Refugees and Migrants
03 أكتوبر 2007
Every day across the world people make the difficult decision to leave their homes.War, persecution, environmental disaster and poverty are just some of the reasons why a person might feel that they have to leave their family, community or country.
Refugees leave their country because they have no other choice and fear for their own life or safety or that of their family. Refugees also flee their country when their government will not or cannot protect them from serious human rights abuses.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and those forced to move within their own country because of war, persecution or environmental disasters, rather than cross national borders.
Asylum seekers are people whose have reached another country and have submitted or will submit claims for refugee status; they have not been formally recognized as refugees. They have the same human rights as everyone else. Article 14 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that: “Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
A migrant is a person who moves from one place to another to live, and usually to work, either temporarily or permanently. Migrants may move within their country of origin or to another country. They may be forced to leave because they do not have access to adequate food, water or shelter, or in order to ensure the safety and security of themselves and their families. They may move to take up employment, or to be reunited with family members. Many leave for a combination of reasons.
People often have more than one reason for leaving their home. Whatever the reason, however, all have human rights. In addition, refugees have a right to international protection.
- an estimated 200 million people live outside the country in which they were born – about 3% of the global population of 6.5 billion
- there are an estimated 14.2 million refugees in the world, roughly 0.21% of the world’s population
- the numbers of internally displaced persons are currently estimated to be around 24.5 million – 0.4% of the world’s population
- the majority of refugees and IDPs are in Asia and Africa, which between them host a total of 9.2 million refugees and 18.1 million IDPs
What Amnesty International is doing
Amnesty International campaigns for the rights of refugees, IDPs and migrants around the world and exposes human rights abuses and failures in their protection.
Amnesty International also brings attention to the risks people would face if they were forced to return to their country.
Amnesty International activists and sections around the world lobby their governments for changes in national laws, policies and practices, as well as working alongside other organizations to protect the rights of all refugees and migrants.
The staff at the International Secretariat in London and Geneva work to influence international policy and standard setting.
Amnesty International calls on all states to share responsibility for the protection of refugees, asylum-seekers, IDPs and migrants and to adhere to obligations set out under international law.
Amnesty International also has a global network of refugee coordinators in more than 50 countries who work with other non-government organizations to protect the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and IDPs.
We do not represent individuals in asylum processes, although we may take action on individual cases or issues.
One of the most important principles in the 1951 Geneva Convention is that of non refoulement – a refugee’s right not to be returned to a country where they are in danger of persecution. Amnesty International opposes any individual being forcibly returned to a country where he or she is at risk of suffering serious human rights abuses.
Amnesty International wants to see an end to the unlawful detention of asylum seekers in the countries where they seek safety. Detention affects the elderly, victims of torture, unaccompanied children and others particularly badly.
Amnesty International calls on governments and other authorities to respect the key rights of the internally displaced. It opposes the forcible relocation of people on account of their religion, ethnic origin, sex, colour or language.
Amnesty International promotes the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. The treaty is one of the nine core international human rights treaties and guarantees migrants’ rights to education, freedom of religion and expression, equal access to courts and rights at work.
Case study: Iraq
Since the beginning of the war in Iraq and the subsequent sectarian violence, millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee to neighbouring Syria and Jordan, where resources are being stretched to breaking point. Humanitarian assistance is now reaching only a small proportion of Iraqis in Jordan and Syria.
More than two million Iraqis have now left the country and almost two million are internally displaced. There is a desperate need for assistance – financial and otherwise – to ease the situation. There has so far been little support from those countries involved in the conflict.
Amnesty International is calling for the US, the UK and other states to increase resettlement for the most vulnerable refugees, including survivors of torture and others who urgently need medical care.
Amnesty International’s refugee and migrants team: firstname.lastname@example.org
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