Time to End the Refugee Shame

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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

A Conspiracy of Neglect: How the World is Failing Syrian Refugees

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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

Why are the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar?

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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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Four Years into the Syrian Conflict

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Photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images)

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

Untold Stories of Syria’s Most Vulnerable Refugees

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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

How Did the State of the Union Stack Up On Human Rights?

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Obama Travels To Connecticut To Advocate Passing Of Stricter Gun Laws

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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Child migrants need protection, not prison

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(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(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

Moving On From the Mountain: The Continuing Crisis in Northern Iraq

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Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

While extensive media attention has been paid to the plight of those who were under siege on Sinjar Mountain, the broader crisis in north-western Iraq continues.

Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Advisor is currently on the ground, collecting and sharing eyewitness accounts of the crisis. In many ways, the plight of those who were stranded on Sinjar helped focus international attention to the broader crisis.

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What You Need to Know About the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis

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Salvadorian immigrant Stefany Marjorie, 8, holds her doll Rodrigo while going home on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Salvadorian immigrant Stefany Marjorie, 8, holds her doll Rodrigo in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis (Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Amnesty International welcomes the positive step of President Obama’s recent meeting with his counterparts from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala regarding the increasing number of children fleeing violence in those countries – with or without their parents.

It is extremely troubling, however, that President Obama continues to assert that his government will return the overwhelming majority of these children to the extreme violence that has driven them to make the dangerous journey to the United States. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why are Children Dying While Migrating to the United States?

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A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, in 2011. (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration in 2011 at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images).

President Obama has responded to the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican border with a $1 million ad campaign aimed at Central Americans.

The U.S. government wants to send two main messages – the journey to the U.S. is extremely dangerous, and those caught, including children, will be deported.

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