Izza Leghtas

Insecure Future: Deportations and Lack of Legal Work for Refugees in Turkey

Insecure Future: Deportations and Lack of Legal Work for Refugees in Turkey

Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world. But with an economic downturn and a rising unemployment rate, refugees who once found safe harbor in Turkey are now facing an increasingly hostile climate—from increasing deportations, to shrinking access to the labor market, to growing xenophobia. In this report, Izza Leghtas, addresses what must be done, both within Turkey and internationally, to help protect the rights of refugees in Turkey.

Gaining Access to Work for Women Refugees in Jordan

Gaining Access to Work for Women Refugees in Jordan

Several countries around the world including Jordan are slowly recognizing the right of refugees to work and providing them opportunities to join the formal labor market. Refugees International is partnering with the Center for Global Development (CGD), the IKEA Foundation, Tent, and the Western Union Foundation in a joint initiative to push for more laws and policies that allow refugees to work legally and in decent conditions.

Venezuelan Refugees in Curaçao are Facing Abuse, Detention, and Deportation

Venezuelan Refugees in Curaçao are Facing Abuse, Detention, and Deportation

A Refugees International team traveled to Curaçao in February 2019 to investigate the conditions for Venezuelans living there. It quickly became clear to us that the fate of Venezuelans in Curaçao might very well be the worst of those seeking refuge in the region.

Hidden and Afraid—Venezuelans Without Status or Protection on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao

Hidden and Afraid—Venezuelans Without Status or Protection on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao

As the crisis in Venezuela has intensified, 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled their homes—many to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Only 40 miles from the coast of Venezuela, an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 Venezuelans have fled to Curaçao in search of safe harbor. But once on the island, many of them live hidden and afraid with no real opportunities to obtain international protection or other forms of legal stay.

“You Cannot Exist in This Place:” Lack of Registration Denies Afghan Refugees Protection in Turkey

“You Cannot Exist in This Place:” Lack of Registration Denies Afghan Refugees Protection in Turkey

Turkey currently hosts the largest population of refugees in the world, including a growing number of Afghan refugees. Following a recent change in asylum procedures for Afghans and other non-Syrians in Turkey, Afghans have been facing increasing difficulties in registering with the authorities. Izza Leghtas and Jessica Thea recommend ways in which Turkish officials can make policy adjustments that will better ensure the rights of refugees.

Out of Reach: Legal Work Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Jordan

Out of Reach: Legal Work Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Jordan

The Jordan Compact is an ambitious effort by the international community and the Kingdom of Jordan to help mitigate the economic toll of hosting a large number of Syrian refugees and turn it into a development opportunity. However, more than two years into the Compact, the results are disappointing and many refugees in Jordan are worse off.

Europe Must Stop Putting Politics above Human Lives

Refugees International is dismayed by the Italian government’s refusal to allow the SOS Mediteranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ship, the Aquarius, to disembark in Italy. EU governments have the means to manage these arrivals in an organized, humane way that complies with their obligations under international law.

“Death Would Have Been Better”: Europe Continues to Fail Refugees and Migrants in Libya

“Death Would Have Been Better”: Europe Continues to Fail Refugees and Migrants in Libya

This Refugees International report details how European policies designed to keep asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy are trapping thousands of men, women and children in appalling conditions in Libya. Based on a February 2018 field mission, the report describes the harrowing experiences of people detained in Libya’s notoriously abusive immigration detention system where they are exposed to grave human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and physical and sexual abuse.

For Refugees in Niger, Relief at Being Rescued from Libya and Fear for Those Left Behind

For Refugees in Niger, Relief at Being Rescued from Libya and Fear for Those Left Behind

In this blog, Senior Advocate Izza Leghtas write about refugees who have been evacuated from Libya to Niger under a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) emergency program. At a time when the world’s richest nations are closing their doors to people fleeing conflict and persecution, Niger has agreed to host some 900 refugees evacuated from Libya. But at the end of the day, Leghtas writes, EU member states and other wealthy countries must offer resettlement opportunities for these refugees if the evacuation system is to work. 

Through Work, Refugees Rebuild Their Lives

Through Work, Refugees Rebuild Their Lives

The first time I ordered food from Foodhini, a Washington D.C.-based start-up that delivers meals cooked by refugee and immigrant chefs, I chose dishes prepared by Syrian Chef Majed. The incredible sautéed okra and baked chicken were accompanied by a note with Majed’s story: how he fled from Syria to Jordan before being resettled in the United States, and how he learned to cook from his mother back in Syria.

Legal Employment Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Turkey

Legal Employment Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Turkey

A new Refugees International report details that, while refugees may seek employment under Turkish law, legal jobs are largely inaccessible for the vast majority of refugees in Turkey. The study, “I Am Only Looking for My Rights”: Legal Employment Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Turkey, finds that without legal employment, refugees become trapped in a cycle of informal work where the risk of exploitation and abuse is high and wages are low. Refugees in Turkey face enormous

"Work is Everything in Life": Refugees Seek Formal Employment in Turkey

"Work is Everything in Life": Refugees Seek Formal Employment in Turkey

Izza Leghtas recently completed a two-week research mission in Turkey, investigating the ongoing challenges refugees face in accessing the formal labor market. She met men and women from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran, who shared their personal experiences and described their current jobs and work conditions. 

TIME: Migrants on Greek Islands Are Trapped and Desperate, Report Says

Read the original article here.

Tara John
Aug 15, 2017

Thousands of asylum-seekers in Greece's Aegean islands are stranded in appalling circumstances, according to a new report by Refugees International.

Since a 2016 deal between the E.U. and Turkey, which aims to discourage migrants from crossing the sea to Greece, Turkey has agreed to take back migrants who arrived to Greek islands from its territory. But in reality very few have so far been relocated, according to Refugees International — just 1,210 as of June 13.

The result, says a new report entitled “Like a Prison”: Asylum Seekers Confined to the Greek Islands, is thousands of asylum-seekers trapped in overcrowded and unsafe accommodation on the Greek islands. This "containment" has taken a psychological toll, says the advocacy group, based in Washington, D.C. The report describes how some migrants on the islands of Chios, Lesvos and Samos feel trapped and anxious about the lack of available services. " Greece’s policy of containing people on its Aegean islands is having devastating effects on people’s physical and mental health," said Izza Leghtas, senior advocate for Europe at Refugees International, said in a statement.

More than 12,000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to Greece this year, according to the IOM, a considerable drop in numbers compared to some 161,000 arrivals during the same period a year before. " Because far fewer people are arriving along this route than in 2015, the EU and Greece are presenting the EU-Turkey agreement as a success"Leghtas said. "The reality is that thousands of people, many of them traumatized from war or persecution, are trapped and unable to get the help they need."

TIME has written about the mental strains placed on migrants languishing in Greece in "Finding Home," a multimedia project which has been following three Syrian refugees since Sept. 2016 as they prepared to give birth and raise a child in foreign countries. Read more here.

“Like a Prison”: Asylum-Seekers Confined to the Greek Islands

“Like a Prison”: Asylum-Seekers Confined to the Greek Islands

This report reviews the impact of the Greek government's policies, taken to implement the March 2016 EU and Turkey agreement, which have left thousands of men, women, and children trapped on Greece’s small islands in appalling circumstances. These policies seek to end the arrivals of asylum-seekers and migrants to Greece by sea, but have left thousands suffering in harsh living conditions, deprived of services and medical care, and often experiencing deteriorating mental health.