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Refugees and Migrants

    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.

    May 07, 2015
    "On the eve of his departure, he called me so that I could pray for him. After he spoke to me, he told his wife and two children that he was about to leave Libya for Italy. Unfortunately, the next call we got was from his brother who told us that he had perished at sea.”

    "I gave my son the 350 000 CFA francs (approximately $750) for him to leave and succeed, and to get us out of poverty"

     

    By Alain Roy
    Deputy Director, Amnesty International Regional Office, Dakar, Senegal

     

    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 19, 2015

    The latest capsizing of a boat carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean – with hundreds of people feared dead – is a man-made tragedy that could well have been avoided, Amnesty International said.

    A boat able to carry hundreds of refugees and migrants – according to the Italian coast guard - capsized this morning off the Libyan coast. The boat had sent a request for help to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which requested a Portuguese merchant vessel to attend the call.

    So far, 28 people have been rescued and 24 bodies have been recovered, according to the coast guard. A rescue operation is currently ongoing with 17 ships involved as well as aircrafts.

    “What we are witnessing in the Mediterranean is a man-made tragedy of appalling proportions. These latest deaths at sea come as a shock, but not a surprise,” 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 19, 2015

    Today’s announcement by the European Commission on managing the migration crisis in the Mediterranean contains the right analysis of the overall situation, but offers no concrete solutions to protecting and saving lives, said Amnesty International.

    “We agree that a European solution to the search and rescue crisis is urgently needed, but that's not being offered here. Member states need to step up and chip in. Extending operation Triton without increasing its assets and operational area changes absolutely nothing,” said Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International European Institutions Office.

    During a press briefing in Brussels, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, acknowledged that the European Union (EU) needed to react more efficiently to the “ever starker” reality of the rising number of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

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