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Refugees and Migrants

    May 10, 2015

    Released 00:01 BST Monday 11 May 2015

    Refugees and migrants across Libya face rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today.

    ‘Libya is full of cruelty’: Stories of abduction, sexual violence and abuse from migrants and refugees exposes the full horror and plight of refugees and migrants in Libya, many of whom are driven to risk their lives in treacherous sea crossings in a desperate attempt to reach sanctuary in Europe.

    “The ghastly conditions for migrants, coupled with spiralling lawlessness and armed conflicts raging within the country, make clear just how dangerous life in Libya is today.  With no legal avenues to escape and seek safety, they are forced to place their lives in the hands of smugglers who callously extort, abuse and attack them,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    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.

    April 23, 2015

    The failure to extend Triton’s operational area will fatally undermine today’s commitment from several European nations to provide resources, ships and aircraft to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, said Amnesty International.

    “What we witnessed today in Brussels was a face-saving not a life-saving operation. All the words and resources being thrown at this problem suggest that EU leaders are being serious about saving lives at sea.  But the reality is they are still only meeting the problem halfway,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia

    “Unless they go the extra mile, migrants and refugees will continue to drown and Europe will have again failed shamefully – to deal with this tragedy on its doorstep. If Triton can’t be changed, then Triton is not the solution, however many resources one gives it.”

    The announcement of increased funding and assets towards existing European Union (EU) border control operations, including Operation Triton, came at the end of an emergency summit in Brussels on the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

    April 22, 2015

    On the eve of an emergency summit in Brussels, Amnesty International is publishing a Blueprint for Action calling on European governments to take immediate and effective steps to end an ongoing catastrophe that has left thousands of refugees and migrants dead.

    The briefing, Europe’s sinking shame: The failure to save refugees and migrants at sea, documents testimonies of shipwreck survivors. It details the challenges and limitations of current search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean and sets out ways in which this can be remedied. It calls for the immediate launch of a humanitarian operation to save lives at sea, with adequate ships, aircraft, and other resources, patrolling where lives are at risk.

    “European leaders gathering in Brussels have an historic opportunity to end a spiralling humanitarian tragedy of Titanic proportions," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    April 19, 2015

    The latest capsizing of a boat carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean – with hundreds of people feared dead – is a man-made tragedy that could well have been avoided, Amnesty International said.

    A boat able to carry hundreds of refugees and migrants – according to the Italian coast guard - capsized this morning off the Libyan coast. The boat had sent a request for help to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which requested a Portuguese merchant vessel to attend the call.

    So far, 28 people have been rescued and 24 bodies have been recovered, according to the coast guard. A rescue operation is currently ongoing with 17 ships involved as well as aircrafts.

    “What we are witnessing in the Mediterranean is a man-made tragedy of appalling proportions. These latest deaths at sea come as a shock, but not a surprise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    April 16, 2015

    Forcibly returning around 350,000 refugees to Somalia would be a violation of Kenya’s obligations under international law and put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk, Amnesty International said today.

    Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, is situated in the north east of Kenya. It is about 100 km from Garissa, where 147 people, including 142 students, were murdered at the university on 2 April in an attack for which the militant Islamist group, Al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility. The move to close the camps has been presented as a security measure in response to that attack.

    “The attack in Garissa underlined the need for the Kenyan government to better guarantee the security of its population. But this must not be done by putting at risk people Kenya is duty-bound to protect,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    April 15, 2015

    • As many as 900 feared dead so far this year, according to UN Refugee Agency

    • Almost 10,000 rescued since the weekend, according to Italian coastguard

    • European governments have failed to address the humanitarian crisis

    European governments’ ongoing negligence towards the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean has contributed to a more than 50-fold increase in migrant and refugee deaths since the beginning of 2015, Amnesty International said today amid fears that as many as 400 more have died amid rescue missions off the coast of Libya in recent days.

    The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said it was “deeply shocked” that this latest tragedy could bring the death toll to almost 900 people since 1 January 2015, compared to 17 during the same period in 2014. This is almost 53 times as many migrant and refugee deaths.  

    March 20, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Amnesty International is extremely concerned by the dangerous lack of accountability and transparency, as well as continued abuse allegations, at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

    The Australian government's failure to protect asylum seekers is laid bare in the Department of Immigration’s Moss Review, released today.

    Amnesty International visited the facility in 2012, but since then has written three times to the Nauruan Government requesting access. In response to the first letter, the organization was told the timing was not appropriate, while no response was received to the two later letters.

    “The extent of reported sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff against asylum seekers is shocking and suggests that existing protections are ineffective or virtually non-existent.”

    March 04, 2015

    The deaths of at least 10 more refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean expose how European governments are still failing to provide adequate resources for a coordinated search-and-rescue operation that would save countless lives, Amnesty International said today.

    “Merchant vessels and national coastguards have again responded valiantly to the immense and growing challenge of saving the lives of vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers off Europe’s southern shores,” said Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “But that’s far from enough in the face of this growing humanitarian crisis. Without a European search-and-rescue operation, the European Union’s approach looks increasingly haphazard and negligent.”

    February 19, 2015

    Today’s announcement by the European Commission on managing the migration crisis in the Mediterranean contains the right analysis of the overall situation, but offers no concrete solutions to protecting and saving lives, said Amnesty International.

    “We agree that a European solution to the search and rescue crisis is urgently needed, but that's not being offered here. Member states need to step up and chip in. Extending operation Triton without increasing its assets and operational area changes absolutely nothing,” said Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International European Institutions Office.

    During a press briefing in Brussels, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, acknowledged that the European Union (EU) needed to react more efficiently to the “ever starker” reality of the rising number of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

    February 16, 2015

    The European Union’s limited search and rescue resources contributed to the soaring death toll after four rubber dinghies carrying hundreds of migrants sent out an SOS in stormy weather in the southern Mediterranean last week, Amnesty International revealed today after a visit to Lampedusa.

    Following the tragedy that claimed more than 300 lives, an Amnesty International research team carried out interviews, in Rome and Lampedusa, with survivors, members of the Italian coastguard and local authorities.

    When the distress call came in on Sunday 8 February, the main vessel used in the pan-EU border management operation Triton was docked hundreds of kilometres away in Malta for maintenance. The large military vessels used in Italy’s now-defunct Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation were also out of use and docked even farther away in Sicily.

    February 12, 2015

    The Free Syrian Voices (www.free-syrian-voices.org) coalition today announced its “Hearts in Our Hands” Campaign to call for the release of peaceful Syrian activists held both by the Syrian government and armed groups. The coalition was formed to coordinate the efforts of six international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Frontline Defenders detained Syrian human rights defenders and activists.

    The campaign’s timing, over the Valentine’s Day weekend and through 17 February 2015, marks the 3rd anniversary, on 16 February, of the arrest and detention of Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), and two staff members, Hussein Gharir and Hani al-Zitani. They remain in Syrian government jails solely for their human rights work, along with hundreds of other human rights, media, legal and humanitarian workers detained since the peaceful protest movement in Syria started in 2011.

    February 11, 2015

    The European Union and its member states must hang their heads in shame following reports this morning that as many as 300 migrants are believed to have died in the high seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa, said Amnesty International.

    “This new tragedy realizes our worst fears about the end of Italy’s Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation and exposes the predictable consequences of the European Union’s failure to provide an adequate replacement,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The humanitarian crisis that sparked the need for Mare Nostrum has not gone away. With people continuing to flee war and persecution, EU member states must stop burying their heads in the sand whilst hundreds keep dying at sea.”

    February 10, 2015

    The guilty verdict against a Hong Kong employer for the extreme abuse she inflicted on two migrant domestic workers must act as a wake-up call for the authorities to stop the widespread exploitation of tens of thousands of women, said Amnesty International.

    Law Wan-tung was found guilty by the District Court in Hong Kong of multiple counts of abuse against Indonesians Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and Tutik Lestari Ningsih. She was found not guilty of two charges of abuse and threatening behaviour against another Indonesian woman, Nurhasanah.

    Law is due to be sentenced on 27 February and could face a lengthy prison term.

    “The guilty verdict is a damning indictment of the government’s failure to reform the system that traps women in a cycle of abuse and exploitation,” said Norma Kang Muico, Asia-Pacific Migrant Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The Hong Kong authorities can no longer bury their heads in the sand and dismiss horrific abuses as isolated incidents. Concrete action to end laws and regulations that foster such horrific abuse is long overdue.”

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