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I Welcome Refugees

    June 28, 2017
    No Ban No Wall

    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.

    June 26, 2017

    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.”

    May 26, 2017
    Afghan woman and children outside Elliniko camp in Greece

    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.

    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.

    January 31, 2017

    U.S. President Donald Trump has signed several Executive Orders targeting the rights and safety of refugees in the United States. 

    Canada’s ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’ means that most refugees who arrive in the US cannot make claims in Canada.

    The United States is failing to protect refugees. We must rescind the “Safe Third Country Agreement.” 

    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 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 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.

    October 03, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 04 October 2016

    Wealthy countries have shown a complete absence of leadership and responsibility, leaving just 10 countries, which account for less than 2.5% of world GDP, to take in 56% of the world’s refugees, said Amnesty International in a comprehensive assessment of the global refugee crisis published today.

    The report ‘Tackling the global refugee crisis: From shirking to sharing responsibility’, documents the precarious situation faced by many of the world’s 21 million refugees. While many in Greece, Iraq, on the island of Nauru, or at the border of Syria and Jordan are in dire need of a home, others in Kenya and Pakistan are facing growing harassment from governments.

    The report sets out a fair and practical solution to the crisis based on a system that uses relevant, objective criteria to show the fair share every state in the world should take in in order to find a home for 10% of the world’s refugees every year.

    September 22, 2016

    By Hanna Gros

    Canada prides itself as a place where immigrants and refugees are welcome -- a safe haven strengthened by its diversity, where multiculturalism flourishes. Canada also prides itself as a defender of human rights at home and abroad. Canadians played an important role in drafting the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms has served as a model for human rights instruments worldwide.

    But in recent years Canada has come under harsh criticism from the United Nations and civil society organizations for its immigration detention regime, which deprives children of their fundamental human rights. Under current law and administrative procedures, children affected by the immigration detention regime enter a Kafkaesque world of prison conditions, uncertain lengths of detention, and separation from their parents, that robs them of the opportunity to develop normally.

    September 14, 2016

    Released  00:01 GMT 15 September 2016

    Video footage and satellite images showing makeshift grave sites and burial mounds offer a rare glimpse inside a desert no man’s land between Jordan and Syria where tens of thousands of refugees who have been virtually cut off from humanitarian aid for two months are stranded, said Amnesty International.

    Fresh accounts gathered by the organization from people in the area known as the berm, paint a desperate picture of human suffering and highlight the tragic consequences of the world’s failure to share responsibility for the global refugee crisis. Next week, world leaders will gather in New York for two high-level summits to discuss refugees.

    September 13, 2016

    The abject failure of a United Nations summit to tackle the deepening global refugee crisis is a missed opportunity that will affect millions of the world’s most vulnerable people unless leaders find alternative solutions to help them reach safety, Amnesty International said ahead of two high-profile refugee summits next week.

    UN member states are set to adopt an ineffective refugee deal on 19 September. On 20 September, US President Barack Obama will appeal to leaders to make specific commitments that will help end the suffering of refugees across the world – a call that has so far been wilfully ignored.

    “Faced with the worst refugee crisis in 70 years, world leaders have shown a shocking disregard for the human rights of people who have been forced to leave their homes due to conflict or persecution,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “We already know the UN summit is doomed to abject failure, while the Obama summit looks unlikely to pick up the pieces.”

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