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Refugees and Migrants

    June 02, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 3 June 2016

    The European Union (EU) must immediately halt plans to return asylum-seekers to Turkey on the false pretence that it is a “safe country” for refugees, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.

    The briefing, No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey, (attached) details the short-comings in Turkey’s asylum system and the hardships refugees face there that would render their return under the EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March illegal – and unconscionable.

    The briefing shows that Turkey’s asylum system is struggling to cope with more than three million asylum-seekers and refugees. As a result, asylum-seekers face years waiting for their cases to be dealt with, during which time they receive little or no support to find shelter and sustenance for themselves and their families, with children as young as nine working to support families.

    A spirited celebration of the contributions of refugees to Ottawa, and of our community's welcome for refugees.  The event is an Open House at Amnesty’s beautiful historic building on Laurier Avenue East and will present an opportunity for the general public to engage in activism for refugee rights.  Inspiring speakers. Light refreshments.  Live music.

    New Canadians Bushra Alarim and Husam Aldakhil will speak about their experience of being welcomed in Ottawa.  Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, will open the event.

    We are delighted that Surai Tea will provide its organic jasmine scented teas, handcrafted in Canada and packaged by Syrian-Canadian refugees.

    Musical appearances by Lee Hayes VOX! and by Adesso

    Mark World Refugee Day with us! 

    Join the Facebook event. 

     

    Speaker Bios

    April 14, 2016
    Released 8:30 EDT / 13:30 BST 14 April 2016   FIFA President Gianni Infantino cannot afford to continue the organization’s indifference to human rights abuses in Qatar, said Amnesty International today, following the publication of a report identifying major shortcomings in FIFA’s policies and practices.   FIFA hired John Ruggie, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, to review and report on the organization’s business practices in December 2015. While the report sets out broad organizational human rights reforms, it does not specifically tackle the human rights crisis in Qatar, where thousands of World Cup workers are at risk of abuse.   “FIFA has had its head in the sand about the abuses in Qatar for more than five years, telling itself and the world that the Qatari authorities will fix things. That has not happened, and now only concerted FIFA action to prevent abuses on World Cup sites will save the soul of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf Migrants’ Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.
    April 02, 2016

    Amnesty International will send a delegation to Lesvos and Chios in the coming days to monitor the situation as the EU-Turkey refugee deal is set to be implemented, including the expected mass returns of those who attempt to cross the Aegean Sea.

    Amnesty International has called the deal “a historic blow to human rights” and has researched and campaigned extensively on its broad human rights implications in both Greece and Turkey. The returns in particular are a flagrant violation of EU and international law, making a mockery of the global Refugee Convention.

    The delegation will visit Lesvos on 4-5 April and Chios on 6-7 April, and will include the organization’s Deputy Director for Europe Gauri van Gulik and Amnesty International Greece Director Giorgos Kosmopoulos. They will be available for media interviews on the ground.

     

    For futher information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667 3236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

    March 21, 2016
    Garnotte - Refugee 'choices'

    Take the Refugees Welcome Here Pledge! 

    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

    An international coalition of over 30 non-governmental organisations today welcomed the ambition demonstrated at the ‘Supporting Syria And the Region’ donor conference in London to increase the scale and scope of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, but said that overall pledges for 2016 fell more than $3 billion short of what was urgently needed. The NGOs, including Oxfam, Sawa Aid and Development, and Islamic Relief, applauded the generosity of some donors while encouraging others also to pledge their fair share. They also warned that many Syrians would continue to suffer unless more was done to ensure their protection inside and outside the country, and an end to the violence in Syria.

    December 03, 2015

    Amid increasing tension and violent clashes in the policing of refugees and migrants protesting at the Greek-Macedonian border, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) border police must show restraint and comply fully with international policing standards, said Amnesty International today.

    In repeated incidents since the erection of a border fence last Saturday, the Macedonian police have used rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades against refugees and migrants who are protesting over being blocked from entering the country on the basis of their nationalities.

    “Reports of Macedonian police officers firing rubber bullets at asylum-seekers are very alarming,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “We urge Macedonia to end its discriminatory policy at the border, which is fuelling tensions. Thousands of people are caught between a rock and a hard place, in dire conditions and with no ability to claim asylum.”

    November 18, 2015

    The Dominican Republic’s bureaucratic legal maze has left thousands of stateless “ghost citizens”, who are unable to work regularly, enroll in high school or even see a doctor, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    ‘Without papers, I am no one’: Stateless people in the Dominican Republic debunks official statements that no one in the Dominican Republic lacks a nationality. It explores the intricate legal labyrinth created by the authorities since the 1990s and more recently through a 2013 ruling which has arbitrarily left tens of thousands of people born to foreign parents or grandparents without a nationality.

    “With the stroke of a pen, authorities in the Dominican Republic have effectively wiped four generations of Dominicans off the map. Without nationality, tens of thousands of people have become virtual ghosts, who face serious obstacles in accessing basic services in the country,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    November 16, 2015

    Southeast Asian leaders meeting this week in Malaysia must urgently prioritize a coordinated plan to help the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh who are forced to risk abuse and death at sea, said Amnesty International.  

    Governments meeting at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur from 18-22 November cannot solely focus on economic development while there is a looming refugee crisis and an ongoing clampdown on freedom of expression in the region.

    “The global refugee crisis erupted in Southeast Asia in May this year, when thousands of people from Myanmar and Bangladesh were stranded in rickety boats, pushed back from safety on shore, trafficked into forced labour, or killed at sea. ASEAN nations have an important chance at this week’s Summit to agree on urgent action to prevent this tragedy from happening again,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Interim Director for South East Asia and Pacific regional office.

    October 13, 2015

    By Salil Shetty, international Secretary General of Amnesty International. Follow Salil on Twitter @SalilShetty.

    A generation from now, schoolchildren will be shown the image of a drowned three-year-old lying face down on a beach.

    They will look on in stunned silence, transfixed by this boy who could easily have been their little brother or a younger version of themselves. And their teacher will tell them how this tragic photo of lifeless Alan Kurdi sums up the historic global shame in 2015 as the international community failed to help millions of vulnerable people amid the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

    It is up to world leaders – especially those in the largest and richest economies – to decide how this history lesson will end.

    What will their legacy be for generations to come? Will they continue to shed crocodile tears while investing in fortifying their borders and ignoring the plight of millions of refugees? Or will they find their moral backbone and live up to their responsibility to assist those with a right to protection?

    October 07, 2015

    Released  00:01 BST Thursday 8 September 2015

    The Hungarian government has invested more than 1OO million euros on razor-wire fencing and border controls to keep refugees and migrants out, triple the amount it spends yearly on receiving asylum seekers, Amnesty International revealed in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing, Fenced Out, outlines how Hungary’s draconian measures to control its borders have repeatedly violated international law. As EU ministers gather in Luxembourg today for high-level meetings to discuss the crisis, Amnesty International is calling on the EU to hold Hungary to account for its human rights failures and to protect people on the move by creating safer, legal routes before winter hits.

    “Hungary is a few razor-wire coils away from completely sealing off its borders with Croatia and Serbia. Even those that do manage to squeeze through the key-hole are almost certain to be returned to Balkan countries of transit,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    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 11, 2015

    The shocking images of scores of refugees and asylum-seekers being thrown food by Hungarian police at a registration centre in Roszke underscores the deplorable conditions facing those being held by the Hungarian authorities, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization is calling for human rights monitors to be granted immediate access to all centres and facilities housing refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants who have recently arrived in Hungary.

    “The image of refugees and asylum-seekers clamouring for food as the police throw parcels of food is truly sickening,” said Barbora Cernusakova, a researcher for Amnesty International.

    “Human rights monitors must be given immediate access to registration centres, and every effort must be made to improve the conditions in which refugees and asylum-seekers are held.”

    Amnesty International staff were refused access to the registration centre in Roszke, Hungary which is featured in the youtube video (see below) which gained global media attention today.

    September 10, 2015

    Toronto, ON – Syrian Canadians, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers today called on the government to immediately issue Temporary Residence Permits (TRPs) for Syrians with family in Canada. The growing humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees and the federal government’s failure to act innovatively and decisively is spurring advocates to propose its own solutions. The advocates say this would be a quick and effective way to ensure families are safe while their permanent resident applications are being processed inside Canada.

    “The lengthy multi-year processing delays for family sponsorships are unacceptable and especially brutal for Syrian refugees facing dangerous conditions in Syria and neighboring countries,” said Lorne Waldman, Executive member of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. “As other countries prepare urgent and bold plans to accept more refugees, Canada can and must do more than it is currently doing.”

    September 09, 2015

    Brussels - New proposals announced today by the European Commission to address the global refugee crisis will make steps towards protecting refugees but will not solve it in the long nor short term, said Amnesty International. Responding to the announcement,  Acting Director for Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, Iverna McGowan said:

    "While the proposals published by the Commission today will help to address the refugee crisis, they certainly will not solve it - neither in the short-term nor the long-term.  EU member states must work with the Commission to implement a much more ambitious overhaul of the EU's asylum system - based on signficantly enhanced assistance to front-line member states to receive and process asylum-seekers and mutual recognition of refugee status within the Union.  Member states should be looking to increase safe routes into the EU, not safe countries to send them back to."

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty

     

    CANADA: WELCOME
    SYRIAN REFUGEES

    Canada’s commitment to resettling refugees has been modest and processing rates painfully slow. Remind the Prime Minister and all party leaders that Canadians welcome refugees.

    September 08, 2015

    Released  00:01 GMT 9 September 2015

    European leaders’ response to the burgeoning refugee crisis has been incoherent and lacking in leadership, ambition and compassion, said Amnesty International as it launched its Agenda for Europe just prior to the European Commission announcing new proposals today to address the crisis.

    A Union of Protection: Amnesty International’s Agenda for Refugee Protection in Europe sets out the urgently needed changes in Europe’s approach to the escalating refugee crisis ahead of an emergency Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday.

    “The level of suffering facing refugees fleeing violence and human rights violations has reached a level unseen in Europe since the Second World War,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “The response to the refugee crisis in Europe has been piecemeal and incoherent at a time when the need for clear-sighted leadership and radical reform of Europe’s collapsing asylum system has never been greater.”

    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 06, 2015

    Hungary should urgently provide refugees and migrants crossing the border from Serbia more humane reception conditions, transport and clarity about where they are being sent, Amnesty International said. With more people bound to arrive, the situation could escalate further.

    “While Europe rejoiced in happy images from Austria and Germany yesterday, refugees crossing into Hungary right now see a very different picture: riot police and a cold hard ground to sleep on,” said Amnesty International researcher Barbora Cernusakova.

    “While Europe has failed abysmally to respond, Hungary has a duty to ensure decent conditions for people who arrive. Its hostile approach doesn’t keep people out, it simply prolongs and adds to their ordeal.”

    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 04, 2015

    Today’s visit by European Commissioners Timmermans and Avramopoulos to the Greek island of Kos must result in immediate action to end the prolonged suffering of thousands of refugees, including many children, staying in inhumane conditions, Amnesty International said today following a research mission on the island this week.

    The organization witnessed a violent attack on refugees last night and has documented the overall dire conditions refugees face on the island. Researchers found children as young as a week old among the crowds forced to wait for days in baking heat to be registered by the local authorities, and interviewed unaccompanied minors being detained in deplorable conditions alongside adults.

    “The refugees we met on Kos have fled war and persecution in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. They include children, some with their families but others travelling alone. The hellish conditions the refugees are now forced to endure and the official indifference to their plight is appalling,” said Kondylia Gogou, Greece Researcher at Amnesty International, who just returned from Kos.

    September 03, 2015

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
    By fax: 613-941-6900
    By email:  pm@gc.ca

    September 3, 2015

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you and to the leaders of all federal parties with an appeal for politics and campaigning to be put aside and for the government to take immediate, concrete and generous steps to significantly boost Canada’s contribution to the mounting Syrian refugee crisis. 

    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.

    August 24, 2015

    Weak coordination and severe shortages in facilities and staffing are creating dreadful conditions for the hundreds of refugees and migrants arriving every day on the Greek island of Lesvos, which is seeing the highest number of arrivals in Greece, Amnesty International said after a research team returned from the island.

    Overloaded, under-resourced authorities are failing to cope with the dramatic increase in the number of people arriving on the island (33,000 since 1 August) and must rely on local volunteers, NGO activists, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and tourists to step into the massive breach. The vast majority are fleeing conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - 90% of those arriving in 2015 according to UNHCR.

    August 21, 2015

    Thousands of mainly Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers are trapped and face a serious risk of violence after Macedonian authorities sealed the country’s southern border on Thursday, creating a new crisis zone amid the global refugee crisis, Amnesty International said.

    The situation rapidly deteriorated when the government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) declared two border areas “crisis regions”, closed the southern border crossing with Greece just outside the town of Gevgelija, and called in military backup.

    Amnesty International has received extremely worrying reports that an anti-terrorism police unit deployed to the border have used beatings and riot-control agents and even fired in the air to prevent people from crossing into Macedonia. Barbed wire fences have also been erected along the border.

    August 21, 2015

    The disgraceful lack of effective investigations into the mass killings of 72 migrants in Mexico five years ago is giving a green light to criminal groups who terrorize and murder people crossing the country to seek safety and a better life, said Amnesty International.  

    On 22 August 2010, the corpses of 58 men and 14 women from Central and South America were found piled up inside a ranch in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, near Mexico’s border with Texas. Since then, authorities have made a number of arrests but have failed to publish any information as to whether anyone has been sentenced.  

    Those responsible are believed to be members of criminal gangs, many of them suspected to be working in collusion with local security agencies.  

    “The mass killings in San Fernando paint a gruesome picture of the state of human rights in Mexico, where being a migrant seems to be reason enough for criminals to harass, torture and murder you,” said Carolina Jiménez, Americas Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International.  

    August 14, 2015

    Today’s move by the European Commission towards increasing support to Greece following a sharp increase in the arrival of refugees on Greece’s Aegean islands is a step towards supporting Greece and the many vulnerable people seeking refuge in Europe, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization however also warned of the urgent need for the Commission to call for the European Union (EU) member states to increase safe and legal routes so those in need of protection can reach Europe safely.

    “The crisis unfolding on the Greek islands shows how the authorities are incapable of meeting the needs and protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as the increase in arrivals by sea to the islands have pushed an already struggling reception system beyond breaking point,” said Iverna McGowan Acting Director for Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    July 08, 2015

    Released 9 July 2015 00:01 BST

    A dramatic fall in the number of migrants and refugees who have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean underscores the importance of the desperately needed boost to search-and-rescue operations initiated by European leaders at the end of April, Amnesty International said today.

    One in 16 people attempting the crossing died in the first four months of 2015 prior to the emergency measures. This figure has fallen to as few as one in 427 in the last two months alone as the increased search and rescue operations have come into effect.  

    The large decrease in fatalities has occurred despite more men, women and children attempting to reach southern Europe from Africa’s coastline since the end of April. Nearly 28,000 people attempted the crossing between 1 January and 26 April 2015, while more than 42,000 made the attempt between 25 April and 29 June.

    June 30, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST   1 July 2015

    South East Asian governments have so far failed to take sufficient action to protect refugees and migrants one month after a key summit to address the crisis that saw thousands of people stranded on boats over the past months, Amnesty International said in an open letter today.

    The Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean in Bangkok on 29 May brought 17 countries together to discuss the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

    “One month after the Bangkok summit, there are few signs that governments are doing what is necessary to address the desperate plight of migrants and refugees. There’s still inadequate coordination on search and rescue operations, and a lack of clear protection measures for people who have landed on their shores,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director.

    The International Organization for Migration at one point in May estimated that there were as many as 8,000 people – refugees and migrants mainly from Myanmar and Bangladesh - stranded on boats close to Thailand. 

    June 24, 2015

    Released 00.01 BST - 25 June 2015

    A sharp increase in refugees arriving on Greece’s Aegean islands is pushing an already faltering reception system to breaking point and is symptomatic of a failure by Europe’s leaders to adequately address the refugee crisis, warned Amnesty International ahead of the EU Summit which starts today.

    A recent fact-finding mission to the islands and follow-up research reveals that new arrivals – including children – face appalling reception conditions. Poor planning, ineffective use of EU funds and a hiring freeze crisis has left Greek authorities incapable of meeting the needs and protecting the rights of refugees. Each month the humanitarian crisis, enflamed by Greece’s financial disaster, worsens.

    June 18, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned at recent allegations that Australian officials paid people-smugglers tens of thousands of dollars to return a boat carrying 65 asylum-seekers to Indonesia. If true, these actions would be in blatant violation of Australia’s international legal obligations.

    The alleged events are detailed in documents provided to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) by the Head of Public Relations at the East Nusa Tenggara province police headquarters commissioner Ronalzie Agus. Indonesian authorities based this information on interviews with six witnesses as well as the captain and crew of the boat.

    Alleged payment to send asylum-seekers to Indonesia

    June 15, 2015

    Released 12:00 pm (midday) Beirut (10am BST) Monday 15 June 2015

    Worst refugee crisis since World War II. One million refugees desperately in need of resettlement. Four million Syrian refugees struggling to survive in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. More than three million refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, and only a small fraction offered resettlement since 2013. 3,500 people drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2014 -- 1,865 so far in 2015. 300 people died in the Andaman Sea in the first three months of 2015 due to starvation, dehydration and abuse by boat crews.

    > Download the Report  (pdf: 1.3 Mb)

    June 11, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT  12 June 2015

    The African Union (AU) should call on the South African authorities to provide a long-term security guarantee for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers living in the country, Amnesty International and other 12 civil society organizations said today at a side event during the AU summit underway in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

    The 25th Ordinary Session of the AU takes place against the backdrop of continuing xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals living in the country by locals.

    “This is the moment for the AU to put pressure on the South African government to resolve the persistent occurrence of Xenophobia in the country and ensure there is no impunity for the perpetrators. The AU must remind the government of its obligation to protect everyone living in its territory from violent attacks, regardless of their status. Xenophobic attacks must end,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa Region.

    June 11, 2015

    The expulsion of two Amnesty International experts from Morocco is a blatant attempt to prevent legitimate human rights research and muzzle criticism in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Moroccan police held John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia and Irem Arf, Refugee and Migrant Rights Researcher, separately today. Both had their passports confiscated and were questioned at police stations in Rabat and Oujda, respectively, before they were put on separate flights to London and Paris.

    “Morocco’s lofty words about being an open country have been exposed as hollow by their actions today,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research.

    “The decision to expel our staff from Morocco as they began their investigations into the human rights situation of migrants and refugees raises serious suspicions that the authorities have something to hide.”

    May 28, 2015

    Regional governments must take immediate action to save lives and address the root causes of the South East Asian refugees and migrant crisis, Amnesty International said ahead of a key summit in Thailand on Friday.

    “The Bangkok summit is an opportunity to develop a genuine regional effort to address all the many dimensions of the crisis in line with international human rights law that must not be missed,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “We have seen thousands of people crammed onto boats with little or no food or water, while governments have been slow to provide shelter or other basic humanitarian assistance. There clearly needs to be immediate action.”

    Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have taken crucial first steps by offering temporary humanitarian assistance and reversing appalling policies of turning back boats. However, efforts must be stepped up to address all forms of migration while respecting human rights. Governments have a responsibility to ensure legal and safe routes of migration.

    May 27, 2015

    The increase in Triton’s resources and operational area, confirmed by the European Commission (EC) today as it presented additional proposals around the European Agenda on Migration, will at last move towards closing the search and rescue gap created by the closure of Italy’s defunct Operation Mare Nostrum, enabling it to save more lives at sea, said Amnesty International.

    “By adding resources to patrol the central Mediterranean and expanding the operational area of Triton to the level of the defunct Operation Mare Nostrum, the European Union has finally recognized the colossal mistake in closing Italy’s operation without replacing it with an equivalent mission. In practice, this means more assets at sea, closer to where most refugees and migrants, travelling on overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, get into trouble and risk drowning. And ultimately more lives will be saved,” said Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    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 20, 2015

    The decision by Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to reverse an appalling policy of turning back boats carrying refugees and vulnerable migrants is a step in the right direction – but falls far short of the measures urgently needed to save thousands of lives still at risk at sea, or to address the root causes of the crisis, Amnesty International said.

    “This is certainly good news for the people aboard those boats that manage to reach the safety of the shore – but it does nothing for the thousands still adrift at sea, with diminishing supplies of food and water, or for any more who may follow them,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia cannot shirk their duty as a states party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to provide maritime search and rescue operations to save lives.”

    May 14, 2015

    The South African police and Immigration officials must fully and immediately comply with the Court Order of 12 May 2015 to not deport hundreds of refugees and others arrested under operation “Fiela”, Amnesty International-South Africa said today.    

    “The authorities must ensure that all detained persons are enabled to both contact their lawyers and challenge the detention and orders for deportation”, said Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, Executive Director of Amnesty International-South Africa.

    The repeated violations of the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants detained after police raids in inner city Johannesburg on 8 May is a matter of grave concern.
    “The court’s ruling instructing the police and immigration officials to act within the law confirms that the rights of those arrested had been violated since the beginning of the operation.”

    “It is outrageous that the police and immigration officials detained all foreigners they encountered, including recognized refugees and asylum-seekers. Such disproportionate acts fuel xenophobia.”

    May 13, 2015

    South East Asian governments must step up urgent search and rescue efforts to ensure that thousands of people stranded in boats are not left in dire circumstances and at risk of death, Amnesty International said, as another boat carrying hundreds of people thought to be migrants and asylum seekers in desperate conditions is currently awaiting rescue off the Thai coast.

    Amnesty International has confirmed that a boat crammed with some 350 people, including children, is currently drifting off the coast of Thailand and Malaysia. The hundreds of people, believed to be from Myanmar or Bangladesh, have been at sea for “many days”, possibly more than two months. Their crew abandoned them several days ago. The passengers are without food and water and are in urgent need of medical care. Thai Navy vessels are currently searching for the boat.

    May 13, 2015

    New proposals by the European Commission (EC) on asylum and resettlement represent a welcome shift in approach towards the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean which could result in small but important steps forward in tackling the global refugee crisis, said Amnesty International as the EC unveiled its Agenda on Migration today.

    “Today we have seen the European Commission take a first step in shifting its Fortress Europe attitude towards the refugee crisis, but it will need to be implemented expansively and with the full backing of all EU member states,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “The Agenda on Migration not only contains a clear recognition of the need for effective search and rescue operations to save refugees and migrants from drowning at sea, but also acknowledges that alternative safe and legal routes are essential to reduce the number of people forced to put their lives in the hands of smugglers in order to reach safety in Europe.”

    May 10, 2015

    Released 00:01 BST Monday 11 May 2015

    Refugees and migrants across Libya face rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today.

    ‘Libya is full of cruelty’: Stories of abduction, sexual violence and abuse from migrants and refugees exposes the full horror and plight of refugees and migrants in Libya, many of whom are driven to risk their lives in treacherous sea crossings in a desperate attempt to reach sanctuary in Europe.

    “The ghastly conditions for migrants, coupled with spiralling lawlessness and armed conflicts raging within the country, make clear just how dangerous life in Libya is today.  With no legal avenues to escape and seek safety, they are forced to place their lives in the hands of smugglers who callously extort, abuse and attack them,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    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.

    April 23, 2015

    The failure to extend Triton’s operational area will fatally undermine today’s commitment from several European nations to provide resources, ships and aircraft to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, said Amnesty International.

    “What we witnessed today in Brussels was a face-saving not a life-saving operation. All the words and resources being thrown at this problem suggest that EU leaders are being serious about saving lives at sea.  But the reality is they are still only meeting the problem halfway,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia

    “Unless they go the extra mile, migrants and refugees will continue to drown and Europe will have again failed shamefully – to deal with this tragedy on its doorstep. If Triton can’t be changed, then Triton is not the solution, however many resources one gives it.”

    The announcement of increased funding and assets towards existing European Union (EU) border control operations, including Operation Triton, came at the end of an emergency summit in Brussels on the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

    April 22, 2015

    On the eve of an emergency summit in Brussels, Amnesty International is publishing a Blueprint for Action calling on European governments to take immediate and effective steps to end an ongoing catastrophe that has left thousands of refugees and migrants dead.

    The briefing, Europe’s sinking shame: The failure to save refugees and migrants at sea, documents testimonies of shipwreck survivors. It details the challenges and limitations of current search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean and sets out ways in which this can be remedied. It calls for the immediate launch of a humanitarian operation to save lives at sea, with adequate ships, aircraft, and other resources, patrolling where lives are at risk.

    “European leaders gathering in Brussels have an historic opportunity to end a spiralling humanitarian tragedy of Titanic proportions," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    April 16, 2015

    Forcibly returning around 350,000 refugees to Somalia would be a violation of Kenya’s obligations under international law and put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk, Amnesty International said today.

    Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, is situated in the north east of Kenya. It is about 100 km from Garissa, where 147 people, including 142 students, were murdered at the university on 2 April in an attack for which the militant Islamist group, Al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility. The move to close the camps has been presented as a security measure in response to that attack.

    “The attack in Garissa underlined the need for the Kenyan government to better guarantee the security of its population. But this must not be done by putting at risk people Kenya is duty-bound to protect,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    April 15, 2015

    • As many as 900 feared dead so far this year, according to UN Refugee Agency

    • Almost 10,000 rescued since the weekend, according to Italian coastguard

    • European governments have failed to address the humanitarian crisis

    European governments’ ongoing negligence towards the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean has contributed to a more than 50-fold increase in migrant and refugee deaths since the beginning of 2015, Amnesty International said today amid fears that as many as 400 more have died amid rescue missions off the coast of Libya in recent days.

    The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said it was “deeply shocked” that this latest tragedy could bring the death toll to almost 900 people since 1 January 2015, compared to 17 during the same period in 2014. This is almost 53 times as many migrant and refugee deaths.  

    March 20, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Amnesty International is extremely concerned by the dangerous lack of accountability and transparency, as well as continued abuse allegations, at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

    The Australian government's failure to protect asylum seekers is laid bare in the Department of Immigration’s Moss Review, released today.

    Amnesty International visited the facility in 2012, but since then has written three times to the Nauruan Government requesting access. In response to the first letter, the organization was told the timing was not appropriate, while no response was received to the two later letters.

    “The extent of reported sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff against asylum seekers is shocking and suggests that existing protections are ineffective or virtually non-existent.”

    March 04, 2015

    The deaths of at least 10 more refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean expose how European governments are still failing to provide adequate resources for a coordinated search-and-rescue operation that would save countless lives, Amnesty International said today.

    “Merchant vessels and national coastguards have again responded valiantly to the immense and growing challenge of saving the lives of vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers off Europe’s southern shores,” said Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “But that’s far from enough in the face of this growing humanitarian crisis. Without a European search-and-rescue operation, the European Union’s approach looks increasingly haphazard and negligent.”

    February 16, 2015

    The European Union’s limited search and rescue resources contributed to the soaring death toll after four rubber dinghies carrying hundreds of migrants sent out an SOS in stormy weather in the southern Mediterranean last week, Amnesty International revealed today after a visit to Lampedusa.

    Following the tragedy that claimed more than 300 lives, an Amnesty International research team carried out interviews, in Rome and Lampedusa, with survivors, members of the Italian coastguard and local authorities.

    When the distress call came in on Sunday 8 February, the main vessel used in the pan-EU border management operation Triton was docked hundreds of kilometres away in Malta for maintenance. The large military vessels used in Italy’s now-defunct Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation were also out of use and docked even farther away in Sicily.

    February 12, 2015

    The Free Syrian Voices (www.free-syrian-voices.org) coalition today announced its “Hearts in Our Hands” Campaign to call for the release of peaceful Syrian activists held both by the Syrian government and armed groups. The coalition was formed to coordinate the efforts of six international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Frontline Defenders detained Syrian human rights defenders and activists.

    The campaign’s timing, over the Valentine’s Day weekend and through 17 February 2015, marks the 3rd anniversary, on 16 February, of the arrest and detention of Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), and two staff members, Hussein Gharir and Hani al-Zitani. They remain in Syrian government jails solely for their human rights work, along with hundreds of other human rights, media, legal and humanitarian workers detained since the peaceful protest movement in Syria started in 2011.

    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.”

    February 04, 2015

    A new report from Amnesty International throws the spotlight on the human face of Syria’s refugee crisis, through the stories of eight people and families who have fled the conflict and are struggling to survive in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

    Hardship, Hope and Resettlement: Refugees from Syria tell their stories highlights the life-changing opportunity that international resettlement can offer to some of the most vulnerable refugees. Its publication marks the launch of Amnesty International’s #OpenToSyria campaign.

    The campaign aims to put pressure on wealthy countries, through public support, to accept a greater numbers of vulnerable refugees from Syria through resettlement and other humanitarian admission programmes. So far, the international response to the crisis has been pitiful and some of the richest countries have done very little.

    “With close to 4 million refugees, the scale of the crisis is overwhelming. This report tells the stories of the real people behind the numbers, in their own words,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights.

    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.

    January 07, 2015

    Amnesty International welcomed the announcement, made today by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, that Canada will receive 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years.

    Amnesty International has long been urging governments around the world to accept a fairer share of refugees from Syria. Syria’s neighbouring countries can no longer bear the responsibility for the largest displacement crisis the world has witnessed in decades, and which has produced approximately 4 million refugees in the region, as well as 7.6 million Syrians displaced within the country. It is vital that Syrian refugees be resettled as soon as possible, and Canada has the expertise and capacity to play a leadership role in doing so.

    While recognizing this announcement as an important and positive step, Amnesty International is nonetheless disappointed in several aspects of this long-delayed announcement.

    January 06, 2015

    New requirements imposed by the Lebanese authorities which may restrict access for people desperate to flee Syria is yet another stark reminder that the international community must do much more to assist.

    To its considerable credit, Lebanon already hosts more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria – equal to about a quarter of its population before the Syrian crisis began. As the crisis nears its fifth year, Lebanon and other countries in the region which host the majority of Syria’s refugees are struggling to cope.

    Lebanon and Syria’s other neighbours are struggling to cope with the millions of refugees who have fled the increasingly dire situation since the crisis and conflict began. 

    The international community must do much more to resettle refugees and share the burden in the face of one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, approximately 10% of refugees in the main host countries need resettlement. However, to date less than 2% have been offered resettlement places. 

    December 19, 2014

    A lack of coordination and major gaps in humanitarian assistance is causing untold hardship for many of the 900,000 people displaced by the conflict in Iraq who are sheltering in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), said Amnesty International.

    Delegates from the organization who have just returned from a visit to the KRI found that many displaced people lacked basic items they need to survive the winter such as blankets, warm clothes and heating.  Thousands are living in poorly equipped camps or informal settlements in dire conditions.

    “There are shocking gaps in the humanitarian response. As a result, scores of people are living in ill-equipped camps or buildings with no walls and no shelter from the cold, wind or rain. Children are running around in thin clothes in the freezing cold. In some camps, toilets and clean water are inadequate. In some non-camp settings they are lacking entirely. As winter continues the situation is likely to get far worse,” said Khairunissa Dhala, Refugee Rights Advisor at Amnesty International.

    December 17, 2014

    Released 18 December 2014 00.01am GMT

    The rights of migrants are being trampled across the globe, as some of the world’s most vulnerable people face economic exploitation, discrimination and racism in a range of countries, Amnesty International said on International Migrants Day.

    “Political decision-makers need to show leadership by ensuring the human rights of migrants are protected, instead of taking cheap shots through scaremongering tactics,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants Rights at Amnesty International.

    “Poor migrants are the perfect political scapegoats – they have no money, no influence and they can’t vote. So if you’re a government whose policies are letting people down, you can blame it all on immigration.”

    Economic exploitation

    Over the past years, Amnesty International has highlighted how many migrant workers – who leave their countries in the hope of earning better salaries – face appalling economic exploitation in many countries.

    December 10, 2014

    Joint Press Release

    Canada missed another important opportunity to be a world leader by not committing to the resettlement of Syrian refugees at yesterday’s UN sponsored global pledging conference, said Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Syrian Canadian Council.

    Yesterday 25 countries pledged 65,000 resettlement spaces in response to the UNHCR appeal to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.  Canada was not among the 25 countries.  Instead, a spokesperson indicated that the government “will make announcements about further commitments at a future date.”

    December 05, 2014

    European Union member states must urgently step up efforts to protect refugees and migrants trying to reach their countries by sea after it was revealed this morning that 16 bodies were found on board a rubber dinghy rescued off the coast of Libya yesterday, said Amnesty International.

    “These latest deaths show yet again how vital it is that the EU maintains adequate search and rescue capacity along the routes taken by those fleeing conflict and persecution. The down-sizing of Italy’s search and rescue operation without an effective EU-wide replacement is putting the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    According to the Italian Navy, the 16 perished due to hypothermia and dehydration. A further 76 refugees and migrants were rescued, of whom two were reportedly in critical conditions. One later died.

    December 05, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

     

    Amnesty International warns the passage of the Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill through Federal Parliament overnight will inevitably see some refugees returned to the hands of their torturers.

    No avenue to appeal

    Under the flawed "fast track" process, a large number of asylum seekers will have no avenue to appeal the department’s decision about their refugee status.

    "This Bill flies in the face of findings from the United Nations Committee Against Torture which found Australia’s asylum seeker policies contravened the torture convention," said Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International’s Refugee Coordinator.

    "Of particular concern to the UN, Amnesty International and countless other human rights organisations, is that it violates international law by removing any requirement to consider whether a person will be tortured or persecuted if returned home.

    December 05, 2014

    World leaders are failing to offer protection to Syria’s most vulnerable refugees with catastrophic consequences, Amnesty International has warned in a new briefing ahead of a UN pledging conference in Geneva on 9 December.

    Left Out in the Cold: Syrian refugees abandoned by the international community  highlights the pitiful numbers of resettlement places offered by the international community. Around 3.8 million refugees from are being hosted in five main countries within the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Only 1.7 per cent of this number have been offered sanctuary by the rest of the world since the crisis began more than three years ago.

    November 20, 2014

    Released 08:30 GMT 20 November 2014

    The international community’s failure to deal with the growing number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Turkey has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions with refugees facing push-backs and live fire at the border and hundreds of thousands living in destitution, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Struggling to Survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey, documents serious human rights risks faced by the 1.6 million people who have sought refuge in
    the country over the last three and a half years. It also highlights the deplorable reluctance of the international community to take meaningful financial responsibility for the refugee crisis.

    November 14, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately release and refrain from deporting at least 66 refugees from Syria and Gaza, including a number of children, who are unlawfully detained in the country, said Amnesty International. The refugees are being detained in poor conditions with some held in rooms infested with cockroaches, mosquitos and mice.

    The National Security Department within the Ministry of Interior has issued deportation orders against at least 64 of the refugees – who could be deported at any time – even though the Public Prosecutor office in Alexandria ordered their release. They include 56 Palestinians threatened with being forcibly returned to Syria.

    “By unlawfully detaining dozens of refugees and issuing them with deportation orders the Egyptian authorities have displayed a shocking level of indifference to their suffering,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa

    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.

    October 23, 2014

    The Netherlands’ repeated attempts to forcibly return Somalis to areas controlled by the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab exposes them to grave risks of human rights abuses and would be a blatant violation of international law, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The Dutch government has insisted that Somalis can be forcibly sent to the most perilous areas of the country, including those where al-Shabaab is responsible for unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment.

    “For some Somalis, being returned to al-Shabaab-controlled areas is akin to being handed a death sentence,” said L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “By sending Somalis to volatile areas where their lives are in danger, the Dutch government is also responsible for the human rights abuses they face on their return.”

    International law requires that states do not return people to areas where their lives or freedoms are at real risk, such as certain situations of armed conflict.

    October 22, 2014

    Update
    On 23 October 2014 the Federal government tabled, Bill C-43, an omnibus budget bill which contains the same provisions as those found in Bill C-585.  Amnesty International believes these provisions must be withdrawn from Bill C-43.

    Amnesty International is calling for Bill C-585, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (period of residence), to be withdrawn.  The Private Member’s Bill, proposed by Corneliu Chisu, M.P, would allow provinces to reduce access to social assistance for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. 

    Bill C-585 violates Canada’s binding obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention).

    September 30, 2014

     A year on from the Lampedusa shipwrecks, which claimed more than 500 lives, a new report by Amnesty International highlights how the shameful inaction of European Union (EU) countries has contributed to a spiralling death toll with thousands of refugees and migrants losing their lives in a desperate bid to reach European shores.

    Amnesty International’s report, Lives adrift: Refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean, details the findings of recent visits to Italy and Malta, including a research trip on an Italian Navy vessel. Interviews with survivors of shipwrecks, experts and authorities expose the reality of the dangers faced by those fleeing war, persecution and poverty, and the pitiful response of most European states.

    “As the EU builds its walls higher and higher, refugees and migrants are increasingly taking to the Mediterranean in a desperate bid to reach European shores. Placed on rickety boats by ruthless smugglers, every week hundreds of them sway between life and death, between hope and despair,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    Released 1100 GMT+1 (1200 CEST), 30 September 2014

     A year on from the Lampedusa shipwrecks, which claimed more than 500 lives, a new report by Amnesty International highlights how the shameful inaction of European Union (EU) countries has contributed to a spiralling death toll with thousands of refugees and migrants losing their lives in a desperate bid to reach European shores.

    Amnesty International’s report, Lives adrift: Refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean, details the findings of recent visits to Italy and Malta, including a research trip on an Italian Navy vessel. Interviews with survivors of shipwrecks, experts and authorities expose the reality of the dangers faced by those fleeing war, persecution and poverty, and the pitiful response of most European states.

    September 22, 2014

    The Turkish authorities must ensure that the country’s borders are kept open to those fleeing conflict and human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq, said Amnesty International.

    Turkey began to close some of its border crossings with Syria after 130,000 Kurdish refugees poured into the country in recent days fleeing the advance of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

    “The latest influx of refugees has undoubtedly placed even further strain on Turkey’s already stretched resources, but this cannot be used as an excuse for denying safe sanctuary to anyone who is fleeing the horrors of war,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “With more and more desperate refugees arriving at the border in search of safety, it is crucial that the international community acts now to strengthen its support to Turkey and other countries neighbouring Syria to avert further suffering.”

    Turkey, which before this weekend was already hosting more than one million refugees from Syria, has largely been left to deal with the crisis on its own.

    September 15, 2014

    European leaders must do more to provide safe and legal ways for refugees and migrants to access international protection in the European Union, Amnesty International said today after a boat bound for Italy sank off the coast of Libya leaving many feared drowned.

    “The response of EU member states to the refugee crises in the Middle East and North Africa has been shameful,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “The increasing death toll in the Mediterranean Sea highlights the ineffectiveness of the EU’s current asylum and migration policies and practices.

    “European leaders want to prevent people from reaching Europe at any cost, forcing desperate people to take more hazardous routes.

    “European countries have offered a pitiful number of resettlement places to refugees fleeing conflicts, such as the war in Syria. A significant increase in resettlement places would offer a lifeline to refugees and can help reduce the numbers compelled to make this dangerous crossing.

    September 04, 2014

    The Qatari authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts and ensure the safety of two British human rights workers who went missing on Sunday and are feared to be held secretly and incommunicado in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Researcher Krishna Upadhyaya and photographer Ghimire Gundev, who were investigating working conditions of Nepalese migrants in Qatar, have not been seen since they checked out of their hotel on 31 August. They had earlier expressed fears to friends and colleagues that they were being followed by plainclothes police on account of their work.

    “The enforced disappearance of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev is extremely worrying and the pattern of events reported by the men before they went missing indicates that they may have been detained in relation to their human rights work,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the fate and whereabouts of these two men and dispel the growing fears that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

    July 10, 2014
    Authorities in Kenya are trying to force thousands of Somali refugees to live in squalid overcrowded camps.© SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images.

    Released 00:01 BST 11 July 2014

    Refugees in Nairobi are appealing against a controversial ruling that would force thousands of Somalis from their homes to live in squalid overcrowded camps in north Kenya, Amnesty International said today.  

    “This outrageous ruling affects the entire refugee population of Nairobi. Using the pretext of protecting national security, the Kenyan authorities have cracked down on refugees, effectively destroying any form of stability they may have managed to build after seeking refuge in Kenya,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa.
     
    “Thousands of people’s lives have been destroyed. Tens of thousands more are at serious risk.”

    The Somali refugees are appealing against a 30 June ruling made by High Court Judge Justice Majanja that stated that the relocation of refugees from urban centres is constitutional.

    July 08, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

    Amnesty International expresses relief that High Court deliberations have put the transfer of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka's Navy in doubt, a plan that if enacted, would put Australia in blatant breach of international law and set a dangerous precedent.

    Three-year-old Febrina is among the 153 missing asylum seekers © Tamil Refugee Council

    The comments follow an application that was brought on behalf of 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers recently intercepted by the Australian Navy on their way from India.

    July 08, 2014

    Released at  0001 GMT, 9 July 2014

    July 04, 2014

    The lack of effective regulation of visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents makes Indian migrant workers vulnerable to serious human rights abuses, said Amnesty International India today in a new report focusing on migrants from the Indian state of Kerala working in Saudi Arabia.

    The report, Exploited Dreams: Dispatches from Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, highlights cases of migrant workers from Kerala who were deceived about their jobs, wages and working conditions by Indian visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents. Many workers went on to face a range of abuses in Saudi Arabia, which at their worst included forced labour.

    “Migrant workers send billions of dollars in remittances every year to India and sustain thousands of families. Yet Indian authorities continue to let them down when they are abused. It is time that migrant workers’ rights get the protection they deserve,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India.

    July 02, 2014

    Thousands of exhausted Iraqi civilians fleeing the conflict in north-west Iraq are stranded at checkpoints separating the autonomous Kurdish provinces controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rest of Iraq, said Amnesty International today.  

    Almost all the families interviewed by Amnesty International’s research team in Iraq today and last night are Shi’a Turkmen who fled Tal ‘Afar when fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured the city two weeks ago. They have since been sheltering in the Sinjar area, further west towards the Iraq-Syria border, but do not feel safe there as ISIS recently took control of parts of the border area.

    “Thousands of frightened civilians have left their homes and their lives behind only to find themselves stranded on the streets. The Kurdish regional authorities have an obligation to allow Iraqi civilians seeking to flee the fighting to enter or transit through KRG areas,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

    June 30, 2014

    Posted at 0001 (BST) 1 July 2014

    Palestinian refugees from Syria - including pregnant women, children and women with infants – have been denied entry into Lebanon due to tightened border restrictions, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. 

    The briefing Denied refuge: Palestinians from Syria seeking safety in Lebanon highlights the desperate plight of families torn apart after falling foul of fluctuating border rules while trying to cross into Lebanon. In one of the most shocking cases a mother with a new-born baby was barred from entering Lebanon when she tried to join her husband and other five children. 

    “By denying entry to a mother and her new-born child, among others, the Lebanese authorities have displayed a chilling disregard for the rights of refugees who are fleeing a bloody conflict. Absolutely no-one seeking refuge from a conflict should be denied entry; by doing so Lebanon is flouting its obligations under international law,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International. 

    June 20, 2014
    By Anna Shea, Legal Adviser on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    What struck me most when I met Zeinah (not her real name), a 29-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey, were her warm personality and marvelous smile. But her past and present experiences give her precious little to smile about.

    Zeinah arrived in Turkey four months ago, having fled her native Syria.

    Like other Syrians I met in Istanbul, Zeinah had experienced horrors in her country of origin, and was desperate to start a new life. A teacher by profession, she was jailed by the Bashar al-Assad regime for allegedly providing assistance to opposition groups. She said she was raped and beaten multiple times over the several months she spent in prison and was eventually released due to lack of evidence.

    The abuse she suffered in jail has left her with injuries to her spine – and serious psychological trauma – which remain untreated.

    June 20, 2014
    By Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

    Last month, 18-year-old Ayaan suddenly found herself at the head of her household. Her mother and father had been arrested in Nairobi as part of the counter-terrorism operation dubbed ‘Usalama Watch’.

    SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH THE UNHCR

    They were detained in Kasarani stadium before being forcibly relocated to Kakuma refugee camp over 800km away, leaving Ayaan alone to look after her seven brothers and sisters – all under the age of 10.

    “It is only me looking after the children” says Ayaan. “My parents were both working, but now we have very little. The children are out of school. I want my parents to come back.”

    Ayaan’s experience is far from unique for refugees in Kenya today.

    June 19, 2014

    TORONTO (June 19, 2014) – The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), supported by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), announced today that it plans to launch a legal challenge to the proposed new citizenship amendments – Bill C-24 – if the bill is passed by the Senate.

    Bill C-24, introducing sweeping changes to Canada’s citizenship laws that make citizenship harder to get and easier to lose, has passed through the House of Commons and is now being considered by the Senate.  CARL, BCCLA and Amnesty International take the position that this proposed law has dramatically negative effects on Canadian citizenship, eliminating equal citizenship rights for all, and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as international human rights. According to the organizations, the new law will take away rights from countless Canadians, creating a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals and naturalized citizens.

    June 19, 2014
    Maran and Gloria stand up for refugee rights
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    Maran was a journalist and owned his own media company in a country riddled with conflict. Believing that the media was a tool that he could use, he wanted to tell the story of his people to the world.  Telling these stories was a way to protect his people and bring peace to his country.  He faced horrible obstacles.  His land became a place of massacre.  At a certain point, he became helpless and lost the power to speak the truth and fight for freedom.  He had few choices - die, surrender to the Government and become a journalist of propaganda, or flee.  After his family was threatened because of his work, Maran fled.

    Leaving his family, he paid a smuggler who promised to take him to a country where he would be safe. He had no choice about the country, only a small hope that he would eventually be safe.

    June 16, 2014

    The Slovak authorities must immediately halt the imminent extradition of an ethnic Chechen asylum-seeker to Russia, a country where he will face the risk of torture, said Amnesty International.

    Anzor Chentiev could be sent back to Russia as early as this afternoon, after fighting his extradition in Slovakia for more than eight years. He is facing terrorism-related charges in Russia.

    “Returning a person to a country where they are known to be at risk of torture is a shocking contempt of human rights and international obligations,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “The Slovak authorities cannot abdicate their responsibility to provide Anzor Chentiev with safety when they know that if they return him to Russia he will face the risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The extradition proceedings must be halted immediately, before it is too late.”

    Amnesty International launched an appeal urging the Slovak Minister of Interior and the Minister of Justice to halt the extradition.

    June 12, 2014

    Attacks on Somali-owned shops in and around Mamelodi township over the last six days have cost lives and livelihoods and are part of a disturbing trend of violence against refugees and migrants which the police and government are failing to address, Amnesty International said.

    “Despite repeated calls, the police were slow to respond and failed to adequately deploy patrols to stop the escalation of violence which has so far left one refugee dead, ten others injured and at least 76 shops burnt or looted,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “These attacks are just the latest in a wave of ongoing and widespread violence targeted at refugees and migrants in South Africa. The fact that they were preventable highlights a pattern of inaction on the part of the police and a failure of political will in government to tackle this violence.”

    The violence erupted on 7 June in Mamelodi, a township northeast of Pretoria. But despite the fact that police were informed soon after the violence started, they failed to respond appropriately and rapidly.

    May 26, 2014

    Kenya’s Somali community is being scapegoated in a counter-terror operation which has seen thousands subjected to arbitrary arrest, harassment, extortion, ill-treatment, forcible relocation and expulsion, Amnesty International said today.

    In a new Briefing Paper Amnesty International documents a disturbing wave of serious human rights violations suffered by Kenya’s Somali community since a security crackdown - known as ‘Operation Usalama Watch’ - began in early  April 2014.

    “It appears that ‘Operation Uslama Watch’ is being used as a pretext for the blanket punishment of the Somali community in Kenya. They have become scapegoats with thousands arrested and ill-treated, forcibly relocated and hundreds unlawfully expelled to a war-torn country,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa at Amnesty International.

    May 20, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs BST  21 May 2014

    A severe shortfall in international support has left many Syrian refugees in Lebanon unable to access crucial medical care, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The situation is so desperate that in some cases refugees have resorted to returning to Syria to receive the treatment they need.

    The report, Agonizing Choices: Syrian refugees in need of health care in Lebanon, identifies some serious gaps in the level of medical services available to refugees. In some cases Syrian refugees, including those requiring emergency treatment, have been turned away from hospitals.

    “Hospital treatment and more specialized care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is woefully insufficient, with the situation exacerbated by a massive shortage of international funding. Syrian refugees in Lebanon are suffering as a direct result of the international community’s shameful failure to fully fund the UN relief programme in Lebanon,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International.

    May 13, 2014

    The Chadian government’s decision to close the country’s lengthy southern border will have a disastrous impact on men, women and children fleeing months of worsening ethnically-motivated violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), Amnesty International said today.

    Yesterday it was revealed that, on 11 May, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno announced the closure during a visit to the frontier between the two countries. He said that the border would be “sealed” to everyone except returning Chadian citizens and their belongings “until the crisis in the Central African Republic is resolved”.

    “President Déby has slammed the door in the face of refugees arriving from CAR, condemning them to continued suffering. He must reverse this decision and the international community must do more to support the tens of thousands of refugees from CAR who have fled to Chad,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Central Africa.

    May 01, 2014

    An agreement between Cambodia and Australia to forcibly transfer asylum seekers to the Southeast Asian country should be scrapped, Amnesty International said today.

    The call comes amid media reports that Cambodia has agreed a deal “in principle” to receive refugees and asylum seekers from Australia. These may include some of those held at Australian-run detention facilities in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

    “Australia should be ending its offshore processing and detention of asylum seekers, not looking to outsource its refugee responsibilities to another, much poorer country,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. 

    “Cambodia should be aware of the serious risks around this arrangement and must consider whether it really is ready to participate. The country has only limited capacity to process asylum seeker claims and is still struggling to respect and protect the rights of its own citizens.”

    Australia’s unlawful offshore detention centres

    April 29, 2014

    Nauru’s refusal to grant Amnesty International access to its Australian-run asylum seeker detention centre appears to be the latest attempt to avoid public scrutiny of the treatment of asylum seekers there.

    The Nauru government has declined Amnesty International’s request to visit the detention centre, based on "the current circumstances and incredibly busy time," despite the organization’s suggestion of alternative dates.

    This latest obstruction follows Nauru reneging earlier this month on allowing a team of UN human rights observers to access the centre, citing "practical difficulties."

    In February 2014, the cost of visas for journalists visiting Nauru was increased from AUD $200 to $8,000.

    "Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system," said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    April 28, 2014

    The European Union (EU) must sanction Greece for its failure to eradicate the routine and widespread practice of pushing back refugees and migrants arriving at its borders in search of protection, safety, and better futures in Europe, said an Amnesty International report published today.

    Amnesty International’s report Greece: Frontier of hope and fear contains new evidence of the ongoing, persistent and shameful treatment by the Greek authorities of people risking their lives to find refuge in Europe. This is in direct violation of Greece’s international human rights obligations. The report calls on the EU to use its power to start legal proceedings against Greece for failing to uphold its obligations.

    “The treatment of refugees and migrants at Greece’s borders is deplorable. Too often, instead of finding sanctuary, they are met with violence and intimidation. There are cases where they have been stripped naked, had their possessions stolen, and even held at gunpoint before being pushed back across the border to Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    April 25, 2014

    The lives of three Syrian men will be put at grave risk if the Egyptian authorities follow through with plans to forcibly send them back to Syria, said Amnesty International.

    The three are among more than 140 refugees and asylum seekers, including 68 children – most of whom are from Syria – unlawfully detained at Rosetta Police Station in Beheira Governorate. They have been held at the police station since 14 April 2014, when Egyptian security forces arrested them after they abandoned a treacherous Mediterranean Sea crossing in an attempt to reach Europe.

    “Forcibly sending back refugees and asylum seekers who have sought safety in Egypt is a cruel betrayal of the authorities’ international obligation to offer protection to refugees. If any of them are returned to Syria their lives could be in grave danger,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    April 11, 2014

    Somali refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya are being trapped in a catch-22 situation by the government’s counter-terrorism crackdown, Amnesty International said as thousands of Somalis continued to be rounded up by security forces in Nairobi.

    Registration of Somali refugees in Kenya has been largely halted since December 2011, preventing many who should qualify for refugee status from obtaining papers. Without these they could be returned to Somalia, where they may be at risk of human rights abuses.

    “Thousands of unregistered Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are in an impossible situation: they face arrest and deportation because they are not registered, but it is extremely difficult for them to register,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

    April 07, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 8 April 2014

    European states are failing to curb and in some cases even fuelling discrimination, intimidation and violence against Roma, Amnesty International said on International Roma Day on 8 April.

    “There has been a marked rise in the frequency of anti-Roma violence in Europe in the last few years. The response to this alarming phenomenon has been woefully inadequate. It is unacceptable that in modern-day Europe some Roma communities live under the constant threat of violence and pogrom-like attacks,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “All too often European leaders have pandered to the prejudices fuelling anti-Roma violence by branding Roma as anti-social and unwelcome. While generally condemning the most blatant examples of anti-Roma violence, authorities have been reluctant to acknowledge its extent and slow to combat it. For its part, the European Union has been reluctant to challenge member states on the systemic discrimination of Roma that is all too evident.”

    March 31, 2014

    European countries must not transfer any asylum seekers to Bulgaria until the country truly improves its appalling reception conditions and addresses its deeply flawed asylum procedures, said Amnesty International.

    On 1 April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is due to announce its position on the issue after it called for a suspension of all transfers of asylum seekers to Bulgaria in January. It cited poor conditions in reception facilities and problems with the overall treatment of refugees.

    “Bulgaria is still widely ‘missing the mark’ when it comes to its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. EU member states must halt all transfers and take responsibility for the thousands of men, women and children in desperate need of help,” said Jezerca Tigani, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    Under EU regulation, asylum seekers can be routinely returned to Bulgaria if it is the first country through which they have entered the EU.

    March 20, 2014

    (Brussels 20 March 2014) The lives and rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are being threatened by European Union (EU) member states’ restrictive border control policies, Amnesty International said today at a protest outside the offices of the European Council in Brussels. Supporters and activists will dump four tonnes of sand on the concourse (freedom of expression zone) to create a reconstructed beach, and call on European leaders to end member states’ deplorable migration and asylum policies and practices.

    “The member states are failing miserably to meet their EU and international obligations to protect migrants and asylum-seekers fleeing poverty, conflict and human rights abuses,” said Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    “As Europe raises its barriers, many have no safe or legal ways to access Fortress Europe. That is why we are outside the European Summit today, to urge EU government leaders to take a hard look at the impact of their “fight against irregular migration” on the lives of men, women and children.”

    March 18, 2014

    •        Hundreds detained every year in prison-like conditions
    •        People who have committed no crime are routinely held for up to18 months or longer
    •        Asylum-seekers, including Syrian refugees, are among those detained
    •        Two women were forcibly separated from their pre-school aged children

    Cypriot immigration authorities routinely detain hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers in prison-like conditions for extended periods while awaiting deportation, said Amnesty International. Those detained include Syrian refugees and women separated from their young children.

    Evidence gathered by researchers during a recent visit to Cyprus indicates that the authorities are exploiting European Union (EU) laws – imposing automatic detention of migrants and asylum-seekers without implementing the required safeguards, which make detention a last resort. The practice is also a breach of international law.

    March 09, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 10 March 2014

    A new report by Amnesty International reveals that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been carried out on Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus, which is under brutal siege by Syrian government forces.

    The report, Squeezing the life out of Yarmouk: War crimes against besieged civilians, published ahead of the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria, highlights the deaths of nearly 200 individuals since the siege was tightened in July 2013 and access to crucial food and medical supplies was cut off. According to Amnesty International’s research, 128 of those who have died starved to death in the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that has emerged.

    “Life in Yarmouk has grown increasingly unbearable for desperate civilians who find themselves starving and trapped in a downward cycle of suffering with no means of escape,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Civilians of Yarmouk are being treated like pawns in a deadly game in which they have no control.”

    March 05, 2014

    Thousands of people forced to flee the violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are now facing another humanitarian catastrophe in neighbouring Chad, said Amnesty International. The rainy season is due to start shortly and unless shelter, food and medical facilities are urgently made available their already desperate situation will quickly deteriorate.

    A delegation from Amnesty International has spent the last two weeks interviewing survivors of violence in CAR and visiting the sites where they are staying along the Chad / CAR border and in the capital N’Djamena. The delegates found thousands of people who had been neglected by the authorities and humanitarian agencies, many suffering from severe malnutrition and with no shelter other than the shade of trees. Among them were a large number of children, many separated from their families in the chaos, and in urgent need of assistance.

    February 19, 2014

    Spain must refrain from forcibly returning Aleksandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan, Amnesty International said today, shortly after learning of the Spanish government’s decision to authorize his extradition.

    “The Spanish government has decided to extradite Aleksandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan despite credible evidence that he would risk torture upon his return. If they send Aleksandr Pavlov back, they will violate Spain’s international legal obligations,” said Julia Hall, criminal justice expert at Amnesty International.

    “The government must do the right thing and reverse this decision.”

    Aleksandr Pavlov, a 37-year-old asylum seeker in Spain and Kazakhstani national, is currently in detention in the capital city of Madrid.

    According to information received by Amnesty International from different sources, a decision authorising the extradition was taken by the Council of Ministers on 14 February. The decision has not yet been made public.

    February 18, 2014

    Released Midnight GMT 18 February 2014

    Widespread intimidation, the abuse of human rights and the withdrawal of services are forcing Somali refugees out of Kenya said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    “The environment in Kenya is now so hostile that some refugees feel they have no option but to return to Somalia where the ongoing conflict in parts of the country continues to destroy lives. This is tantamount to forced return” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International’s report “No Place Like Home” reveals how life for Somali refugees has been made unbearable. People are denied access to registration, meaning they are illegally staying in Kenya, and are actively targeted by the police with indiscriminate arrests.

    Abdi, 28, said “Here, in Kenya, it’s like a prison. At night we can’t leave the house, in the day we might be arrested. It is not currently safe in Somalia, we hear of killings and murder, but the situation here is very desperate… so instead of being here, let me go back.”

    February 14, 2014

    The French authorities must ensure the protection of a Ukrainian political refugee who sustained a horrific attack in his home in Strasbourg earlier this week, said Amnesty International.

    Andrei Fedosov, a human rights activist reported that he was attacked on Monday night by an unknown Russian native speaker.  He told Amnesty International that the masked assailant bound his hands and feet with tape and stabbed him in the stomach and the leg with a Stanley knife and a razor.  

    The attacker interrogated Andrei about his human rights activities and stole the hard disc from his computer.

    “This is an extremely worrying development. During the EuroMaydan anti-government protests activists have been abducted and tortured by unknown assailants in Ukraine, and at least four protestors have died. This is the first time that someone has been targeted across international borders,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s expert on Ukraine.

    “There is a real perceived risk to Andrei Fedosov’s life and the French authorities must do everything in their power to protect him.”

    February 10, 2014

    Afghanistan’s new policy to help more than 600,000 internally displaced people, many of whom live on the brink of starvation and in cramped makeshift dwellings, is a milestone, said Amnesty International. However, the organization warns that it will only succeed with sustained political and financial backing.

    The Afghan government is expected to launch on 11 February its new national policy aimed at meeting the urgent human rights and humanitarian needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), more than 100,000 of whom have fled conflict in 2013 alone.

    “Increased protection for Afghanistan’s displaced, many of whom live in desperate conditions, has been a long time coming. We applaud the government for finally pushing this crucial policy through,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    January 21, 2014
    Muslim women and children take shelter in a church in Boali, north of the country's capital Bangui.© ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
    By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International. 

    In the small town of Boali, 100km north of the capital Bangui, the Muslim neighbourhoods are eerily silent, completely empty of their inhabitants. Every single home has been thoroughly looted. Even the front doors have been removed and carted away.

    Most of the Muslim residents have fled the town, forcibly displaced by vicious attacks carried out by so-called anti-balaka militias. We found more than 800 people who have not yet managed to leave. They are sheltering in the local church, where an impressive young priest is leading by example of inter-faith and neighbourly solidarity.One young man told us about an anti-balaka attack in Boali on Friday 17 January which left five dead and 20 injured. He recounted how, at around mid-day young men armed with machetes burst into the family home.

    January 07, 2014

    The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Amnesty International welcome the decision of the Cluj-Napoca County Court (Tribunal) that the Mayor’s decision to forcibly evict around 300 Roma in December 2010, to a site adjacent to a waste dump, was illegal.  

    The court ordered the city authorities to pay damages to the Romani applicants for their eviction and relocation to Pata-Rât, and for the inadequate conditions of that housing. The Court also required the city to provide the applicants with adequate housing in line with the minimum standards set out in Romanian law. The decision is not final.  

    The ERRC supported a local law firm, Podaru, Buciuman and Associates, to take the case on behalf of approximately 200 Romani applicants, and previously helped the community to set up an association to fight for their rights.

    January 03, 2014

    Amnesty International welcomes the position of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calling on European Union (EU) member states to halt transfers of asylum-seekers back to Bulgaria until April 2014.

    “The position taken by the UNHCR highlights the shameful treatment of asylum seekers in Bulgaria,” said Barbora Cernusakova, Amnesty International’s Bulgaria researcher.

    “Asylum seekers in Bulgaria, including many fleeing from war-torn Syria, are being held in appalling conditions, sometimes for months on end. They lack access to food, sanitation or basic medical care. They are also at risk of arbitrary detention and face lengthy delays in registration and are routinely deprived of access to fair and effective asylum procedures.”

    The UNHCR argues that due to systemic deficiencies in the reception conditions and asylFor um procedures, EU Member States should not return asylum-seekers to Bulgaria even if it is the first country of entry. Under the EU regulation the first country of entry is responsible for the determination of their status.

    December 16, 2013

    Susanna Flood, Director of Media at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    Her voice began to choke and then the tears began to flow down her face as she calmly and steadily recounted the long list of names of all the women and children killed in her village when the anti-balaka struck a week ago.

    Sitting in a darkened hospital ward at the Hôpital Communautaire, she gracefully removed her headscarf and revealed the stitches laced across her scalp where the machete had struck. Alongside her was her four-year-old daughter with a matching wound on her head, also the victim of machete attacks.

    Nearly everyone in her village near Bangui, the Central African Republic’s capital city, had been wiped out in these early strikes by the anti-balaka militia who unleashed the carnage that has since been wrought on Bangui.  

    We met her one week after she had suffered those attacks and she told us what happened in her village with amazing calm and dignity. In her ward were numerous women also recovering from the various machete and bullet wounds inflicted by unknown attackers in the violence that has run riot across Bangui and the nearby villages.

    December 12, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT Friday 13 December 2013

    European leaders should hang their heads in shame over the pitifully low numbers of refugees from Syria they are prepared to resettle, said Amnesty International.

    December 12, 2013

    Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    One of the most depressing aspects of the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic is its symmetry.

    Christian and Muslim militia alike are carrying out equally vicious attacks. And members of both communities, while denouncing each other’s crimes, will tell you that their own people are acting in self defence.

    With each new outrage, the pattern of tit-for-tat atrocities becomes harder to break.

    The day before yesterday I interviewed a Christian man who recounted how he was nearly killed in a raid last week on the outskirts of Bangui, the country’s capital. Shot in the side at close range, he survived by playing dead; he claims that others from his neighbourhood were not as lucky.

    “It was the Peuhls,” he said, referring to an ethnic group of nomadic Muslim herders. “They were armed with Kalashnikovs.”

    December 11, 2013

    The Australian government is holding more than 1,000 asylum seekers in shameful conditions in a processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, said Amnesty International.
     
    A report published today details how asylum seekers are being held in a prison-like regime, in extremely cramped compounds in stifling heat, while being denied sufficient water and medical help. Most have fled horrific situations and risked their lives in their efforts to reach Australia.
     
    “This system of harsh conditions and humiliating treatment is a deliberate effort to pressure people to return to the desperate situations they have fled from. Australia is directly responsible for this deplorable and unlawful combination of arbitrary detention and inhumane conditions,” said Amnesty International Australia’s National Director Claire Mallinson.

    December 03, 2013

    Israeli lawmakers must reject proposed amendments to the country’s Prevention of Infiltration Law, which would allow thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants to be held indefinitely in a remote desert detention centre, Amnesty International urged ahead of a 4 December vote in the Internal Affairs Committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

    The Committee has announced that it will bring the bill before the full Knesset for its final readings in the coming days.

    According to government reports, the amendments will provide for detaining some 3,300 people indefinitely in a fenced-in facility operated by the Israel Prison Service in the Negev desert, which the government is calling an “open centre”. The draft legislation states that the way for them to be released from the “open” centre is by being deported to their countries of origin – mainly Eritrea and Sudan.

    November 19, 2013

    Urgent action is needed from the Bulgarian authorities to improve conditions at an emergency accommodation centre for asylum seekers near the Turkish border, Amnesty International said after scores of its residents – including people who fled armed conflict in Afghanistan and Syria – staged a protest today.

    As many as 100 people threatened to launch a hunger strike in protest at the deplorable living conditions at Harmanli camp, south-eastern Bulgaria, where around 1,000 asylum-seekers are being detained on a former military base.  

    “It is appalling that people seeking refuge in the European Union are being trapped in limbo in such awful conditions with winter rapidly approaching. The Bulgarian asylum system has a burgeoning crisis with a backlog of applications – the authorities must act fast to ensure they don’t have a humanitarian crisis on their hands too,” said Barbora Èernušáková, EU team researcher at Amnesty International, who visited Harmanli camp last week.

    October 31, 2013

    International support is needed to help Jordan end border restrictions on refugees fleeing the armed conflict in Syria, said Amnesty International. According to a new report published today hundreds fleeing to Jordan and other neighbouring countries are being turned back at borders.

    The report, Growing restrictions, tough conditions: The plight of those fleeing Syria to Jordan, highlights the increasing difficulties faced by people who are trying to escape the conflict in Syria to Jordan, as well as other countries. ٍScores have also been forcibly deported back to Syria. In many cases those allowed to stay struggle to access basic services.

    “It is unacceptable that scores of people from Syria, including families with small children seeking refuge from the fighting, are being denied admission by neighbouring countries,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa.

    October 17, 2013

    • Egypt unlawfully detains hundreds of Syrian and Palestinian refugees
    • Children as young as one in detention for weeks
    • Hundreds forcibly deported to countries in the region, including Syria
    • Families separated by forced deportations     

    The Egyptian authorities must end their appalling policy of unlawfully detaining and forcibly returning hundreds of refugees who have fled the armed conflict in Syria, said Amnesty International.

    Following the deaths in recent weeks of refugees and asylum-seekers crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, a short report published by Amnesty International today, ‘We cannot live here any more’: Refugees from Syria in Egypt, throws a spotlight on the tragic consequences of Egypt’s hardline stance towards refugees from Syria. More and more refugees are risking their lives to make the treacherous journey by sea to Europe – often paying smugglers up to US $3,500 each to make the trip.

    October 15, 2013

    The arbitrary arrest and detention of more than 1,200 immigrants in a sweep operation at a Moscow market yesterday in response to the murder of an ethnic Russian man is just the latest example of disproportionate and discriminatory policing in Russia, Amnesty International has said.

    An Azerbaijani man, who was not identified as a result of the wave of arrests, was today named as the suspect for the murder, which sparked major riots targeting migrants over the weekend.

    "The Russian police's indiscriminate detention of more than a thousand migrants in the search for one alleged killer was deeply discriminatory and obviously unlawful," said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Russia researcher.

    "It was clearly done for show and not for any justifiable legal reason. Police responses like this merely play to existing xenophobic attitudes and inflame them."

    An angry mob rioted in the Moscow district of Biryulyovo this weekend over the stabbing of 25-year-old Yegor Shcherbakov, after it was reported that his killer may have been from Central Asia or the Caucasus.

    October 11, 2013

    Today’s shipwreck off the coast of Alexandria that drowned at least 12 people, many believed to be refugees from Syria, highlights the crushing life-and-death decisions facing many who fled to Egypt to escape Syria’s armed conflict, Amnesty International said.

    The organization is due to launch a briefing next week on the plight of refugees from Syria in Egypt, and currently has a delegation on the ground researching the situation.

    “Our research has shown how the backdrop to today’s terrible boat accident is a much wider tragedy. Refugees from Syria are compelled to risk life and limb yet again in Egypt after facing arbitrary arrests, detentions and increased hostility,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International's Head of Refugee and Migrants' Rights.

    October 04, 2013

    36 refugees from Syria, many of Palestinian origin, have been deported to Syria today, according to information received by Amnesty International.  

    “Egypt must immediately halt all detention and deportation of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. Amnesty International urges the Egyptian authorities to respect international law by not sending refugees back to a bloody conflict in which ,more than 100,000 have already been killed,” Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International has been told that the group was arrested in September while they were trying to get to Europe by boat from Egypt. They were taken to the Rashid police station, in the Beheira governorate, where they were detained for 13 days.

    Local Egyptian activists told Amnesty International that late last night the refugees were forced to sign a document saying they are willing to go back to Syria. They were then taken by bus to Cairo airport and returned by plane.

    October 03, 2013

    The Italian authorities and the European Union must redouble efforts to patrol their shores and assist migrants in order to prevent further tragic loss of life, Amnesty International said after at least 100 people, including children, perished off the coast of Italy on Thursday morning.  

    The boat – which was reportedly from Libya – was apparently carrying more than 500 migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Somalia, when it caught fire and sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Around 120 people have been rescued and more than 100 bodies have so far been brought to shore. Many more are still missing.

    “The waters around the small island of Lampedusa have again tragically become a graveyard for migrants. These grim events keep repeating themselves as thousands of people make the perilous trip across the Mediterranean to seek protection or a better life,” said Jezerca Tigani, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme.

    October 01, 2013

    Kenya must drop calls to force hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to Somalia where ongoing armed conflict would put their lives and security at risk, Amnesty International said today.

    It follows calls from the Kenyan MP Ndung'u Gethenji, head of the Parliament’s defence committee, to clear Somali refugees from camps in northern Kenya. He said they are used as "training ground" by armed groups such as al-Shabab.

    “Returning refugees to Somalia, where all parties to the conflict, including al-Shabab, continue to carry out attacks against civilians, would only make matters worse and would be in violation of international law. Instead, authorities in Kenya must protect those living in a vulnerable situation in refugee camps,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director.

    The call follows last month’s attack on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. The Somali armed group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

    September 03, 2013

    The number of Syrian refugees has now surpassed 2 million according to the United Nations. This figure has doubled in the last six months alone. The rising flow of refugees into neighbouring countries has sparked a desperate humanitarian crisis.

    “"The rising flow of refugees into neighbouring countries has sparked a desperate humanitarian crisis. In the context of the most severe forcible displacement crisis in recent history, it is paramount that the international community acts decisively to share the responsibility for Syria’s refugees,” said Sherif El-Sayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Thematic Issues.

    “Humanitarian assistance to neighbouring countries must be significantly stepped up. Neighbouring countries must also keep their borders fully open to all persons fleeing the conflict."

    Amnesty International’s researchers have been monitoring the situation of Syrian refugees in Jordan, including at the Za’atari refugee camp, and elsewhere. They are available for interview on the human rights concerns of this crisis.

    Researchers available for interview:

    August 19, 2013

    The Jordanian authorities must not deny entry to anyone fleeing the armed conflict in neighbouring Syria, Amnesty International said after families with young children were among scores of people forced to wait at the border in recent days.

    “The Jordanian authorities must ensure safe access to Jordan for all those wishing to seek safety without discrimination,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Persons fleeing Syria should not be denied entry even on a temporary basis as this puts their lives in danger. Jordan has an obligation under international law to ensure that its borders stay open to receive refugees.”

    Since Wednesday 14 August, Syrian national Amina and her six children have been denied entry to Jordan at the official Nasib border crossing, the organization has learned. Jordanian border officials granted them entrance visas but told them that they could not enter Jordan for one month. Their passports were stamped with the message: "Return in one month”. 

    August 14, 2013

    The Greek authorities must act immediately to curb the growing spate of xenophobic and racist attacks Amnesty International said today. It follows a brutal knife attack by a mob of around 20 men on two Pakistani migrants on the island of Crete in the early hours of yesterday morning.

    The two young men approached Amnesty International for help, saying they were too scared to report the matter to the police or seek medical attention for fear of being deported.

    “At the same time as we’ve seen a spike in xenophobic violence around Greece, the lack of laws to protect victims with irregular status has meant that reporting such crimes can result in the victims being deported while their attackers walk free,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “This only contributes to the general climate of impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks and it allows for an acceptance of these horrific crimes.”

    August 06, 2013

    The Maltese authorities must urgently allow a boat carrying 102 sub-Saharan Africans to disembark those on board, Amnesty International said.

    The private vessel 'MV Salamis', which rescued the group stranded at sea and reportedly includes pregnant women, one injured woman and a five-month-old baby among its passengers, was stopped by the Maltese navy before it entered Maltese territorial waters last night. The group is currently stranded off the Maltese coast.

    "The Maltese authorities have a humanitarian duty to ensure the safety and well-being of those rescued. They must allow the boat to disembark in Malta and its passengers to be given any necessary medical treatment, as well as a chance to apply for asylum," said Jezerca Tigani, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    "Otherwise, the highest price may be paid by the women, men and children who may have to spend another night at sea with the fear of being sent back to Libya."

    The Maltese government has said it does not intend to take the passengers ashore, saying the ship's captain should have taken them back to Libya.

    July 25, 2013

    Separate boating incidents putting the lives of dozens of migrants at risk in the Aegean Sea today are a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by people seeking to reach Europe’s borders, Amnesty International said.

    A search and rescue operation continues off the Turkish coastal city Bodrum, where a boat believed to have 13 migrants on board went missing early this morning.

    Also today the Greek coastguard rescued 21 migrants who fell from a rubber boat carrying 46 people near the island of Chios. One of the migrants was unconscious when pulled out of the sea and was later pronounced dead.

    “The sad truth is that we’re likely to see more tragic incidents like these as migrants and asylum-seekers flee economic hardship and conflict with the hopes of finding safety and a better life in Europe,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.

    July 19, 2013

    On 19 July 2013, Amnesty International welcomed an important decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in the case of Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola.  The unanimous judgment, written by Justices LeBel and Fish, brings Canada’s interpretation of the UN Refugee Convention into line with international law.

    by Anna Shea and Gloria Nafziger

    Supreme Court Ruling in Ezokola case

    Mr. Ezokola had a long career with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2008 he resigned from his position at the Permanent Mission of the DRC at the UN in New York and fled to Canada with his family, seeking refugee protection.  He stated that he could no longer work for a government which he considered corrupt, violent and antidemocratic. 

    July 19, 2013

    Australia passes the parcel and closes the door to desperate boat arrivals
    Amnesty International strongly condemns this afternoon’s appalling announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he will now refuse to resettle asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia.

    “The new plans to resettle all asylum seekers that are found to be refugees in PNG shows not only a complete disregard for asylum seekers but absolute contempt for legal and moral obligations,” said Graeme McGregor, Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Campaign Coordinator.

    “Mark this day in history as the day Australia decided to turn its back on the world’s most vulnerable people, closed the door and threw away the key”.

    “This new plan completely deviates from any ‘solution’ that is acceptable under any standards. This is beyond belief. The Prime Minister has shown his willingness to pay any financial costs to bypass humanitarian obligations.

    July 16, 2013

    The Italian government must investigate and make public all the facts behind the illegal expulsion of the wife and daughter of Kazakhstani opposition politician Mukhtar Ablyazov, said Amnesty International today. The Italian parliament is preparing to consider an internal inquiry by the Minister of the Interior on Thursday into allegations of collusion between both countries and other violations of Italian law.

    “The Italian authorities must ensure that there is a full investigation and criminal prosecution for any violation of their human rights. Only then can any allegations of collusion between the Italian and Kazakhstani authorities be put to rest,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of the Europe and Central Asia Programme.

    Alma Shalabayeva and her six-year old daughter Alua Ablyazova were apprehended in a house in Rome on 29 May 2013 following a police raid reportedly conducted in search of Mukhtar Ablyazov. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest on fraud-related charges issued by the authorities of the United Kingdom, and a pending extradition request from Kazakhstan.

    July 10, 2013

    The Egyptian authorities should not recklessly deny entry to Syrians and must provide anyone fleeing the conflict the opportunity to seek asylum, Amnesty International said today after reports that some 259 people were turned back at Cairo Airport on Monday.

    “Given the scale of violence, bloodshed and human rights abuses currently taking place in Syria, it is unthinkable that Egypt should deny Syrians fleeing for their lives safety," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui , Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme.

    Syrian nationals arriving on Monday were denied entry to Egypt on the grounds that the passengers had not obtained the newly required visas or security permits. Previously, Syrian nationals did not require visas to enter Egypt.

    While the Egyptian authorities can regulate entry to and stay in Egypt, they must do so in full respect of their international human rights and refugee law obligations.

    Those sent back include: 95 passengers on a Syrian Airlines flight to Latakia, in Syria; 55 flew MEA back to Beirut; some 25 to Jordan, and six to Abu Dhabi.

    June 20, 2013

    The Libyan authorities must act immediately to end the indefinite detention of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, including children, solely for immigration purposes, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today, 20 June 2013, World Refugee Day.
    The briefing, Scapegoats of Fear: Rights of Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and Migrants Abused in Libya, highlights the unacceptable treatment of thousands of foreign nationals, many from sub-Saharan Africa, who are subjected to arbitrary arrests and held for long periods in deplorable conditions at immigration detention facilities described by the Libyan authorities as “holding centres”, with no immediate prospect of release or redress in sight.
    Amnesty International visited seven “holding centres” in April and May this year and found evidence of ill-treatment, in some cases amounting to torture. Many detainees were also denied medical care and some were slated for deportation on medical grounds.

    May 29, 2013

    The South African authorities must stop trying to ‘squeeze out’ asylum-seekers Amnesty International said today, after police used pepper spray and stun grenades to repel desperate crowds outside a Cape Town refugee office.

    Crowds of around a thousand asylum-seekers and refugees trying to legally renew their permits at the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office have been refused entry since Monday 27 May, and over three days have been on the receiving end of stun grenades, pepper spray, warning shots and a fire-hose.

    The tensions outside the Cape Town office come amid a recent national spike in attacks on small businesses owned by asylum-seekers and refugees.

    A witness to the first incident on 27 May told Amnesty International:

    “Suddenly the crowd started moving backwards. I asked someone what was happening and they told me the police were [pepper] spraying people. Then I heard a loud boom which sounded like a gunshot and the crowd started running. I ran with them. I saw a man with blood running down his head and two men with red eyes who had been sprayed.”

    May 15, 2013

    Forcibly returning people to a volatile security situation in Somalia would violate international law, Amnesty International said as Danish courts are due to consider returning five Somali citizens currently living in Denmark.

    The Danish hearings on Thursday and Friday come after at least two other European states – Norway and the Netherlands – have already ended suspensions on forcibly returning people to the Somali capital Mogadishu.

    The Dutch and Norwegian decisions – in December 2012 and February 2013, respectively – cited improved security in the capital as the reason for the change. But the European Court of Human Rights and Dutch courts have suspended the deportation of four Somali nationals from the Netherlands since then, while the security situation remains poor in Mogadishu, and extremely dire in other parts of Somalia.    

    “Though there have been improvements in the security situation in Mogadishu, it remains fragile and volatile,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    May 13, 2013

    Heavy monsoon rains and a tropical cyclone threaten the lives of tens of thousands of displaced persons in western Myanmar unless the authorities immediately step up efforts to protect them, Amnesty International said.

    More than 140,000 individuals – mostly from the Rohingya Muslim minority – are currently displaced across Rakhine state and have been living in temporary shelters since violence erupted between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine state in June 2012. Around half are located in low-lying areas prone to flooding.

    According to information released by the US military, cyclone “Mahasen” is expected to reach the area by late Wednesday or early Thursday morning.

    “The government has been repeatedly warned to make appropriate arrangements for those displaced in Rakhine state. Now thousands of lives are at stake unless targeted action is taken immediately to assist those most at risk,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    April 25, 2013

    It is vital that the international community does more to help the increasing number of refugees pouring across borders as they flee the violence in Syria, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.

    To escape the ongoing bloodshed and violence at home, those fleeing have sought safety in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Many live in extremely difficult conditions.

    “The responsibility to protect and assist refugees from Syria needs to be shouldered by both the international community and neighbouring countries,” said Charlotte Phillips, refugee researcher at Amnesty International.

    All these countries say that the long-term hosting of refugees is putting a strain on resources, as increasing numbers of Syrians and others try to reach the relative safety of refugee camps and elsewhere in neighbouring countries.

    “In the face of this mounting crisis, the international community must act now to provide badly needed financial and technical assistance in order to support the efforts made by Syria’s neighbouring countries,” said Phillips.

    April 04, 2013

    A Roma community in Poland are being threatened with imminent eviction and homelessness in a blatant violation of international human rights law, Amnesty International said today.

    In a rare move for Poland, the city of Wroclaw in the west of the country is planning to force around 60 Romanian Roma from an informal settlement on municipal land, while offering no alternative homes for them.

    “Forcibly evicting up to 60 people is utterly unacceptable behaviour by a government with very clear obligations to uphold human rights,” said Marek Marczyñski, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Alternative accommodation must be offered before 60 people, 35 of whom are children, are made homeless,” said Marczyñski.  

    The residents were served with a 14-day eviction notice on 26 March but the municipal government has never consulted them on alternative places to live.  

    If the authorities fail to provide adequate alternative accommodation or consult the community affected, the eviction would violate international human rights law and standards.

    April 04, 2013

    The European Union (EU) is not doing enough to end discrimination against Roma across its member-states, Amnesty International said on the eve of International Roma Day marked on 8 April.

    “The EU must implement immediately the considerable measures at its disposal to sanction governments that are failing to tackle discrimination and violence against Roma,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “Such practices run counter to EU law and the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights it was founded on.”

    The estimated six million Roma living in EU countries fall far below the national average on almost all human development indicators -- eight out of ten Roma are at risk of poverty; only one out of seven young Roma adults have completed upper-secondary education.

    Forced evictions of Roma continue to be the norm rather than the exception in a range of European countries such as Romania, Italy, and France.

    And education is segregated in the Czech Republic, Greece and Slovakia. This is at odds with national and EU laws prohibiting racial discrimination.

    April 03, 2013

    Over 200 people, mostly Romanian Roma, were forcibly evicted this morning from an informal settlement in greater Paris in a move Amnesty International has labelled shameful and callous. 

    Police evicted around 230 people at 7:00 am from their huts and caravans in Ris-Orangis on the outskirts of Paris, citing public health and safety concerns. It is the latest in a resumed wave of forced evictions of Roma across France over the past few weeks.

    “Evicting hundreds of people without offering any adequate alternative housing or support is a shameful and callous action that totally ignores France’s international human rights obligations,” said Marek Marczyński, Europe and Central Asia Program Deputy Director.

    The community were given 24 hours notice to leave the site, despite the lack of adequate housing being offered. 

    According to reports, only 38 had previously been offered any assistance with accommodation or employment. Local activists reported that the only alternative emergency accommodation offered required families to be separated, which the residents refused to accept.

    April 03, 2013

    Egypt and Sudan must make urgent and concerted efforts to stop asylum-seekers and refugees being kidnapped from camps in Sudan, forcibly transported to Egypt, and being severely abused in the Sinai desert, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    For over two years, refugees and asylum-seekers have been kidnapped from in and around the Shagarab refugee camps in eastern Sudan, near the Eritrean border. The vast majority of victims are Eritrean. They are then trafficked to Egypt’s Sinai desert, where they are held captive by Bedouin criminal gangs while ransom payments are demanded from their families.

    Amnesty International has received repeated reports of brutal violence used against captives in Sinai, including rape and sexual abuse, beatings, burning and other violent and cruel treatment.

    The captors reportedly telephone their victims’ relatives while inflicting violence in order to extort money, often demanding ransoms of up to USD 30-40,000.

    March 28, 2013

    Up to 600 Syrian refugees have reportedly been deported by the Turkish authorities in a move that would show a shocking disregard for their safety, Amnesty International said.

    Reports state that those forcibly returned had been accommodated in the Akcakale refugee camp in the Sanliurfa province that borders Syria. Others run the risk of the same treatment.

    "Any forcible return of Syrian refugees would represent a deplorable act in clear violation of international law and Turkey's own laws," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's researcher on Turkey.

    Reports indicate that the returns occurred following violent protests at the camp.

    ”The Turkish authorities need to ensure that from now on no forcible returns occur and they must effectively investigate forced returns that are alleged to have taken place.

    ”In no circumstances whatsoever should the authorities forcibly return Syrians putting them at risk of persecution and serious human rights violations."

     

    March 20, 2013

    In a case highlighting the risks people take when fleeing conflict in their countries to seek refuge in Europe, the authorities of Lesvos continue their search for the bodies of asylum-seekers who had attempted to reach the Greek island.

    Since last Friday, they have found the bodies of six Syrian nationals including a 17-year-old pregnant woman and a mother with her young children. They are now searching for the bodies of three more Syrian nationals whose families had reported missing to the island authorities after the nine attempted to cross from Turkey on 6 March 2013.

    Lesvos is one of the main crossings for migrants and refugees trying to enter the European Union via Greece. Last December, 21 people (mostly Afghans) drowned close to the shores of the island, after the boat they were in capsized.  

    Since last summer, people fleeing the conflict in Syria have featured among those attempting the crossing, including many families with young children.

    February 09, 2013

    Authorities in Iraq must urgently investigate the attack against a camp of Iranian exiles that left several people dead and injred and ensure all those wounderiate medical care, said Amnesty International today.   

    The investigation should also look into the conduct of Iraqi security forces in the lead up and during the attack and whether they have failed to prevent any such attack.

    Several people reportedly died and have been injured as a result of the attack against Camp Liberty, home of some 3,000 Iranians in exile in Iraq, on 9 February.  

    “The attack against Camp Liberty is a despicable crime,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Programme's Deputy Director  

    “Authorities in Iraq must ensure not only that those responsible for this attack are brought to justice but that those living in the camp are protected.”  

    January 18, 2013

    Preventing refugees from entering Jordan to escape the conflict in Syria would increase suffering and could lead to further bloodshed and human rights abuses, Amnesty International said today following the Jordanian Prime Minister’s announcement that the Jordanian authorities would close the border if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government collapses.

    At a press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman on Thursday, Prime Minister Abdallah Ensour told reporters that his country would not allow the continued entry of refugees into its territory if al-Assad’s government falls or refugee numbers rise significantly, but would seek to keep them inside Syria.

    "At a time when people in Syria may need protection the most, Jordan is effectively threatening to close its borders, further exposing them to harm,” said Charlotte Phillips from Amnesty International’s refugee team.

    “Supporters of the al-Assad government, many from Syria’s minorities, are already facing human rights abuses by armed opposition forces.”

    January 17, 2013

    The murder of a Pakistani youth in Athens is a result of the Greek authorities’ continuing failure to take decisive action against racially-motivated violence, Amnesty International said today.

    Two people on a motorcycle stabbed the 27-year old Pakistani as he was riding his bicycle in Petralona, Athens on 16 January and he died later of his wounds. The police arrested two Greek nationals as suspects.

    Marek Marczynski, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director at Amnesty International, said:  
    “This attack is not an isolated case. We have seen a dramatic escalation of   racially motivated attacks over the past year”.

    “Amnesty international has received testimonies and information for four more cases of Egyptian nationals who have been attacked and injured over the past two months in the areas of Pireus, Keratsini and Moschato.    

    January 10, 2013

    Any future transitional government in Syria should make the protection of minority groups its top priority, Amnesty International said today as an international conference in the UK planning for the Syrian government’s possible collapse drew to a close.

    Opposition leaders and worldwide Syria experts holding private talks in Sussex for a second day were urged to put human rights at the heart of all planning about the future of the country.

    Minority groups including Alawite Muslims, the community of the al-Assad family, are facing an increased risk of human rights abuses by armed opposition forces.

    "When the conflict eventually ends, a huge task will face those in power and it is vital that whoever is in charge puts human rights at the core of their policies and reforms," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    "Chief among those is ensuring the safety and security of minorities, especially those suspected of supporting the former government."

    There has been a recent rise in sectarian violence in Syria, particularly by those opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

    December 20, 2012

    Kenya’s decision to place refugees and asylum seekers in camps away from urban centres is a discriminatory and unlawful restriction on freedom of movement, Amnesty International said.

    The government stated the policy is a reaction to security concerns in the country.

    “This restriction on freedom of movement is likely to lead to other serious human rights abuses in already overcrowded, insecure refugee camps,” said  Kathryn Achilles, Amnesty International’s East Africa expert.

    Thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers from Somalia living in urban centres including the capital,  Nairobi, will be required to move to the Dadaab refugee camp complex in north-eastern Kenya, while those from other countries will be required to move to the Kakuma camp.

    The Dadaab complex in particular is already extremely overcrowded, even without the additional influx of refugees required to move from urban areas.

    Overcrowding has placed a strain on the provision of essential services to asylum-seekers and refugees, including access to shelter, water and sanitation.

    November 13, 2012

    Undocumented foreign nationals in Libya are at risk of exploitation, arbitrary and indefinite detention, as well as tings, sometimes amounting to torture, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

    The briefing “We are foreigners, we have no rights” is based on fact-finding visits to Libya between May and September 2012, and examines the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Libya.

    During Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, foreign nationals – particularly those from Sub-Saharan Africa – lived with the uncertainty of shifting policies and fear of arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, torture and other abuses.

    Following the 2011 conflict, their situation has worsened amid the general climate of lawlessness, with powerful armed militias continuing to act outside the law, and the failure of the authorities to tackle racism and xenophobia, further fuelled by the widespread belief amongst Libyans that “African mercenaries” had been used by the ousted government to crush the 2011 uprising.

    April 14, 2011

    Canadian Council for Refugees,  Amnesty International Canada, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic
    Harvard International Human Rights Clinic, Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates 

    Decision by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Finds that Canada Violated American Declaration on Human Rights by Summarily Returning Refugee Claimants to US

    A group of organizations today welcomed the final decision of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights upholding a complaint made concerning the forced return of three refugee claimants to the United States in 2003.
     
    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that Canada violated its human rights obligations when it returned the three refugee claimants to the US without first providing individualized review of their asylum claims. The claimants were returned to the US under Canada’s ‘direct back’ policy.

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