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The Syrian Refugee Crisis

    October 24, 2015

    Leaders from states along the main refugee route through the Balkans and Central Europe cannot walk out of yet another meeting in Brussels on Sunday without a workable plan of action that protects refugees’ needs and rights, Amnesty International said today.

    Night-time temperatures in the Balkans are now in single digits and a humanitarian crisis looms as many thousands of refugees camp out in the cold each night as they pass through Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria, most of them in the hope of eventually reaching Germany.

    “As winter looms, the sight of thousands of refugees sleeping rough as they make their way through Europe represents a damning indictment of the European Union’s failure to offer a forward thinking and coordinated response to the refugee crisis,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “When Amnesty International researchers visited Brežice, a town near the Slovenian border with Croatia, on Thursday night, some 2,000 refugees camped out in the open as the temperature plunged to around five degrees Celsius.”

    October 19, 2015

    Croatian and Slovenian authorities must urgently come up with effective solutions as hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers who were stranded overnight between the two countries’ border checkpoints are soon to be joined by thousands more, Amnesty International urged today.

    An Amnesty International research team on the scene interviewed multiple refugees who described how Croatian police had ushered around 1,800 people on a 12km trudge from Čakovec train station to the border crossing at Trnovec at around 2:30am, after Slovenian authorities had blocked the train from entering Slovenia.

    Hundreds of children including babies as young as a month old were among the group, who walked or were carried in the rain. They reached the border crossing around two hours later, only to find it blocked by a fence and Slovenian police. Croatian police promptly erected a temporary fence behind the group, effectively trapping them between the two countries with no shelter or humanitarian assistance.

    October 16, 2015

    Released  00:01 GMT on Saturday 17 October 2015

    European leaders’ desperate attempts to enlist Turkey as Europe’s gatekeeper are ignoring the manifest failures of the Turkish authorities to respect the rights of refugees and migrants, said Amnesty International today ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Istanbul tomorrow.

    Talks between Angela Merkel and her Turkish counterparts – Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – on Sunday are set to cover the refugee crisis among other issues.

    “Talks between the EU and Turkey on ‘migration management’ risk putting the rights of refugees a distant second behind border control measures designed to prevent refugees from reaching the EU,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

    October 12, 2015

     Released 00:01 BST Tuesday 13 October 2015

    A fact-finding mission to northern Syria has uncovered a wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the Autonomous Administration led by the Syrian Kurdish political party Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD) controlling the area, said Amnesty International in a report published today. The Autonomous Administration is a key ally, on the ground, of the US-led coalition fighting against the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

    ‘We had nowhere else to go’: Forced displacement and demolitions in northern Syria reveals evidence of alarming abuses, including eyewitness accounts and satellite images, detailing the deliberate displacement of thousands of civilians and the razing of entire villages in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration, often in retaliation for residents’ perceived sympathies with, or ties to, members of IS or other armed groups.

    October 11, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT on 12 October 2015

    Eight-point plan to respond to global refugee crisis

    •Only a tenth of 1.15 million most vulnerable refugees being resettled
    • 86% of refugees now hosted in developing countries
    • UN refugee appeals chronically and severely underfunded

    The catastrophic moral failure of world leaders who dither and squabble among themselves while callously leaving millions of people to suffer in disastrous humanitarian conditions will define their legacy for generations to come, said Amnesty International today as it released an eight-point plan to tackle the multiple global refugee crises.

    Horrific violence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and multiple conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere have brought the global refugee population to historic highs. Meanwhile Southeast Asia’s “sailing season” is again getting under way, with many more refugees likely to join the thousands of Rohingya who have fled persecution in Myanmar, only to fall prey to trafficking and other abuses.

    September 24, 2015

    There is nothing game-changing in what EU leaders agreed to early this morning said Amnesty International today following the EU leaders’ summit on migration.

    “What was needed was a bold, ambitious new approach. But what we got was the continuation of a failed strategy,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe.

    “The proposed €1 billion for refugee hosting countries is positive but beyond this, the commitments disappoint. EU leaders should have been agreeing on how to ensure safe and legal routes for refugees into Europe and fixing Europe’s failing asylum system.”

    “Instead, the focus of the proposals on keeping refugees out ignores the realities of a global refugee crisis and states’ obligations to provide protection to those unable to find it elsewhere.

    “The relocation figures agreed on Tuesday won’t significantly relieve the pressure on frontline states and without much more concrete and immediate assistance to these countries, the chaotic tragic scenes we have witnessed in recent weeks, will only continue and likely worsen. 

    September 21, 2015

    Instead of sealing borders and deploying riot police, frontline European Union (EU) countries must allow safe access for people in need of international protection, Amnesty International said ahead of another round of high-level meetings in Brussels on the refugee crisis, amid a series of worrying border confrontations in Central Europe.

    During the meetings in Brussels on 22 and 23 September, EU member states are expected to focus on the relocation of asylum-seekers throughout the EU, among other items.

    “Failure is not an option. EU leaders must reach agreement on an organized and compassionate response to the arrivals of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.  

    “Some solutions are on the table, what is missing is the political will and leadership to see them through. EU leaders have to show leadership and face the crisis head on; not build more barriers and carry on quibbling over quotas.”

    September 21, 2015

    By Gloria Nafziger, Amnesty Canada's Refugee Coordinator.

    The recent announcement to bring 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Canada by September 2016 has the appearance of being a step in the right direction. Without a doubt, in the face of the most urgent refugee crisis in the past 40 years anything that can be done to expedite the resettlement of vulnerable refugees is a step in the right direction. 

    But it is a very small and disappointing step forward.

    September 18, 2015

    New satellite images obtained by Amnesty International give a chilling new perspective on Hungary's frenzied efforts to repel refugees and asylum-seekers this week.

    The organization said they serve as a warning to Croatia, Slovenia and other countries currently considering closing their borders to thousands of people seeking protection.

    “The shocking scenes from the ground this week at the Horgoš-Röszke border crossing have shown the human toll of Hungary's irresponsible actions. These images give a deeper sense of the speed and scale of Hungary’s operation to seal its borders, which culminated in a dire situation for refugees and asylum-seekers left in limbo,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director.

    One pair of images from 13 and 15 September starkly illustrate how sealing the border crossing near Horgoš in Serbia and Röszke in Hungary on 15 September quickly resulted in a bottleneck of trapped people seeking entry to Hungary and the European Union.

    September 16, 2015

    At least nine people including at least four children separated from their families by Hungarian police during the breach of a border fence in Röszke must be immediately released and reunited with their families, said Amnesty International today. Their exact whereabouts is unknown but they are thought to have been taken to a nearby border control building.

    September 16, 2015

    More than 1,000 people, including many families fleeing conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, remain stuck in abysmal and rapidly deteriorating conditions along a Serbian motorway after Hungarian authorities closed the border crossing yesterday, Amnesty International said today from Horgoš on the Serbian side.

    Humanitarian organizations, including the UN Refugee Agency, have been virtually absent so far and the Serbian authorities’ only response has been to send a handful of police to the border area. Hundreds of refugees are sleeping rough on a closed motorway, with only ad hoc aid from volunteers and severely restricted access to food, running water or toilets.

    September 13, 2015

    Brussels: Released  00.01 GMT 14 September 2015

    As European Union (EU) Home Affairs ministers meet in Brussels to discuss an EU response to the global refugee crisis, Amnesty International is demanding an overhaul of the EU’s asylum system to ensure safe passage to the EU for people in need of protection and to end the suffering of those who do eventually make it to the Union. Ministers will discuss a raft of proposals released by the European Commission on 9 September, which dangerously miss the mark when it comes to protecting vulnerable people at the borders and within the EU and to solving the humanitarian crisis.

    “Once again European political representatives are taking centre stage talking about the need to address the refugee crisis. But the real European crisis is one of leadership and Europe´s failure to radically reform its collapsing asylum system, with dire consequences for vulnerable people who need safety and sanctuary. There has been enough talk. Now is time for real action. The world is watching.” said Iverna McGowan, Acting Director of Amnesty International´s European Institutions Office.

    September 08, 2015

    By Barbora Cernušáková, Hungary Researcher at Amnesty International, Bicske, Hungary. Follow Barbora on Twietter @BCernusakova.

    His brother just looked at him. The Pakistani man in his fifties lay lifeless beside a train track a few hundred metres from Bicske train station. It is unclear how he died, but he was trying to find a better life in Europe.

    Both men were part of a larger group running away from a train that had been halted since yesterday in the Hungarian train station. Many other refugees and migrants are still refusing to leave the train because they don’t want to go to Hungarian reception centres.


    "This week, at the main Keleti station in Budapest and in Bicske, I witnessed a new low in the cruelty of the treatment of refugees in Hungary".

    - Barbora Cernuscova, Hungary Researcher at Amnesty International

    After being barred from boarding trains for days, yesterday morning, the police at Keleti suddenly lifted the barriers.

    September 04, 2013

    By Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty's International Secretariat in London, England

    As the humanitarian and human rights crisis caused by Syria’s internal armed conflict shows no signs of abating, two important announcements made this week help us to take stock of the enormity of the suffering of those fleeing the fighting, and what can be done to help.

    In the space of 24 hours, the UN announced that the number of refugees from Syria had officially surpassed 2 million and Sweden’s Migration Board stated it would grant permanent residency status to persons from Syria seeking asylum on Swedish territory.

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty



    Canada’s commitment to resettling refugees has been modest and processing rates painfully slow. Remind the Prime Minister and all party leaders that Canadians welcome refugees.


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