Over a three decade career, I’ve been on dozens of humanitarian and human rights missions, but I don’t remember choking up on any of them -- until this current trip to Bangladesh.
Six weeks ago, Refugees International traveled to Iraq to meet with and assess the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) about returning home to cities and towns liberated from ISIS control. Mosul had just been declared liberated even though conflict continued in the west of the city, and already there was talk of who could go back, when, and to what. There was also plenty of discussion about who could not go back, right now or maybe ever.
As the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas face the long road to recovery following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, a window of opportunity exists to mitigate the human displacement created by these large-scale disasters and to build resilience to future events. These two priorities should inform how the United States is responding to these types of disasters. This blog outlines some important lessons that must inform the hurricane response in the future if we are going to keep pace with the increasing impacts of climate change impacts on population displacement:
What I am about to write is staggering: it is estimated by the United Nations and others that, over the past several weeks, the government of Myanmar and its military have driven nearly 300,000 Rohingya from their homes and out of Myanmar (also known as Burma).
On World Humanitarian Day 2017, Eric Schwartz remembers Sergio Vieira de Mello, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who died in a 2003 bombing in Iraq and for whom this day honoring humanitarians was created.
On World Humanitarian Day, Refugees International honors aid workers around the world who risk their lives in the service of others. Tragically, the places where people are most in need – whether in Yemen, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo – are also some of the most dangerous places in the world.
This month marks the three-year anniversary of the withdrawal of an 11,000-strong Peshmerga force from Sinjar in northern Iraq. The withdrawal left Sinjar’s Yazidi minority community besieged by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters. For one displaced Yazidi family with whom I recently met in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, there is both reason to grieve and to celebrate. The head of family told me that dozens of extended family members were kidnapped by ISIS during the siege. But this anniversary also marks the first that his now 15-year-old daughter, Vian,* is home.
In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), a dusty camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) houses about 5,000 Iraqis, many of whom fled the Islamic State (ISIS) when the extremist group seized control of their villages in northern Iraq. In its attack on Sinjar during the summer of 2014, ISIS murdered or abducted thousands—and to this day, survivors do not know the fate of family members who disappeared in the ISIS assault. Many of the people who were able to avoid or escape the Sinjar massacre had come to Iraqi Kurdistan for safety.
Since 2014, millions of Iraqis have been displaced by Islamic State (IS) and Iraq’s ongoing military efforts to defeat the group. Even as people return home to retaken areas, more continue to be displaced.
In this webinar, Refugees International Senior Advocate for Human Rights, Dan Sullivan provides a first-hand account of his experience in Bangladesh and discuss the objectives of his new report, Reluctant Refuge: Rohingya Safe but not Secure in Bangladesh.
Izza Leghtas, RI's Senior Advocate for Europe, remarks on her time spent interviewing refugees stranded on islands in Greece. Watch her video update below.
While the Greek islands used to be places of transit where asylum seekers and migrants spent only days on their way to other European countries, as a result of an EU agreement with Turkey, thousands are stranded on Greece’s Aegean islands.
Somalia is now well into its third consecutive season of a severe drought that, in the last seven months alone, has forced more than 760,000 people to flee their homes in search of food and water. Most come from areas controlled by Al-Shabaab or other non-state armed groups, places where the government and humanitarian agencies have limited to no access. The town of Baidoa, retaken from Al-Shabaab in 2012 and now marginally under state control, has become the only means of survival for much of the rural population across the country’s drought-stricken, south central region.
As a human rights researcher and advocate for many years, I have sadly become accustomed to listening to painful stories and to witnessing people’s despair. But on the Greek islands, there is an added layer of cruelty: this pain is avoidable.
Somalia is again in the throes of another drought that by many accounts is worse than the last. Thankfully, greater government control and a prompt humanitarian response by the government and aid agencies have saved lives, but the scale of displacement is enormous. More than 760,000 Somalis have been displaced across the country since November 2016, 160,000 of them to Mogadishu. Here they are struggling to access assistance and protection in a dangerous and volatile environment.
Following the Supreme Court's "travel ban" decision on June 26, Refugees International has assembled the following Q&A.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will travel to Washington, D.C. and will meet this week with Members of Congress and administration officials. He will be in Washington in the wake of an extraordinary press conference he held at the United Nations in New York on June 20, in which he urged the Trump administration to stay engaged on global issues. This is an extraordinary plea to the U.S. president from the UN's chief.
On Dec. 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared that June 20 would be "celebrated" annually as World Refugee Day. For millions of people displaced by conflict and persecution globally, there is little to celebrate, but World Refugee Day does present an opportunity to bring attention to their plight, and to the possibility of solutions.
On World Refugee Day 2017, the world faces massive humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and beyond. More than 65 million men, women, and children are displaced today – the largest number since World War II.These historic and multiple refugee crises come at a time when countries are retreating from long-standing humanitarian commitments, closing their doors to millions seeking refuge.
The only response to World Refugee Day 2017 is urgent action, as we face proposed Trump administration funding cuts of 32 percent to the international affairs budget. Such drastic slashes to humanitarian and development assistance as well as peacekeeping and international organizations at this time of unprecedented global need is incomprehensible. Should these cuts be implemented, the impacts on the most vulnerable populations will be devastating and, unfortunately, deadly.