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Refugees

    July 20, 2017
      ‘GIVE A HOME’ GIGS TO SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH OVER 22 MILLION REFUGEES   SHEERAN WILL BE AMONG 1,000 MUSICIANS PLAYING AT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND SOFAR SOUNDS EVENTS GLOBALLY 0N 20 SEPTEMBER     With just two months to go, Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds have announced that Ed Sheeran is delighted to play in their global concert series Give a Home. Taking place in cities all over the world on 20 September 2017, Sheeran’s announcement comes just ahead of the next bulk of additional major artists to be announced in early August.  
    July 14, 2017

    A federal judge in Hawaii has enjoined the Trump administration from including grandparents and other family members in the travel ban, as well as refugees with formal commitments from refugee organizations in the United States to resettle here. Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:

    “This decision is another rejection of the Trump administration’s cruel and discriminatory policy. It is welcome but temporary relief for the thousands of refugees and family members who remain uncertain of their future. They cannot wait for another drawn-out legal battle; Congress must step in now and end this cruel and discriminatory ban once and for all.”

    July 13, 2017
      On July 12, 2017, after resettling 50,000 refugees this year, the United States hit the cap in refugee admissions set by President Trump’s March 6 executive order. This is the lowest number of refugee admissions ever set by the executive branch. Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement.   “As a result of the Trump administration’s cruel agenda to ban refugees from entering the country, thousands of vulnerable people fleeing war and violence from all over the world are in heightened danger. Many of the 26,000 refugees who have already undergone vetting and been approved to come to the U.S. to live could be left stranded because of the administration’s narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the ban. The United States is turning its back on people who are fleeing some of the world’s most desperate situations.  
    July 12, 2017
      Leaked Document Would tie Non-Governmental Organisations’ Hands   Thousands more refugees and migrants could be at risk of dying at sea if a flawed code of conduct for nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) conducting search and rescue in the central Mediterranean is put into practice, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today after reviewing a leaked draft of the document. 

    “Perversely, the proposed code of conduct for NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean could put lives at risk. Attempts to restrict life-saving NGO search and rescue operations risk endangering thousands of lives by impeding rescue boats from accessing the perilous waters near Libya,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. The code of conduct, drafted by Italy, was first proposed at an informal meeting of the European Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on July 6, 2017.  

    The draft pact would curtail the work of NGOs carrying out search and rescue operations on the central Mediterranean by:
    July 07, 2017
      Following a federal judge’s decision denial of a motion regarding the Trump administration's planned implementation of the Muslim and refugee ban, Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, released the following statement:   “The Trump administration's plans to implement the refugee and Muslim ban are cruel to families and puts thousands of lives at risk. With this ban the U.S. is turning its back on the world’s most vulnerable people including families and others fleeing war, violence and torture. It also allows a policy built on bigotry and discrimination to stand. No part of this ban is reasonable and it must be stopped. Congress must step in now and end this cruel and discriminatory ban once and for all.”
    July 04, 2017
    ·         Close to one million people forcibly displaced in Equatoria region, fuelling world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis ·         Civilians shot, hacked to death with machetes and burnt in their homes ·         Women and girls abducted and gang-raped   A new frontline in South Sudan’s conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country’s fertile Equatoria region over the past year, creating ongoing atrocities, starvation and fear, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today. The organization’s researchers visited the region in June, documenting how mainly government but also opposition forces in the southern region have committed crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations and abuses – including war crimes – against civilians. 

    June 30, 2017
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    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.  
    June 19, 2017

    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.”

    June 07, 2017

    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:

    April 13, 2017

    By: Marium Yousuf

    On a beautiful, crisp sunny day last weekend, Amnesty International, Sojurn House, Culture Link and the Centre for Victims of Torture held an event in Toronto to mark Canada’s Refugee Rights Day (April 4). The tone was deliberately celebratory, with performances from the Nai Syrian Kids Choir, poet Ama Luna and poet/singer, song-writer Ruth Mathiang that left the audience captivated all afternoon.

    The Nai Syrian Kids Choir immediately captured everyone’s attention as they streamed through the room in their yellow uniforms. Ranging between the ages from 6-12, it was hard to imagine that these smiling young faces had experienced war and loss, having recently resettled in Canada as Syrian refugees. The Choir is an initiative of Culture Link and serves as a space for children to deal with their loss, grief and hope through music, while their parents practice conversational English with ESL teachers. Their performances did not disappoint: singing songs in Arabic, French and English, while their beaming parents cheered them on.

    April 03, 2017
    A refugee in Montreal looks out a window over the city

    By Gloria Nafziger: Refugee Coordinator Amnesty International

    “It was like Donald Trump had awakened a dormant volcano that was ready to erupt at any time; and I didn’t want to be a part of it”

    April 4 is Refugee Rights Day in Canada.  This is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1985 Singh decision, which recognized that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects refugees' fundamental rights.  The Court decided that refugee claimants are included in the Charter sentence: ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.’ 

    This means that, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and international law, refugees who enter Canada from the United States and make a refugee claim are entitled to an oral hearing.

    March 16, 2017

    After a year trapped in Greece, this week Alan, Gyan and the rest of the family have finally travelled to Germany.  We know they arrived safely and that they are provisionally staying in a camp. We will keep you updated.

    Alan and Gyan are Kurdish refugees from Syria. They both suffer from muscular dystrophy and fled their home in Syria in wheelchairs; escaping bombs and the Islamic State. They arrived in Greece in March 2016 with their mother, Amsha and two siblings, Ivan and Shilan. Their father and another sister are already in Germany.

    Their arduous journey in search of safety had taken them and their family across four borders. They were shot at on three occasions when they were trying to cross into Turkey and were strapped to the side of a horse in order to cross the mountainous border between Iraq and Turkey.

    December 02, 2016
    Message from refugees pinned to a tent in Chios port

    Content Warning: This post includes descriptions of violence.

    By Catherine Bruce, Director, Refugee Law Office Toronto

    In September 2016, I spent two weeks working with a group of international volunteers and interpreters in a refugee camp in Greece. This is my account of my experiences.

    The trauma invaded my dreams

    Perhaps I should start by saying that after my first day working in the camps, I dreamed that I saw an airplane circle around and around in the sky.

    In my dream I was lying on the beach. And I was thinking to myself in my dream: why is that plane circling and what is the pilot in that plane watching? And then I saw that the pilot was watching a helicopter and the helicopter was coming to the ground. And as it landed, people jumped out of it, and suddenly on the ground next to me everyone was screaming and shouting, “run, they are shooting”. And I got up and ran, and then I woke up.

    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 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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