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Refugees and Migrants

    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.

    August 05, 2015

    European governments must do more to provide safe and legal ways for people in need of protection to enter the European Union (EU), rather than risking their lives at sea in their thousands, Amnesty International said as a massive search-and-rescue operation got under way in the central Mediterranean earlier today.

    Media reports say hundreds of people are feared lost at sea after a fishing boat, which carried an estimated 600 people, capsized off the Libyan port of Zuwara. According to official sources, 373 people have been rescued and 25 bodies were retrieved so far. Rescue operations, carried out with the participation of vessels from various countries as well as NGOs Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ýand Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), are ongoing and will continue overnight.

    “People are still crossing the central Mediterranean in their thousands almost every week to seek safety and better lives in Europe, so fatal incidents at sea are going to remain a tragic reality,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    July 30, 2015

    A looming change in Hungary’s Asylum Law could put tens of thousands of asylum-seekers fleeing war and persecution at risk as the country continues to flout its obligations amid Europe’s burgeoning refugee crisis, Amnesty International said. 

    The amendment, which enters into force on 1 August, may lead to a situation in which any asylum-seeker who enters the country via its Balkan neighbours will be rejected and deported back. The Hungarian authorities are also constructing a four-metre-high fence along 175 km of the border with Serbia to prevent refugees and migrants from crossing.

    Amnesty International is calling on Hungarian Parliamentarians to submit the legislation for review by the Constitutional Court.

    “This is a thinly veiled attempt by Hungary to dodge its obligations under national and international law to assist asylum-seekers who have a globally recognized right to claim international protection,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    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.

    July 06, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST   7 July 2015

    Thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants – including children – making dangerous journeys across the Balkans are suffering violent abuse and extortion at the hands of the authorities and criminal gangs and being shamefully let down by a failing European Union (EU) asylum and migration system which leaves them trapped without protection in Serbia and Macedonia, said Amnesty International in a new report.

    Europe’s borderlands: Violations against migrants and refugees in Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, finds that an increasing number of vulnerable people are being left stranded in legal limbo across the Balkans. The situation is exacerbated by push-backs or deportations at every border, restricted access to asylum on route and a lack of safe and legal routes into the EU.

    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 17, 2015

    Released 18/06/2015 00.01 GMT

    Mexican authorities must urgently investigate a shocking spike of violent attacks against undocumented migrants by criminal gangs and provide a safe haven for survivors, said Amnesty International.

    More than 200 migrants, including several children, were violently attacked and several killed by armed groups in two separate attacks in the last two weeks. The whereabouts of more than 130 are still unknown, prompting fears for their life and security.

    “Mexico has become a death trap for migrants, with vicious criminal gangs at every corner waiting for their opportunity to attack them for a few dollars, while authorities at the state and federal level are more eager to deport people than to save lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Many migrants have died and disappeared while trying to reach the USA in the past few years, the only question left is how many more lives have to be lost before authorities wake up and decide to take action.”

    June 17, 2015

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

    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.”

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