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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs