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

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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

IDAHOT 2016: LGBT Human Rights Around The World

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IDAHOT

Today, May 17, Amnesty International celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This IDAHOT, Amnesty International condemns the ongoing discrimination, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Trapped in Europe’s New Refugee Camp: Greece

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Refugees - Lesvos / Athens - March 2016

Among the olive groves on some of Greece’s beautiful islands there are barbed wire fences.

At least 6,000 asylum-seekers have been locked up here since a new European Union (EU) plan kicked in on 20 March. Some have already been deported back to Turkey, while many more anxiously await the same fate.

But they aren’t the only ones trapped in Greece. Another 46,000 people are stuck in often filthy, overcrowded sites across the mainland. They’re in limbo because they arrived after Greece’s northern border was shut in early March, and before the EU-Turkey deportation deal came into force. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Beaten up for Being in Love

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Costas and his refugee partner were brutally beaten during a homophobic and racist attack on 23 August 2014. The couple were sitting on a bench in a square in central Athens when a group of 12-15 young men wearing black shirts violently attacked them. Costas says that the men threw a bucket of filthy water on them, and then punched and kicked him for more than 10 minutes. The attackers then overturned a trash bin over Costas' head, and broke his leg in three places above the ankle, leaving him in need of surgery and months of recovery. No perpetrators have been punished, and no suspects have been identified.Costas and his refugee partner were brutally beaten during a homophobic and racist attack on 23 August 2014. The couple were sitting on a bench in a square in central Athens when a group of 12-15 young men wearing black shirts violently attacked them. Costas says that the men threw a bucket of filthy water on them, and then punched and kicked him for more than 10 minutes. The attackers then overturned a trash bin over Costas' head, and broke his leg in three places above the ankle, leaving him in need of surgery and months of recovery. No perpetrators have been punished, and no suspects have been identified.

By Costas

In August 2014, Costas and his partner were badly beaten up by thugs in a violent homophobic and racist attack in central Athens.

We had met a couple of months previously at Athens Pride, and we had decided to move in together. We lived in a small studio in central Athens. One day in late August, we went to buy some things from the shop, and I suggested spending some time outside instead of going back home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Time to End the Refugee Shame

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RefugeesWelcome

By Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International

A solemn moment of silence. The world over, this is the traditional response when lives are cut short by tragedy.

It has also been a common response to tragedies in Europe and off its shores which have ended the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants. Not killed by bombs in Syria, but killed while making terrifying journeys in search of safety and better lives in Europe.

But the scale and rapid succession of these tragedies calls for breaking the silence.

In the space of a week, along with people across the world, I recoiled in horror as four new tragedies added to a growing list of events that have already brought a record number of refugees and migrants to untimely deaths this year. According to UNHCR, 2,500 have already perished en route to Europe since 1 January 2015. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Chilling Reminders of Syria for Refugees Trapped on Macedonia’s Border

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Refugees and migrants cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near the village of Idomeni, Greece, 24 August 2015.

By Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director of Amnesty International Greece

The view was staggering upon my arrival in the village of Idomeni, near Greece’s border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia).

Up to 4,000 refugees, many of them from Syria including many families with children, were trapped after Macedonia’s government designated the southern border just outside the town of Gevgelija a “crisis area”, closing the border crossing and bringing in military backup. The refugees were all trying to pass through Macedonia on their way to northern European countries. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 brave ways activists are fighting for LGBT rights worldwide

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 Around the world, people face violent attacks and threats simply because of who they are or whom they have sex with. But some brave activists are still standing up for their rights. To mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17, we celebrate the courageous activism of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Freedom Flotilla, Civil Disobedience and Government Collusion

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Greece has offered to deliver any humanitarian aid contained on Freedom Flotilla boats to Gaza through “existing channels”.  Israel as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have accepted this idea – except one thing – Greece’s offer misses the point.

In addition to the continuing humanitarian concerns, even after Israel’s ‘easing’ of restrictions and the recent ‘opening’ of the Rafah crossing by Egypt, there is the blockade itself.

Although this video was produced one year after operation ‘Cast Lead’ ended, former AI researcher, Francesca Burke, speaks about the difficulties in getting in materials to rebuild and recover from the devastation of the military conflict as well as the blockade which still holds true and relevant today.

Even if all the humanitarian needs of the population were relieved, the Israeli-imposed Gaza blockade would still violate the Gazans’ basic human rights.

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