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Refugees and Migrants

    January 30, 2019

    Photo: Mother and son holding hands at the shelter for the Migrant Caravan in November 2018. 

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    The polarizing and politicized discourse about refugees, migrant and border policy in the United States revolves around ugly chants and a long list of terms and agencies that are at once sinister and incomprehensible: #BuildTheWall, Migration Protection Protocols, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Customs and Border Patrol, pushbacks and zero-tolerance.

    But what is truly at stake and so lost in the swirling toxic debate are peoples’ hopes, lives and rights.

    January 28, 2019

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    Tijuana, Mexico

    We began the day walking across the border between the United States and Mexico, separating San Ysidro, California and Tijuana. We ended the day back at that exact same border post, accompanying three courageous LGBTQ teens from Honduras as they sought, against considerable odds, to lodge their asylum claims with US officials.

    In between we had ample occasion to see and hear firsthand that despite Donald Trump’s toxic rhetoric, the only crisis that is playing out along this frontier is a politically-driven one that spreads distortions and fear on the backs of people – mainly, but not only, from Mexico and Central America – who are fleeing terrifying persecution, endemic violence and grinding poverty.

    It is a crisis of conscience, compassion and justice.

    January 25, 2019

    WASHINGTON, DC – Amnesty International and the National Immigrant Justice Center are sending an international delegation of senior leadership to monitor the impact of US policy on asylum seekers and migrants traveling to the US-Mexico border. The delegation will be traveling from January 27 to 31. They will be meeting with Mexican and US authorities, documenting conditions at shelters in Tijuana for families and individuals whom the US had denied access to asylum protections, and meeting with non-governmental organizations directly working with asylum-seekers and migrants in El Paso.

    The delegation includes ; Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada ; Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA; Tania Reneaum, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico; Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland; Philippe Hensmans, director of Amnesty International Belgium; and John Peder Egenes, head of Amnesty International Norway. They will be joined by Mary Meg MacCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center.

    January 09, 2019

    Following news of the disembarkation of 49 men, women and children stranded at sea for 19 days while their requests for safe harbour were refused, Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Southern Europe, said:

    “After nearly three weeks of being tossed around in stormy seas these women, men and children are now safely on dry land, but the fact that it took so long is shameful.

    “The dangerous, unseemly spectacle of politicians bickering whilst women, men and children are stranded in a sea of cruel indifference, must not be repeated.

    “The Italian and Maltese authorities have brazenly undermined the search and rescue system and used people as pawns to negotiate migration policies. But their callous disregard for peoples’ safety has been bolstered by European leaders’ inhumane failure to assist these people promptly.

    “European member states must no longer turn their backs on people stranded at sea and urgently agree on a swift and predictable disembarkation policy in line with international law and on a fair system to distribute asylum-seekers among EU countries.”

    December 18, 2018

    Governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are collectively failing to protect the rights of migrants in their countries, said Amnesty International, marking International Migrants Day.

    Across the region, migrants regularly face discrimination, exploitation and other forms of abuse as well as in some cases arbitrary arrest, detention and unlawful expulsion. Whether they are sub-Saharan African migrants passing through North African countries on their way to Europe or domestic or construction workers from Asia living in the Gulf or other parts of the Middle East, too often they are unprotected by labour laws, left vulnerable to abuse or are forcibly deported because their irregular status is criminalized.

    “Governments across MENA are abysmally failing to protect migrants living in or passing through their countries, fuelling shocking levels of abuse,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s MENA Research and Advocacy Director.

    December 18, 2018

    States who have adopted the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) must honour their word and take immediate action to protect the human rights of migrants, Amnesty International said on International Migrants Day.

    The GCM, a global agreement to promote safe, orderly and regular migration, will be formally endorsed at the UN General Assembly tomorrow. Amnesty International made a number of recommendations to the draft text.

    “The Global Compact for Migration is a welcome step towards improving the way the international community responds to migration and, if properly implemented, it will ensure the rights of migrants are respected and protected. The adoption of the GCM shows that it is still possible for countries to cooperate to protect human rights,” said Perseo Quiroz, Senior Advocate for the Americas at Amnesty International.

    December 10, 2018

    By Alex Neve and Aditya Rao. Published on Ipolitics Dec 10, 2018 10:34am

    'Some countries under pressure from anti-immigrant and anti-refugee groups are choosing not to endorse the agreement. How disheartening to hear similar sentiments in Canada.'

    The UN headquarters in New York. (Neptuul/Wikimedia Commons photo)

    December 07, 2018

    Responding to news from MSF and SOS Mediterranée that the Aquarius search and rescue vessel has been forced to end operations, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “Today, we received some very sad news. Médecins Sans Frontières and its partner SOS Méditerranée have been forced to terminate operations by the search and rescue ship, Aquarius.

    “Over the last two years the Aquarius and her crew have rescued nearly 30,000 people in the Mediterranean. Yet, more than 2,100 people have drowned this year. The vast majority were fleeing violence, torture and arbitrary detention in Libya.

    “During this time, not only have European governments failed to provide search and rescue capacity, they have instead supported the Libyan coastguard to return people to Libya, and actively obstructed life-saving activities like Aquarius was carrying out.

    “In doing this, European leaders have shown where their true priorities lie: the closure of the central Mediterranean route for refugees and migrants, even at the cost of a soaring death toll at sea.

    December 04, 2018

    Responding to the release on bail of volunteers and staff who provided life-saving assistance to refugees, Kondylia Gougou, Amnesty International’s Greece Researcher said:

    “Whilst we welcome the news that these dedicated humanitarians will be back with their families tonight after more than 100 days behind bars, the fact that they still face absurd charges and potentially long prison sentences is an outrage.

    “This case is just the latest example of how authorities are mis-using anti-smuggling laws to target activists and criminalize rescue. To detain dedicated volunteer humanitarians who helped people in need defies logic. People who selfless act in these ways should be lauded not imprisoned. These baseless charges should be dropped.”

    Background

    Four humanitarian workers were released on bail today.

    November 27, 2018

    Unlawful US border policies are leaving thousands of asylum seekers stranded in Mexico, where they are facing threats of deportation to their countries of origin, where they potentially face serious harm, Amnesty International said today following a research mission last week. Conditions could only worsen under a reported deal between both countries that, if agreed, would force asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed, rather than allow them to enter the United States.

    November 15, 2018

    Since August 2017, more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled a vicious campaign of violence by the Myanmar security forces and sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.

    This week some refugees could be returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar under an agreement reached earlier between the two governments that sidestepped safeguards mandated under international law.

    Here, Amnesty International explains how this situation has come about and why the forcible return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar is unlawful, being premature, and putting their lives, liberty and other key human rights at risk.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar. Until recently, more than a million lived mostly in Rakhine State, in the west of the country, on the border with Bangladesh.

    November 14, 2018

    Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities must immediately halt plans to send Rohingya refugees back to Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.

    A first wave of organized returns could begin as soon as 15 November, following the announcement of a bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar last month which falls short of international obligations.

    “This is a reckless move which puts lives at risk,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia.

    “These women, men and children would be sent back into the Myanmar military’s grasp with no protection guarantees, to live alongside those who torched their homes and whose bullets they fled.”

    High risk of forced returns

    On 30 October, representatives of the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments announced they had agreed to start repatriation of some of the more than 720,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 2017.

    November 02, 2018

    Amnesty International USA Media Release

    In response to President Trump’s plans to implement restrictive policies to limit the rights of migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum from Central America, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo issued this statement:

    “Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right. I would like to remind President Trump that US law states very clearly that it does not matter where or how people seeking safe haven enter the country – they are allowed to apply for asylum. His intentions to limit the rights of those seeking asylum are against those laws and the USA’s international obligations.

    “Right now, mothers, fathers, and children are enduring a terrible and arduous journey because they urgently need to find safe haven from violence and persecution. Instead of demonizing them, I urge President Trump to think about why anyone would leave their home and embark on such a journey, if they were not afraid for their lives.

    October 26, 2018

    In response to reports that President Trump plans to take executive action blocking refugees and people seeking asylum from Central America from entering the United States to request protection, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The Trump administration is defying international law and manufacturing a crisis at the border by proposing policies that would cause catastrophic and irreparable harm to thousands of families who had no choice but to leave home in order to keep their children safe from harm.”

    “President Trump has shown callous disregard for the plight of those making this dangerous journey from Honduras and other Central American countries. His administration must stop waging a deliberate campaign of human rights violations against people seeking safety and immediately recognize that everyone has the right, under US and international law, to seek protection.”

    Amnesty International USA executive director Margaret Huang added:

    October 22, 2018

    Mexican authorities must guarantee that no one at risk of danger in Honduras is deported and that caravan members are informed of their right to seek asylum, said Amnesty International today in response to news that several members of the caravan were transferred to a migration detention center rather than to a shelter.

    “Mexican authorities must at all times avoid detaining children and separating families; they should also attend to the urgent humanitarian needs, avoid using force at all costs and identify those people who are fleeing violence and are in need of international protection,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Thousands of members of a caravan of people from Honduras and Central America began to cross the bridge that divides Guatemala and Mexico yesterday. Several people were wounded during the crossing and tear gas was briefly used by federal police. Thousands of people spent the night on the bridge without proper shelter, food or protection. Several caravan members were transported to a detention center in the city of Tapachula, which is commonly the place where deportation buses depart from.

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