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Refugees and Migrants

    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 27, 2016

    The worsening humanitarian conditions at the Greece-Macedonia border crossing of Idomeni have reached crisis point as an increasing number of refugees and asylum-seekers are stuck in dire conditions after Macedonia and Serbia closed their borders to Afghanis, said Amnesty International experts on the border.

    The discriminatory measures have exacerbated a humanitarian bottleneck in Idomeni and set a dangerous precedent as refugees and asylum-seekers attempt to cross through the Balkans.

    “With the Greek asylum and reception systems under strain, the humanitarian situation here is only getting worse as entire families are sleeping rough, without access to adequate reception conditions,” said Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director of Amnesty International Greece.

    “EU member states need to immediately step up and share responsibility in responding to this crisis. The situation in Idomeni is at breaking point and EU leaders hold the lives of thousands of asylum-seekers in the balance.”

    February 05, 2016

    Tens of thousands of people displaced by joint Russian and Syrian government attacks in the north of Syria must be allowed to cross the border to safety in Turkey, Amnesty International said today amid reports that thousands of people are waiting at border gates that remain closed.

    Reports suggest that between 40,000 and 70,000 people are on the move after fleeing heavy fighting near the city of Aleppo. More than 20,000 are already waiting at the Bab al-Salam (Syrian) side of Öncüpınar border gate in Kilis Province on the Turkey/Syria border, which is currently closed.

    “Turkey has allowed in huge numbers of people fleeing the horrors of war and humanitarian catastrophe. It must not close its doors to people in desperate need of safety,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “These people have fled air strikes and heavy fighting; they are likely to be traumatised and exhausted. Turkey must allow them to enter its territory and the international community must do all it can to ensure adequate support is given to the country.”

    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.

    February 02, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 3 February 2016

    World leaders in London this week for a high-level conference on Syria must commit to an ambitious and transformational new multi-billion dollar deal for Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them in the region, a global coalition of more than ninety humanitarian and human rights groups said today.

    The coalition, representing organisations such as the Malala Fund, Oxfam and Amnesty International, said that to be a success, the conference - co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UN - must deliver a bold new plan for Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them.

    As the crisis enters its sixth year and ongoing suffering reaches historic proportions in scale and intensity, warring parties continue to commit war crimes, including besiegement and targeting of civilians. 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency relief and on average, 50 Syrian families have been uprooted from their homes every hour of every day since the conflict began in 2011.

    December 18, 2015

    Jordan must not deport the approximately 800 Sudanese asylum-seekers currently being held near Queen Ali International Airport in Amman, Amnesty International said today. The asylum-seekers were taken from outside UNHCR’s office in the capital Amman in the early hours of Wednesday morning and transferred to an industrial area by the airport.

    “It is an absolute disgrace that Jordan is about to deport these asylum-seekers back to a country where they will be at real risk of human rights violations and their lives will potentially be in danger,” said Francesca Pizzutelli, Researcher in Amnesty International’s Refugee and Migrants Rights Team.

    “Most of these people have fled from Darfur, where they would face a real risk of persecution, brutal repression and other human right violations by the Sudanese government in the region.

    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.”

    December 03, 2015

    Ahead of a regional meeting hosted by Thailand tomorrow, Amnesty International calls on the governments of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand to prioritise protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees in any action directed at combating human trafficking and managing irregular migration. The government of Thailand is hosting the 2nd Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean on 4 December 2015 in Bangkok.

    In May 2015, thousands of people from Myanmar and Bangladesh were subjected to horrific abuses at the hands of boat crews in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Abuses included killings, beatings and being kept in inhuman and degrading conditions. Following the crackdown on trafficking and smuggling by the Thai authorities, crews abandoned the boats and refugees and migrants were left stranded at sea because of governmental inaction and refusal to take in people, before eventually being granted temporary shelter in Indonesia and Malaysia.

    December 02, 2015

    Released: 2 December 2015 – 00:01 EAT (GMT+3)

    The huge number of young people fleeing indefinite national service in Eritrea is adding to the global refugee crisis. These people have the right to international protection, a new report from Amnesty International has found.

    Just Deserters: Why indefinite national service in Eritrea has created a generation of refugees reveals that, despite claims by officials that conscription would be limited to 18 months, national service continues to be indefinite, often lasting for decades. Conscripts include boys and girls as young as 16 as well as the elderly and conscription often amounts to forced labour.

    Attempts to flee national service have resulted in Eritreans making up the third-largest number of refugees trying to reach Europe. Yet, despite the reality on the ground, European states are increasingly rejecting asylum applications from Eritrea.

    November 27, 2015

    Ottawa – The Supreme Court of Canada found today that individuals cannot be denied refugee status for providing unremunerated assistance to undocumented migrants entering Canada under a law that criminalizes human smuggling.

    The Court issued its decisions in two separate but related cases concerning provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) relating to the definition of “human smuggling.” Amnesty International Canada intervened in the case of B010 v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), which considered section 37(1) of the IRPA, a provision that renders those engaged in organized criminal smuggling inadmissible to Canada as refugees. The top court found unanimously that this provision does not apply to some people who help refugee claimants reach Canada. The exceptions include family members, humanitarian workers and migrants helping other migrants.

    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.

    November 15, 2015

    World leaders must show true statesmanship and refrain from bowing to a knee-jerk anti-refugee agenda in the wake of the despicable attacks in Paris, urged Amnesty International today.

    “The tragic events in Paris have sickened and stunned the world and our hearts and thoughts go out to all those affected by this atrocious attack. The threat of terrorism must always be responded to resolutely, with the utmost regard for security and respect for human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    “Now is also the time for world leaders to show true statesmanship and refuse to bow to the conflated anti-refugee rhetoric which is already emanating from some quarters. We have to remember that many of those trying to gain sanctuary have fled violence, fear and conflict, and indeed often by the very same group known as the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.”

    October 30, 2015

    A rocket attack on a camp of Iranian exiles in Iraq is a despicable and callous crime, Amnesty International said as it called for an immediate investigation, urgent protection and assistance for the camp’s residents.

    Camp Liberty, in north-east Baghdad, was struck by a barrage of rockets last night, which killed at least 23 people, including one woman, and injured dozens. An Iraqi Shi’a militia, the al-Mukhtar Army, claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that the attack may be repeated.

    The camp is home to around 2,250 unarmed Iranian exiles, mostly members and supporters of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).

    “This was a horrific act of violence against the residents of Camp Liberty, which cannot simply be ignored by the Iraqi authorities. They must ensure a prompt, independent and effective investigation into this attack and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    October 27, 2015

    Released  00.01 Sydney time on Thursday 29 October / 13.01 GMT on Wednesday 28 October


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