More than 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011, with more than 600,000 crossing into neighboring countries (Photo Credit: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images).
By Cilina Nasser, Syria Researcher at Amnesty International
“I’m not thinking about the future…I’m thinking about what we have left behind. I did not say a proper goodbye to my father and did not even bury him. I don’t know who did and where.”
Ahmed’s desperate reflection gives a small sense of the fear and upheaval that have gripped him and his young family for more than a year now. Syria’s ongoing armed conflict has forced them to move again and again in search of somewhere they can be safe and meet their basic needs.
In Egypt, many Syrian refugees face growing anti-Syrian sentiment among the populace and open hostility from Egyptian armed forces. Hundreds have been detained, and at least 66 have been deported back to Syria where they face arrest, violating international law.
Given the rapidly shifting geopolitical landscape, it is difficult to know for sure what President Obama will say in a few short hours. Indeed, it’s likely that White House advisers are themselves still editing the President’s script as you read this.
Congress is debating whether to authorize the President to use force in response to allegations that Syria used chemical weapons against opponents of the government.
Although Amnesty International has not taken – and is not likely to take – a position on the appropriateness of armed intervention, we believe the debate in Congress is inadequate, as it does not address many of the pressing issues of the Syrian crisis.
By Maha Abu Shama, Syria Campaigner at Amnesty International
“We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.
Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls.
“I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in the Jordanian capital of Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.
An ‘Israeli only’ by-pass road that links Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sitting below an Israeli settlement outside of Jerusalem (Photo Credit: Edith Garwood).
ALL Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.
Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory amounts to a war crime.
This needs to be clearly said now, without ambiguity. The United States government, as sponsor of the current ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians, must uphold rule of law and human rights. Despite the fact that the U.S. has historically taken the same position as the international community that Israeli settlements within the OPT are illegal, they have chosen to prevaricate in recent years, using words like ‘unhelpful’ or ‘illegitimate’ to describe settlement building by Israel.
Roger Plant joined Amnesty International in 1972 to cover the organization’s work on Latin America. A few months after Pinochet took power by force, he went to Chile to document the arbitrary detentions, torture and disappearances. The result was a groundbreaking report that helped shine a light on the reality of life in the Latin-American country.
As a young researcher, Roger Plant had only been working for Amnesty International for less than a year when Augusto Pinochet launched his coup d’état in 1973. With his feet barely under the desk, it was a baptism of fire – a seminal moment that would eventually define his career.
A child looks on next to a woman at a Syrian refugee camp 5 km from Diyarbakir after a snowfall. This past winter, refugees faced further misery due to increasing shortages of supplies, low temperatures and snowfall (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images).
On a recent visit to a camp near Atmeh, just inside Syria near the Turkish border, some 21,000 people were sheltering amid hellish conditions.
Heavy rain leaked into the tents and had turned the clay soil into thick slippery mud; raw sewage flowed between the tents. There wasn’t enough food and little medical aid.
A Syrian family walk amid tents at the Za’atari refugee camp (Photo Credit: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images).
By Neil Sammonds, Syria Researcher at Amnesty International
Seven-and-a-half miles south of the border with Syria lies the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan. Over 130,000 refugees, who have fled the conflict in Syria, live here in a 4.3 mile-wide stretch on this otherwise lifeless desert plain, in a mix of makeshift emergency tents and mobile homes or “caravans.”
In the blinding sunlight, a young woman wearing a black abaya squeezes herself and a baby into a half-meter strip of shade beside a white wall. Dust clouds, kicked up by the wind or passing lorries, sweep across the barren landscape.
Most of the refugees have brought little more than what they could carry and the memories of the oppression and armed conflict in Syria. Some show us the battered and broken shoes and sandals in which they made the arduous trek to Jordan.