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Refugees and Migrants

    March 09, 2017

    By Rawya Rageh, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International. Follow Rawya on Twitter @RawyaRageh.

    It was an excruciating choice that no family should ever have to make.

    Should they stay together with their two young daughters and miss perhaps their only chance to escape the horrors of war, or should they make a break for freedom but leave their year-old baby behind in a foreign land half-way around the world?

    This was the devil’s dilemma facing US-Yemeni dual national Baraa Ahmed (not his real name) and his wife, who were separated from their breastfeeding baby in the wake of President Trump’s discriminatory travel ban.

    “I would have never left my daughter behind in Malaysia and flown back [to the States] if it weren’t for the decision by the President. Nothing would have made me leave my daughter behind … But [Trump’s executive order] really compelled us to do what we did,” Baraa Ahmed told Amnesty International.

    What brought them to entrust their baby’s care to friends in Malaysia, a country 15,000 km away where they have no close ties?

    March 07, 2017
    New packaging, same fear and hate.

    Donald Trump's Executive Order on immigration may have been revised, but it remains blatantly discriminatory. 

    Thinly disguised as a national security measure, Trump’s travel ban reinstates many of the most repellent elements of the original blocked by US courts.

    The US president has effectively shut America’s door to anyone - including refugees - from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. These six countries have two main things in common: they are predominantly Muslim, and many of their citizens are trying to seek asylum abroad to escape serious human rights violations like persecution, indiscriminate bombing, and torture.

    Rather than curbing the excesses of the first travel ban, the revised version shows a xenophobic policy towards Muslims which is mutating, virus-like, into an ever more resilient strain. And like a virus, its effects cannot be easily contained.

    November 01, 2016
    Children playing near the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru.

    By Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research

    There was a time when Australia led the way on refugee protection.

    Following World War II, Australia came second only to the United States on resettling European refugees. Its signature brought the Refugee Convention into force a few years later. And, in the 1970s, it resettled the third highest number of Indochinese refugees following the wars there.

    Sadly those days are a distant memory. After earning global notoriety for the cruelty it continues to inflict on refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru and Manus Island, the Australian government has shown it is capable of worse.

    Not only is the government refusing to shut down its centres on the two Pacific islands, it is now planning to introduce a law to permanently ban the people trapped there from getting a visa to Australia.

    October 18, 2016

    By Anna Shea: Amnesty International Researcher/Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights

    In an out-of-the way, dingy watering hole, a young woman I’ll call Jane told me: “I picked this place because it was very noisy, so there’d be less chance of being monitored.”

    Up until that point, we had only communicated by encrypted messages, so that the local authorities wouldn’t know about our meeting. I was in a country that had recently enacted legislation  allowing it to prosecute and imprison people who disclosed information about offshore government operations. By meeting with me, Jane was demonstrating real courage. Many other people were too scared to meet with me—or even speak on the phone.  At the bar, Jane spoke for hours about the human rights abuses she had witnessed. At several points, she broke down in tears. 

    As a human rights lawyer with Amnesty International, I’m used to making elaborate arrangements to ensure the safety and anonymity of the people I interview in authoritarian countries. I’m also accustomed to hearing traumatic stories of abuse.

    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.

    September 22, 2016

    By Hanna Gros

    Canada prides itself as a place where immigrants and refugees are welcome -- a safe haven strengthened by its diversity, where multiculturalism flourishes. Canada also prides itself as a defender of human rights at home and abroad. Canadians played an important role in drafting the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms has served as a model for human rights instruments worldwide.

    But in recent years Canada has come under harsh criticism from the United Nations and civil society organizations for its immigration detention regime, which deprives children of their fundamental human rights. Under current law and administrative procedures, children affected by the immigration detention regime enter a Kafkaesque world of prison conditions, uncertain lengths of detention, and separation from their parents, that robs them of the opportunity to develop normally.

    August 29, 2016

    By Gloria Nafziger: Refugee and Migrant Rights Coodinator

    On August 21, as Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa finished a marathon at the Rio Olympics, he crossed his arms above his head in a gesture of solidarity with the Oromo people in Ethiopia. He is reported as saying, “The Ethiopian government is killing my people so I stand with all protests anywhere as Oromo is my tribe. My relatives are in prison and if they talk about democratic rights they are killed.”

    He did not return to Ethiopia, and is reported to be seeking asylum in either Brazil or the United States.

    Feyisa Lilesa is right to be concerned about human rights violations targeting the Oromo in Ethiopia.

    Early in August of this year, at least 97 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia region and in parts of Amhara. A disproportionate violent police response to protests has resulted in over 500 protestors’ deaths recorded in Oromia region since November 2015 and over 100 others in the Amhara and Oromia region in the month of August.

    August 25, 2016

    By Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International

    “I have lumps in my breasts, in my throat, and in my uterus…” – Halimeh spoke softly, but as she quickly uttered these words, I noticed an immense sadness in her dark brown eyes. We were sitting on the rocks near the ocean, wary of wild dogs barking nearby, and melting in the scorching heat of this remote Pacific island. I could feel her fear, so common for any woman in her 30s who checks her breasts in the morning and knows something isn’t right. 

    Halimeh fled Iran three years ago, after she said several of her friends got executed there, because they converted to Christianity, something that she wanted to do as well. She aimed for Australia—a country where she was hoping to find peace and freedom from religious persecution.  

    August 18, 2016
    Refugees are proudly cheering on Team Refugees at screenings of the Olympic Games at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya thanks to a FilmAid project, supported by Amnesty International.

    For the first time ever, a refugee team is competing at the Olympic Games under the Olympic flag. 10 refugee athletes are acting as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bringing global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis, by taking part in the Olympic Games in Rio.

    FilmAid, along with other key partners such as UNHCR and Amnesty International wanted to enable the refugee community in Kakuma, many of whom wouldn’t normally have the ability to watch the global event, to watch their team compete live with the rest of the world. Refugees now have a place as they support their team.
     

     

    August 05, 2016
    Tonight, when millions of people tune into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, they’ll see a team march into the stadium with no nation and no flag.

    For the first time in the history of the Olympics, 10 refugees are competing without a national team. The unprecedented team is a reflection of the global refugee crisis, with more people displaced by violence and persecution than at any time since World War II. It’s also an opportunity to help shape how the public thinks of refugees – and how governments treat them.

    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. 

    June 20, 2016

    On World Refugee Day, we talk to Ghias Aljundi, who fled to the UK from Syria 18 years ago. He is one of thousands volunteering to help refugees arriving in Greece since last year. But he’d never expected that one day he’d rescue his own family from a rubber boat.

    Only after the rescue did Ghias realise that this little girl is his three-year-old niece, Sirin. © Private

    May 20, 2016

    Sixty-six percent (66%) of Canadian respondents say our government should do more to help refugees fleeing war or persecution.  Younger Canadians are much more likely to think that their government should do more to help refugees (76% agree).  This is the arresting result of an international survey, the Canadian portion of which was conducted from March 7 to 24, 2016, only days after the Government of Canada met its objective to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and the end of February 2016.  The survey was carried out by internationally renowned strategy consultancy GlobeScan and polled more than 27,000 people in 27 countries.

     

     

    Has Canada done enough?

    April 15, 2016

    Today is the 104th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.  On this day in 1912, some 1,514 people perished in the frigid waters of the Atlantic.  That is tragedy enough but 468 of those 1,514 people drowned entirely needlessly.  There were exactly 468 empty seats in the lifeboats launched from the Titanic.

    Perhaps it is not so easy to count the avoidable deaths in today’s refugee crisis.  But a clear analogy can be drawn.  The wealthy States of 2016 represent a lifeboat for the forcibly displaced.  How many lives are lost every day, as a result of States’ failure to respond adequately to the current refugee crisis?  Many States have the capacity, but lack the leadership to accept and protect more refugees, leaving empty seats in the lifeboats.  The developing world shoulders a disproportionate share of the responsibility to protect refugees.  Wealthier states can and must do more.

    April 13, 2016

    We're still celebrating the release of scores of prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, including student leader Phyoe Phyoe Aung, on April 8!

    And now we get to take a moment to reflect on how amazing March was for human rights – activists were released, unfair laws were changed, and people who committed serious human rights abuses were brought to justice. We’ve picked out 15 successes, wins and pieces of good news, and they were all made possible thanks to your support.

    >> For the latest good news stories, click here!

     

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