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Refugees and Migrants

    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.

    December 18, 2014

    Is a migrant the same as an immigrant? Are migrants good or bad for the economy, and can you name some famous ones? Find out today, on International Migrants Day.

    1. What's the difference between an immigrant and a migrant?
    All immigrants are migrants, but not all migrants are immigrants. And just to confuse things, there are also “emigrants”. Here’s how it works: A migrant moves around within their own country, or from one country to another, often to find work or join family members, because of poverty or a crisis. If you’re from Italy and go to live in Spain, then you would be an emigrant in Italy and an immigrant in Spain. You can be called an “international migrant” if you have foreign nationality or were born in another country. "Immigrant" and migrant are often used interchangeably and tend to get mixed up with the word "asylum-seeker" (see below).

    December 17, 2014

    Released 18 December 2014 00.01am GMT

    The rights of migrants are being trampled across the globe, as some of the world’s most vulnerable people face economic exploitation, discrimination and racism in a range of countries, Amnesty International said on International Migrants Day.

    “Political decision-makers need to show leadership by ensuring the human rights of migrants are protected, instead of taking cheap shots through scaremongering tactics,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants Rights at Amnesty International.

    “Poor migrants are the perfect political scapegoats – they have no money, no influence and they can’t vote. So if you’re a government whose policies are letting people down, you can blame it all on immigration.”

    Economic exploitation

    Over the past years, Amnesty International has highlighted how many migrant workers – who leave their countries in the hope of earning better salaries – face appalling economic exploitation in many countries.

    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.

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