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Refugees and Migrants

    May 07, 2015
    "On the eve of his departure, he called me so that I could pray for him. After he spoke to me, he told his wife and two children that he was about to leave Libya for Italy. Unfortunately, the next call we got was from his brother who told us that he had perished at sea.”

    "I gave my son the 350 000 CFA francs (approximately $750) for him to leave and succeed, and to get us out of poverty"

     

    By Alain Roy
    Deputy Director, Amnesty International Regional Office, Dakar, Senegal

     

    April 27, 2015
    Italian Navy vessel Virginio Fasan, performing search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean as part of the Mare Nostrum operation, August 2014

    An Amnesty International delegation has just returned from the Italian island of Lampedusa and elsewhere in Sicily, after collecting the testimonies of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers rescued in the high seas of the central Mediterranean.

    Over the past fortnight, hundreds of people are feared to have lost their lives at sea, with more than 10,000 rescued. Many of the survivors have harrowing stories to tell. Here is one, from a Somali boy who lost his friend during a terrifying journey that lasted more than three months in all. Amnesty International spoke to him in a reception centre in Lampedusa, less than a week after his rescue on 17 April. His name has been changed at his request.

    My name is Ali and I come from Somalia. I am 15 years old.

    When I was nine, I was separated from my family and moved to the capital, Mogadishu, where I lived with friends in the Yaaqshiid area. There, I learned English and worked cleaning shoes for soldiers.

    Just over three months ago, I left Somalia. There are lots of problems there – fighting, drought, famine. I’m looking for a better life. I’d like to go to Norway.

    February 09, 2015

    By Geoffrey Mock, orginally published on Amnesty USA blog

    What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it?

    You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

    You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education.

    “We don’t go to anyone, we don’t visit anyone because dealing with him is so difficult,” the woman told Amnesty International researchers. “People stay away because they are afraid he will hurt their children. This little room is our bedroom, it is our living room, it is our everything. Our financial situation doesn’t allow us to register him in such [specialist] schools… That is why we need to resettle in another country, to get help for our child. This will make it better for him and for us.”

    January 28, 2015

    By Francesca Pizzutelli, Refugees and Migrants’ Rights Researcher/Advisor at Amnesty International

    From the plane, the change of seasons is evident: what three months ago was a large expanse of arid, dusty yellow land, now is dark brown and punctuated by moist green patches. After a first visit in September, my colleague Khairun and I are back in Iraqi Kurdistan (officially known as Kurdistan Region of Iraq, or KRI) to assess the human rights situation of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis alike.

    December 18, 2014

    Is a migrant the same as an immigrant? Are migrants good or bad for the economy, and can you name some famous ones? Find out today, on International Migrants Day.

    1. What's the difference between an immigrant and a migrant?
    All immigrants are migrants, but not all migrants are immigrants. And just to confuse things, there are also “emigrants”. Here’s how it works: A migrant moves around within their own country, or from one country to another, often to find work or join family members, because of poverty or a crisis. If you’re from Italy and go to live in Spain, then you would be an emigrant in Italy and an immigrant in Spain. You can be called an “international migrant” if you have foreign nationality or were born in another country. "Immigrant" and migrant are often used interchangeably and tend to get mixed up with the word "asylum-seeker" (see below).

    November 04, 2014

    Neil Sammonds, Amnesty's Syria Researcher, blogs from Kobani on the Turkey-Syria border

    A dust cloud from the US air strike drifts across the border from Kobani and blurs our view from the overlooking Turkish hilltop. Most if not all of those watching – all Kurds, it seems, from both Syria and Turkey – agree that the damage caused to the city by air strikes is a price worth paying. Many believe the city’s defence, led by Syrian Kurdish fighters, would have collapsed without them.

    “My home may get destroyed but if it forces out Da’esh”, as the armed group which calls itself the Islamic State (IS) is usually referred to locally, “then I am happy,” says one.

    Fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) lead the city’s defence against the armed group widely loathed by Kurds.  

    Residents of the scores of villages outside Kobani, and then the city itself, fled ahead of the rapid IS advance, well aware of the atrocities committed by the group against Iraqi Kurds in Sinjar and elsewhere. Some 200,000 fled into Turkey, two-thirds of them in just four days in September this year.

    August 26, 2014

    By Maxim Tucker, Press Officer – Global Campaigns, Thematic Issues and UN.

    (BORGO MEZZANONE, ITALY) Ebrima’s bedroom is a stark corrugated square, five metres long and five metres wide. He shares it with one other asylum seeker – each has a foam mattress over a camp bed to sleep on. Wires dangle from a broken light in the ceiling and the floor is carpeted in dust, crumbs and the odd seashell.

    The Asylum Seekers Reception Centre at Borgo Mezzanone, Southern Italy, has been his home for the past six months. In this disused airbase which was turned into a detention centre, conditions are dire. But after a harrowing journey from Africa, through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean, Ebrima doesn’t even seem to notice. He is happy to be here.

    He tells me his journey started in Sierra Leone after the death of his Muslim father. The Christian community where he lived wanted him gone. Even his stepmother’s family tried to force him to convert from Islam to Christianity.

    June 20, 2014
    By Anna Shea, Legal Adviser on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International.

    What struck me most when I met Zeinah (not her real name), a 29-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey, were her warm personality and marvelous smile. But her past and present experiences give her precious little to smile about.

    Zeinah arrived in Turkey four months ago, having fled her native Syria.

    Like other Syrians I met in Istanbul, Zeinah had experienced horrors in her country of origin, and was desperate to start a new life. A teacher by profession, she was jailed by the Bashar al-Assad regime for allegedly providing assistance to opposition groups. She said she was raped and beaten multiple times over the several months she spent in prison and was eventually released due to lack of evidence.

    The abuse she suffered in jail has left her with injuries to her spine – and serious psychological trauma – which remain untreated.

    June 20, 2014
    By Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

    Last month, 18-year-old Ayaan suddenly found herself at the head of her household. Her mother and father had been arrested in Nairobi as part of the counter-terrorism operation dubbed ‘Usalama Watch’.

    SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH THE UNHCR

    They were detained in Kasarani stadium before being forcibly relocated to Kakuma refugee camp over 800km away, leaving Ayaan alone to look after her seven brothers and sisters – all under the age of 10.

    “It is only me looking after the children” says Ayaan. “My parents were both working, but now we have very little. The children are out of school. I want my parents to come back.”

    Ayaan’s experience is far from unique for refugees in Kenya today.

    June 19, 2014
    Maran and Gloria stand up for refugee rights
    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner

    Maran was a journalist and owned his own media company in a country riddled with conflict. Believing that the media was a tool that he could use, he wanted to tell the story of his people to the world.  Telling these stories was a way to protect his people and bring peace to his country.  He faced horrible obstacles.  His land became a place of massacre.  At a certain point, he became helpless and lost the power to speak the truth and fight for freedom.  He had few choices - die, surrender to the Government and become a journalist of propaganda, or flee.  After his family was threatened because of his work, Maran fled.

    Leaving his family, he paid a smuggler who promised to take him to a country where he would be safe. He had no choice about the country, only a small hope that he would eventually be safe.

    January 21, 2014
    Muslim women and children take shelter in a church in Boali, north of the country's capital Bangui.© ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
    By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International. 

    In the small town of Boali, 100km north of the capital Bangui, the Muslim neighbourhoods are eerily silent, completely empty of their inhabitants. Every single home has been thoroughly looted. Even the front doors have been removed and carted away.

    Most of the Muslim residents have fled the town, forcibly displaced by vicious attacks carried out by so-called anti-balaka militias. We found more than 800 people who have not yet managed to leave. They are sheltering in the local church, where an impressive young priest is leading by example of inter-faith and neighbourly solidarity.One young man told us about an anti-balaka attack in Boali on Friday 17 January which left five dead and 20 injured. He recounted how, at around mid-day young men armed with machetes burst into the family home.

    December 16, 2013

    Susanna Flood, Director of Media at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    Her voice began to choke and then the tears began to flow down her face as she calmly and steadily recounted the long list of names of all the women and children killed in her village when the anti-balaka struck a week ago.

    Sitting in a darkened hospital ward at the Hôpital Communautaire, she gracefully removed her headscarf and revealed the stitches laced across her scalp where the machete had struck. Alongside her was her four-year-old daughter with a matching wound on her head, also the victim of machete attacks.

    Nearly everyone in her village near Bangui, the Central African Republic’s capital city, had been wiped out in these early strikes by the anti-balaka militia who unleashed the carnage that has since been wrought on Bangui.  

    We met her one week after she had suffered those attacks and she told us what happened in her village with amazing calm and dignity. In her ward were numerous women also recovering from the various machete and bullet wounds inflicted by unknown attackers in the violence that has run riot across Bangui and the nearby villages.

    December 12, 2013

    Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, blogs from Bangui

    One of the most depressing aspects of the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic is its symmetry.

    Christian and Muslim militia alike are carrying out equally vicious attacks. And members of both communities, while denouncing each other’s crimes, will tell you that their own people are acting in self defence.

    With each new outrage, the pattern of tit-for-tat atrocities becomes harder to break.

    The day before yesterday I interviewed a Christian man who recounted how he was nearly killed in a raid last week on the outskirts of Bangui, the country’s capital. Shot in the side at close range, he survived by playing dead; he claims that others from his neighbourhood were not as lucky.

    “It was the Peuhls,” he said, referring to an ethnic group of nomadic Muslim herders. “They were armed with Kalashnikovs.”

    July 19, 2013

    On 19 July 2013, Amnesty International welcomed an important decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in the case of Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola.  The unanimous judgment, written by Justices LeBel and Fish, brings Canada’s interpretation of the UN Refugee Convention into line with international law.

    by Anna Shea and Gloria Nafziger

    Supreme Court Ruling in Ezokola case

    Mr. Ezokola had a long career with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2008 he resigned from his position at the Permanent Mission of the DRC at the UN in New York and fled to Canada with his family, seeking refugee protection.  He stated that he could no longer work for a government which he considered corrupt, violent and antidemocratic. 

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty

     

    CANADA: WELCOME
    SYRIAN REFUGEES

    Canada’s commitment to resettling refugees has been modest and processing rates painfully slow. Remind the Prime Minister and all party leaders that Canadians welcome refugees.

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