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I Welcome Refugees

    January 26, 2018

    Saúl* (we are not sharing his real name or his face because of ongoing risks for his family) fled to Mexico from Honduras after surviving an armed attack that caused him to fear for his life.

    He applied for asylum but Mexican authorities rejected his claim, arguing that Saul could find safety in Honduras. He was swiftly deported in violation of his right to appeal the decision.

    Amnesty International researchers interviewed Saúl in Honduras three weeks later. He expressed an acute fear for his life and had already suffered an attack in his house on arriving home. A few days later, Saúl was murdered.

    This is no isolated case.  

    Mexican migration authorities routinely turn back thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to their countries without considering the risk to their life and security upon return.

    January 23, 2018

    Mexican migration authorities are routinely turning back thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to their countries without considering the risk to their life and security upon return, in many cases violating international and domestic law by doing so, Amnesty International said in a new report.

    Based on a survey that captured 500 experiences of Central Americans travelling through Mexico, Amnesty International found that the National Institute of Migration (INM) is systematically violating the non-refoulement principle, a binding pillar of international and Mexican law that prohibits the return of people to a real risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations. This serious failure by the Mexican government can cost, in many cases, the lives or safety of those returned to the country from which they fled. 

    January 15, 2018
    A Mexican immigration officer prepares to deport a child and his mother to Guatemala  Photo credit: Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images

    Mexico is on the front lines of a massive refugee crisis, a crisis effectively hidden by our mass media’s single-minded focus on the plight of refugees seeking safe haven in Europe.

    Huge numbers of people are fleeing across the southern border from Guatemala into Mexico because they fear for their lives amidst skyrocketing violence in Guatemala, and neighbouring El Salvador and Honduras, countries with some of the highest murder rates on the planet. 

    Mexico has laws and systems to protect refugees in Mexico. Yet Mexican authorities are constantly failing to comply with their legal obligations. Instead, they are sending endangered people back to life-threatening situations.  

    Agents of the Mexican Immigration Service detain migrants in San Mateo, Chiapas Photo:ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

     

    December 13, 2017

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    Last month CNN news footage caught on film what authorities in Libya and in Europe do not want you to see: migrants being bought and sold.

    A damning new Amnesty International report released this week paints a shocking picture of how this terrible degradation of human life has come to happen. “Libya’s Dark Web of Collusion” documents the systematic human rights abuse of 20,000 refugees and migrants from all over Africa and elsewhere, who are being held in detention Libya.

    Tortured. Deprived of food. Raped. Drowned at sea. Bought and sold.  

    October 20, 2017

    More countries need to step up and pledge their support for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh amid an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, Amnesty International said today.

    The meeting of high-level representatives of donor countries at the UN’s office in Geneva on Monday must include pledges of new money, including from countries in the region, to support rising numbers of Rohingya refugees who have sought shelter in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.

    The recent influx estimated to be nearly 600,000 people has brought the total Rohingya refugee community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district to more than 800,000.

    “This is an unprecedented crisis that needs an immediate and sustained response from the international community. This means that more countries, particularly those from the region, need to play a much bigger role and share the burden of responsibility. Bangladesh, a poor country which has shown extraordinary generosity, cannot be left to deal with this situation alone,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    October 16, 2017
    Refugee Camp in Uganda

    Moses Moini had such hope for his home and family in South Sudan.  In 2011 South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan, following years of conflict.  Resources began to pour into the country.  Moses was so pleased that he could help his mother build the best home she had ever had in their village in Kajo Kaji Country in Central Equatoria State. He believed she could live the rest of her life in comfort aided by the money he sent from Canada.  She would never need to flee again.  She was safe.

    Sadly the hope was short lived, by 2013 fighting had broken out between members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to the then Vice-President Riek Machar.  The conflict took on an increasingly ethnic dimension, with the leaders of the two main opposing factions belonging to the two largest ethnic groups - President Kiir, a Dinka, and former Vice-President Machar, a Nuer.  They each drew much of their support from members of their own ethnic groups.  A peace deal, signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and Machar, which reinstated Machar as Vice-President, was never fully implemented and eventually collapsed in July 2016.

    September 28, 2017
    Amnesty members marching

    Today, we want to hear from you. We’ve told you people’s stories and shared lots of ideas on how you can make a difference.

    But you’re the expert - you’re the one with the interest in and knowledge of your own community. So tell us, what do you think you, or others, could do to welcome refugees?

    Are there things we haven’t thought of that you think could work? Have you seen an initiative in your local community that you think is interesting or different?

    Please share these ideas and thoughts with us. We definitely don’t have all the answers, and to make this work, we need action and input from people like you.

    Thank you once again for all your support.

    September 27, 2017

    We’re coming to the last few days left in the 30 days, but your efforts don’t have to stop here.

    Keep following us on Facebook, like and share any and all posts you agree with from anyone anywhere that talk about refugees, and above all, keep talking about refugee issues any time you get the chance.

    You’ve come a long way over this past month, perhaps without realising it. You’ve taken in a lot of knowledge and done a lot of research into your own situation.

    Share that expertise and passion with anyone you can at all opportunities. Slowly but surely, as more and more people come to understand and empathise with refugee issues, you will see a real change to your society as a whole.

    Here’s a reminder of what Gloria Nafziger from Amnesty International says about how you can make change happen. Don’t stop now!

    September 26, 2017
    I Welcome Refugees door hanger on a door

    Today it’s time to show the world that you welcome refugees.

    You have read and heard so many stories, and seen the many different, simple ways you can help refugees. But if you feel happy to do so, telling people you welcome refugees could well inspire others to join you.

    You can make it a post on social media, or you can order I Welcome doorhangers and buttons from the online shop.

    Show the world that you are someone who welcomes refugees and see if others follow your lead.

    September 25, 2017

    Families that are fleeing conflict are often separated along the way, and sometimes they have to make difficult decisions about where to stay. This can be a huge source of stress for refugees when they are resettled, as they are constantly thinking about the family members they have left behind. Louai’s story here shows just how important connections to family elsewhere are.

    Some countries allow for families to reunited, which means that refugees can bring over family members if they can help support them.

    Today, find out what your government’s policy is on family reunification. See if there is any way you can tell your politicians to allow more families to be reunited.

    To see why this is important, here is Randa and Sham’s story.

    September 24, 2017

    It’s great to find businesses that support refugees and refugee issues. But that is certainly not how all businesses behave.

    For more than 1,000 refugees and people seeking asylum, the small pacific state of Nauru is an island of despair they’ve been deported to simply for seeking refuge in Australia. But for Spanish multinational Ferrovial, Nauru is a treasure island from which it is making millions of dollars.

    The system that Australia has set up on Nauru for refugees and people seeking asylum, including children, involves deliberate cruelty and amounts to torture. They are subject to humiliation, neglect and abuse, leading to poor physical and mental health.

    Ferrovial is the sole shareholder of Broadspectrum, the Australian company that runs refugee “processing” centres on Nauru as well as Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, and facilitates this abusive system.

    Please take action today and tell Ferrovial to end its operations on Nauru.

    September 23, 2017

    Do you have children, or do you have links to a school in your community? Perhaps you’re a teacher or work in a school in some other capacity?

    If you can get your local school involved and interested in supporting refugees, you might be really surprised by the results.

    For teachers, talking about refugees provides a way for children to experience the wider world around them, by hearing people’s stories and imagining how they would feel in a similar situation.

    For parents, you might be surprised at how engaged the children become with the issues, and just how much they get out of it.

    Watch teachers, pupils and parents at Edmison Heights School in Peterborough, Canada, talking about what how they all loved doing their bit for a local refugee family.

    September 22, 2017

    What companies are big in your country? Who employs a big workforce where you are? You could enlist these companies or individuals in helping refugees too.

    Around the world, lots of businesses have either made it a policy to employ refugees, or have created dedicated training schemes to equip refugees with skills that a local employer will recognise.

    For example, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Toronto, Canada, has a six-week training course in hospitality specifically for refugees. Watch their General Manager talking about how the scheme is a win-win for them.

    All it takes is for you to ask – so you could approach businesses in your community and ask them to make a specific commitment to train or employ refugees.

    Learn more:

    They fled war in Syria. Today, they manufacture emergency equipment for Canadians (National Observer)

    September 21, 2017
    Ed Sheeran playing in Washington

    On 20 September, across more than 200 cities in 60 countries, musicians, artists, activists and local communities came together in a statement of support for the world’s refugees.

    Give a Home, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds, saw living rooms across the globe play host to more than 300 special performances from some of the world’s leading musicians.

    The gigs, which included performances from Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Jessie Ware, Rudimental, Sauti Sol, Freshlyground, Ludovico Einaudi, the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, Mashrou’ Leila, Faarrow and many more, were all about celebrating a single message of solidarity: Refugees are welcome.

    At a time when the plight of refugees the world over is in the headlines on a daily basis, and with governments pursuing ever more restrictive policies to keep refugees out, it’s a message that’s more urgent now than it’s been in most of our lifetimes.

    September 21, 2017
    Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc with the Syrian Family he sponsored

    Lots of the examples and stories shared over the past 20 days have been from Canada, and that’s for a very good reason. Canada has had a private refugee sponsorship programme that has existed since the 1970s, and has resettled tens of thousands of refugees through private sponsorship

    Here is a video with Canadian sponsors, and refugees, talking about the scheme and why it is so important.

    Does this sound like something you would like to be part of?

    Contact the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program to find about about refugee sponsorship opportunities in Canada



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