Why I Decide to Say “I Welcome” to Refugees

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By Kit O’Connor, AIUSA Legislative Coordinator for Vermont

“I Welcome.” Think about that phrase for a second. It’s really the perfect thing to ponder this holiday season. How do we welcome? Who? Why? And who isn’t welcomed? Why? “I Welcome” refers to the global campaign from Amnesty International that focuses on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Now, more than ever, this campaign is crucial in the United States.

Stories about an increase in hate crime, the possible reintroduction of torture or the creation of a Muslim registry have my head spinning. One solution? Well-conceived, intentional action. Right now, while there are many people and organizations motivating and calling people to action, there are many Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) members taking action with our Legislative Coordinators (LCs) in individual states. I’m an LC in Vermont and, like my colleagues, I’m busy saying “I Welcome.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Six Trump Proposals That Must Never Become Policy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa © Matt A.J.

 By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA

In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.

Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

When Fear Stopped me from Fighting Xenophobia

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes. Education for refugee children is a pressing global issue that needs long-term solutions. United Nations conventions have fallen short of meeting the needs of displaced populations, even the most vulnerable ones. AP/Hussein Malla, File

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes.  AP/Hussein Malla, File

By Allyson Fritz, member of the Amnesty International’s East Bay chapter

Since the moment I handed over the keys of my Toyota Celica to its new owner, I’ve replayed the conversation I had with the buyer over and over in my head. He had responded to my Craigslist ad and we met to negotiate the price. During our small talk he took me completely by surprise when he revealed some of his views on immigration. This included his belief that “Mexicans only come to the U.S. to take advantage of our welfare system.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What happens to deported Central Americans?

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Amnesty International’s new report, Home Sweet Home? Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador’s Role in a Deepening Refugee Crisis, documents the incredible levels of violence and impunity that are driving tens of thousands of people from these countries (known as the Northern Triangle of Central America) to flee their homes and seek asylum in the United States and Mexico.

It also investigates what happens to those Central Americans who are sent back to their countries of origin—often without receiving a fair hearing regarding the threats to their lives. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find this information: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Australian Refugee Processing Centers Aren’t ‘Border Control’ — They’re Torture

 

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In the last few months, the tiny pacific island nation of Nauru has exploded back onto the international news circuit. This time, it isn’t for the lucrative strip mining of fossilized bird droppings, it’s news of the Australian Government using the island as a detention center for intercepted refugees and asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia and New Zealand by boat. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

‘Time for Change’ on Refugees

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes. Education for refugee children is a pressing global issue that needs long-term solutions. United Nations conventions have fallen short of meeting the needs of displaced populations, even the most vulnerable ones. AP/Hussein Malla, File

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes. Education for refugee children is a pressing global issue that needs long-term solutions. United Nations conventions have fallen short of meeting the needs of displaced populations, even the most vulnerable ones. AP/Hussein Malla, File

The world faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. On the 65th anniversary of the United Nations refugee convention being adopted, there are now 65 million displaced people globally, the highest number since World War II. Around one-third of that number are refugees; at least half of those are children. Yet the only attempt to find an international solution to this most urgent of problems is now being gutted and delayed.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

It’s time to make basic protections for women refugees a priority!

© UNHCR/A.McConnell

© UNHCR/A.McConnell

By Nicole van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist 

Can you imagine not eating or drinking to avoid being watched by men as you shower or use the bathroom? Or being too frightened to sleep because of unwanted advances from single men sleeping in the same crowded spaces at night? These are some of the daily realities faced by many refugee women as they travel alone or with young children in tow as they try to reach places of safety for themselves and their families. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Former Refugee Who Rescued His Own Family on a Greek beach

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The relief is visible as Ghias Aljundi (left, in yellow) welcomes his family after 18 years apart in Lesvos, Greece, December 2015. © Private

On World Refugee Day, we talk to Ghias Aljundi, who fled to the UK from Syria 18 years ago. He is one of thousands volunteering to help refugees arriving in Greece since last year. But he’d never expected that one day he’d rescue his own family from a rubber boat. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Refugee Women on Greek Islands in Constant Fear

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

By Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Amnesty International

LESVOS, Greece – Shirin, an Afghan journalist, was once shot at by the Taliban. After fleeing near-fatal attacks in her country in the hope of finding safety in Europe, she now lives in constant fear in a transit refugee camp in Greece. She is, in fact, just one of many women who have fled harm and persecution, only to face new fears of sexual harassment and violence in the camps on the Greek islands.

“We are treated like animals. I’d rather be shot again than endure these conditions,” Shirin, not her real name, told Amnesty International at the Kara Tepe camp on the island of Lesvos.

It was 18 months ago that the Taliban shot at Shirin’s car. Initially, she fled to Kabul, where she found another journalism job, this time behind the camera. “It’s very dangerous for a woman journalist in Afghanistan,” she said. She continued to receive threats over the phone, and eventually it became too much. She left Afghanistan for Europe. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Here’s Why Blocking Refugees from the Eastern Corridor is Irresponsible

GREECE: Refugees stranded at the mercy of European leaders

By Baylen Campbell and Katie Bellamy Mitchell, Identity and Discrimination Unit Interns

Despite the fact that the global community is facing the worst refugee crisis since WWII, the European Union (EU) has undertaken aggressive efforts to divert or even block some of the safest pathways. Over 19.5 million people–of the over 60 million displaced people globally– have so far been recognized as refugees, meaning they are people fleeing their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution from which the government cannot or will not protect them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST