If the United States decides Syria is not worth its attention, civilians will once again pay a high price.
One year ago today, the Trump administration made its ill-advised decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Climate Accord. The decision effectively sidelined the United States on this critical issue, moving the country from a position of international leadership. One year later, the world is moving forward to tackle the climate crisis and related displacement issues.
During a recent mission to the camps in Bangladesh which now houses tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, Daniel Sullivan and Francisca Vigaud-Walsh interviewed Mayyu Ali, a young Rohingya man who described the crimes against against the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Mayyu called on the international community to take concrete action to end the violence.
On April 24, 2018, Refugees International (RI) hosted its 39th Anniversary Dinner. The occasion drew attention to the plight of refugees and displaced people around the world. Those honored for their outstanding humanitarian work to improve their lives and defend the rights of refugees and displaced people included: Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya who received the 2018 McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award; Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota who received the 2018 Congressional Leadership Award; and Iraq Health Access Organization Executive Director Hala al-Sarraf, who receive the 2018 Richard C. Holbrooke Award.
The Security Council delegation's visit to the destroyed Rohingya villages in Myanmar should be an important first critical step toward accountability for the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and an important step toward the type of conditions conducive to the voluntary return of Rohingya in safety and dignity to Myanmar. Now the UN and international community must deliver.
On April 24, 2018, Refugees International hosted its 39th Anniversary Dinner, honoring humanitarians who work to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugees and displaced people in the United States and worldwide. This year’s event honored Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Hala al-Sarraf, executive director of the Iraq Health Access Organization.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people gathered across America marking the first Earth Day and the advent of a global environmental movement. Since then, the United States and other countries have adopted vital international agreements and national laws to better protect our planet. But in 2018, does Earth Day need a make-over? Nearly a half century later, the world faces a new threat that will have far more serious implications not just for the Earth but for human beings as well: climate change.
Just back from a field mission in Syria, Hardin Lang writes that last week’s strikes against Syria won’t change the arc of the conflict, nor will they alleviate the suffering of the civilian population: chemical weapons are responsible for but a tiny fraction of that suffering. Their absence will not stop the Assad regime from continuing to press its military advantage.
As Ukrainians celebrate Easter and Holy Week, the government and separatists backed by Russia have agreed to a total ceasefire in the five-year old conflict. This year, they hope to observe the Easter Pascha holiday in both government-controlled and separatist-held areas without the threat of attacks or shelling. But will the Easter ceasefire hold?
No doubt, the civilians living along the 450 km line separating the warring parties remain skeptical.
In this blog, part of the "Welcoming Communities" series, Jessica Thea writes about the organization Northern Virginia Friends of Refugees, which is comprised of 640 members representing faith communities, NGOs, elected government officials, refugee communities, businesses, and schools in the D.C. area. The community-based group is dedicated to mobilizing communities in support of refugees who have resettled in the greater Washington, D.C. region.
To create greater awareness of the plight of refugees Elena Kvochko climbed Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain in both North and South America. Through her journey, Elena hoped to inspire colleagues to stand up for causes they believe in, using her climb to draw attention to the plight of refugees and displaced people around the world.
Six months after Hurricane Maria, the slow response to the needs of the Puerto Rican people continues to be woefully slow. The Puerto Rican and federal authorities' failure to adequately respond has been nothing short of a travesty. Alice Thomas writes that if there is a silver lining to this disaster, it is the incredible dedication of Puerto Rico's civil society groups in working toward the recovery of their communities and their most vulnerable neighbors.
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.
In 2017, Elena Kvochko scaled Mt. Everest, climbing more than 18,300 feet to raise awareness of refugees and displaced people around the world. Elena recounts her journey and what inspired her to climb in support of refugees.
Last week, when I was in Minneapolis teaching at the University of Minnesota, I took the four hour drive up I-94 to Madison, Wisconsin for an evening of music benefiting Refugees International. The band The Whiskey Farm performed their song, "You are Welcome Here," which honors America's tradition of welcoming and supporting refugees and displaced people from around the world.
When the militant group Boko Haram took over in 2013, the majority of Bama, Nigeria's population those fled and have yet to return. Nigerian forces successfully recaptured Bama in 2015, and, recently, the city has become the focus of highly publicized reconstruction plans and along with plans for the return of its former residents. But the security situation in surrounding areas remains perilous. With approaching Nigerian elections in 2019, the government wants to return people to Bama, but security and stability should dictate returns, not politics.
In an age of travel bans and closing borders, communities across the United States continue to welcome recently arrived refugees into their neighborhoods. As a student at Washington University in St. Louis, a city troubled by economic disparity and home to an often isolated resettled refugee population, it was hard not to notice how insulated my campus was from its surrounding neighborhoods. I wanted to change that.
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.
Earlier this month in Geneva, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) held a high-level ‘stocktaking’ meeting on the Global Compact on Refugees. Governments, international organizations, and civil society gathered to provide input before UNHCR releases a draft Compact in late January 2018. Many remain understandably skeptical that the Compact negotiations will ultimately lead to the kind of systemic change demanded by the global refugee crisis. In Geneva, however, there were cautious signs that the process is headed in the right direction.
While brutal attacks against the Rohingya Muslims continue, the minority ethnic Kachin people in northern Myanmar also live under severe human rights abuses at the hands of Myanmar's government and military. One displaced woman, Aye Hkine, sends a simple message on Human Rights Day.