Refugees and Migrants
June 29, 2017 NEW YORK – The State Department today said that the Trump administration may not recognize refugee resettlement agencies as having “bona fide relationship” for purposes of its refugee ban implementation. The decision by the administration means tens of thousands of refugees from countries all over the world who were in the process of being resettled in the United States may not be able to come this fiscal year. Amnesty International USA’s senior director of campaigns Naureen Shah issued the following statement: “This policy is effectively a ban on many refugees and will have devastating effects for people in the process of being resettled. It will jeopardize the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people including people and families fleeing war, violence and torture.
AI USA provides the following information for those impacted by the Executive Order barring entry into the United States for people from six Muslim majority countries; Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Canadian citizens or dual nationals of these countries should not be affected by this ban, but permanent residents of Canada may encounter difficulties obtaining a visa to travel to the United States. Those facing difficulty at the US border will find the following information helpful.
Naureen Shah, AIUSA Senior Director of Campaigns
The Muslim and refugee ban will partially go back into effect, following the June 26, 2017 Supreme Court decision. The court partially lifted an injunction on the ban that’s been in place since days after President Trump issued it in late January.
There are 180 million nationals from the six banned countries; several tens of millions of them will be banned for 90 days, and so too will many refugees — for at least 120 days, and maybe longer.
Amnesty International (AI) and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) released a brief today calling for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.
The 52-page brief, Contesting the Designation of the US as a Safe Third Country, outlines the many ways that the US asylum system and immigration detention regime fail to meet required international and Canadian legal standards. It highlights how law and practice have deteriorated further since President Donald Trump took office.
Despite many calls from refugee and human rights organizations and legal academics on both sides of the border following President Trump’s issuance of Executive Orders earlier this year, the Canadian government has repeatedly stated that there is no need to revisit the Agreement. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen has maintained that position following his review of the AI/CCR brief.
Following the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear arguments on President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban and allow the order to take effect in the meantime, Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director, released the following statement:
“This bigoted ban cannot be allowed to take effect again, and Congress needs to step in immediately to nullify it once and for all. It’s always been crystal clear that this policy was based on discrimination. Reinstating any part of this ban could create chaos in the nation’s airports and tear families apart.
"Rather than keeping anyone safe, this ban demonizes millions of innocent people and creates anxiety and instability for people who want to visit a relative, work, study, return to the country they call home, or just travel without fear.”
By Khairunissa Dhala Khairunissa Dhala is a researcher on refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International.
At just 37 years of age, Joyce has seen it all. She's stared into the abyss of human cruelty and lived to tell the story. In September 2016, soldiers stormed her home in Kajo Keji, South Sudan, which she shared with her husband and their children. They tied her husband's arms behind his back and stabbed him multiple times until he lay dead.
A single mother with nine children to feed, Joyce decided to run away - to escape the violence in her native land. So she joined the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese people fleeing southwards to Uganda.
But although the trek to Uganda by foot has reduced her risk of being shot dead or raped by soldiers or rebels, her life is still a painful daily struggle. She still lacks basic supplies, including food, water or shelter.
Tens of thousands of civilians in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region were forcibly displaced as government forces burnt, shelled and systematically looted their homes between January and May 2017, Amnesty International said today, after interviewing dozens of victims and eyewitnesses.
Civilians belonging to the Shilluk minority told Amnesty International how government troops and allied militias stole anything they could get their hands on in the aftermath of attacks, from stored food supplies to furniture and even the front doors of houses. One village chief described the destruction as though the area had been “swept by a flood.”
“Even considering South Sudan’s history of ethnic hostility, the mass displacement of the Shilluk ethnic minority, almost in its entirety, is truly shocking,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.
“Whole areas of the Shilluk heartland have been ravaged, with civilians’ homes burnt and their belongings and food stores looted. This leaves them with little prospect of returning home, given the region’s growing humanitarian crisis and their fears of renewed violence.”
1,000 musicians to play at Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds events globally in September
Laura Mvula, Mumford and Sons and The National will be among a thousand musicians performing in people’s homes in more than 200 cities globally for a first-of-its-kind day of concerts to unite people in welcoming refugees, Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds announced today, marking World Refugee Day.
Rich countries are failing in their obligation to help Uganda support thousands of refugees fleeing death, rape and other human rights violations in South Sudan, said Amnesty International in a damning report launched ahead of a high level donor summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
More than 900,000 refugees have fled the brutal conflict in South Sudan and sought safety in Uganda, but funding shortfalls mean that many of them are not receiving basic services such as food, water and shelter. At least 86% of them are women and children.
“Uganda has remained welcoming and generous at a time when many countries are closing their borders on refugees, but it is under incredible strain as funds dry up and thousands continue to cross from South Sudan every day,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, Horn and Great Lakes.
“Donors, including the US, EU countries, Canada, China and Japan, must step up support for Uganda by ensuring timely funding for refugees’ immediate and long-term needs. These refugees must not become the latest victims of a collective and shameful failure of international cooperation.”
An already dangerous journey for tens of thousands of refugees has become deadlier thanks to President Trump’s Executive Order on border control and immigration as well as entrenched reckless practices in Mexico, Amnesty International said in a new report based on intensive investigations on both sides of the border.
Facing Walls: USA and Mexico’s violation of the rights of asylum seekers explores the catastrophic impact of a catalogue of new policies and ongoing practices that result in unlawful push-backs of asylum seekers at the USA-Mexico border, and threaten to unlawfully lock up thousands more families, including babies and children, in immigration detention centres in the USA.
A landmark settlement that forces the Australian government to pay more than AUS $70m in compensation to nearly 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island amid horrific conditions must lead to their safe resettlement, Amnesty International said today.
“While the compensation deal is important, it does not remedy the injustices visited upon the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island or change their present circumstances. The Australian government must finally face up to the inescapable reality that their offshore detention policies are unsustainable and bring all of the people trapped by them to safety in Australia,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher.
“While this settlement is long overdue, it is a welcome recognition of the harm that refugees and people seeking asylum have endured on Manus Island. Now, the Australian government must dismantle its illegal offshore detention centre and safely resettle these people.”
Moroccan authorities are flouting their international obligations to give protection to refugees by entrapping a group of 25 Syrian refugees in a desert area on the border between Morocco and Algeria and denying them access to asylum and urgent humanitarian assistance said Amnesty International.
The group of Syrians, including 10 children, have been stuck for the past two months in a buffer zone within Moroccan territory, 1km from the oasis of Figuig in Morocco and 5km away from Beni Ounif in Algeria. They had been surviving on informal assistance and supplies from locals in Figuig facilitated by the Moroccan border police, but according to the refugees this stopped on Friday morning. The Moroccan border police has thus far not given Moroccan human rights groups and humanitarian organizations, including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), access to the area.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2017
NEW YORK – Amnesty International USA is launching a global campaign today to urge Ivanka Trump to intervene on behalf of the women and children held at Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania. Amnesty has sent a letter to Trump on June 7 urging her to visit Berks. Currently, there are as many as 60 infants, toddlers, children, fathers and mothers jailed at Berks, one of three such family detention centers, which are akin to jails, in the United States. Some have been held for more than 600 days.
“Berks is a clear symbol of the cruelty of this country’s immigration system. The women and children held at Berks fled horrific violence in their home countries, only to be put behind bars in the United States,” said Margaret Huang, executive director at Amnesty International USA. “Parents are facing an impossible choice: stay and risk violence or flee to the U.S. and risk tearing their family apart or raising a family in jail. We are asking Ms. Trump to witness, firsthand, what these families are experiencing as they seek refuge in this country.”
Amnesty’s letter reads, in part:
Outside the unused airport in the Elliniko area of Athens, a group of Afghan women take off their sandals before sitting down on a blue blanket. Behind them is the old terminal building, which has been their temporary “home” for months, for many more than a year.
There’s rubbish everywhere, shattered windows have turned into gaping holes and some places reek of urine.
“I have been in this camp for 1 year and two months without a destiny”, a woman with a burgundy headscarf said, tears trickling down her face.
The government is now starting the process of evacuating the camp. But for these women, their destiny is still unknown. No one we talk to knows exactly what will happen to them.
“The uncertainty is killing us”, Afghan woman.
Amnesty has visited the Elliniko camps several times since they opened around a year and a half ago. Every time the stories have been the same and this visit is no different: appalling living conditions, lack of security, severe anxiety caused by former traumas and not knowing what the future will bring.
“We’ve been through hell here,” one woman said.
Amnesty International USA Statement:
Following a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocking President Trump’s revised Muslim ban, Margaret Huang, executive director Amnesty International USA had the following reaction:
“Over and over we are seeing the courts and the public soundly reject this blatant attempt to write bigotry into law. Rather then wait for yet another court to rule against it, Congress can and must take action that will end this discriminatory and dangerous policy once and for all.”