By Kristin Hulaas Sunde
Now is the time to put pressure on Europe’s leaders to give refugees the welcome and support they’re entitled to. Here’s what Amnesty is asking for, and how you can help.
Right now, EU leaders are gearing up for emergency talks about how to deal with Europe’s refugee crisis. They are responding to a global groundswell of protests and outpouring of compassion after three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s little body was pictured so tragically on a Turkish beach.
So far this year, more than 350,000 people – mostly refugees – have tried to reach safety in Europe. Almost 2,800 have died. Others have been beaten, abused, forced to walk for days in the searing heat, and given little or no help – even a bottle of water – if they do make it to the EU. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
REFUGEES IN THE REGION
More than 4 million refugees from Syria (95%) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:
- Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country
- Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population
- Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide
- Iraq where 3 million people have been internally displaced in the last 18 months hosts 249,463 refugees from Syria
- Egypt hosts 132,375 refugees from Syria
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For centuries, the United States opened its arms to refugees whose lives had been torn apart by war, and those ruthlessly hounded because of who they are or what they believe in. But today, the people of Syria are suffering these hardships on an unimaginable scale, and we’re still waiting for US leadership on the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time.
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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
Since 2011, more than half of the Syrian population has been on the run, fleeing their homes to escape war crimes and human rights abuses by both the Assad regime and armed opposition groups such as the Islamic State.
But the more than 4 million Syrian refugees can no longer escape the threat from another source: the neglect of world leaders that is condemning them to a life of misery and danger. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Khaleda, 15, a refugee in Bangaldesh, 17 November 2008. Khaleda is one of 10 children, she was born a refugee. “I have spent my whole life in a camp,” she says. (c) UNHCR / S. Kritsanavarin
The specter of thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea off mainland Southeast Asia will loom over Friday’s Regional Summit on Irregular Migration in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. The roots of this crisis lie in Myanmar, where the Rohingya have faced institutionalized discrimination for decades.
In the past three years, tens of thousands of Rohingya have boarded ships to flee abroad, to escape persecution in Myanmar. However, the issues they face are not new.
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Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)
The lights are going out in Syria.
As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading. More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.
If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:
“Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it?
You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.
You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.
It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?
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(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
By Pratap Chatterjee, Executive director of CorpWatch and member of Amnesty International USA Board of Directors
Since the summer of 2013, there has been an unprecedented level of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the border into the United States. The number of apprehended children has already surpassed 66,000 from October 2013 through August 2014. This is more than twice as many children who were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol during the same period the year before. In response to this crisis, President Obama requested that Congress provide more than $2 billion in funding to control the surge of unaccompanied children at the border and the power to expedite deportations. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST