May we use this holiday season to shine a light

Right now, there are a lot of people around the world in desperate need of some light. © Amnesty International

By Yonatan Gher Director of Amnesty International Israel

This month, those of us who celebrate Hanukah commemorate a miracle of light: a flame, which in our people’s moment of darkness, shone far beyond the limits of physics. The world’s Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus and shortly after, Muslims will celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohammad. For each of these religious communities, these celebrations commemorate events which brought light and hope in to the world.

This month we also celebrated the anniversary of another important event: 66 years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a modern-day tale of how out of humanity’s darkest moments, a beacon of hope can emerge. Continue reading

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7 things you probably didn’t know about migrants

A migrants’ belongings at a shelter in Mexico, 2010. © Marc Silver

Is a migrant the same as an immigrant? Are migrants good or bad for the economy, and can you name some famous ones? Find out today, on International Migrants Day.

1. What’s the difference between an immigrant and a migrant?
All immigrants are migrants, but not all migrants are immigrants. And just to confuse things, there are also “emigrants”. Here’s how it works: A migrant moves around within their own country, or from one country to another, often to find work or join family members, because of poverty or a crisis. If you’re from Italy and go to live in Spain, then you would be an emigrant in Italy and an immigrant in Spain. You can be called an “international migrant” if you have foreign nationality or were born in another country. “Immigrant” and migrant are often used interchangeably and tend to get mixed up with the word “asylum-seeker” (see below).

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Eastern Ukraine: Facing growing hardship, sliding towards a disaster

A Ukrainian soldier stands guard as a woman walks by on her way to a polling station in a village near Lugansk, eastern Ukraine. © ANATOLII BOIKO/AFP/Getty Images

By Krasimir Yankov of Amnesty International’s Ukraine Team

It’s not easy getting to Luhansk nowadays. One must either cross an active frontline and risk getting shot at, if coming from the north, or take an eight-hour detour from the south through the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, which is under the control of pro-Russian separatists. I decide to opt for the latter and, after quickly fixing my papers with the de facto authorities in Donetsk, my companions and I are on our way.

Driving through Donbass, the coal-mining region of eastern Ukraine, has always been a special kind of journey. The landscapes are gray, rolling flat fields with slag heaps from nearby mines dotting the skyline every now and again. The winter, which has already settled in, adds to the gloom with its sub-zero temperatures and ice on the occasional houses we pass by. But after a while I start noticing something even more sullen – the almost complete lack of people on the streets. Continue reading

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