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Refugees and Migrants

    December 10, 2014

    Joint Press Release

    Canada missed another important opportunity to be a world leader by not committing to the resettlement of Syrian refugees at yesterday’s UN sponsored global pledging conference, said Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Syrian Canadian Council.

    Yesterday 25 countries pledged 65,000 resettlement spaces in response to the UNHCR appeal to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.  Canada was not among the 25 countries.  Instead, a spokesperson indicated that the government “will make announcements about further commitments at a future date.”

    December 05, 2014

    World leaders are failing to offer protection to Syria’s most vulnerable refugees with catastrophic consequences, Amnesty International has warned in a new briefing ahead of a UN pledging conference in Geneva on 9 December.

    Left Out in the Cold: Syrian refugees abandoned by the international community  highlights the pitiful numbers of resettlement places offered by the international community. Around 3.8 million refugees from are being hosted in five main countries within the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Only 1.7 per cent of this number have been offered sanctuary by the rest of the world since the crisis began more than three years ago.

    December 05, 2014

    European Union member states must urgently step up efforts to protect refugees and migrants trying to reach their countries by sea after it was revealed this morning that 16 bodies were found on board a rubber dinghy rescued off the coast of Libya yesterday, said Amnesty International.

    “These latest deaths show yet again how vital it is that the EU maintains adequate search and rescue capacity along the routes taken by those fleeing conflict and persecution. The down-sizing of Italy’s search and rescue operation without an effective EU-wide replacement is putting the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    According to the Italian Navy, the 16 perished due to hypothermia and dehydration. A further 76 refugees and migrants were rescued, of whom two were reportedly in critical conditions. One later died.

    December 05, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

     

    Amnesty International warns the passage of the Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill through Federal Parliament overnight will inevitably see some refugees returned to the hands of their torturers.

    No avenue to appeal

    Under the flawed "fast track" process, a large number of asylum seekers will have no avenue to appeal the department’s decision about their refugee status.

    "This Bill flies in the face of findings from the United Nations Committee Against Torture which found Australia’s asylum seeker policies contravened the torture convention," said Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International’s Refugee Coordinator.

    "Of particular concern to the UN, Amnesty International and countless other human rights organisations, is that it violates international law by removing any requirement to consider whether a person will be tortured or persecuted if returned home.

    November 20, 2014

    Released 08:30 GMT 20 November 2014

    The international community’s failure to deal with the growing number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Turkey has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions with refugees facing push-backs and live fire at the border and hundreds of thousands living in destitution, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Struggling to Survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey, documents serious human rights risks faced by the 1.6 million people who have sought refuge in
    the country over the last three and a half years. It also highlights the deplorable reluctance of the international community to take meaningful financial responsibility for the refugee crisis.

    November 14, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately release and refrain from deporting at least 66 refugees from Syria and Gaza, including a number of children, who are unlawfully detained in the country, said Amnesty International. The refugees are being detained in poor conditions with some held in rooms infested with cockroaches, mosquitos and mice.

    The National Security Department within the Ministry of Interior has issued deportation orders against at least 64 of the refugees – who could be deported at any time – even though the Public Prosecutor office in Alexandria ordered their release. They include 56 Palestinians threatened with being forcibly returned to Syria.

    “By unlawfully detaining dozens of refugees and issuing them with deportation orders the Egyptian authorities have displayed a shocking level of indifference to their suffering,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa

    November 11, 2014

    Released  00:01 GMT 12 November 2014

    Qatar’s authorities are lagging severely behind on efforts to address the rampant abuse of migrant workers’ rights, Amnesty International said in a briefing published six months after the government announced a series of reforms to tackle exploitation ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

    No Extra Time: How Qatar is still failing on workers’ rights ahead of the World Cup sets out how the Qatari government has failed to reform the systems that facilitate the abuse of migrant workers and has made only minimal progress on a number of plans it announced in May 2014.

    “Time is running out fast. It has been four years since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, putting itself in the global spotlight, so far its response to migrant labour abuses has not been much more than promises of action and draft laws,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “Urgent action is needed to ensure we do not end up with a World Cup tournament that is built on forced labour and exploitation.”

    November 04, 2014

    Neil Sammonds, Amnesty's Syria Researcher, blogs from Kobani on the Turkey-Syria border

    A dust cloud from the US air strike drifts across the border from Kobani and blurs our view from the overlooking Turkish hilltop. Most if not all of those watching – all Kurds, it seems, from both Syria and Turkey – agree that the damage caused to the city by air strikes is a price worth paying. Many believe the city’s defence, led by Syrian Kurdish fighters, would have collapsed without them.

    “My home may get destroyed but if it forces out Da’esh”, as the armed group which calls itself the Islamic State (IS) is usually referred to locally, “then I am happy,” says one.

    Fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) lead the city’s defence against the armed group widely loathed by Kurds.  

    Residents of the scores of villages outside Kobani, and then the city itself, fled ahead of the rapid IS advance, well aware of the atrocities committed by the group against Iraqi Kurds in Sinjar and elsewhere. Some 200,000 fled into Turkey, two-thirds of them in just four days in September this year.

    October 23, 2014

    The Netherlands’ repeated attempts to forcibly return Somalis to areas controlled by the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab exposes them to grave risks of human rights abuses and would be a blatant violation of international law, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The Dutch government has insisted that Somalis can be forcibly sent to the most perilous areas of the country, including those where al-Shabaab is responsible for unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment.

    “For some Somalis, being returned to al-Shabaab-controlled areas is akin to being handed a death sentence,” said L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “By sending Somalis to volatile areas where their lives are in danger, the Dutch government is also responsible for the human rights abuses they face on their return.”

    International law requires that states do not return people to areas where their lives or freedoms are at real risk, such as certain situations of armed conflict.

    October 22, 2014

    Update
    On 23 October 2014 the Federal government tabled, Bill C-43, an omnibus budget bill which contains the same provisions as those found in Bill C-585.  Amnesty International believes these provisions must be withdrawn from Bill C-43.

    Amnesty International is calling for Bill C-585, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (period of residence), to be withdrawn.  The Private Member’s Bill, proposed by Corneliu Chisu, M.P, would allow provinces to reduce access to social assistance for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. 

    Bill C-585 violates Canada’s binding obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention).

    October 20, 2014

    Dozens of families will be left homeless if French authorities go ahead with the forced eviction of a Roma camp in a Paris suburb this week, Amnesty International warned today.

    More than 200 Roma living in an informal settlement near Bobigny will be forcibly evicted from their homes within the next 48 hours, but many have not have been offered alternative housing.

    “This forced eviction would leave families – including children, the sick and the elderly – living on the streets, deprived of their human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “The French authorities must halt the forced eviction until they can offer suitable alternative housing solutions that have been accepted by the Roma community after proper consultation.”

    According to international human rights standards, evictions should not render people homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations.

    October 19, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT Monday 20 October 2014

    The South Korean government must end the exploitation and widespread use of forced labour of migrant agricultural workers, Amnesty International said, as it published a new report that reveals how the country’s farming industry is rife with abuse.

    Bitter Harvest exposes the true face of South Korea’s Employment Permit System (EPS) that directly contributes to the serious exploitation of migrant agricultural workers. The government-run work scheme is designed to provide migrant labour to small and medium-sized enterprises that struggle to hire a sufficient number of national workers.
    “The exploitation of migrant farm workers in South Korea is a stain on the country. The authorities have created a shameful system that allows trafficking for exploitation and forced labour to flourish,” said Norma Kang Muico, Asia-Pacific Migrant Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.
    “If South Koreans were trapped in a similar cycle of abuse, there would rightly be outrage.”

    October 17, 2014

    Ángel Amílcar Colón, tortured into "confessing" to crimes he did not commit and unjustly imprisoned for 5 years, has been released from jail!

    Thanks to the efforts of his legal team at Centro Prodh and activists in Mexico, Canada and around the world who raised their voices for justice, a man can now return to his family and his community. Never doubt that raising our voices for rights and justice can make a difference! Ángel Amílcar is free!

    Upon his release, Ángel said:

    "My message to all those who are showing me their solidarity, and are against torture and discrimination, is don't drop your guard. A new horizon is dawning. I feel happy about what is happening."

    A delegation from Amnesty International met Ángel in prison during a human rights research mission to Mexico in September 2014. His story was captured on film and shared with Amnesty supporters around the world, leading to thousands to respond and urge Mexican authorities for his release. 

    His story

    September 30, 2014

     A year on from the Lampedusa shipwrecks, which claimed more than 500 lives, a new report by Amnesty International highlights how the shameful inaction of European Union (EU) countries has contributed to a spiralling death toll with thousands of refugees and migrants losing their lives in a desperate bid to reach European shores.

    Amnesty International’s report, Lives adrift: Refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean, details the findings of recent visits to Italy and Malta, including a research trip on an Italian Navy vessel. Interviews with survivors of shipwrecks, experts and authorities expose the reality of the dangers faced by those fleeing war, persecution and poverty, and the pitiful response of most European states.

    “As the EU builds its walls higher and higher, refugees and migrants are increasingly taking to the Mediterranean in a desperate bid to reach European shores. Placed on rickety boats by ruthless smugglers, every week hundreds of them sway between life and death, between hope and despair,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    September 22, 2014

    The Turkish authorities must ensure that the country’s borders are kept open to those fleeing conflict and human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq, said Amnesty International.

    Turkey began to close some of its border crossings with Syria after 130,000 Kurdish refugees poured into the country in recent days fleeing the advance of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

    “The latest influx of refugees has undoubtedly placed even further strain on Turkey’s already stretched resources, but this cannot be used as an excuse for denying safe sanctuary to anyone who is fleeing the horrors of war,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “With more and more desperate refugees arriving at the border in search of safety, it is crucial that the international community acts now to strengthen its support to Turkey and other countries neighbouring Syria to avert further suffering.”

    Turkey, which before this weekend was already hosting more than one million refugees from Syria, has largely been left to deal with the crisis on its own.

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