News / Africa

Amnesty: Growing Danger for Refugees

A woman walks past a child playing with water in a refugee camp in Sevare, Mali, Jan. 26, 2013.
A woman walks past a child playing with water in a refugee camp in Sevare, Mali, Jan. 26, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on Amnesty International 2013 findings

Joe DeCapua
Amnesty International says the world is growing more dangerous for refugees and migrants. The organization’s annual report says the rights of millions of people who have escaped conflict and persecution -- or migrated to seek work and a better life -- have been abused.


Amnesty says, “Another year has been lost for the Syrian people,” millions of whom have been displaced by conflict. It adds that little has changed in Syria, except the “ever increasing number of lives lost or ruined.”

Amnesty’s Netsanet Belay says, “Our view overall is that the Syria crisis remains unresolved largely because of failure of the international community to make bold commitments to safeguard citizens. It’s really troubling to see so many civilians still trapped in the cycle of violence. We regrettably noticed how some governments have blocked effective international response to the crisis.”

Belay, the human rights group’s Africa Program Director, said many other people were also forced to seek safety in 2012, within countries or across borders.

“Much of our research in the past year is indicating that, particularly in Africa, given the escalation of armed conflict and communal violence in several countries, including Mali, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, we’re seeing massive displacement of people from their homes internally and into neighboring countries.”

For example, 400,000 people had to flee northern Mali, while 200,000 had to flee Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. He blamed that on “indiscriminate bombing by the Sudan Armed Forces

As for the DRC, he says, “The total number of internally displaced people inside the country grew to more than two-point-four million. This is the highest it’s been since 2009.”

Besides describing displacement, the Amnesty International report also levels accusations of human rights abuses. Belay highlighted several.

“In Mali, in Bamako, in [the] north, we’ve seen several people die as a result of extrajudicial killings and summary executions. The same happened in Nigeria, where we’ve seen scores of civilians who were killed not only as a result of attacks by Boko Haram forces, but also by government and security forces. In Sudan, we’ve talked to innocent civilians, who have fallen victim. We’re talked to [an] 11-year-old girl, whose legs have been injured by bombs thrown from Antonov warplanes,” he said.

Amnesty also says governments failed to protect the rights of many of the world’s 214-million migrants.

“Migrants in African countries and migrants going from Africa to European countries are facing serious and massive human rights violations, both in terms of discrimination, treatment and asylum processing,” said Belay.

For example, Amnesty reports changes in South Africa’s asylum-seeking procedures led to intimidation and xenophobic attacks against foreigners. And it can be difficult for asylum-seekers to find safe havens.


Belay said, “Much of the asylum seeker and refugee population is hosted by the poorest of the world. The poorest of African countries are hosting the majority of refugees leaving their countries as a result of persecution or conflict. The European Union only allows about 5,000 resettlements per year for asylum seekers, where we have seen more than 200,000 people fleeing from conflict in Sudan to neighboring countries like Ethiopia and South Sudan.”

The report says levels of police brutality are rising in many parts of Africa. It highlights last year’s incident in South Africa when police shot dead 34 protesting miners. In Senegal, six people were killed by security forces in pre-election violence.

Also, Uganda is criticized for its ongoing crackdown on the media, while Somalia stands out as one of the most dangerous places for journalists. It also says human rights activists are being harassed in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, The Gambia and Nigeria.

Belay said, “The underlying cause relates to the lack of institutional mechanisms that create democratic accountable systems in countries. Most governments in Africa indeed have traveled great distances in building these institutions and structures, but they are not there yet.”
The Amnesty report says, “The excuse that human rights are an internal affair” cannot be used as an “excuse for inaction.” It adds that “respect for state sovereignty” also cannot be given as a reason not to act against injustice.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid