Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Syria

    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

    February 02, 2016
    Many refugee women from Syria tell us they don’t feel safe in Lebanon. Here are four reasons why, and three possible solutions. 1. Women are doubly at risk: both as refugees, and because of their gender
    January 22, 2016

    Omar, a refugee from Syria, was just 12 years old when he accidentally arrived alone in Sweden. It took months of tears and worry, emails and phone calls before his parents and big brother could join him. As Denmark proposes delaying family reunification for up to five years, their story shows why the right to a family life is worth fighting for.

    “I slept in jeans, not pyjamas,” says Maha Khadour, Omar’s mother, recalling the summer of 2012 when bombs starting falling on their neighbourhood in Syria. “You just didn't know when you’d have to flee."

    Despite being a veterinarian, not a doctor, her husband Mohannad gave medical help to injured neighbours who feared being arrested if they sought help at a public hospital. When rumours started circulating that the government was looking for Mohannad, he and Maha fled with their two sons, Ali, now aged 19, and Omar, now 14, to neighbouring Turkey.

    January 11, 2016
    Syrian children in Lebanon

    Horrific images and stories are emerging from Syria. Amnesty International has spoken to residents in the besieged town of Madaya in the Damascus Countryside governorate, and gathered fresh accounts of conditions in al-Fouaa and Kefraya in the Idleb Countryside governorate. The starving residents described how families are surviving on little more that foraged leaves and boiled water. The villages are due to resume receiving aid following a deal involving the Syrian government, struck on 7 January 2016.

    These harrowing accounts of hunger represent the mere tip of an iceberg. Syrians are suffering and dying across the country because starvation is being used as a weapon of war by both the Syrian government and armed groups. By continuing to impose sieges on civilian areas and only sporadically allowing in aid at their whim they are fuelling a humanitarian crisis and toying with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

    November 24, 2015

    These four Kurdish Syrian family members are traveling on foot. This group of brothers and a slightly older uncle left the town of Amuda located in the Kurdish region of Syria 10 days ago. As ISIS fighting was closing in to only 30kms from Amuda, they decided to leave. After making their way to the Turkish border and meeting their smuggler contact, they each had to pay 350 USD to cross the Turkish border on foot, under the cover of night. They made their way to the coastal city of Izmir from which they embarked on an inflatable boat for a perilous 15 minutes journey to Mitilini, Greece. They all had to pay 1200 USD each for this part of the trip. Upon arrival in Greece, they registered as EU refugees and then took a ferry to the Greek mainland where they then travelled by bus to Serbia.

     

    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada
     

    November 24, 2015

    What is it like to be a refugee in Lebanon? The answer you'll get will be different depending on whether you speak to a women, girl, man, or boy. 

    Early marriage and street harassment are just a few of the serious issues uniquely faced by refugee women and girls in Lebanon. And because of legal restrictions imposed on Syrian refugees by the Lebanese government, many refugee women and girls feel unable to report threats, harassment, or violence to the police. Refugee women and girls living in Lebanon, especially those in women-led households, are at risk of experiencing human rights abuses.

    As part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, Amnesty International is sharing the stories of two refugee women living in Lebanon. 

    Learn more and take action today! 

    October 05, 2015

    By Diana Semaan, Syria campaigner at Amnesty's International Secretraiat.

    With reports in the news of a new push for negotiations to end the conflict in Syria, and Western countries contemplating the future of Syria and Bashar al-Assad as Russia engages in combat, a crucially important goal—accountability for countless war crimes and other violations committed by all sides in this conflict—appears to be slipping off the agenda.

    Despite an international outcry over the killing of civilians by the Syrian government, in reality most of the world—including Western governments—have turned a blind eye to events in the country, utterly failing to agree on effective measures to protect civilians from the brutality of the Syrian government.

    Their main priority appears to be combating the armed group calling itself the Islamic State and keeping refugees from reaching their borders. Any pursuit of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity has taken a back seat.

    October 05, 2015

    Three years after her father’s disappearance, 24-year-old Raneem Ma’touq tells her family’s story.

    Raneem Ma'touq is the daughter of Khalil Ma’touq, a human rights lawyer and the director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, who disappeared on 2 October 2012, along with a colleague, while they were on their way to work in Damascus. It is believed he was arrested after being detained at a government checkpoint, and has been held in conditions amounting to an enforced disappearance ever since. Today marks three years since he was arrested.

    When Raneem Ma’touq’s father disappeared nearly three years ago, she was 21 years old. She and her family felt as if their whole world had fallen apart.

    “[His disappearance] left a huge hole in our lives. For a young woman in our neighborhood, it was like hell living without him,” she said.

    As a human rights lawyer defending political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Syria, her father, Khalil Ma’touq, was no stranger to threats, harassment and intimidation by the Syrian authorities. Even before the Syrian conflict began, he was subjected to a travel ban.

    September 08, 2015
    Refugees in the region

    More than 4 million refugees from Syria (95%) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

    Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide Iraq where 3 million people have been internally displaced in the last 18 months hosts 249,463 refugees from Syria Egypt hosts 132,375 refugees from Syria The UN humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is just 40% funded.

    Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just $13.50 per month or less than half a dollar a day for food assistance.

    More than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan living below the local poverty line.

    Conflict in Syria

    Around 220,000 people have been killed and 12.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria

    September 04, 2015

    By Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International. Follow Gauri on Twitter @GaurivanGulik.

    A solemn moment of silence. The world over, this is the traditional response when lives are cut short by tragedy.

    It has also been a common response to tragedies in Europe and off its shores which have ended the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants. Not killed by bombs in Syria, but killed while making terrifying journeys in search of safety and better lives in Europe.

    But the scale and rapid succession of these tragedies calls for breaking the silence.

    In the space of a week, along with people across the world, I recoiled in horror as four new tragedies added to a growing list of events that have already brought a record number of refugees and migrants to untimely deaths this year. According to UNHCR, 2,500 have already perished en route to Europe since 1 January 2015.

    On 26 August, 52 bodies were found inside the hull of a ship about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Libya.

    September 02, 2015

    Work on Maher Arar’s case has been one of our most intensive campaigns for justice spanning well over a decade. Here are some of the highlights:

    Pages

    rights