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Mariella Trager serves as chair of Refugees International's Washington Circle.
By Mariella Trager
Friends of Refugees International came together on Thursday, October 25, at the beautiful Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC. Around 100 people gathered for the luncheon, where they explored the ongoing displacement crisis in Syria and RI’s advocacy efforts there.
Our featured guests for the afternoon were renowned journalist and author David Ignatius, and RI Senior Advocate Daryl Grisgraber – both of whom had just returned from the Middle East. Mr. Ignatius discussed how humanitarian needs in Syria, along with other regional issues, could challenge the Obama Administration in its second term. He also noted that as these crises unfold in the Middle East, the need for Refugees International’s independent and formidable advocacy will only grow.
Ms. Grisgraber then joined Mr. Ignatius on stage to discuss RI’s current advocacy work on behalf of the more than 350,000 Syrian refugees and 1.2 million internally displaced Syrians. Ms. Grisgraber recently returned from identifying humanitarian needs in the region – especially those relating to the onset of winter – and will issue a report later this month with recommendations for donor governments and the aid community.
As the Washington Circle Chair, I am honored to see how much this group of supporters has grown over the years. It was a pleasure to host many special guests for this year’s event, including Ambassador Giles Noghes of Monaco and Ellen Noghes; Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares of Spain; Rosa Djalal, wife of the ambassador of Indonesia; Laura Denise Noce Benigni Olivieri, wife of the ambassador of Italy; The Honorable Stuart and Gwen Holliday; Yasmine Pahlavi; and a very special guest, The Honorable Patrick Kennedy.
I am also very grateful to our hosts, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhán of Mexico and his wife, Veronica Valencia-Sarukhán. A grandson of refugees, Ambassador Sarukhán has been a committed supporter of RI during his tenure in Washington, and we honor his service as he prepares to depart for another post.
As an independent organization, RI depends on individuals to strengthen our voice on behalf of displaced and stateless people worldwide. Everyone who attended this great circle demonstrated their commitment to that cause, and I want to thank all of them for their support.
|See more images from the event.|