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The Syrian Refugee Crisis

    December 22, 2015

    Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a  busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    ‘Civilian objects were not damaged’: Russia’s statements on its attacks in Syria unmasked highlights the high price civilians have paid for suspected Russian attacks across the country. The report focuses on six out of more than 25 attacks reviewed by Amnesty International in which a total of at least 250 civilians and around a dozen fighters were killed. The briefing includes evidence suggesting that Russian authorities may have lied to cover up civilian damage to a mosque from one air strike and a field hospital in another. It also documents evidence suggesting Russia’s use of internationally banned cluster munitions and of unguided bombs in populated residential areas.

    December 15, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT Wednesday 16 December 2015

    The European Union (EU) is in danger of being complicit in serious human rights violations against refugees and asylum-seekers, said Amnesty International today, as it published damning evidence that the Turkish authorities have been unlawfully apprehending, detaining and pressuring refugees and asylum-seekers to return to warzones.  

    The report Europe’s Gatekeeper documents how, since September, in parallel with EU-Turkey migration talks, the Turkish authorities have rounded up and herded scores – possibly hundreds – of refugees and asylum-seekers onto buses and transported them more than 1,000 kilometres to isolated detention centres where they have been held incommunicado. Some report being shackled for days on end, beaten and forcibly transported back to the countries they had fled.

    December 15, 2015
    Opening our arms to refugees 

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    My heart burst when I saw the picture of the drowned body of 3 year old Alan Kurdi in his red shirt and blue pants, face downward in the sand on a Turkish beach. I won’t be able to forget that picture, ever.

    Today, I’m filled with a different kind of emotion. It’s joy, renewed hope, and a sense of pride as I watch Canadians open their arms to welcome refugees from Syria. Thank you. You played a part in turning human tragedy to joy.

    Since the start of the brutal civil war in Syria, Amnesty International has been sounding the alarm bell about the rapidly mounting Syrian refugee crisis, and the need for Canada to respond.

    With your help, Amnesty International sent researchers into the heart of the trouble spots in Syria, to document the gravity of the crisis, to call on neighbouring countries to protect fleeing refugees, and to move the world to bring resources, attention and understanding to help ease the frightening vulnerability of refugees.  

    December 11, 2015

    By Lorna Hayes and Khairunissa Dhala from Amnesty’s refugee and migrants’ rights team at Amnesty's International Secretariat

    Said and his partner Jamal – who is living with HIV – fled Syria after being tortured for their political activism. They are excited about starting a new life in the capital, Berlin, after being resettled there.

    “We were so happy that we cried,” says Jamal* about the moment he and his partner Said* found out that Germany had opened its doors to them.

    “It was a moment of victory,” Jamal continues. “We were shocked that we were accepted for resettlement so quickly, [after just] six months.”

    They were lucky – many other refugees who qualify for resettlement wait much longer for that all-important phone call to say they can settle down for good somewhere peaceful and safe.

    A new home in Berlin

    December 09, 2015

    Jordan must take immediate action to assist up to 12,000 refugees who have been denied entry to the country and are struggling to survive in desperate, freezing conditions in “no man’s land” on the Jordanian side of the border with Syria, said Amnesty International. Those stranded include pregnant women, young children, elderly people and people suffering from serious medical conditions.

    Testimony from Syrian refugees and international aid workers in Jordan collected during a recent research trip to the country, suggests that hundreds of refugees have been arriving on a daily basis in recent weeks but have been denied access to Jordan by the authorities. Analysis of satellite imagery also confirms that the number of refugees arriving at the border has increased in recent months.

    November 30, 2015

    “Reports of Turkey rounding up and detaining over a thousand refugees in the west of the country are alarming but not surprising.

    Ever since September, we have seen the Turkish authorities detaining scores of refugees, often completely incommunicado, and forcibly returning them to neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

    This is as illegal as it is unconscionable. In the wake of this weekend’s EU-Turkey migration talks, it’s a stain on the EU’s conscience too,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher.


    For more comment, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332

    November 24, 2015

    Amnesty International recognizes that the federal government will identify all 25,000 selected refugees by Dec. 31, 2015, but only 10,000 will arrive by year's end. Now the government is extending its deadline to bring 15,000 more Syrian refugees to Canada by two months, setting the end of February 2016 as its new target date.

    "We welcome the Canadian government’s resettlement goal to seek to identify the most vulnerable refugees, whatever religion, ethnic background, or gender,” said Gloria Nafziger, Refugee Campaigner.

    Amnesty International also welcomes the following procedures will be taken to ensure the health and well-being of refugees:

    November 24, 2015

    These four Kurdish Syrian family members are traveling on foot. This group of brothers and a slightly older uncle left the town of Amuda located in the Kurdish region of Syria 10 days ago. As ISIS fighting was closing in to only 30kms from Amuda, they decided to leave. After making their way to the Turkish border and meeting their smuggler contact, they each had to pay 350 USD to cross the Turkish border on foot, under the cover of night. They made their way to the coastal city of Izmir from which they embarked on an inflatable boat for a perilous 15 minutes journey to Mitilini, Greece. They all had to pay 1200 USD each for this part of the trip. Upon arrival in Greece, they registered as EU refugees and then took a ferry to the Greek mainland where they then travelled by bus to Serbia.


    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    November 24, 2015

    What is it like to be a refugee in Lebanon? The answer you'll get will be different depending on whether you speak to a women, girl, man, or boy. 

    Early marriage and street harassment are just a few of the serious issues uniquely faced by refugee women and girls in Lebanon. And because of legal restrictions imposed on Syrian refugees by the Lebanese government, many refugee women and girls feel unable to report threats, harassment, or violence to the police. Refugee women and girls living in Lebanon, especially those in women-led households, are at risk of experiencing human rights abuses.

    As part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, Amnesty International is sharing the stories of two refugee women living in Lebanon. 

    Learn more and take action today! 

    November 20, 2015

    New border control rules implemented almost simultaneously by the governments of Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia over the past 48 hours have resulted in large-scale renewed human rights violations, including collective expulsions and discrimination against individuals perceived to be economic migrants or refugees on the basis of their nationality, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has monitored how the new measures in place along this route since 18 November have denied many people access to asylum procedures and left thousands of people stranded in dire conditions at Greece’s border crossing with Macedonia.

    “This extremely worrying chain of events has yet again left thousands of people stranded in limbo, purely because of where they are from. At the very time when governments in the Balkans and Europe have vowed to work more closely together to improve safety and access to asylum on the Balkans route, the opposite is happening,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    November 16, 2015

    The European Union’s (EU) determination to seal off its external borders is fuelling a range of human rights abuses while doing nothing to halt the influx of desperate refugees, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    The report, Fear and Fences: Europe’s approach to keeping refugees at bay, reveals how moves to fence off land borders and enlist neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Morocco, as gatekeepers, have denied refugees access to asylum, exposed refugees and migrants to ill-treatment and pushed people towards life-threatening  sea journeys.

    “The expanding fences along Europe’s borders have succeeded only in entrenching rights violations and exacerbating the challenges of managing refugee flows in a humane and orderly manner,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    November 16, 2015

    By Gloria Nafziger, Refugee Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada 


    Late Friday bombs exploded in Paris. People out for an evening of friendship and entertainment were gunned down without warning. Horror, fear and terror followed. As the carnage abated, the identities of those thought to be responsible for the killings began to come to light. Several were thought to be citizens of Belguim. At least two others are believed to be French.

    But what got the most attention was the revelation that two of the attackers carried Syrian passports. It is believed that they may have recently entered Europe as a part of the massive flow of more than 700,000 refugees who have sought safety in Europe this past year.

    November 13, 2015

    The world’s wealthiest countries must end their shocking inaction and begin to lead a coordinated response to the spiralling global refugee crisis by proposing a concrete plan for resettling the 1.15 million most vulnerable refugees worldwide, and fully fund humanitarian needs, said Amnesty International today ahead of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.

    To date, G20 member states have committed to resettling approximately 140,000 refugees from Syria – far below what is required. Last year, G20 countries offered resettlement places to a tenth of the refugees who needed them.

    “World leaders have sat on the sidelines as a global refugee crisis of devastating proportions has unfolded before their eyes. Even worse, in some cases they have actively contributed to the misery by blocking refugees from seeking safety,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director for Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    November 10, 2015

    As European Union (EU) leaders and African heads of state prepare to meet in Malta on 11 and 12 November for a ‘Summit on Migration’, Amnesty International is issuing a stark warning to all leaders in attendance of the dangers posed by border and migration management agreements that fail to include human rights safeguards.

    At the Summit, EU and African leaders are expected to agree on a joint declaration ostensibly focusing on saving lives and the protection of refugees, development, and legal migration and mobility. So far, however, the response of the EU and its member states to the influx of refugees and migrants has focused on keeping people out, by preventing their arrival and facilitating their return, with no meaningful steps taken to increase mobility nor safe and legal routes for refugees. Little change is expected at the Valetta Summit, or the ensuing European Summit on 12 November.

    November 02, 2015

    By Ina Strøm from Amnesty Norway

    Resettlement is a lifeline open to some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees. A young family from Syria tells us what a huge difference moving to Norway has made in their lives.

    “The Norwegian authorities deliberately scheduled the call on Kahraman’s first birthday,” remembers Sherihan, a 29-year-old musician. “They said: ‘We have a gift for you. You can come to Norway!’. We didn’t know anything about Norway, but we were so happy.”

    In a bright apartment in a modest 1950s building in a quiet corner of Oslo, Norway, she and her husband are teasing each other. “This is how I see Norway,” says Hennan, an artist aged 31: “Children come first, then the woman, then the dog, and at last the man!” They both laugh.

    Blood-spattered pieces of bread

    The happy scene is a million miles away from what they left behinhd in Aleppo, Syria. “Those days were hard,” says Hennan. “I saw a man being shot by snipers on the way from the bakery.


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