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Refugees Welcome Here

    October 24, 2017

    NEW YORK ­– As his original 120-day ban on refugees expires tomorrow, President Trump Administration is expected to announce additional restrictions on refugees – policies that will leave thousands of people in danger.

    “This announcement puts thousands of families and individuals at serious risk of injury or death,” said Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA. “The people who will be hurt by this were on the brink of finding safety, and now they’re instead thrown into harm’s way again. Ripping families apart and subjecting refugees to yet more scrutiny does not keep anyone safer, and in fact exposes more people to danger. The Trump administration’s cruel policies are fueling an already vicious humanitarian crisis.”

    After imposing the refugee ban that effectively halved the Obama administration’s projected 2017 numbers from 110,000 to 55,000, President Trump has capped refugee admissions for next year at 45,000 – compared to the historic average of 85,000 a year. In raw numbers, the U.S. has will have taken in 97,000 fewer refugees since 2016.

    September 29, 2017

    Thousands of Burundian refugees are under mounting pressure to return to their country where they would be at risk of death, rape and torture, said Amnesty International in a report out today.

    Conform or flee: Repression and insecurity pushing Burundians into exile launches after two East African countries stopped automatically granting refugee status to Burundian asylum seekers. Tanzania stopped in January, and Uganda in June this year.

    The Burundi government has been pressing refugees to return. On a visit to Tanzania in July – his first foreign visit since a coup against him failed two years ago – Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza called on the more than 240,000 refugees there to return home. His comments were echoed by President John Magufuli of Tanzania. Other senior Burundian officials have taken the same message to Uganda’s refugee settlements.

    “While the Burundian government says all is well and urges refugees to return, more Burundians continue to flee the country due to repression and insecurity,” said Rachel Nicholson, Amnesty International’s Burundi researcher.

    July 05, 2017

    The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Amnesty International (AI) and the Canadian Council of Churches announced today that they are launching a legal challenge of the designation of the United States as a safe third country for refugees.

    “The US was never safe for all refugees, and is now even less safe,” said Loly Rico, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “It is wrong, morally and legally, to send claimants back to the US, knowing as we do that they may face serious violations of their basic rights.”

    The three organizations are joining an individual litigant who is asking the Federal Court to strike down the Safe Third Country Agreement and allow her to make a refugee claim in Canada. E. is a Salvadoran woman who fled her country with her daughters after a decade of being targeted by a gang, including most recently death threats. She has strong reasons for believing that she might not be protected if forced to make her refugee claim in the US, rather than Canada.

    June 27, 2017

    Amnesty International (AI) and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) released a brief today calling for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.

    The 52-page brief, Contesting the Designation of the US as a Safe Third Country, outlines the many ways that the US asylum system and immigration detention regime fail to meet required international and Canadian legal standards. It highlights how law and practice have deteriorated further since President Donald Trump took office.

    Despite many calls from refugee and human rights organizations and legal academics on both sides of the border following President Trump’s issuance of Executive Orders earlier this year, the Canadian government has repeatedly stated that there is no need to revisit the Agreement. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen has maintained that position following his review of the AI/CCR brief.

    April 13, 2017

    By: Marium Yousuf

    On a beautiful, crisp sunny day last weekend, Amnesty International, Sojurn House, Culture Link and the Centre for Victims of Torture held an event in Toronto to mark Canada’s Refugee Rights Day (April 4). The tone was deliberately celebratory, with performances from the Nai Syrian Kids Choir, poet Ama Luna and poet/singer, song-writer Ruth Mathiang that left the audience captivated all afternoon.

    The Nai Syrian Kids Choir immediately captured everyone’s attention as they streamed through the room in their yellow uniforms. Ranging between the ages from 6-12, it was hard to imagine that these smiling young faces had experienced war and loss, having recently resettled in Canada as Syrian refugees. The Choir is an initiative of Culture Link and serves as a space for children to deal with their loss, grief and hope through music, while their parents practice conversational English with ESL teachers. Their performances did not disappoint: singing songs in Arabic, French and English, while their beaming parents cheered them on.

    March 17, 2017

    The EU-Turkey deal which has resulted in the suffering of thousands of refugees and migrants is a stain on the collective conscience of Europe, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the agreement.

    The deal aimed at returning asylum-seekers back to Turkey on the premise that Turkey is safe for them, has failed on its own terms but left thousands exposed to squalid and unsafe conditions on Greek islands

    “Today marks a dark day in the history of refugee protection: one in which Europe’s leaders attempted to buy themselves out of their international obligations, heedless of the cost in human misery,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

    “A year ago, the Greek islands were transformed into de facto holding pens, as Europe’s shores went from being sites of sanctuary into places of peril. One year on, thousands remain stranded in a dangerous, desperate and seemingly endless limbo.”

    March 07, 2017

    Responding to the Hungarian Parliament’s adoption of a set of amendments allowing for the automatic detention of all asylum seekers while their applications are processed, Gauri Van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, said:

    “Plans to automatically detain some of the world’s most vulnerable people in shipping containers behind razor wire fences, sometimes for months on end, are beyond the pale. This new border detention package is just the latest in Hungary’s aggressive crackdown on refugees and migrants.”

    “These measures will even be applied to children, a flagrant violation of international and European law. It will also enable refugees to be forcibly returned to Serbia without due process. We are urging the EU to step up and show Hungary that such illegal and deeply inhumane measures have consequences. Dumping all refugees and migrants into containers isn't a refugee policy - it’s avoiding one.”

    Background

    March 06, 2017

    In response to President Trump’s new Executive Order to reinstate the suspension of the USA’s refugee resettlement programme and establish a temporary travel ban on people from six majority-Muslim countries, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

    “President Trump’s determined efforts to slam the door on those fleeing the very terror he claims to be fighting will be remembered among the darkest chapters of US history. The idea that these measures are in the interest of national security does not stand up to the slightest scrutiny.

    “This new Executive Order simply reinstates many of the most repellent elements of its predecessor. It tramples on the values the USA has long claimed to stand for and threatens to dash the hopes of thousands of refugees who were due to be resettled in the USA.

    February 09, 2017

    In response to today’s court ruling blocking the Kenyan government’s unilateral decision to shut Dadaab refugee camp, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses. This ruling reaffirms Kenya’s constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.

    Stopping the imminent closure of Dadaab refugee camp is an essential first step in respecting and protecting refugee rights in Kenya. Now Kenya and the international community must work towards finding alternative solutions for refugees including local integration options.”

    Background

    In his ruling, Justice JM Mativo said the government’s orders were discriminatory and amounted to collective punishment. He also described the orders as excessive, arbitrary and disproportionate.

    February 06, 2017

    “From polls to protests, the message to Congress is clear: Step in and stop this Muslim ban now,” Amnesty International says

    (NEW YORK, NY) – As Americans learn more about President Trump’s Muslim ban, they increasingly reject it, multiple polls show. Amnesty International USA said today that Congress should listen to growing public opposition to the Muslim ban and pass legislation to block it.

    February 02, 2017

    Closing the EU’s southern sea borders would put thousands of refugees and migrants setting sail from Libya at risk of detention and appalling human rights abuses, Amnesty International warned as European leaders meet in Malta tomorrow to secure an EU-Libya migration plan.  The plan was first proposed late last month by the European Commission to ‘manage migration’ on the Central Mediterranean route.

    The EU naval operations Sophia and Triton would in practice delegate search and rescue of refugees and migrants by sharing information about the location of the migrant and refugee boats to the Libyan Coast Guard, facilitating their interception and return to Libya.

    January 30, 2017

    In an Open Letter to Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Amnesty International’s Canadian and US Sections, representing close to 2 million people in the two countries, have today called on the Canadian government immediately and urgently to rescind designation of the United States as a “safe third country” for the purposes of refugee determination.

    The designation, pursuant to an agreement reached between the two countries in 2002, took effect in December 2004.  Its effect is to deny access to the Canadian refugee determination system for most refugee claimants who pass through the United States before continuing to Canada.  They are instead required to make their claims for protection in the United States.  The designation of the United States as a “safe third country” had been overturned by a Federal Court judge in 2007, but that was reversed on procedural grounds by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2008.

    November 24, 2016
    Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers being detained and forcibly returned Lack of water, food and medical care Both governments preventing thousands from accessing aid Harrowing details of Myanmar military attacks on villages

    As the Myanmar authorities are subjecting the Rohingya Muslim minority to collective punishment, thousands of refugees who have made it across the border to Bangladesh in desperate need of humanitarian assistance are being forcibly pushed back in flagrant violation of international law, Amnesty International said today.

    “The Rohingya are being squeezed by the callous actions of both the Myanmar and Bangladesh authorities. Fleeing collective punishment in Myanmar, they are being pushed back by the Bangladeshi authorities. Trapped between these cruel fates, their desperate need for food, water and medical care is not being addressed,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    November 14, 2016

    Just two weeks before the deadline given to close the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenyan government officials are deliberately coercing refugees to return to Somalia, where they risk being injured or killed in the ongoing armed conflict, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The government announced in May that it would close the world’s largest refugee camp, which is home to more than 280,000 mostly Somali refugees, citing security, economic and environmental concerns, in addition to lack of support by the international community. Since then, government officials have made statements in the media and visited the camp, threatening people to leave before the closure slated for 30 November 2016.

    “The refugees are caught between a rock and a hard place. Kenyan government officials are telling them they must leave by the end of the month or they will be forced to leave without any assistance,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    September 30, 2016

    The alleged ill-treatment of five Syrian refugee children who say they were detained, beaten and forced to strip naked by Greek police for carrying plastic toy guns in the street is a deeply disturbing incident that must be properly investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    The children, boys aged between 12 and 16, were seized “on suspicion of being members of an armed group” while they carried the toys as props on their way to perform in a theatre play in central Athens this week.

    “The ridiculous elements of this case should not deflect attention from the extremely serious and deeply disturbing nature of the allegations against Greek police officers, who are accused of committing human rights violations against children in their custody during an identity check,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

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