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Refugees and Migrants

    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.

    October 23, 2014

    The Netherlands’ repeated attempts to forcibly return Somalis to areas controlled by the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab exposes them to grave risks of human rights abuses and would be a blatant violation of international law, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The Dutch government has insisted that Somalis can be forcibly sent to the most perilous areas of the country, including those where al-Shabaab is responsible for unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment.

    “For some Somalis, being returned to al-Shabaab-controlled areas is akin to being handed a death sentence,” said L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “By sending Somalis to volatile areas where their lives are in danger, the Dutch government is also responsible for the human rights abuses they face on their return.”

    International law requires that states do not return people to areas where their lives or freedoms are at real risk, such as certain situations of armed conflict.

    October 22, 2014

    Update
    On 23 October 2014 the Federal government tabled, Bill C-43, an omnibus budget bill which contains the same provisions as those found in Bill C-585.  Amnesty International believes these provisions must be withdrawn from Bill C-43.

    Amnesty International is calling for Bill C-585, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (period of residence), to be withdrawn.  The Private Member’s Bill, proposed by Corneliu Chisu, M.P, would allow provinces to reduce access to social assistance for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. 

    Bill C-585 violates Canada’s binding obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention).

    October 20, 2014

    Dozens of families will be left homeless if French authorities go ahead with the forced eviction of a Roma camp in a Paris suburb this week, Amnesty International warned today.

    More than 200 Roma living in an informal settlement near Bobigny will be forcibly evicted from their homes within the next 48 hours, but many have not have been offered alternative housing.

    “This forced eviction would leave families – including children, the sick and the elderly – living on the streets, deprived of their human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “The French authorities must halt the forced eviction until they can offer suitable alternative housing solutions that have been accepted by the Roma community after proper consultation.”

    According to international human rights standards, evictions should not render people homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations.

    October 19, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT Monday 20 October 2014

    The South Korean government must end the exploitation and widespread use of forced labour of migrant agricultural workers, Amnesty International said, as it published a new report that reveals how the country’s farming industry is rife with abuse.

    Bitter Harvest exposes the true face of South Korea’s Employment Permit System (EPS) that directly contributes to the serious exploitation of migrant agricultural workers. The government-run work scheme is designed to provide migrant labour to small and medium-sized enterprises that struggle to hire a sufficient number of national workers.
    “The exploitation of migrant farm workers in South Korea is a stain on the country. The authorities have created a shameful system that allows trafficking for exploitation and forced labour to flourish,” said Norma Kang Muico, Asia-Pacific Migrant Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.
    “If South Koreans were trapped in a similar cycle of abuse, there would rightly be outrage.”

    October 17, 2014

    Ángel Amílcar Colón, tortured into "confessing" to crimes he did not commit and unjustly imprisoned for 5 years, has been released from jail!

    Thanks to the efforts of his legal team at Centro Prodh and activists in Mexico, Canada and around the world who raised their voices for justice, a man can now return to his family and his community. Never doubt that raising our voices for rights and justice can make a difference! Ángel Amílcar is free!

    Upon his release, Ángel said:

    "My message to all those who are showing me their solidarity, and are against torture and discrimination, is don't drop your guard. A new horizon is dawning. I feel happy about what is happening."

    A delegation from Amnesty International met Ángel in prison during a human rights research mission to Mexico in September 2014. His story was captured on film and shared with Amnesty supporters around the world, leading to thousands to respond and urge Mexican authorities for his release. 

    His story

    September 30, 2014

     A year on from the Lampedusa shipwrecks, which claimed more than 500 lives, a new report by Amnesty International highlights how the shameful inaction of European Union (EU) countries has contributed to a spiralling death toll with thousands of refugees and migrants losing their lives in a desperate bid to reach European shores.

    Amnesty International’s report, Lives adrift: Refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean, details the findings of recent visits to Italy and Malta, including a research trip on an Italian Navy vessel. Interviews with survivors of shipwrecks, experts and authorities expose the reality of the dangers faced by those fleeing war, persecution and poverty, and the pitiful response of most European states.

    “As the EU builds its walls higher and higher, refugees and migrants are increasingly taking to the Mediterranean in a desperate bid to reach European shores. Placed on rickety boats by ruthless smugglers, every week hundreds of them sway between life and death, between hope and despair,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    September 22, 2014

    The Turkish authorities must ensure that the country’s borders are kept open to those fleeing conflict and human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq, said Amnesty International.

    Turkey began to close some of its border crossings with Syria after 130,000 Kurdish refugees poured into the country in recent days fleeing the advance of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

    “The latest influx of refugees has undoubtedly placed even further strain on Turkey’s already stretched resources, but this cannot be used as an excuse for denying safe sanctuary to anyone who is fleeing the horrors of war,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “With more and more desperate refugees arriving at the border in search of safety, it is crucial that the international community acts now to strengthen its support to Turkey and other countries neighbouring Syria to avert further suffering.”

    Turkey, which before this weekend was already hosting more than one million refugees from Syria, has largely been left to deal with the crisis on its own.

    September 15, 2014

    European leaders must do more to provide safe and legal ways for refugees and migrants to access international protection in the European Union, Amnesty International said today after a boat bound for Italy sank off the coast of Libya leaving many feared drowned.

    “The response of EU member states to the refugee crises in the Middle East and North Africa has been shameful,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “The increasing death toll in the Mediterranean Sea highlights the ineffectiveness of the EU’s current asylum and migration policies and practices.

    “European leaders want to prevent people from reaching Europe at any cost, forcing desperate people to take more hazardous routes.

    “European countries have offered a pitiful number of resettlement places to refugees fleeing conflicts, such as the war in Syria. A significant increase in resettlement places would offer a lifeline to refugees and can help reduce the numbers compelled to make this dangerous crossing.

    September 04, 2014

    The Qatari authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts and ensure the safety of two British human rights workers who went missing on Sunday and are feared to be held secretly and incommunicado in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Researcher Krishna Upadhyaya and photographer Ghimire Gundev, who were investigating working conditions of Nepalese migrants in Qatar, have not been seen since they checked out of their hotel on 31 August. They had earlier expressed fears to friends and colleagues that they were being followed by plainclothes police on account of their work.

    “The enforced disappearance of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev is extremely worrying and the pattern of events reported by the men before they went missing indicates that they may have been detained in relation to their human rights work,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the fate and whereabouts of these two men and dispel the growing fears that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

    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.

    July 10, 2014
    Authorities in Kenya are trying to force thousands of Somali refugees to live in squalid overcrowded camps.© SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images.

    Released 00:01 BST 11 July 2014

    Refugees in Nairobi are appealing against a controversial ruling that would force thousands of Somalis from their homes to live in squalid overcrowded camps in north Kenya, Amnesty International said today.  

    “This outrageous ruling affects the entire refugee population of Nairobi. Using the pretext of protecting national security, the Kenyan authorities have cracked down on refugees, effectively destroying any form of stability they may have managed to build after seeking refuge in Kenya,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa.
     
    “Thousands of people’s lives have been destroyed. Tens of thousands more are at serious risk.”

    The Somali refugees are appealing against a 30 June ruling made by High Court Judge Justice Majanja that stated that the relocation of refugees from urban centres is constitutional.

    July 08, 2014

    Released at  0001 GMT, 9 July 2014

    July 08, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

    Amnesty International expresses relief that High Court deliberations have put the transfer of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka's Navy in doubt, a plan that if enacted, would put Australia in blatant breach of international law and set a dangerous precedent.

    Three-year-old Febrina is among the 153 missing asylum seekers © Tamil Refugee Council

    The comments follow an application that was brought on behalf of 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers recently intercepted by the Australian Navy on their way from India.

    July 04, 2014

    The lack of effective regulation of visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents makes Indian migrant workers vulnerable to serious human rights abuses, said Amnesty International India today in a new report focusing on migrants from the Indian state of Kerala working in Saudi Arabia.

    The report, Exploited Dreams: Dispatches from Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, highlights cases of migrant workers from Kerala who were deceived about their jobs, wages and working conditions by Indian visa brokers and rogue recruiting agents. Many workers went on to face a range of abuses in Saudi Arabia, which at their worst included forced labour.

    “Migrant workers send billions of dollars in remittances every year to India and sustain thousands of families. Yet Indian authorities continue to let them down when they are abused. It is time that migrant workers’ rights get the protection they deserve,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India.

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