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Refugees and Migrants

    August 26, 2014

    By Maxim Tucker, Press Officer – Global Campaigns, Thematic Issues and UN.

    (BORGO MEZZANONE, ITALY) Ebrima’s bedroom is a stark corrugated square, five metres long and five metres wide. He shares it with one other asylum seeker – each has a foam mattress over a camp bed to sleep on. Wires dangle from a broken light in the ceiling and the floor is carpeted in dust, crumbs and the odd seashell.

    The Asylum Seekers Reception Centre at Borgo Mezzanone, Southern Italy, has been his home for the past six months. In this disused airbase which was turned into a detention centre, conditions are dire. But after a harrowing journey from Africa, through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean, Ebrima doesn’t even seem to notice. He is happy to be here.

    He tells me his journey started in Sierra Leone after the death of his Muslim father. The Christian community where he lived wanted him gone. Even his stepmother’s family tried to force him to convert from Islam to Christianity.

    July 10, 2014
    Authorities in Kenya are trying to force thousands of Somali refugees to live in squalid overcrowded camps.© SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images.

    Released 00:01 BST 11 July 2014

    Refugees in Nairobi are appealing against a controversial ruling that would force thousands of Somalis from their homes to live in squalid overcrowded camps in north Kenya, Amnesty International said today.  

    “This outrageous ruling affects the entire refugee population of Nairobi. Using the pretext of protecting national security, the Kenyan authorities have cracked down on refugees, effectively destroying any form of stability they may have managed to build after seeking refuge in Kenya,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa.
     
    “Thousands of people’s lives have been destroyed. Tens of thousands more are at serious risk.”

    The Somali refugees are appealing against a 30 June ruling made by High Court Judge Justice Majanja that stated that the relocation of refugees from urban centres is constitutional.

    July 08, 2014

    Released at  0001 GMT, 9 July 2014

    July 08, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

    Amnesty International expresses relief that High Court deliberations have put the transfer of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka's Navy in doubt, a plan that if enacted, would put Australia in blatant breach of international law and set a dangerous precedent.

    Three-year-old Febrina is among the 153 missing asylum seekers © Tamil Refugee Council

    The comments follow an application that was brought on behalf of 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers recently intercepted by the Australian Navy on their way from India.

    July 04, 2014

    The lack of effective regulation of visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents makes Indian migrant workers vulnerable to serious human rights abuses, said Amnesty International India today in a new report focusing on migrants from the Indian state of Kerala working in Saudi Arabia.

    The report, Exploited Dreams: Dispatches from Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, highlights cases of migrant workers from Kerala who were deceived about their jobs, wages and working conditions by Indian visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents. Many workers went on to face a range of abuses in Saudi Arabia, which at their worst included forced labour.

    “Migrant workers send billions of dollars in remittances every year to India and sustain thousands of families. Yet Indian authorities continue to let them down when they are abused. It is time that migrant workers’ rights get the protection they deserve,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India.

    July 02, 2014

    Thousands of exhausted Iraqi civilians fleeing the conflict in north-west Iraq are stranded at checkpoints separating the autonomous Kurdish provinces controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rest of Iraq, said Amnesty International today.  

    Almost all the families interviewed by Amnesty International’s research team in Iraq today and last night are Shi’a Turkmen who fled Tal ‘Afar when fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured the city two weeks ago. They have since been sheltering in the Sinjar area, further west towards the Iraq-Syria border, but do not feel safe there as ISIS recently took control of parts of the border area.

    “Thousands of frightened civilians have left their homes and their lives behind only to find themselves stranded on the streets. The Kurdish regional authorities have an obligation to allow Iraqi civilians seeking to flee the fighting to enter or transit through KRG areas,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

    June 30, 2014

    Posted at 0001 (BST) 1 July 2014

    Palestinian refugees from Syria - including pregnant women, children and women with infants – have been denied entry into Lebanon due to tightened border restrictions, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. 

    The briefing Denied refuge: Palestinians from Syria seeking safety in Lebanon highlights the desperate plight of families torn apart after falling foul of fluctuating border rules while trying to cross into Lebanon. In one of the most shocking cases a mother with a new-born baby was barred from entering Lebanon when she tried to join her husband and other five children. 

    “By denying entry to a mother and her new-born child, among others, the Lebanese authorities have displayed a chilling disregard for the rights of refugees who are fleeing a bloody conflict. Absolutely no-one seeking refuge from a conflict should be denied entry; by doing so Lebanon is flouting its obligations under international law,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International. 

    June 20, 2014
    By Anna Shea, Legal Adviser on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    What struck me most when I met Zeinah (not her real name), a 29-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey, were her warm personality and marvelous smile. But her past and present experiences give her precious little to smile about.

    Zeinah arrived in Turkey four months ago, having fled her native Syria.

    Like other Syrians I met in Istanbul, Zeinah had experienced horrors in her country of origin, and was desperate to start a new life. A teacher by profession, she was jailed by the Bashar al-Assad regime for allegedly providing assistance to opposition groups. She said she was raped and beaten multiple times over the several months she spent in prison and was eventually released due to lack of evidence.

    The abuse she suffered in jail has left her with injuries to her spine – and serious psychological trauma – which remain untreated.

    June 20, 2014
    By Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

    Last month, 18-year-old Ayaan suddenly found herself at the head of her household. Her mother and father had been arrested in Nairobi as part of the counter-terrorism operation dubbed ‘Usalama Watch’.

    SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH THE UNHCR

    They were detained in Kasarani stadium before being forcibly relocated to Kakuma refugee camp over 800km away, leaving Ayaan alone to look after her seven brothers and sisters – all under the age of 10.

    “It is only me looking after the children” says Ayaan. “My parents were both working, but now we have very little. The children are out of school. I want my parents to come back.”

    Ayaan’s experience is far from unique for refugees in Kenya today.

    June 19, 2014

    TORONTO (June 19, 2014) – The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), supported by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), announced today that it plans to launch a legal challenge to the proposed new citizenship amendments – Bill C-24 – if the bill is passed by the Senate.

    Bill C-24, introducing sweeping changes to Canada’s citizenship laws that make citizenship harder to get and easier to lose, has passed through the House of Commons and is now being considered by the Senate.  CARL, BCCLA and Amnesty International take the position that this proposed law has dramatically negative effects on Canadian citizenship, eliminating equal citizenship rights for all, and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as international human rights. According to the organizations, the new law will take away rights from countless Canadians, creating a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals and naturalized citizens.

    June 19, 2014
    Maran and Gloria stand up for refugee rights
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    Maran was a journalist and owned his own media company in a country riddled with conflict. Believing that the media was a tool that he could use, he wanted to tell the story of his people to the world.  Telling these stories was a way to protect his people and bring peace to his country.  He faced horrible obstacles.  His land became a place of massacre.  At a certain point, he became helpless and lost the power to speak the truth and fight for freedom.  He had few choices - die, surrender to the Government and become a journalist of propaganda, or flee.  After his family was threatened because of his work, Maran fled.

    Leaving his family, he paid a smuggler who promised to take him to a country where he would be safe. He had no choice about the country, only a small hope that he would eventually be safe.

    June 16, 2014

    The Slovak authorities must immediately halt the imminent extradition of an ethnic Chechen asylum-seeker to Russia, a country where he will face the risk of torture, said Amnesty International.

    Anzor Chentiev could be sent back to Russia as early as this afternoon, after fighting his extradition in Slovakia for more than eight years. He is facing terrorism-related charges in Russia.

    “Returning a person to a country where they are known to be at risk of torture is a shocking contempt of human rights and international obligations,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “The Slovak authorities cannot abdicate their responsibility to provide Anzor Chentiev with safety when they know that if they return him to Russia he will face the risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The extradition proceedings must be halted immediately, before it is too late.”

    Amnesty International launched an appeal urging the Slovak Minister of Interior and the Minister of Justice to halt the extradition.

    June 12, 2014

    Attacks on Somali-owned shops in and around Mamelodi township over the last six days have cost lives and livelihoods and are part of a disturbing trend of violence against refugees and migrants which the police and government are failing to address, Amnesty International said.

    “Despite repeated calls, the police were slow to respond and failed to adequately deploy patrols to stop the escalation of violence which has so far left one refugee dead, ten others injured and at least 76 shops burnt or looted,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “These attacks are just the latest in a wave of ongoing and widespread violence targeted at refugees and migrants in South Africa. The fact that they were preventable highlights a pattern of inaction on the part of the police and a failure of political will in government to tackle this violence.”

    The violence erupted on 7 June in Mamelodi, a township northeast of Pretoria. But despite the fact that police were informed soon after the violence started, they failed to respond appropriately and rapidly.

    May 26, 2014

    Kenya’s Somali community is being scapegoated in a counter-terror operation which has seen thousands subjected to arbitrary arrest, harassment, extortion, ill-treatment, forcible relocation and expulsion, Amnesty International said today.

    In a new Briefing Paper Amnesty International documents a disturbing wave of serious human rights violations suffered by Kenya’s Somali community since a security crackdown - known as ‘Operation Usalama Watch’ - began in early  April 2014.

    “It appears that ‘Operation Uslama Watch’ is being used as a pretext for the blanket punishment of the Somali community in Kenya. They have become scapegoats with thousands arrested and ill-treated, forcibly relocated and hundreds unlawfully expelled to a war-torn country,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa at Amnesty International.

    May 20, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs BST  21 May 2014

    A severe shortfall in international support has left many Syrian refugees in Lebanon unable to access crucial medical care, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The situation is so desperate that in some cases refugees have resorted to returning to Syria to receive the treatment they need.

    The report, Agonizing Choices: Syrian refugees in need of health care in Lebanon, identifies some serious gaps in the level of medical services available to refugees. In some cases Syrian refugees, including those requiring emergency treatment, have been turned away from hospitals.

    “Hospital treatment and more specialized care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is woefully insufficient, with the situation exacerbated by a massive shortage of international funding. Syrian refugees in Lebanon are suffering as a direct result of the international community’s shameful failure to fully fund the UN relief programme in Lebanon,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International.

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