia has begun to bring refugees to Slovenia by trains so that they don’t have to cross the fields and villages on the border on foot. The Schengen border rules have finally changed, and European leaders decided at a crisis meeting that the refugees would be taken into Slovenia by train. They wouldn’t have to walk through Rigonce and wait for hours anymore. From just September through December, over 450,000 refugees and migrants crossed Slovenia. The number is still rising.

It’s difficult to understand the refugee crisis from the safety of one’s home—the images seem so foreign and distant. When you find yourself, as a reporter, among the freezing, exhausted people with children, you’re simply a human being touched by the suffering. Children’s and human rights come first—nobody deserves to be left without food and a roof over their head. I can’t imagine what it must be like to pack your life in a suitcase or backpack and leave on such a long and arduous journey.

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According to The Washington Post, roughly 10.5 million people worldwide are being forced to flee their homes due to persecution, war, and other safety issues in their own countries, and children make up a large share—46% in 2012.* But in 2015, the refugee crisis hit extreme proportions, with a million refugees and migrants arriving in the European Union that year alone.

Refugees and migrants are fleeing conflicts in numerous Middle Eastern and African countries, yet it’s the civil war in Syria, as well as the ongoing conflicts and instability in Iraq, that is causing the world’s current crisis. Without Syrians, the number of refugees would match previous years.**

Individuals and families are traveling across land and sea hoping to reach Northern Europe, but it has been those trying to cross the Mediterranean who have received the most international attention from the media. News channels highlight the increase of tiny boats overladen with desperate passengers and images of children washing ashore. The number of deaths at sea (over 3,329 in 2015*** and 244 in the first month of 2016****) has demanded the world’s attention to this humanitarian crisis.

In September 2015, photographer Ciril Jazbec documented the flow of migrants moving from Serbia into Croatia. While he was there, Hungary closed its borders and migrants were forced to travel across Croatia into his home country of Slovenia in order to proceed to various destinations in Northern Europe. Jazbec’s documentation is captured in the photo essay, “Crossing Borders,” which reflects the intensity, hardship, and the sheer enormity of this displaced population. It shows individuals and families who have fled the devastations of war and hope for a better future.


The United States is considered to be a country that has, historically, welcomed refugees. Between 1975 and 2007, the U.S. took in approximately 2.5 million refugees.* Compare that number to the more than one million migrants and refugees who sought entry into Europein 2015 alone.

Ask students if they know the difference between a refugee and a migrant. Explain that a migrant is an individual who chooses to leave his or her home country for any number of reasons, such as for a job or other opportunities. A refugee is someone who is fleeing armed conflict—like the civil war in Syria—or persecution, such as the Jewish people who fled Germany during the Holocaust.

Ask students if they have heard about the migrant/refugee crisis. If so, what stories have they come across in the media? Explain that refugees usually travel light and take one bag with them as they flee their homes. Ask students: if you had to pack one bag with 5 items, what would you bring? Why?

In the beginning:


Image from CBC:
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The majority of refugees and migrants are coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East. They are hoping to find a safe way to travel to Northern Europe. Here is a map of the Middle East and Europe, identifying the proximity of Syria and Croatia.

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Click here for interactive map.

The number of refugees leaving the Middle East is higher than it’s ever been, primarily due to the civil war in Syria and ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Check out Ciril’s work and coverage of the Syrian refugee movement.

Think about the impact of these photographs.
Which specific photographs, do you think, are the most effective at connecting the viewer to the refugee experience? Why?
Let’s talk about the composition of each image? Why did this photographer do what he did?
How did he make a picture worth 1,000 words?

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What do you take when you are running for your life?
What’s in my bag?

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Global Citizen website HERE.

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Click HERE for the full story from BBC.

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