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Statement by Ariela Blatter, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Refugees International
“Today's announcement of a new Presidential Directive on Mass Atrocities is a hopeful moment for those of us who have been calling on the U.S. to respond robustly in the face of genocide and other crimes against humanity. The new directive demonstrates the administration’s resolve to lead the world in the prevention of mass atrocities and puts the U.S. at the forefront of this effort. In addition, the decision to deny all serious violators of human rights abuses from entering the United States makes a clear and welcome declaration that those who cause atrocities and displacement are no longer welcome inside America’s borders.
“President Obama rightly points out in the Directive that ‘Our security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.’ Today’s announcement is a welcome sign that President Obama is looking for new ways to effectively promote peace and stability, reduce displacement and prevent mass atrocities.
“Refugees International particularly welcomes the creation of the Atrocity Prevention Board, which will be able to issue warnings and, more importantly, provide strategic options to prevent or respond to serious crimes against humanity. The Board’s mandate of highlighting the full range of options available to U.S. policy makers beyond military intervention is key to promoting timely U.S. responses to these tragedies. At the same time, I hope the Board embraces the role that non-governmental organizations like Refugees International can and have played in providing information on potential flashpoints and calling on the government to take early action.
“From the Rwanda genocide in 1994 to the brutal crackdown in Syria today, the U.S. and its allies have repeatedly struggled to identify the most effective method to protect innocent civilians from serious bloodshed. The crises we are witnessing today in Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Syria show that this is not an abstract problem. Now is the time to translate this directive into a functioning Board that can help U.S. policy makers quickly respond to today’s worst abuses.”
Ariela Blatter is Refugees International’s Director of Policy and Advocacy. She also served on the US Genocide Prevention Task Force, appointed by co-chairs Secretary Madeline Albright and Secretary William S. Cohen.
Refugees International is a Washington DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. For more information, go to www.refugeesinternational.org.