Mi casa es tu casa: Uruguay´s president opens his home to Syrian orphans
Papa ``Pepe´´ donates most of his presidential salary to live simply (Getty Images/ AFP).
Thanks to Uruguayan President José ``Pepe´´ Mujica, life might be made just that little bit better for 100 Syrian children orphaned by the civil war. Papa ``Pepe´´ is set to open his Uruguayan riverfront mansion estate to refugee children in a move that his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky says is to "motivate all the countries of the world to take responsibility for this catastrophe [in Syria]". The children could begin relocating as early as September.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has applauded Mujica´s offer, stating that Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan cannot withstand the more than 2 million refugees from Syria. Nevertheless, some opponents have accused Mujica of trying to secure a Nobel Peace Prize following his nomination by Uruguayan coalition members and criticized him for not helping his own country´s orphans first. Indeed, Mujica stated that he would consult his people first, but his offer has progressed without even congressional oversight, despite the fact his government would need to pay for the relocation of each Syrian orphan and at least one of their relatives to meet standard UNHCR protocol.
Mujica, known as the “poorest president in the world”, reminds critics that he donates most of his USD12,000 monthly salary to charity and forsakes the presidential palace, motorcades and a glitzy lifestyle to live austerely in a one-bedroom house driving a Volkswagen Beetle. He spent 14 years in a military prison and was shot by police six times as a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group that was notorious in the early 1970s for kidnappings, robberies and distributing stolen food and money to the poor. At 78 years of age, Mujica and his wife have no children and plan to adopt 30 to 40 after his term expires in March 2015 to teach them how to farm the land.
- The humanitarian crisis continues: Turkey is now home to nearly one million Syrian refugees
- A new head of the family: Syrian refugee women often care for their families alone
- The humanitarian crisis grows: One Syrian refugee born EVERY hour
- French children send presents to Syrian refugees
- UN: Syrian refugees to almost double by 2014 year end