Refugees and Migrants

Amnesty International is part of 'Europe Act Now, #HelpSyriasRefugees', a Europe-wide coalition campaign calling on Europe to act now to support refugees from Syria. As part of the campaign, we are calling on governments across Europe and European Union institutions to:

  • protect refugees arriving at Europe's borders, stop pushing them back into danger
  • reunite families torn apart by the crisis
  • give more refugees a safe way into Europe.

Please use your voice by getting involved in the campaign. For further information and to take action visit:

www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu



In recent years, European countries have stepped up border control measures in an attempt to prevent migrants and asylum-seekers from reaching Europe. Some of these measures have resulted in or contributed to serious human rights violations.

European countries have forced people back to countries where the risk of human rights abuses, including torture and arbitrary detention, was already well known.

Take Action

See our latest statement on EU’s failure to protect migrants at risk

European countries and the European Union should not engage in border management practices that put migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees at risk. Agreements and operations need to be reviewed and their human rights impact assessed. Join our call for transparency and accountability. Send your S.O.S. to Europe! The petition will be addressed to the President of the European Parliament in March 2013.

Read our letter to the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Sign the petition now

Left to die at sea

Migrants’ boats heading to Europe often get into danger at sea.  At least 1,500 people are known to have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2011. Some of these deaths could have been prevented. The desire of some European countries to prevent irregular migration (people who do not have permission to live and work in these countries) has undermined safe and timely rescue at sea.

Desperate men, women and children have been left at sea for days while countries argue about where they should be taken. In some cases, people died on these boats while distress calls went unanswered.


Italy Immigrants
Italian Coast Guard rescue migrants, Italy, 13 April 2011 © AP Photo.

Unlawfully detained

Many of those who do manage to enter Europe end up being detained for long periods. Countries use detention as a deterrent, despite the lack of evidence that detention deters people from migrating or seeking asylum.

International and European human rights standards set clear criteria on when it is permissible to detain someone for immigration purposes. In no case should detention be arbitrary, unnecessary or disproportionate. Less restrictive alternatives to detention must be available and explored first. Detention must always be a last resort.

Children, particularly unaccompanied children, should not be detained solely for immigration purposes. Immigration detention is never in their best interest.


incarcerated
Asylum seeker in detention, Slovak Republic, 16 November 2006 © UNHCR.

Treated like criminals

There has been a growing trend of “criminalization” of irregular migration in Europe. Some countries have introduced criminal penalties for irregular stay or entry. Some also punish people who help irregular migrants.

In several countries, public officials, teachers and doctors who come into contact with irregular migrants must report them to the authorities. As result, children, pregnant women, people with chronic health problems and others do not seek medical care for fear of being reported. Parents are too afraid to send their children to school. Irregular migrants are scared to report crimes and abuses, such as labour exploitation, in fear of being detained and deported.

What we are calling for

Amnesty International is campaigning to ensure that:

  • People are treated with dignity at the borders. Their rights must be respected during border control and return operations, including the right to claim asylum.
  • The right to liberty of migrants and asylum-seekers is respected. Immigration detention must only be as a measure of last resort and children must no longer be detained for the purpose of migration control.
  • People on the move no longer suffer abuse because of their migration status. Those who are abused or exploited must have effective access to justice.

Visit our Europe campaign website: http://www.whenyoudontexist.eu/

Get updates

Our latest blog for World Refugee Day

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News and Updates

Cambodia: New deal with Australia signs away refugee rights

25 September 2014

A new low in Australia’s deplorable and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers has been reached with a deal to apparently ship refugees to Cambodia, where respect for their human rights cannot be guaranteed, said Amnesty International.

Turkey: Closing border crossings with Syria will put lives in jeopardy

22 September 2014

Turkey began to close some of its border crossings with Syria after 130,000 Kurdish refugees poured into the country in recent days fleeing the advance of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

Mediterranean migrant boat shipwrecks highlight need for EU action

15 September 2014

European leaders must do more to provide safe and legal ways for refugees and migrants to access international protection in the European Union.

Killing of Steven Sotloff is ‘tip of the iceberg’ of IS war crimes in Syria and Iraq

3 September 2014

The beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by Islamic State militants is the latest in a series of war crimes being committed by the armed group across Syria and Iraq.

Gruesome evidence of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq as Islamic State moves to wipe out minorities

2 September 2014

Fresh evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that members of the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities. 

 

Video and Audio

Video: Haitian migrants denied basic rights in Dominican Republic

21 March 2007

At least half a million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic where they face the constant risk of expulsion and systematic discrimination because of their race, s

Video: Activists targeted in Myanmar 'witch hunt'

18 October 2007

New video and audio testimony received by Amnesty International tells of ongoing night raids, arbitrary arrests and appalling detention conditions in Myanmar.