BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Andijan: Refugee flood or trickle?
HITS: 6078 | 24-08-2005, 20:14 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Uzbekistan , Media World, PR and human rights

Whatever happened in Andijan and elsewhere in the Ferghana Valley, it did not precipitate a refugee crisis. There was no mass flight even though the Uzbek authorities clearly did not control the border with Kyrgyzstan around Kara su. It was not Kosovo nor Darfur.
Accounts given to journalists over the border in Kyrgyzstan suggest that the refugees from Andijan were mainly directly connected with prison break out: either defendants or their rescuers. For instance, one defendant, 29 year old “[Shamshudin] Atamatov said he heard about 10 shots, then someone opened the door of his prison cell with a crowbar. He and another 11 inmates in the cell came out to the street.
Someone there, whom Atamatov said he didn't know, said: "Those who want can come with us to the governor's office." And so he went…”

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The post-Kosovo Refugee Crisis: Italy - the Problem
HITS: 2444 | 17-01-2003, 05:28 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace

The majority of illegal immigrants enter Western Europe through the south-eastern Puglia region of Italy. The area is poor but it has two important ports, Bari and Brindisi, which connect Italy with the Balkans, Greece and Albania with regular ferry services used by many freight vehicles. A flat, scrubby coastline dotted with abandoned buildings makes clandestine landings from the small craft _ mainly fast rubber boats with outboard motors _ used by the Italian and Albanian smugglers (known as Scafisti) and the dispersal of their cargo of asylum seekers relatively easy.

It is general knowledge that most of the smuggling operates from southern Albania, from the port of Vlora (Italian Valona) from where high - powered speed boats that carry around 40 passengers usually evade the Italian coastguard patrols to reach the coast. Although the trade in refugees has been publicized widely since the Kosovo crisis _ many Kosovan refugees paid middlemen to arrange their departure from camps in Albania _ it has been going on for some time. In January 1998 BHHRG representatives saw groups of mainly young men making their way in broad daylight towards boats waiting along beach of the bay in Vlora. Police stood nearby doing nothing even though the new Albanian government (elected in summer 1997) had assured European governments of its commitment to stamp out the trade.

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The post-Kosovo European Refugee Crisis: the final part
HITS: 1945 | 17-01-2003, 03:35 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace

The sight of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing their homeland was the defining spectacle of the Kosovo crisis. However, like previous post-Cold War crises such as the Kurdish exodus in 1991 following the end of the Gulf War, Allied victory has not resolved the problem of displacement, just altered the parameters. The return of so many refugees to Kosovo has not stemmed the flow of would-be migrants, some from Kosovo others claiming to be from the province. They have joined the existing tide from other places.

Despite the existence of dictatorships and persecuting regimes, few of the arrivals in southern Italy, let alone those who make their way through safe countries like France to Britain, have serious claims for asylum. Only the Roma refugees from Kosovo formed a clearly persecuted group in the observers’ opinion. In practice it is those with the money to pay people-smugglers and with the daring to take the risks involved primarily young men who make up the bulk of asylum-seekers.

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Roma refugees from Kosovo
HITS: 2188 | 17-01-2003, 02:00 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, World health, War and peace

Bari: centro a prima acollienzo Bari Palese

One group of asylum-seekers in the reception centers visited by the BHHRG in southern Italy seemed to take the issue of refugee status very seriously and all had stories of persecution: the Roma or gypsies from Kosovo. Unlike other asylum-seekers who tend to enter Italy from Albania, in August hundreds of Roma refugees fled Kosovo through Montenegrin ports to Bari. The largest group arrived on 19th August. Roma refugees from Kosovo in southern Serbia had told representatives of the BHHRG in July that they wanted to go to Italy.

By 1st September, the influx stalled perhaps the drowning of up to 100 gypsies during the crossing from Montenegro in small fishing boats had acted as a disincentive to leave, for the moment at least. The cost to each person for the journey - 1000 to 2500 marks - amust also deter such large families.

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Refugees 1999: The port of Calais in France
HITS: 2076 | 27-12-2001, 00:07 | Comments: (0) | Categories: France , Politics, War and peace

France has a variety of problems associated with migration and asylum-seekers from North Africa, but the port of Calais just 22 miles across the English Channel from Dover provides the jumping-off point for people who wish to cross into Britain. Other Channel ports, including those in Belgium and Holland, attract some would-be asylum-seekers anxious to enter Britain but Calais is the most important point of embarkation by far. The means employed usually involve stowing away in the back of one of the many trucks that pass daily into the English port. Despite the fact that truckers face a fine in England if it can be proved they knowingly transported illegal immigrants, many say that their human cargo climbs into the back of the vehicles without their knowledge. Some have alleged that immigrants have threatened them with knives in order to gain passage, but it cannot be ruled out that others knowingly collude in the trade for the substantial financial rewards it offers _ up to several thousand dollars per person carried. On the day BHHRG visited Dover 140 people had been found hidden in the back of a truck.
Many also enter Britain on the Eurostar train service from France. Once in France an immigrant can buy a ticket in Paris for the last station before the Tunnel and a second for the cross-Channel section of the route and get on the train with only perfunctory checks on documents to contend with since on showing only the first ticket the impression is given that he intends only to travel to Calais.

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