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The Syrian Refugee Crisis

    February 16, 2016

    VANCOUVER- 16 February 2016 - Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics has joined hands with Amnesty International Canada to send a message of welcome to refugees resettling in Canada. From February 15-28th, the company aims to raise $$450,000 through the sale of their limited edition Hand of Friendship soap. All proceeds from the sale of the soap will go into the Friendship Fund created by Lush Cosmetics. The Friendship Funds will then be distributed to groups in North America helping to settle refugees arriving from Syria.

    “The war and violence experienced by Syrians forced to flee their homes is heartbreaking,” says Carleen Pickard, Campaigner at Lush Cosmetics. “In addition to offering financial resettlement support, we will inspire our customers to welcome Syrians and petition the Canadian government to support more refugees to come to Canada.”

    In a show of solidarity, Lush shops will dedicate their store-front windows to welcoming refugees in Arabic. The company is also encouraging Lush customers to sign welcome postcards to newly arrived refugees and to engage socially with the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome.

    February 16, 2016

    "Mohammad" arrived at the Canada-US at Fort Erie in early January.  He is a 16 year old boy from Syria who came to Canada looking for protection.  It is reported that he was immediately detained and held in isolation in an immigration holding centre in Toronto for three weeks. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has ordered that he be deported back to the United States.  According to the Canada-US ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’ a refugee must make a refugee claim in the first country in which they arrive; either Canada or the United States.  There is an exception to this agreement for unaccompanied minors, but the Canadian officials decided the exception did not apply in Mohammad’s case.

    February 15, 2016

    Attacks on at least two medical facilities in Syria today are just the latest of scores of apparently deliberate attacks on hospitals, clinics and medical personnel being committed in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    “Russian and Syrian forces know full well that deliberate attacks on medical facilities are war crimes. All parties to the conflict must cease such horrific attacks, stop destroying medical facilities and allow medical workers to carry out their life-saving work without fear of being killed or injured in the line of duty,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    February 11, 2016
    NATO forces about to begin working in the Aegean Sea must operate in line with international law by carrying out search and rescue operations for people in distress, and not illegally return refugees back to Turkey, says Amnesty International.   “Hundreds of refugees, including many children, have already died this year attempting the treacherous journey across the Aegean. Any NATO ships that witness a boat in distress must provide immediate life-saving assistance,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.   “In no way must NATO forces become yet one more barrier between refugees and the international protection they are legally entitled to. Intercepting refugees attempting to reach Europe and pushing them back to Turkey - where 2.5 million are already hosted - would be a serious violation of their right to claim asylum, and would fly in the face of international law.”  
    February 04, 2016

    Refugees in the region

    More than 4.5 million refugees from Syria are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

    Turkey hosts 2.5 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide Lebanon hosts approximately 1.1 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country Jordan hosts approximately 635,324 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population Iraq where 3.9 million people are already internally displaced hosts 245,022 refugees from Syria Egypt hosts 117,658 refugees from Syria

    The UN’s 2015 humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was just 61% funded by the end of the year.

    Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just $21.60 per person month or around US$0.70 cent a day for food assistance, well below the UN’s poverty line of US$1.90

    86% of Syrian refugees in urban areas in Jordan are living below the local poverty line.

    Conflict in Syria

    February 02, 2016
    Many refugee women from Syria tell us they don’t feel safe in Lebanon. Here are four reasons why, and three possible solutions. 1. Women are doubly at risk: both as refugees, and because of their gender
    January 28, 2016

     

    A new plan to tackle unprecedented refugee flows to Europe, mooted by the Dutch Presidency of the European Union today, is fundamentally flawed since it would hinge on illegally returning asylum seekers and refugees from Greece to Turkey, Amnesty International warned.

    Plans to label Turkey a “safe third country” in order to ferry back tens of thousands of people from Greece without due process or access to asylum application procedures would blatantly violate both European and international law.

    “No one should be fooled by the humanitarian sheen of this fundamentally flawed proposal. It is political expediency, plain and simple, aimed at stopping the flows of desperate people across the Aegean Sea,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    January 22, 2016

    Omar, a refugee from Syria, was just 12 years old when he accidentally arrived alone in Sweden. It took months of tears and worry, emails and phone calls before his parents and big brother could join him. As Denmark proposes delaying family reunification for up to five years, their story shows why the right to a family life is worth fighting for.

    “I slept in jeans, not pyjamas,” says Maha Khadour, Omar’s mother, recalling the summer of 2012 when bombs starting falling on their neighbourhood in Syria. “You just didn't know when you’d have to flee."

    Despite being a veterinarian, not a doctor, her husband Mohannad gave medical help to injured neighbours who feared being arrested if they sought help at a public hospital. When rumours started circulating that the government was looking for Mohannad, he and Maha fled with their two sons, Ali, now aged 19, and Omar, now 14, to neighbouring Turkey.

    January 17, 2016

    Released 00.01 GST 18 January 2016

     Governments and aid agencies are failing to provide even basic protections to women refugees traveling from Syria and Iraq. New research conducted by Amnesty International shows that women and girl refugees face violence, assault, exploitation and sexual harassment at every stage of their journey, including on European soil.

    The organization interviewed 40 refugee women and girls in Germany and Norway last month who travelled from Turkey to Greece and then across the Balkans. All the women described feeling threatened and unsafe during the journey. Many reported that in almost all of the countries they passed through they experienced physical abuse and financial exploitation, being groped or pressured to have sex by smugglers, security staff or other refugees.

    January 08, 2016

    More than 100 Syrian refugees have been forcibly returned to Syria by the Lebanese authorities today, Amnesty International has learned.  Around 150 others are still stranded at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport and are at risk of imminent deportation in the coming hours. The authorities are reportedly planning to force them to leave on the next flight at 9:30pm local time.

    The refugees had arrived in Beirut on flights from Syria with the intention of travelling on to Turkey. They were due to depart on 7 January but were unable to leave as two Turkish Airlines flights were cancelled ahead of new visa regulations for Syrian refugees imposed by the Turkish authorities that came into force today restricting access to the country.

    January 08, 2016

    New testimony from residents living inside besieged Syrian villages gathered by Amnesty International, describing their desperate struggle to feed themselves through the winter months, highlights the crucial need to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to all civilians in need and lift all sieges on civilian populations across country.

    The organization has spoken to residents in the besieged town of Medaya in the Damascus Countryside governorate, and gathered fresh accounts of conditions in al-Fouaa and Kefraya in the Idleb Countryside governorate.  The starving residents described how families are surviving on little more that foraged leaves and boiled water. The villages are due to resume receiving aid following a deal involving the Syrian government, struck on 7 January 2016.

    December 22, 2015

    Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a  busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    ‘Civilian objects were not damaged’: Russia’s statements on its attacks in Syria unmasked highlights the high price civilians have paid for suspected Russian attacks across the country. The report focuses on six out of more than 25 attacks reviewed by Amnesty International in which a total of at least 250 civilians and around a dozen fighters were killed. The briefing includes evidence suggesting that Russian authorities may have lied to cover up civilian damage to a mosque from one air strike and a field hospital in another. It also documents evidence suggesting Russia’s use of internationally banned cluster munitions and of unguided bombs in populated residential areas.

    December 15, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT Wednesday 16 December 2015

    The European Union (EU) is in danger of being complicit in serious human rights violations against refugees and asylum-seekers, said Amnesty International today, as it published damning evidence that the Turkish authorities have been unlawfully apprehending, detaining and pressuring refugees and asylum-seekers to return to warzones.  

    The report Europe’s Gatekeeper documents how, since September, in parallel with EU-Turkey migration talks, the Turkish authorities have rounded up and herded scores – possibly hundreds – of refugees and asylum-seekers onto buses and transported them more than 1,000 kilometres to isolated detention centres where they have been held incommunicado. Some report being shackled for days on end, beaten and forcibly transported back to the countries they had fled.

    December 15, 2015
    Opening our arms to refugees 
     

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    My heart burst when I saw the picture of the drowned body of 3 year old Alan Kurdi in his red shirt and blue pants, face downward in the sand on a Turkish beach. I won’t be able to forget that picture, ever.

    Today, I’m filled with a different kind of emotion. It’s joy, renewed hope, and a sense of pride as I watch Canadians open their arms to welcome refugees from Syria. Thank you. You played a part in turning human tragedy to joy.

    Since the start of the brutal civil war in Syria, Amnesty International has been sounding the alarm bell about the rapidly mounting Syrian refugee crisis, and the need for Canada to respond.

    With your help, Amnesty International sent researchers into the heart of the trouble spots in Syria, to document the gravity of the crisis, to call on neighbouring countries to protect fleeing refugees, and to move the world to bring resources, attention and understanding to help ease the frightening vulnerability of refugees.  

    December 11, 2015

    By Lorna Hayes and Khairunissa Dhala from Amnesty’s refugee and migrants’ rights team at Amnesty's International Secretariat

    Said and his partner Jamal – who is living with HIV – fled Syria after being tortured for their political activism. They are excited about starting a new life in the capital, Berlin, after being resettled there.

    “We were so happy that we cried,” says Jamal* about the moment he and his partner Said* found out that Germany had opened its doors to them.

    “It was a moment of victory,” Jamal continues. “We were shocked that we were accepted for resettlement so quickly, [after just] six months.”

    They were lucky – many other refugees who qualify for resettlement wait much longer for that all-important phone call to say they can settle down for good somewhere peaceful and safe.

    A new home in Berlin

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