Members of our 38th Anniversary Dinner Benefit Committee gathered at the Newseum on March 1 1, 2017 for a special viewing of the REFUGEE photo exhibit, as well as remarks from Benefit Chair Maria Trabocchi, Global Partnership Chair Sarah Bovim, RI President Michel Gabaudan, and RI Board President Eileen Shields-West.
The sixth anniversary of the Syria conflict is upon us. In those six years, five million Syrians have become refugees in neighboring countries. Inside Syria, six and a half million people are displaced from home, and 13.5 million need humanitarian aid to survive even as humanitarian needs continue to grow. The situation for 2017 does not look promising. A hopeful development of the past half decade of the Syria conflict has been the growth of dozens—even hundreds—of local Syrian groups and networks delivering aid inside Syria and their ability to get aid across the border from Turkey into Syria. These groups have become an essential element of assisting people inside Syria, especially in places the United Nations and INGOs cannot get to because of security concerns.
On March 18, the EU and Turkey will mark the one -year anniversary of their joint statement , which sought to stem the flows of asylum-seekers and migrants crossing from Turkey’s shores to the Greek islands. But as this anniversary approaches, Refugee International believes there little cause to celebrate and much more cause for concern. While EU leaders have presented the policy as a success, pointing to the significant decrease in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands since March 2016, the policy has also left thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers stranded in Greece in shocking conditions and has eroded the right to seek asylum in Europe.
In early October 2016, the Southwest region of Haiti was devastated by Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm. Tragically, the areas it hit were among the poorest. The government reported more than 2.1 million people were affected by the hurricane, with 800,000 in need of urgent food assistance. While four months have passed since Matthew hit, conditions on the ground are not much different today. Haiti faces a long road ahead.
On Friday, the governments of Germany, Nigeria, and Norway, along with the United Nations, are hosting the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. The objective is to focus political attention on Africa's biggest humanitarian crisis, as well as to generate financial contributions to respond to urgent humanitarian needs.
On February 3, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report citing systematic violence by Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya Muslim minority population. The report concludes that the systematic nature of the abuses by the government security forces “very likely amount to commission of crimes against humanity”.
As 2016 drew to a close, the number of refugees and displaced people in the world reached historic levels. The year ahead seems to promise more of the same with conflicts and crises continuing in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia, and beyond.
It may be the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. Almost every day for the last four months, an average of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees have made their way to neighboring Uganda. They come on buses and on foot, along dirt roads and through the bush. Day after day more arrive, with no end to the exodus in sight.
In 2016, the world witnessed a global refugee crisis of historic proportions, with the number of refugees and displaced people reaching 65 million world-wide – the largest number since World War II. Whether addressing the needs of those displaced by war, climate change, or ethnic- or gender-based violence, RI traveled to Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America to bear witness to these crises and raise the voices of world’s most vulnerable peoples.
Friends of Refugees International convened for the 14th Annual New York Circle on November 1, 2016. RI President Michel Gabaudan discussed the current state of refugees around the world, and Fatima Muriel de Florez described her inspiring story as a displaced woman and women's rights activist in Colombia.
During the annual May to October monsoon season, Myanmar experiences low-level flooding, which creates favourable conditions for rice cultivation, Myanmar’s leading crop. However, in July 2015, heavier than normal downpours combined with the arrival of Cyclone Komen created unprecedented flash floods, general flooding, and landslides, a national disaster that affected 12 of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions. An estimated 1.6 million people were displaced and more than 20 percent of Myanmar’s cultivated land was damaged.
In September, Refugees International returned to some of the hardest hit areas in Rakhine State, Sagaing Region, and Chin State to see how communities were recovering a year after the flooding.