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Refugees and Migrants

    September 04, 2017

    We’re spending a month highlighting all the amazing ways you can help make a difference to refugees around the world.

    If you’ve ever felt helpless or hopeless hearing about the millions of people forced to flee their homes, we want to change all that so that you can do something you believe in.

    You’ve already taken the first step, probably without even realising it. As Mohamed,  a refugee from Somalia, explains:

    “There is a proverb in my culture which says an open heart is entered but not an open door. So if you see an open door you will not enter it, but you will enter it if the person who is there has an open heart. So I think having a great heart, it's the first thing.”

    August 30, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    NEW YORK – A letter from Amnesty International USA and local Texas groups Grassroots Leadership and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today raised heightened concerns about Hurricane Harvey’s impact on migrant populations and people seeking asylum.

    Writing to the heads of DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, the letter reads, in part:

    “This cannot be overstated: it would be unconscionable for DHS to contribute to the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Harvey by taking actions that separate families, deny vulnerable people access to asylum, and evade U.S. human rights obligations.

    “The threats of enforcement actions forced undocumented Texans to brave the storm rather than seek safety outside the path of the storm, pass checkpoints, or enter shelters. Fifty-two mothers and children were left at a bus station in San Antonio hours before the storm, with nowhere to go.”

    August 30, 2017

    Responding to the news that 18,000 members of the predominantly Muslim Rohingya community have fled fighting in Myanmar to seek safety across the border in Bangladesh, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik, said:

    “These people are searching for safety in desperate circumstances. The human rights abuses in Rakhine State have forced them to leave and make it impossible for them to return any time soon. The authorities in Bangladesh must not close the border to those fleeing – they must keep the border open for their safe passage and offer the Rohingya all the necessary assistance they need.”

    Background

    Amnesty International’s call on the Bangladeshi government comes as the International Organization for Migration has said that 18,000 Rohingya have fled fresh violence in Myanmar into Bangladesh.

    August 30, 2017
    The Ali family in Toronto

    By Charmain Mohamed

    Two years ago an image of a little boy in a red T-shirt, face down on a Mediterranean beach, brought home the full horror of the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Europe’s shores. Alan Kurdi, from the Syrian town of Kobani, was just three years old when he, together with his mother and his older brother, drowned on the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece. While the crisis was not news, it briefly seemed that the international outcry might shock world leaders into action.

    August 28, 2017
    Ranea and Danea from Iraq have been stranded in Lesvos for 16 months

    The thing refugees need above all is a lasting, long-term solution. Without this, they have no real hope of rebuilding their lives.

    Imagine: you’re forced to flee your home and escape to another country. There, you are recognized as a refugee by either the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, or the local authorities. But you still face threats, abuses like sexual violence, or problems getting life-saving medical treatment.

    UNHCR will decide if you urgently need protection in another country. This is called resettlement. Canada, for example, opened its doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and February 2016. Every single one reached their new home country in the only obvious way: by plane.

    But unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of refugees who qualify for resettlement have actually received that all-important call saying they can move abroad.

    August 28, 2017

    We’ve given you a global overview on refugees so far, but now it’s time to focus in on the situation local to you.

    Canada has been viewed as a global leader with respect to refugee protection. It has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and other human rights instruments which protect refugees. Canada was the first country to set out guidelines for considering the refugee claims of women, and has taken an active role globally in the resettlement of refugees through both government and private sponsorship programs. In recent years however, Canada like many other countries, is creating more barriers for people seeking safety and security.

    Your voice is important in showing there is public support for welcoming refugees and demanding Canada does more.

    Here Gloria Nafziger explains how refugee issues became an actual electoral issue in Canada due to the demands of people who wanted more refugees resettled.

    August 28, 2017
    Protesters walking with Amnesty signs

    So, when we’re talking about refugees around the world, you might be wondering: where does Amnesty fit in?

    Amnesty International addresses the biggest challenges in the world today - inequality on the rise, ongoing crises and conflicts, those in power clamping down on people’s freedoms and more people than ever before fleeing their homes and seeking safety elsewhere.

    But to do that, we need your help to make sure we are the first on the scene in any emerging crisis, gathering crucial evidence so we can hold governments to account. And to make sure we can provide guidance and support to refugees at all stages of their journey; to help them find a safe welcome, so they can start to rebuild their lives.

    But to really show you where we’re making a difference, you need to hear about how we helped Baraa and his family.

    August 28, 2017
    Nearly three-quarters of young people globally would welcome refugees into their countries   A new survey released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on young peoples’ attitudes towards refugees exposes just how out of touch governments are with their citizens, Amnesty International said today.   According to the Global Shapers' Annual Survey, the vast majority (72.6%) of people aged 18-35 would welcome refugees into their countries. More than a quarter (27.3%) say they would even take refugees into their own homes.   “People fleeing violence and persecution around the world have repeatedly had doors slammed in their faces by wealthy governments who claim they cannot help them. WEF’s research shows that young people aren’t buying it, and are dismayed by the heartless attitudes of their leaders,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.  
    August 25, 2017

    Today, it’s all about the things you can’t always see.

    Look at the pictures below and see if you can tell – which person is a refugee? Which person gave refugees from Syria a place to stay? Which person is a professor of maths and business-owner? Which person is nurturing future soccer star?

    August 24, 2017
    The Ali family in Toronto

    We’re spending the month of September highlighting all the amazing ways you can make a difference to refugees at home in Canada, and around the world. We’ll be posting a new blog every day in September; you can follow along on our blog and social media channels, and remember to share what actions you are taking by using the hashtags #IWelcome and #AmnestyCanada .

    September 4: What is a refugee? Get informed – knowledge is power.

    September 5: Refugees in numbers

    September 6: Do the MOOC on refugees

    September 7: Stories behind the numbers

    September 8: Help us keep fighting for refugee rights

    September 9: Your support makes a difference

    August 17, 2017

    Four-year old Carlos* and 16-year old Michael* were ordered released from Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania today after hearings with an immigration judge.

    Carlos and his 34-year-old mother Lorena* fled threats, intimidation and severe and repeated gender-based violence in Honduras before arriving in the United States. They have been held at Berks for over 22 months. Likewise, Michael and his 41-year-old mother Maribel* have also been held in detention for over 22 months. They fled El Salvador following constant death threats to the family when Michael was targeted for gang recruitment in El Salvador.

    August 17, 2017
      The international community must deliver and improve on existing financial commitments to help Uganda support the refugees it is hosting, following a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announcement that one million South Sudanese refugees are now in the country, Amnesty International said today.   Driven by the ongoing violence in South Sudan, refugees have been entering Uganda in their thousands, especially since the spread of the conflict to formerly peaceful areas after July 2016. Amnesty International has documented evidence of unlawful killings, sexual violence, detention, torture, the purposeful destruction of private and public property, the use of food as a weapon of war and other serious human rights violations in South Sudan; all of which have been drivers of forced displacement into neighboring Uganda.  
    August 14, 2017
      Eight-year old Antonio* was ordered released with his mother from Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania today after being granted bond by an immigration judge. He and his 24-year-old mother Marlene fled kidnapping threats and severe physical and sexual assault before arriving in the U.S. seeking asylum. They have been held at Berks for over 23 months.   “Families fleeing horrific violence come to the United States in search of safety. But instead of showing true leadership and protecting refugees, the U.S. is imprisoning vulnerable mothers and children,” said Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA. “This practice is unconscionable and cannot be allowed to stand. While this ruling is obviously a huge relief for this family in the short term, we must not rest until family detention centers like Berks are shut down once and for all.”  
    August 08, 2017
      In an extraordinary move, three-year old Josué* was freed from Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania today after being granted release by an immigration judge. He and his 28-year-old mother Teresa fled kidnapping threats and physical and sexual assault in Honduras before arriving in the US seeking asylum. They have been imprisoned at Berks for over 16 months. Josué has spent over half his life in detention, learning to walk and talk in confinement.   Amnesty International launched a campaign in June to end the detention of children and their parents held at family detention facilities like Berks County Residential Center. Currently, there are dozens of children and parents jailed at Berks, one of three such family detention centers, which are akin to jails, in the United States. At least 3 other families at Berks have been held for more than 600 days.  
    August 08, 2017
      1,000 musicians will perform all over the world for Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds’ refugee solidarity concerts on 20 September.   Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds have added new acts to perform intimate shows for the huge global refugee concert series Give a Home. Added to the line-up are Irish Blues-Rock singer Hozier, Grammy award-winning Mexican-American pop duo Jesse & Joy, world-renowned Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, Arabic indie heavyweights Mashrou' Leila, and many more. The intimate concerts will take place in people’s homes around the world on 20 September.  

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