AHA condemns atrocities committed against refugees and migrants in recent weeks
24 April 2015
AHA condemns the persecution of refugees and migrants witnessed in recent weeks across Africa.
The number of refugees displaced by war, civil unrest, violence and human rights abuses in their home country has continued to increase around the world. In Africa, where AHA operates, the number of refugees is expected to reach 14.9 million in 2015 according the UNHCR. Thousands more have immigrated to the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe in the hope of better livelihoods.
The grim reality of these refugees, displaced people and immigrants in many countries around the world is however often underlined by death, violence, constant abuse, exploitation and discrimination.
The turmoil across Libya – a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe by sea for work and better lives, has helped drive the death toll in the Mediterranean up to 1,800. In 2015 this number is expected to exceed 3,500. In the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean on 22 April 2015, at least 800 migrants, including many children, had drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya. Most of the 1,750 migrants to have drowned in the Mediterranean this year were sub-Saharan Africans who boarded smugglers’ boats in Libya. Each stage of that journey is facilitated by smugglers who profit from Libya’s chaos since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.
The migrants are now facing an additional threat of violence and execution from militants in Libya. The group has released a video on 19 April 2015 depicting two massacres in which 30 Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe were shot and beheaded. The militants had released a similar video in February 2015 showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian migrants.
A boat carrying migrants arrives in Lampedusa from Libya.
Photo: © IRIN /Kate Thomas
In another wave of violence witnessed in South Africa in April 2015, seven people have been killed and more than 5,000 have been displaced. Those affected in the xenophobic attacks were refugees and asylum-seekers who were forced to leave their own countries due to war and persecution and are in South Africa because they require protection. The Government of South Africa has spoken out against these incidents. South African President Jacob Zuma told parliamentarians that “refugees and asylum-seekers will be accorded support in line with international law and protocols, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.” According to UNHCR, South Africa currently hosts some 65,000 refugees and 295,000 asylum-seekers.
While AHA condemns the violence against migrants and refugees in recent weeks, it calls on governments, host communities and international organizations to heed the plight of displaced persons. Governments especially must protect foreign nationals in their country and reaffirm their commitment toward refugees and asylum-seekers in line with international humanitarian laws and protocols.