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Refugees and Migrants

    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.

    February 16, 2015

    The European Union’s limited search and rescue resources contributed to the soaring death toll after four rubber dinghies carrying hundreds of migrants sent out an SOS in stormy weather in the southern Mediterranean last week, Amnesty International revealed today after a visit to Lampedusa.

    Following the tragedy that claimed more than 300 lives, an Amnesty International research team carried out interviews, in Rome and Lampedusa, with survivors, members of the Italian coastguard and local authorities.

    When the distress call came in on Sunday 8 February, the main vessel used in the pan-EU border management operation Triton was docked hundreds of kilometres away in Malta for maintenance. The large military vessels used in Italy’s now-defunct Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation were also out of use and docked even farther away in Sicily.

    February 12, 2015

    The Free Syrian Voices (www.free-syrian-voices.org) coalition today announced its “Hearts in Our Hands” Campaign to call for the release of peaceful Syrian activists held both by the Syrian government and armed groups. The coalition was formed to coordinate the efforts of six international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Frontline Defenders detained Syrian human rights defenders and activists.

    The campaign’s timing, over the Valentine’s Day weekend and through 17 February 2015, marks the 3rd anniversary, on 16 February, of the arrest and detention of Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), and two staff members, Hussein Gharir and Hani al-Zitani. They remain in Syrian government jails solely for their human rights work, along with hundreds of other human rights, media, legal and humanitarian workers detained since the peaceful protest movement in Syria started in 2011.

    February 11, 2015

    The European Union and its member states must hang their heads in shame following reports this morning that as many as 300 migrants are believed to have died in the high seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa, said Amnesty International.

    “This new tragedy realizes our worst fears about the end of Italy’s Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation and exposes the predictable consequences of the European Union’s failure to provide an adequate replacement,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The humanitarian crisis that sparked the need for Mare Nostrum has not gone away. With people continuing to flee war and persecution, EU member states must stop burying their heads in the sand whilst hundreds keep dying at sea.”

    February 10, 2015

    The guilty verdict against a Hong Kong employer for the extreme abuse she inflicted on two migrant domestic workers must act as a wake-up call for the authorities to stop the widespread exploitation of tens of thousands of women, said Amnesty International.

    Law Wan-tung was found guilty by the District Court in Hong Kong of multiple counts of abuse against Indonesians Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and Tutik Lestari Ningsih. She was found not guilty of two charges of abuse and threatening behaviour against another Indonesian woman, Nurhasanah.

    Law is due to be sentenced on 27 February and could face a lengthy prison term.

    “The guilty verdict is a damning indictment of the government’s failure to reform the system that traps women in a cycle of abuse and exploitation,” said Norma Kang Muico, Asia-Pacific Migrant Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The Hong Kong authorities can no longer bury their heads in the sand and dismiss horrific abuses as isolated incidents. Concrete action to end laws and regulations that foster such horrific abuse is long overdue.”

    February 09, 2015

    By Geoffrey Mock, orginally published on Amnesty USA blog

    What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it?

    You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

    You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education.

    “We don’t go to anyone, we don’t visit anyone because dealing with him is so difficult,” the woman told Amnesty International researchers. “People stay away because they are afraid he will hurt their children. This little room is our bedroom, it is our living room, it is our everything. Our financial situation doesn’t allow us to register him in such [specialist] schools… That is why we need to resettle in another country, to get help for our child. This will make it better for him and for us.”

    February 04, 2015

    A new report from Amnesty International throws the spotlight on the human face of Syria’s refugee crisis, through the stories of eight people and families who have fled the conflict and are struggling to survive in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

    Hardship, Hope and Resettlement: Refugees from Syria tell their stories highlights the life-changing opportunity that international resettlement can offer to some of the most vulnerable refugees. Its publication marks the launch of Amnesty International’s #OpenToSyria campaign.

    The campaign aims to put pressure on wealthy countries, through public support, to accept a greater numbers of vulnerable refugees from Syria through resettlement and other humanitarian admission programmes. So far, the international response to the crisis has been pitiful and some of the richest countries have done very little.

    “With close to 4 million refugees, the scale of the crisis is overwhelming. This report tells the stories of the real people behind the numbers, in their own words,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights.

    January 28, 2015

    By Francesca Pizzutelli, Refugees and Migrants’ Rights Researcher/Advisor at Amnesty International

    From the plane, the change of seasons is evident: what three months ago was a large expanse of arid, dusty yellow land, now is dark brown and punctuated by moist green patches. After a first visit in September, my colleague Khairun and I are back in Iraqi Kurdistan (officially known as Kurdistan Region of Iraq, or KRI) to assess the human rights situation of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis alike.

    January 19, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 20 January 2015

    The Greek authorities’ failure to adequately investigate the deaths of 11 Afghans who drowned at sea shows a blatant disregard for justice for the victims and their families and exemplifies their hard-line approach towards asylum and migration, said Amnesty International on the anniversary of the Farmakonisi tragedy.

    On 20 January 2014, 11 Afghans, including eight children, lost their lives when their fishing boat sank near the Greek island of Farmakonosi. Survivors claim they were towed at great speed back towards Turkey. The authorities dropped an investigation into the tragedy. Since then, more than 100 refugees and migrants have died crossing the Aegean Sea.

    January 07, 2015

    Amnesty International welcomed the announcement, made today by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, that Canada will receive 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years.

    Amnesty International has long been urging governments around the world to accept a fairer share of refugees from Syria. Syria’s neighbouring countries can no longer bear the responsibility for the largest displacement crisis the world has witnessed in decades, and which has produced approximately 4 million refugees in the region, as well as 7.6 million Syrians displaced within the country. It is vital that Syrian refugees be resettled as soon as possible, and Canada has the expertise and capacity to play a leadership role in doing so.

    While recognizing this announcement as an important and positive step, Amnesty International is nonetheless disappointed in several aspects of this long-delayed announcement.

    January 06, 2015

    New requirements imposed by the Lebanese authorities which may restrict access for people desperate to flee Syria is yet another stark reminder that the international community must do much more to assist.

    To its considerable credit, Lebanon already hosts more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria – equal to about a quarter of its population before the Syrian crisis began. As the crisis nears its fifth year, Lebanon and other countries in the region which host the majority of Syria’s refugees are struggling to cope.

    Lebanon and Syria’s other neighbours are struggling to cope with the millions of refugees who have fled the increasingly dire situation since the crisis and conflict began. 

    The international community must do much more to resettle refugees and share the burden in the face of one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, approximately 10% of refugees in the main host countries need resettlement. However, to date less than 2% have been offered resettlement places. 

    December 19, 2014

    A lack of coordination and major gaps in humanitarian assistance is causing untold hardship for many of the 900,000 people displaced by the conflict in Iraq who are sheltering in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), said Amnesty International.

    Delegates from the organization who have just returned from a visit to the KRI found that many displaced people lacked basic items they need to survive the winter such as blankets, warm clothes and heating.  Thousands are living in poorly equipped camps or informal settlements in dire conditions.

    “There are shocking gaps in the humanitarian response. As a result, scores of people are living in ill-equipped camps or buildings with no walls and no shelter from the cold, wind or rain. Children are running around in thin clothes in the freezing cold. In some camps, toilets and clean water are inadequate. In some non-camp settings they are lacking entirely. As winter continues the situation is likely to get far worse,” said Khairunissa Dhala, Refugee Rights Advisor at Amnesty International.

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