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Refugees and Migrants

    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 21, 2015

    By Gloria Nafziger, Amnesty Canada's Refugee Coordinator.

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

    But it is a very small and disappointing step forward.

    September 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."

    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.

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