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Refugees and Migrants

    September 21, 2015

    By Eliza Goroya in Kos, Greece and Khairunissa Dhala and Lorna Hayes in Berlin, Germany.

     

    From Greece to Germany, volunteers are joining forces to help newly-arrived refugees and migrants get food, clothes and medical attention - plugging glaring gaps in the EU’s broken asylum system while Europe’s leaders still grapple for a common solution to the growing crisis.

    “There was this Syrian family: a father with a small girl. She tried to open the door of my car. I thought she must be after the food, so I asked her father what they need. ‘You have the same car as us,’ he responded, ‘but ours exploded back in Syria. Her mother died in it.’

    “And then I understood what the little girl was looking for."

    Konstantinos, a volunteer, looks away as he shares this story with me. Locals on the Greek island of Kos call him 'The Hardcore One', because he juggles two jobs with daily deliveries of food, supplies and support for refugees.

     

    September 21, 2015

    By Gloria Nafziger, Amnesty Canada's Refugee Coordinator.

    The recent announcement to bring 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Canada by September 2016 has the appearance of being a step in the right direction. Without a doubt, in the face of the most urgent refugee crisis in the past 40 years anything that can be done to expedite the resettlement of vulnerable refugees is a step in the right direction. 

    But it is a very small and disappointing step forward.

    September 08, 2015

    By Barbora Cernušáková, Hungary Researcher at Amnesty International, Bicske, Hungary. Follow Barbora on Twietter @BCernusakova.

    His brother just looked at him. The Pakistani man in his fifties lay lifeless beside a train track a few hundred metres from Bicske train station. It is unclear how he died, but he was trying to find a better life in Europe.

    Both men were part of a larger group running away from a train that had been halted since yesterday in the Hungarian train station. Many other refugees and migrants are still refusing to leave the train because they don’t want to go to Hungarian reception centres.

     

    "This week, at the main Keleti station in Budapest and in Bicske, I witnessed a new low in the cruelty of the treatment of refugees in Hungary".

    - Barbora Cernuscova, Hungary Researcher at Amnesty International

    After being barred from boarding trains for days, yesterday morning, the police at Keleti suddenly lifted the barriers.

    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.

    August 31, 2015

    By Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director of Amnesty International Greece 

    The view was staggering upon my arrival in the village of Idomeni, near Greece’s border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia).

    Up to 4,000 refugees, many of them from Syria including many families with children, were trapped after Macedonia’s government designated the southern border just outside the town of Gevgelija a “crisis area”, closing the border crossing and bringing in military backup. The refugees were all trying to pass through Macedonia on their way to northern European countries.

    June 17, 2015

    For a good part of the past year I received almost weekly phone calls from Abdi.   He told me he was stateless and had spent most of his childhood in a refugee camp.  He and his family arrived in Canada with as Convention Refugees.  Twenty two years later he found himself in a maximum-security Provincial jail on an immigration hold, while the Canadian government tried to find a way to remove him to his country of birth. His birth however had never been registered, and his birth country did not recognize him as a citizen.
      

    May 25, 2015

    On Thursday May 21, Luis Alberto Mata became a permanent resident in Canada. 

    A month earlier, with support from Amnesty International, Luis launched a campaign, No Lives in Limbo calling on the Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to grant him permanent status. Luis was recognized as a Convention Refugee in Canada in 2003, and then waited 12 years for a decision on his application for permanent residence.  Amnesty International supported Luis and his family over those 12 years.

    Following is part of a message from Luis to those who supported him.

    THE BEST SPRING OF THE LAST 12 YEARS!

    “As I begin this reflection, it comes to my mind a profound and beautiful adage from Aristotle:  "Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them".

    May 07, 2015
    "On the eve of his departure, he called me so that I could pray for him. After he spoke to me, he told his wife and two children that he was about to leave Libya for Italy. Unfortunately, the next call we got was from his brother who told us that he had perished at sea.”

    "I gave my son the 350 000 CFA francs (approximately $750) for him to leave and succeed, and to get us out of poverty"

     

    By Alain Roy
    Deputy Director, Amnesty International Regional Office, Dakar, Senegal

     

    April 27, 2015
    Italian Navy vessel Virginio Fasan, performing search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean as part of the Mare Nostrum operation, August 2014

    An Amnesty International delegation has just returned from the Italian island of Lampedusa and elsewhere in Sicily, after collecting the testimonies of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers rescued in the high seas of the central Mediterranean.

    Over the past fortnight, hundreds of people are feared to have lost their lives at sea, with more than 10,000 rescued. Many of the survivors have harrowing stories to tell. Here is one, from a Somali boy who lost his friend during a terrifying journey that lasted more than three months in all. Amnesty International spoke to him in a reception centre in Lampedusa, less than a week after his rescue on 17 April. His name has been changed at his request.

    My name is Ali and I come from Somalia. I am 15 years old.

    When I was nine, I was separated from my family and moved to the capital, Mogadishu, where I lived with friends in the Yaaqshiid area. There, I learned English and worked cleaning shoes for soldiers.

    Just over three months ago, I left Somalia. There are lots of problems there – fighting, drought, famine. I’m looking for a better life. I’d like to go to Norway.

    February 09, 2015

    By Geoffrey Mock, orginally published on Amnesty USA blog

    What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it?

    You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

    You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education.

    “We don’t go to anyone, we don’t visit anyone because dealing with him is so difficult,” the woman told Amnesty International researchers. “People stay away because they are afraid he will hurt their children. This little room is our bedroom, it is our living room, it is our everything. Our financial situation doesn’t allow us to register him in such [specialist] schools… That is why we need to resettle in another country, to get help for our child. This will make it better for him and for us.”

    January 28, 2015

    By Francesca Pizzutelli, Refugees and Migrants’ Rights Researcher/Advisor at Amnesty International

    From the plane, the change of seasons is evident: what three months ago was a large expanse of arid, dusty yellow land, now is dark brown and punctuated by moist green patches. After a first visit in September, my colleague Khairun and I are back in Iraqi Kurdistan (officially known as Kurdistan Region of Iraq, or KRI) to assess the human rights situation of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis alike.

    December 18, 2014

    Is a migrant the same as an immigrant? Are migrants good or bad for the economy, and can you name some famous ones? Find out today, on International Migrants Day.

    1. What's the difference between an immigrant and a migrant?
    All immigrants are migrants, but not all migrants are immigrants. And just to confuse things, there are also “emigrants”. Here’s how it works: A migrant moves around within their own country, or from one country to another, often to find work or join family members, because of poverty or a crisis. If you’re from Italy and go to live in Spain, then you would be an emigrant in Italy and an immigrant in Spain. You can be called an “international migrant” if you have foreign nationality or were born in another country. "Immigrant" and migrant are often used interchangeably and tend to get mixed up with the word "asylum-seeker" (see below).

    November 04, 2014

    Neil Sammonds, Amnesty's Syria Researcher, blogs from Kobani on the Turkey-Syria border

    A dust cloud from the US air strike drifts across the border from Kobani and blurs our view from the overlooking Turkish hilltop. Most if not all of those watching – all Kurds, it seems, from both Syria and Turkey – agree that the damage caused to the city by air strikes is a price worth paying. Many believe the city’s defence, led by Syrian Kurdish fighters, would have collapsed without them.

    “My home may get destroyed but if it forces out Da’esh”, as the armed group which calls itself the Islamic State (IS) is usually referred to locally, “then I am happy,” says one.

    Fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) lead the city’s defence against the armed group widely loathed by Kurds.  

    Residents of the scores of villages outside Kobani, and then the city itself, fled ahead of the rapid IS advance, well aware of the atrocities committed by the group against Iraqi Kurds in Sinjar and elsewhere. Some 200,000 fled into Turkey, two-thirds of them in just four days in September this year.

    August 26, 2014

    By Maxim Tucker, Press Officer – Global Campaigns, Thematic Issues and UN.

    (BORGO MEZZANONE, ITALY) Ebrima’s bedroom is a stark corrugated square, five metres long and five metres wide. He shares it with one other asylum seeker – each has a foam mattress over a camp bed to sleep on. Wires dangle from a broken light in the ceiling and the floor is carpeted in dust, crumbs and the odd seashell.

    The Asylum Seekers Reception Centre at Borgo Mezzanone, Southern Italy, has been his home for the past six months. In this disused airbase which was turned into a detention centre, conditions are dire. But after a harrowing journey from Africa, through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean, Ebrima doesn’t even seem to notice. He is happy to be here.

    He tells me his journey started in Sierra Leone after the death of his Muslim father. The Christian community where he lived wanted him gone. Even his stepmother’s family tried to force him to convert from Islam to Christianity.

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