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Refugees and Migrants

    March 09, 2017

    By Rawya Rageh, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International. Follow Rawya on Twitter @RawyaRageh.

    It was an excruciating choice that no family should ever have to make.

    Should they stay together with their two young daughters and miss perhaps their only chance to escape the horrors of war, or should they make a break for freedom but leave their year-old baby behind in a foreign land half-way around the world?

    This was the devil’s dilemma facing US-Yemeni dual national Baraa Ahmed (not his real name) and his wife, who were separated from their breastfeeding baby in the wake of President Trump’s discriminatory travel ban.

    “I would have never left my daughter behind in Malaysia and flown back [to the States] if it weren’t for the decision by the President. Nothing would have made me leave my daughter behind … But [Trump’s executive order] really compelled us to do what we did,” Baraa Ahmed told Amnesty International.

    What brought them to entrust their baby’s care to friends in Malaysia, a country 15,000 km away where they have no close ties?

    March 07, 2017
    New packaging, same fear and hate.

    Donald Trump's Executive Order on immigration may have been revised, but it remains blatantly discriminatory. 

    Thinly disguised as a national security measure, Trump’s travel ban reinstates many of the most repellent elements of the original blocked by US courts.

    The US president has effectively shut America’s door to anyone - including refugees - from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. These six countries have two main things in common: they are predominantly Muslim, and many of their citizens are trying to seek asylum abroad to escape serious human rights violations like persecution, indiscriminate bombing, and torture.

    Rather than curbing the excesses of the first travel ban, the revised version shows a xenophobic policy towards Muslims which is mutating, virus-like, into an ever more resilient strain. And like a virus, its effects cannot be easily contained.

    February 09, 2017

    In response to today’s court ruling blocking the Kenyan government’s unilateral decision to shut Dadaab refugee camp, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses. This ruling reaffirms Kenya’s constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.

    Stopping the imminent closure of Dadaab refugee camp is an essential first step in respecting and protecting refugee rights in Kenya. Now Kenya and the international community must work towards finding alternative solutions for refugees including local integration options.”

    Background

    In his ruling, Justice JM Mativo said the government’s orders were discriminatory and amounted to collective punishment. He also described the orders as excessive, arbitrary and disproportionate.

    February 07, 2017

    NEW YORK – Following a filing by the Department of Justice to an appeals court weighing President Trump’s Muslim ban, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security With Human Rights program, released the following statement:

    “President Trump continues to defend his indefensible Muslim ban as more and more Americans are rejecting it. From polls to protests, Americans are sending a clear message to Congress: Step in and block this Muslim ban now. Congress must intervene immediately and stop this once and for all.”

    This statement can be found online here:http://amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/trump-s-defense-of-muslim-ban-is-out-of-step-with-americans

     

    January 25, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    Today President Donald Trump issued several executive orders related to immigration, including constructing a wall on the border with Mexico, building more detention centers, and stripping sanctuary cities of federal funding.

    “We will fight this dangerous move with everything we’ve got,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.  “This wall would say that those from outside the United States, especially from Latin America, are to be feared and shunned – and that is just wrong.”

    “Our members and supporters will demand that Congress protect people seeking asylum, including those fleeing violence in Latin America. We won’t let President Donald Trump create refugee camps along the U.S./Mexico border like the ones we’ve seen in Greece, Australia, and other countries.”

    November 24, 2016
    Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers being detained and forcibly returned Lack of water, food and medical care Both governments preventing thousands from accessing aid Harrowing details of Myanmar military attacks on villages

    As the Myanmar authorities are subjecting the Rohingya Muslim minority to collective punishment, thousands of refugees who have made it across the border to Bangladesh in desperate need of humanitarian assistance are being forcibly pushed back in flagrant violation of international law, Amnesty International said today.

    “The Rohingya are being squeezed by the callous actions of both the Myanmar and Bangladesh authorities. Fleeing collective punishment in Myanmar, they are being pushed back by the Bangladeshi authorities. Trapped between these cruel fates, their desperate need for food, water and medical care is not being addressed,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    November 18, 2016
           Amnesty International ‘I Welcome’ live experiment streams on Facebook Live from Sydney, Nairobi, London and Mexico City at 19.00 local times.

    In the face of divisive rhetoric and anti-refugee hostility, refugees and local people on four different continents will come together for a unique social experiment, affirming our shared humanity, to be streamed live on Amnesty International’s global Facebook page today.

    November 16, 2016

    In response to today’s announcement by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Joseph Nkaissery that plans to close down Dadaab refugee camp would be delayed by six months, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “While we welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s pledge that repatriations will be carried out in a humane, dignified manner, the announcement is not a change in policy. Thousands of refugees remain at risk of forced repatriation to a war-torn country with and where they are at risk of death or injury in the ongoing conflict.”

    “The Kenyan government must end its dogged determination to repatriate refugees against their will in contravention of international law and instead with donor support, embrace sustainable long-term solutions, including integration of the refugees into local communities. The international community must also share responsibility with Kenya by providing more resettlement places to the most vulnerable refugees.”

    November 14, 2016

    Just two weeks before the deadline given to close the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenyan government officials are deliberately coercing refugees to return to Somalia, where they risk being injured or killed in the ongoing armed conflict, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The government announced in May that it would close the world’s largest refugee camp, which is home to more than 280,000 mostly Somali refugees, citing security, economic and environmental concerns, in addition to lack of support by the international community. Since then, government officials have made statements in the media and visited the camp, threatening people to leave before the closure slated for 30 November 2016.

    “The refugees are caught between a rock and a hard place. Kenyan government officials are telling them they must leave by the end of the month or they will be forced to leave without any assistance,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    November 14, 2016

    Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on third country resettlement is an extreme step in shirking responsibility by the Australian Government, said Amnesty International.

    Prime Minister Turnbull today announced that the Australian Government is in discussions with the United States for some of the refugees warehoused on Nauru and Manus Island to be settle in the US via a process administered by the UNHCR.

    “It is absolutely shameful that the Australian Government has first sent several thousand people to languish for three years on Nauru and Manus Island, set up an offshore processing regime on Nauru that amounts to torture and is now passing the buck when it comes to offering them protection,” said Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia. 

    “Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and should be leading by example at a time of global record high levels of people forced to seek safety. Yet our Government is failing to play a fair part in providing sanctuary for those fleeing conflict and persecution, and this urgently needs to change.

    November 04, 2016

    Reacting to Pakistan's decision to deport Sharbat Gula, the iconic 'Afghan girl' whose striking portrait adorned a 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    "Pakistan’s decision to deport Sharbat Gula is a grave injustice. For decades, she was known as the world’s most famous refugee and seen as a symbol of Pakistan’s status as a generous host.

    Now, by sending her back to a country she hasn’t seen in a generation and her children have never known, her plight has become emblematic of Pakistan’s cruel treatment of Afghan refugees.

    “By forcing Afghan refugees to return across the border into the arms of an increasingly deadly conflict, Pakistan is in breach of the principle of non-refoulement. It is putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk of serious human rights abuses.”

     

    Background

    Sharbat Gula is poised to be deported to Afghanistan after serving a 15-day jail sentence and paying a fine, a special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ruled 

    today.

    November 02, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 3 November 2016

     

    The European Union’s pressure on Italy to “get tough” on refugees and migrants has led to unlawful expulsions and ill-treatment which in some cases may amount to torture, a new report from Amnesty International revealed today.

    Beatings, electric shocks and sexual humiliation are among the numerous allegations of abuse documented in Hotspot Italy: How EU’s flagship approach leads to violations of refugee and migrant rights. The report demonstrates how the EU-sponsored ‘hotspot approach’ for processing refugees and migrants at the point of arrival is not only undermining their right to claim asylum but has fuelled appalling abuse.

    “In their determination to reduce the onward movement of refugees and migrants to other member states, EU leaders have driven the Italian authorities to the limits – and beyond – of what is legal,” said Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Italy. 

    November 01, 2016
    Children playing near the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru.

    By Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research

    There was a time when Australia led the way on refugee protection.

    Following World War II, Australia came second only to the United States on resettling European refugees. Its signature brought the Refugee Convention into force a few years later. And, in the 1970s, it resettled the third highest number of Indochinese refugees following the wars there.

    Sadly those days are a distant memory. After earning global notoriety for the cruelty it continues to inflict on refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru and Manus Island, the Australian government has shown it is capable of worse.

    Not only is the government refusing to shut down its centres on the two Pacific islands, it is now planning to introduce a law to permanently ban the people trapped there from getting a visa to Australia.

    October 28, 2016

    Greece has illegally returned at least eight Syrian refugees to Turkey without respecting procedural guarantees or considering their asylum claims, documentation and testimonies obtained by Amnesty International reveal.

    The Syrians, including four children under the age of five, were rescued in Greek waters when their boat travelling from Turkey to Italy encountered problems and they were taken to the island of Milos on 9 October. All eight registered their intention to claim asylum, but were returned to Turkey on 20 October. The refugees say they were falsely told that they were being transferred to Athens. Instead they were flown under escort of officers from the EU border agency (Frontex) to Adana, Turkey in a violation of international and EU law.

    “The Greek authorities and the EU have repeatedly insisted that all Syrian refugees arriving in the country are having their asylum claims properly assessed, but the evidence we have now seen clearly strongly suggests otherwise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    October 18, 2016

    By Anna Shea: Amnesty International Researcher/Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights

    In an out-of-the way, dingy watering hole, a young woman I’ll call Jane told me: “I picked this place because it was very noisy, so there’d be less chance of being monitored.”

    Up until that point, we had only communicated by encrypted messages, so that the local authorities wouldn’t know about our meeting. I was in a country that had recently enacted legislation  allowing it to prosecute and imprison people who disclosed information about offshore government operations. By meeting with me, Jane was demonstrating real courage. Many other people were too scared to meet with me—or even speak on the phone.  At the bar, Jane spoke for hours about the human rights abuses she had witnessed. At several points, she broke down in tears. 

    As a human rights lawyer with Amnesty International, I’m used to making elaborate arrangements to ensure the safety and anonymity of the people I interview in authoritarian countries. I’m also accustomed to hearing traumatic stories of abuse.

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