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Syria

    April 18, 2017

    Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, blogs from Beirut, Lebanon. Follow Salil on Twitter @SalilShetty

    At a time of extreme contestation of what constitutes truth, and an era where “fake news” is almost celebrated, the rule of law based on real evidence is more essential than ever.

    International human rights law and humanitarian law are long-established standards and norms, and are critical to be able to distinguish right from wrong.

    Human rights give us a framework to interpret and describe why what we see is wrong. And they give us a legal architecture to hold governments to account and demand change.

    And what is the alternative to addressing the massive challenges the world faces without international solidarity and accountability, without a shared commitment to uphold the equal and inalienable rights of every person?

    April 04, 2017

    By Syria campainger Leen Hashem

    Today, ministers and representatives of over 70 countries and humanitarian organisations are attending the “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference in Brussels. The conference focuses on gathering additional funds and assistance for Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries and discussing the reconstruction of Syria “once a genuinely inclusive political transition is firmly underway”.

    It is reassuring to see the international community come together to support Syrians who fled the violence in Syria and sought refuge in neighboring host countries. However, Syrian refugees continue to face serious challenges including restrictive access to health services, employment and protection. The international community should ensure the rights of Syrian refugees through meaningful responsibility-sharing by guaranteeing funding for refugee protection; and by significantly increasing the number of resettlement places and other admission pathways.

    March 15, 2017

    "I was beaten with cables and told to kneel before a picture of Bashar Al-Assad."

    Former detainee Abu al-Najem

    Six years of crisis in Syria, which began after anti-government protests erupted in March 2011, have been marred by horror and bloodshed. Parties to the conflict continued to commit human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. To date, victims have seen no justice. Syrian government forces, with the support of Russia, have attacked and bombed civilians, killing and injuring thousands; maintained lengthy sieges on civilian areas; subjected tens of thousands to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions; and systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees causing countless deaths in custody. Armed groups have indiscriminately shelled and besieged predominately civilian areas, and committed abductions, torture and summary killings.

    December 22, 2016
    Syrians gather during an evacuation in Aleppo

    Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International supporters worldwide who took action on the crisis in Syria over the last week. Evacuations from Aleppo are nearly complete and the UN Security Council has agreed to urgently deploy monitors to the ground. We have only been able to do this with your support, every action that was taken has helped ensure that civilians in Aleppo are protected.

    We’ve finally seen an important break through on all the work that Amnesty International has been doing on Syria; on December 20th the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing an independent international mechanism to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committees in Syria since March 2011. This is the first step towards justice for the thousands of victims in Syrian crisis.

    December 20, 2016
    Refugees in the region TAKE ACTION: Join Amnesty’s call to Syria, Iran and Russia to urgently protect civilians in Aleppo

     

    ore than 4.8 million Syrian refugees are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

    December 16, 2016
    Amnesty International Canada Aleppo Syria © AMEER ALHALBI/AFP/Getty Images

    By Anna Neistat, Amnesty International's senior director for research

    Seventeen years ago, Kofi Annan stood before the United Nations and apologized.

    The then-secretary-general acknowledged that the UN had failed the people of Rwanda during the 100-day genocide in which almost a million people were killed, and pledged to ensure that the UN would "never again" fail to protect a civilian population from genocide or mass slaughter.

    In Aleppo today, Annan's promise is inaudible beneath the roar of bombs and the whimpers of children trapped under rubble, their faces caked with blood and dust.

    After years of images from this atrocious war being screened around the world, they are faces we know well.

    Read the full article on CNN.com

    Take action: Demand that Russia, Syria & Iran allow the safe evacuation of people from Aleppo

    September 07, 2016
    By Monica Costa Riba

    Strapped onto either side of a horse, 30 year-old Alan Mohammad and his 28 year-old sister Gyan crossed craggy mountains from Iraq and into Turkey last February. Their younger sister walked ahead, leading the horse. Their mother, brother and younger sister trailed behind, pushing heavy wheelchairs up the steep unpaved path.

    August 22, 2016

    By Gauri van Gulik

    The horrific situation facing Syria’s children, graphically captured by the haunting image of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, shocked and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble of his home, makes it easy to understand why parents would take their children on the desperate, arduous journey to Europe.

    But if a child like Omran were to survive the trip and reach Europe’s shores, their ordeal would be far from over.

    On a visit to the Greek island of Lesvos, I saw first-hand what awaits them.

    In a detention centre on Lesvos I met Ahmed, a one-year-old baby who has been sick for almost all of his short life from what his mother described as a chemical attack. She told me that a bomb destroyed their home soon after Ahmed was born, lodging shrapnel in his neck. Soon after, he developed severe asthma and other symptoms consistent with chlorine gas inhalation. When I met him almost a year after the bombing, I could see his scars and his little body struggled to breathe.

    August 18, 2016

    Peaceful activist Hussam (not his real name) survived 20 months in Saydnaya, one of Syria’s most brutal prisons. Now held elsewhere, he wrote this letter in an attempt to describe the “daily hell” he experienced.

    To whomever it may concern:

    What I tell you is not fiction or a request for sympathy.

    From our dark basements hidden from the sun, we raise our voices and search for an echo. We call you to halt the bleeding of life from the young men and women of Syria. Halt the fire that consumes their youth in the prisons and detention centres of President al-Assad.

    They do not belong here. They are not born just to be a piece of paper in the hands of al-Assad and his dictatorial regime, or timber in the fire which he burns with hatred and lust for revenge – just because we dreamed of a dignified nation that safeguards our rights.

    June 20, 2016
    Written by Amnesty Canada Refugee Coordinator, Gloria Nafziger @refugeescanada  Champions. Prevention. Solidarity. Rights. Empowerment

    I’m not at home, I’m a refugee. I left my rights behind.

    In the world today we need to ensure that no rights are ever left behind. 

    March 25, 2016

     

    A poison pen letter has been circulating through e-mail and social media for several years now, which falsely claims that refugees receive significantly more income assistance than Canadian pensioners.  Readers of the missive are invited to share the author’s outrage.  But the provocative claims have been disproven by the Government of Canada and by the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).

     

    For example, the Cholokian family will not receive any government assistance from Canada or from their new home province, British Columbia. They came to Canada as privately sponsored refugees.  Mania, her spouse Asved, and their two sons arrived on December 31, 2015.  The family fled Syria because of escalating violence and spent three years as refugees in Lebanon.

     

    “Refugees come to Canada in different ways, but no matter the category, refugees receive very limited income assistance from the government,” states the CCR.  So here are the facts:

     

    March 16, 2016

    A horrifying catalogue of human rights abuses including war crimes and crimes against humanity have overwhelmed Syria over the past five years causing human suffering on a vast scale. Anti-government protests started in the country on 15 March 2011.

    “The five years since the uprising in Syria first began have been marred by horror and bloodshed on a colossal scale. From the moment that Syrian government forces first opened fire on peaceful protesters, brutality and civilian suffering have been the tragic hallmarks of this crisis. Government forces have brazenly committed crimes against humanity through the use of appalling strategies such as relentless barrel bomb attacks on civilian areas, a campaign of mass disappearances and systematic, industrial-scale torture. Some armed groups, particularly IS, have exploited the international media spotlight to cynically broadcast their own war crimes, such as the abduction and summary killing of Syrian and foreign civilians.” Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. 

    March 09, 2016

    Five years ago, Bashar al-Assad’s government brutally suppressed mass protests which began on March 15, 2011. The violent response sparked the region’s most severe armed conflict.

    1. More than 250,000 people have been killed, according to the UN. War crimes and crimes against humanity are rife.

    2. Since then, more than 11 million people have been forced from their homes, including around 7 million people within Syria and more than 4 million who are now refugees abroad, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Tens of thousands of refugees from Syria have also fled to Europe, often risking their lives in the process.

    3. Government forces have repeatedly shelled and bombed civilian areas using indiscriminate weapons, including barrel bombs. They’ve also bombed hospitals, targeted medical workers and mounted long-running sieges of opposition-held areas, depriving people of food, medicines and other necessities. According to Physicians for Human Rights, 112 medical facilities were attacked in 2015 alone, the majority by government forces.   

    March 07, 2016

     

    “You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land,” writes Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet. 

     

    On Friday, March 4, 2016, a Turkish court sentenced two Syrian nationals found guilty in the smuggling of 3 year old Alan Kurdi and his family.  The photograph of Alan’s lifeless body on a beach in Turkey became the catalyst for an outpouring of sympathy for Syrian refugees in Canada and beyond.  Alan’s father, Abdullah must live with the devastating result of joining his family on a tiny boat in the hope they would all find safety.  His wife and two sons, as well as two other people, perished on that journey.  Far from abating, the number of refugees attempting dangerous maritime crossings continues to grow.

     

    Refugees are fleeing desperate situations and will do whatever they must to save their lives.  Often they have no choice but to turn to smugglers to help them escape.

     

    February 04, 2016

    Refugees in the region

    More than 4.5 million refugees from Syria are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

    Turkey hosts 2.5 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide Lebanon hosts approximately 1.1 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country Jordan hosts approximately 635,324 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population Iraq where 3.9 million people are already internally displaced hosts 245,022 refugees from Syria Egypt hosts 117,658 refugees from Syria

    The UN’s 2015 humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was just 61% funded by the end of the year.

    Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just $21.60 per person month or around US$0.70 cent a day for food assistance, well below the UN’s poverty line of US$1.90

    86% of Syrian refugees in urban areas in Jordan are living below the local poverty line.

    Conflict in Syria

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