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Refugees and Migrants

    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.

    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.

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