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

Sri Lanka's displaced face uncertain future as government begins to unlock the camps

11 September 2009

Only a fraction of nearly 300,000 people who were displaced by recent fighting in the north east of Sri Lanka have been allowed to leave government camps since the war ended in May.

Four migrants shot dead by Egyptian forces close to Israel border

10 September 2009

Four men were shot dead by Egyptian security forces as they attempted to cross the border into Israel on Tuesday.

Over 500 families in São Paulo left homeless after forced evictions

28 August 2009

Following a large-scale police operation, the families are now sleeping under plastic sheeting on land opposite the site of the eviction. They are without food or blankets in cold, wet conditions.

Photographic evidence shows the cruelty of caning In Malaysia

25 August 2009

Photographic evidence obtained from detention centres in Malaysia by Amnesty International, show the harsh reality of this cruel form of punishment.

A further 160 families in Cambodia face forced eviction

13 August 2009

A further 160 families in Cambodia are to be forcibly evicted from their homes without being given adequate alternative housing or just compensation.

Appeals for action

Stop the abuse of migrant workers in Qatar

17 November 2013

Demand that the government of Qatar upholds and protects the rights of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers

Video and Audio

World Refugee Day 2010

People look for refuge in other countries because they have no other option- they are being persecuted at home because of who they are, their beliefs or their opinions.

Living without rights in northwest Pakistan

Civilians tell how they are abused by the Taleban and how they feel abandoned by the government.

Forced eviction in Zimbabwe

5 October 2009

Short film on forced evictions in Zimbabwe.

Forced eviction in Ghana

5 October 2009

Short film about the Fadama slum in Accra, Ghana.

Forced eviction in Nigeria

5 October 2009

Short film about forced eviction in the Ngofaka-polo Waterfront community Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Forced eviction in Kenya

5 October 2009

Short film about forced evictions from slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

Audio: The humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.

27 March 2009

Tens of thousands of people are trapped in "safe zones" in the north eastern Wanni region of Sri Lanka.

Video: Sri Lanka's quarter of a million displaced

19 November 2008

The humanitarian crisis in the Wanni region of northern Sri Lanka is worsening as the government fails to provide shelter and protect over 300,000 displaced civilian

Video: Post-election violence in Kenya

28 February 2008

Post-election violence in Kenya has forced thousands to flee their homes