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Refugees and Migrants

    July 08, 2020

    By Mohammed Tofail is a Rohingya refugee living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Follow Mohammed on Twitter @MdTofaiL339

    Almost half a million Rohingya children do not have access to formal education inside the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. When the children of other parts of the world are able to study online during the pandemic, the situation is pushing our children further behind. The world should not leave us behind, caged in a camp like this.

    We are a scared community. Due to the spread of rumors about COVID-19 through word of mouth, people are now more scared about reporting illness and receiving treatment.

    The internet blackout is keeping us in the dark about information related to COVID-19. Bangladesh has been so kind to us. Letting our people suffer in a pandemic by limiting access to essential information is against the country’s humanitarian goodwill. 

    July 08, 2020

    By Ro Mehrooz, a Rohingya refugee living in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Follow Ro in Twitter @romehrooz

    Human rights are incomparable and cannot be prioritized. Nothing is as important as health and starvation can lead to death. Our younger generation is already being exploited into trafficking, drugs and unwanted activities without access to education.

    For now, we can prioritize issues that are urgent. As COVID-19 is devastating countries around the world, it is no surprise that the virus has reached the refugee camps. We need proper healthcare management and food supply to stay alive. These are issues that can affect our people sooner than others.

    There should be widespread testing in the camp to tackle the spread of COVID-19. This will only be possible when people are assured about their well-being and not frightened by coercive quarantine and stigmatisation about their illness. Information should be accessible and transparent.

    July 08, 2020

    By Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner, Amnesty International. Follow Saad on Twitter @saadhammadi

    Rahima Khatun*, a Rohingya woman, was dragged by the authorities to an isolation facility soon after someone with the same name as hers tested positive for COVID-19 in one of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Rahima said to caregivers that she had never given a swab in her life, but to no avail. The healthcare facility, where she was brought for isolation, carried out a test on her as she protested.

    She had to be in an isolation facility for two days. Once she tested negative the healthcare facility let her go back to her shelter in the camp. Her traumatic experience scared others in the camp. Now people are afraid of testing.

    June 10, 2020

    Responding to news of a Rohingya boat intercepted off the coast of Langkawi and the subsequent detention of the 269 refugees on board, Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said: 

    “Allowing the Rohingya to disembark was a humane step in upholding their human rights. Boats carrying people in distress must always be allowed to land safely. They must not be pushed away, threatened or intimidated. 

    “It is terrible that a woman’s body was found on board – it’s clear this boat was adrift and failing to find a safe shore until then. For one person, this rescue came too late.

    “Authorities must also respect the refugees’ right to health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Malaysian government has been detaining migrants and refugees in immigration detention centres that have seen outbreaks of COVID-19. We are concerned that this latest group of refugees will also be moved to these centres, placing them at a high risk of contracting the virus and keeping the pandemic alive.

    May 22, 2020

    Updated May 22, 2020

    Shocking footage of Rohingya women, men and children being rescued off rickety boats after dangerous sea voyages is still being broadcast around the world.

    According to reports, more boats – carrying hundreds more Rohingya people – are still stranded at sea and in urgent need of rescue. These vessels have nowhere to land, as countries ignore international obligations to allow safe disembarkation, using COVID-19 restrictions as a pretext.

    These policies raise the risk of repeating the dangerous mistakes of 2015, when the break-up of trafficking networks left thousands of Rohingya stranded in Southeast Asian waters, with likely hundreds losing their lives.

    Here, Amnesty International explains why the Rohingya are still risking everything to flee crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh and apartheid conditions in Myanmar.

    We also explain how countries in the region can help, and why the Rohingya shouldn’t be sent back to Myanmar.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    May 14, 2020

    The inhumane treatment of refugees and migrants threatens to stall progress on tackling COVID-19, Amnesty International said today, warning that overcrowded camps and detention centres will become new epicentres unless urgent action is taken. The organization said that lockdowns and movement restrictions have exacerbated dire living conditions, leaving millions of people at risk of starvation and illness.

    The organization is calling for concerted global action to ensure hundreds of thousands of people on the move are provided with adequate access to food, water, sanitation and healthcare to ensure their survival as countries prepare to come out of lockdown.

    “It is impossible to properly contain this virus when so many people worldwide are living in desperately overcrowded, unsanitary camps and detention centres. At a time when we need compassion and cooperation more than ever some governments have instead doubled down on discrimination and abuse – preventing deliveries of food and water, locking people up, or sending them back to war and persecution,” said Iain Byrne, Head of Amnesty International’s Refugee and Migrant Rights team.

    May 13, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    K1A 0A2

     

    13 May 2020

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

    Re: Demonstrating Global Leadership on Refugees and Migrants in light of COVID-19

    We write this Open Letter to you, amidst the unprecedented challenges governments everywhere face in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, to express our firm conviction that Canada can, and must, provide much needed global leadership when it comes to providing meaningful human rights protection for migrants and refugees around the world. We write as Canadians, permanent residents and refugees living in Canada who have had opportunities to serve in roles or positions internationally in which we have engaged substantially in concerns about refugee protection globally. We have witnessed and appreciated the value of Canadian leadership in the past and stress how urgently needed it is at this time.

    April 27, 2020

    Amnesty International is disappointed in Canada’s decision to renew a measure banning refugee claimants from crossing into Canada from the US. Some claimants seeking to enter Canada have already been turned back to an uncertain fate in the US, potentially in violation of Canada’s international legal obligations under the Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture.

    The federal government has introduced some positive exceptions to the general ban it introduced last month. People crossing at land ports of entry who were exempt under the Safe Third Country Agreement will now be permitted to make their claims in Canada, as will US citizens, stateless persons and minors regardless of how they arrive. However, Amnesty International maintains that the measure puts some refugee claimants in danger and is out of step with public health measures.

    April 23, 2020

    Amnesty International sent an open letter today to the Undersecretary of Prevention and the Promotion of Health, Dr Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, the maximum authority on the response to COVID-19 in the country, to express its concerns about the lack of protection of the health of migrants and people in need of international protection in Mexico.

    “Dr. Lopez-Gatell has been very clear that the best way to protect oneself from contracting COVID-19 is through social distancing; likewise, the Ministry of the Interior has publicly stated that the migrant population is among the most vulnerable. However, the lack of a strong response from the National Migration Institute to protect the lives and health of people in migration detention is extremely alarming," said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    April 21, 2020

    Responding to plans announced by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States”, Joanne Lin, the national advocacy director of Amnesty International USA, said:

    “While the scope of Trump’s new proposed policy is unclear, the message it sends is: the President is manipulating a pandemic to further the bigotry and xenophobia that have been hallmarks of his presidency from day one.

    "We are one country and there is no way we could address the spread of COVID-19 without the unending efforts of immigrants providing healthcare and home aid, staffing grocery stores, and producing food, whose work has been deemed essential while they are simultaneously struggling to access to care, support, and services.

    April 20, 2020

    Nazik Kabalo is the founder of the Sudanese Women Human Rights Project. She fled to Egypt in 2011 after being detained for her human rights work. There she continued to face harassment and threats for her activism, and faced years of limbo as she sought refugee resettlement in the US. During Write for Rights 2018, Amnesty activists from around the world spoke out for her safety. Nazik was finally resettled to Canada recently. Here is her story. 

    Being a refugee is, for me, a matter of personal identity. Being a refugee is a statement of my struggle and the struggle of millions of other people around the world forced to leave their homes. Being a refugee is a reminder of the different global crises that drove us from our homes—conflicts, poverty, inequality, injustice, climate change, or sexual violence.

    April 07, 2020

    The Trump administration is failing to protect people in immigration detention during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Amnesty International said today in a new report, ‘We are adrift, about to sink’: The looming COVID-19 disaster in US immigration detention facilities. 

    The United States has the largest immigration detention system in the world, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holding nearly 40,000 people in over 200 centers across the country. Detainees at several ICE detention facilities have launched hunger strikes to demand their freedom and protest against dangerous and inadequate hygiene and sanitation conditions.

    “Today, the health and safety of every one of us is bound together. The United States has confirmed more cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world, yet ICE continues to fail to adopt effective measures to prevent the pandemic in immigration centers across the country, putting everyone’s safety in peril,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    April 06, 2020
    Older refugees are both the most at risk from the pandemic and the least included in the humanitarian response Dangerous lack of access to even basic information Mistakes made during general humanitarian response efforts for Rohingya refugees are being repeated

    Older Rohingya refugees in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh are being left behind in the humanitarian response to COVID-19, which could have devastating consequences given the high risks older people everywhere face from this deadly pandemic, Amnesty International said today.

    April 02, 2020

    Authorities in a number of countries across the Americas, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, Curaçao, and Trinidad and Tobago, among others, are detaining migrants and asylum seekers in a dangerous and discriminatory manner based solely on their migration status, Amnesty International said today. In doing so, they are pushing people into unhygienic and unsafe environments, contrary to international human rights and public health guidelines.

    “Migration status is irrelevant to every human being’s dignity and their right to live. Instead of putting people’s health at increased risk, governments should be doing everything in their power to protect them,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “In order to effectively combat COVID-19 in the Americas and avert thousands of preventable deaths, states should swiftly release people from immigration detention, only detain migrants in extraordinary cases and ensure their access to lifesaving healthcare without discrimination.”

    CANADA

    April 02, 2020

    April 2, 2020 – In the lead up to Refugee Rights Day, refugee, human rights, legal and civil liberties organizations are renewing their call for the Government of Canada to reopen the Canada-US border to refugee claims. Effective March 21, 2020, an Order-In-Council prohibits refugee claimants arriving from the United States to enter Canada for the purposes of refugee protection.

    The Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, Amnesty International, and BC Civil Liberties Association jointly call on the government to reconsider its closure of the Canada-US border to refugees. This closure violates international law. With Refugee Rights Day being marked across Canada on April 4, these organizations are calling attention to the grave threat to refugee rights with the prohibition on refugee arrivals at the land border.

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