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Refugees and Migrants

    February 11, 2014

    Following an initial review into the Qatar 2022 workers’ welfare standards published today, Amnesty International has issued the following response.

    "The standards represent a positive - if partial - effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place on World Cup projects," said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf. 

    “While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of a relatively small proportion of migrant workers in Qatar; those involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.”

    The standards will not apply to thousands of other migrant workers in Qatar including those who will build the wider infrastructure to support the hosting of the World Cup including roads, hotels and railways.

    February 10, 2014

    Afghanistan’s new policy to help more than 600,000 internally displaced people, many of whom live on the brink of starvation and in cramped makeshift dwellings, is a milestone, said Amnesty International. However, the organization warns that it will only succeed with sustained political and financial backing.

    The Afghan government is expected to launch on 11 February its new national policy aimed at meeting the urgent human rights and humanitarian needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), more than 100,000 of whom have fled conflict in 2013 alone.

    “Increased protection for Afghanistan’s displaced, many of whom live in desperate conditions, has been a long time coming. We applaud the government for finally pushing this crucial policy through,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    January 21, 2014
    Muslim women and children take shelter in a church in Boali, north of the country's capital Bangui.© ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
    By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International. 

    In the small town of Boali, 100km north of the capital Bangui, the Muslim neighbourhoods are eerily silent, completely empty of their inhabitants. Every single home has been thoroughly looted. Even the front doors have been removed and carted away.

    Most of the Muslim residents have fled the town, forcibly displaced by vicious attacks carried out by so-called anti-balaka militias. We found more than 800 people who have not yet managed to leave. They are sheltering in the local church, where an impressive young priest is leading by example of inter-faith and neighbourly solidarity.One young man told us about an anti-balaka attack in Boali on Friday 17 January which left five dead and 20 injured. He recounted how, at around mid-day young men armed with machetes burst into the family home.

    January 07, 2014

    The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Amnesty International welcome the decision of the Cluj-Napoca County Court (Tribunal) that the Mayor’s decision to forcibly evict around 300 Roma in December 2010, to a site adjacent to a waste dump, was illegal.  

    The court ordered the city authorities to pay damages to the Romani applicants for their eviction and relocation to Pata-Rât, and for the inadequate conditions of that housing. The Court also required the city to provide the applicants with adequate housing in line with the minimum standards set out in Romanian law. The decision is not final.  

    The ERRC supported a local law firm, Podaru, Buciuman and Associates, to take the case on behalf of approximately 200 Romani applicants, and previously helped the community to set up an association to fight for their rights.

    January 03, 2014

    Amnesty International welcomes the position of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calling on European Union (EU) member states to halt transfers of asylum-seekers back to Bulgaria until April 2014.

    “The position taken by the UNHCR highlights the shameful treatment of asylum seekers in Bulgaria,” said Barbora Cernusakova, Amnesty International’s Bulgaria researcher.

    “Asylum seekers in Bulgaria, including many fleeing from war-torn Syria, are being held in appalling conditions, sometimes for months on end. They lack access to food, sanitation or basic medical care. They are also at risk of arbitrary detention and face lengthy delays in registration and are routinely deprived of access to fair and effective asylum procedures.”

    The UNHCR argues that due to systemic deficiencies in the reception conditions and asylFor um procedures, EU Member States should not return asylum-seekers to Bulgaria even if it is the first country of entry. Under the EU regulation the first country of entry is responsible for the determination of their status.

    December 18, 2013

    The Singapore authorities must prevent arbitrary deportation for 53 migrant workers set to be expulsed for their involvement in a riot, Amnesty International said today.

    Singapore said the mainly Indian labourers would be "repatriated", while another 28 workers face criminal charges for their part in the unrest earlier this month.

    “The Singapore authorities are moving too quickly – these men should not be arbitrarily deported as they have a right to due process," said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific deputy director.

    "Those charged must have access to a lawyer and be provided with interpreters if necessary. Their right to a fair trial should be respected, and if some are convicted, it is crucial that their sentence should not include caning, which is a cruel and inhuman punishment.."

    Singapore's first riots for more than 40 years broke out on 8 December after an Indian construction worker was knocked down and killed by a bus in the Little India district.

    Dozens, including police officers, were injured in the ensuing violence.

    December 18, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT 18 December 2013

    More than 80 migrant construction workers in Qatar who worked for nearly a year without pay on a prestigious tower in Doha’s financial district are facing serious food shortages and need urgent government assistance, Amnesty International said today.

    On International Migrants’ Day, the organization is calling on the Qatari authorities to address the plight of the employees of Lee Trading and Contracting (LTC) who were working in conditions that may amount to forced labour.

    In mid-November Amnesty International’s Secretary General visited the workers’ camp in the al-Sailiya industrial area and subsequently asked the Ministries of Labour and Interior to address the situation at the company as a matter of priority.

    “It is now one month since we visited these men and found them living in desperate conditions. But their ordeal has not ended,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    December 16, 2013

    Susanna Flood, Director of Media at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    Her voice began to choke and then the tears began to flow down her face as she calmly and steadily recounted the long list of names of all the women and children killed in her village when the anti-balaka struck a week ago.

    Sitting in a darkened hospital ward at the Hôpital Communautaire, she gracefully removed her headscarf and revealed the stitches laced across her scalp where the machete had struck. Alongside her was her four-year-old daughter with a matching wound on her head, also the victim of machete attacks.

    Nearly everyone in her village near Bangui, the Central African Republic’s capital city, had been wiped out in these early strikes by the anti-balaka militia who unleashed the carnage that has since been wrought on Bangui.  

    We met her one week after she had suffered those attacks and she told us what happened in her village with amazing calm and dignity. In her ward were numerous women also recovering from the various machete and bullet wounds inflicted by unknown attackers in the violence that has run riot across Bangui and the nearby villages.

    December 12, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT Friday 13 December 2013

    European leaders should hang their heads in shame over the pitifully low numbers of refugees from Syria they are prepared to resettle, said Amnesty International.

    December 12, 2013

    Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    One of the most depressing aspects of the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic is its symmetry.

    Christian and Muslim militia alike are carrying out equally vicious attacks. And members of both communities, while denouncing each other’s crimes, will tell you that their own people are acting in self defence.

    With each new outrage, the pattern of tit-for-tat atrocities becomes harder to break.

    The day before yesterday I interviewed a Christian man who recounted how he was nearly killed in a raid last week on the outskirts of Bangui, the country’s capital. Shot in the side at close range, he survived by playing dead; he claims that others from his neighbourhood were not as lucky.

    “It was the Peuhls,” he said, referring to an ethnic group of nomadic Muslim herders. “They were armed with Kalashnikovs.”

    December 11, 2013

    The Australian government is holding more than 1,000 asylum seekers in shameful conditions in a processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, said Amnesty International.
     
    A report published today details how asylum seekers are being held in a prison-like regime, in extremely cramped compounds in stifling heat, while being denied sufficient water and medical help. Most have fled horrific situations and risked their lives in their efforts to reach Australia.
     
    “This system of harsh conditions and humiliating treatment is a deliberate effort to pressure people to return to the desperate situations they have fled from. Australia is directly responsible for this deplorable and unlawful combination of arbitrary detention and inhumane conditions,” said Amnesty International Australia’s National Director Claire Mallinson.

    December 03, 2013

    Israeli lawmakers must reject proposed amendments to the country’s Prevention of Infiltration Law, which would allow thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants to be held indefinitely in a remote desert detention centre, Amnesty International urged ahead of a 4 December vote in the Internal Affairs Committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

    The Committee has announced that it will bring the bill before the full Knesset for its final readings in the coming days.

    According to government reports, the amendments will provide for detaining some 3,300 people indefinitely in a fenced-in facility operated by the Israel Prison Service in the Negev desert, which the government is calling an “open centre”. The draft legislation states that the way for them to be released from the “open” centre is by being deported to their countries of origin – mainly Eritrea and Sudan.

    November 19, 2013

    Urgent action is needed from the Bulgarian authorities to improve conditions at an emergency accommodation centre for asylum seekers near the Turkish border, Amnesty International said after scores of its residents – including people who fled armed conflict in Afghanistan and Syria – staged a protest today.

    As many as 100 people threatened to launch a hunger strike in protest at the deplorable living conditions at Harmanli camp, south-eastern Bulgaria, where around 1,000 asylum-seekers are being detained on a former military base.  

    “It is appalling that people seeking refuge in the European Union are being trapped in limbo in such awful conditions with winter rapidly approaching. The Bulgarian asylum system has a burgeoning crisis with a backlog of applications – the authorities must act fast to ensure they don’t have a humanitarian crisis on their hands too,” said Barbora Èernušáková, EU team researcher at Amnesty International, who visited Harmanli camp last week.

    November 17, 2013

    Posted at 21:01 GMT 17 November 2013

    A new report by Amnesty International finds Qatar’s construction sector rife with abuse, with workers employed on multi-million dollar projects suffering serious exploitation.

    As construction is set to begin on the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums, the report, The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup, unpicks complex contractual chains and reveals widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers - in some cases amounting to forced labour.

    “It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world, that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “Construction companies and the Qatari authorities alike are failing migrant workers. Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers.”

    October 31, 2013

    International support is needed to help Jordan end border restrictions on refugees fleeing the armed conflict in Syria, said Amnesty International. According to a new report published today hundreds fleeing to Jordan and other neighbouring countries are being turned back at borders.

    The report, Growing restrictions, tough conditions: The plight of those fleeing Syria to Jordan, highlights the increasing difficulties faced by people who are trying to escape the conflict in Syria to Jordan, as well as other countries. ٍScores have also been forcibly deported back to Syria. In many cases those allowed to stay struggle to access basic services.

    “It is unacceptable that scores of people from Syria, including families with small children seeking refuge from the fighting, are being denied admission by neighbouring countries,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa.

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