Members of the global community – including governments, civil society, and the private sector – are moving forward to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges, with or without U.S. government leadership.
In Syria, the population of Idlib is bracing for what promises to be a brutal offensive by the Assad regime. When Syria, Russia, Turkey and Iran discuss Idlib’s fate later this week, they must remember that the lives of millions of civilians hang on their ability to find a peaceful resolution to this situation.
On August 27, the UN-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released a devastating report concluding that the country’s military leaders should be prosecuted for the “gravest crimes under international law, against the Rohingya minority. While this aspect of the report has garnered the greatest attention, other important findings including that the crimes of the Myanmar military go far beyond those committed against the Rohingya, and that the burden of responsibility for those crimes extends beyond the military have gone largely unnoticed.
In the face of insufficient assistance from federal and Puerto Rican authorities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, ordinary people have stepped up to become strong community leaders—ultimately strengthening community resilience and self-reliance. Yet they are largely being left out of recovery plans.
As we mark the first anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar, it is clear that too little has been done to support, protect, and provide for this marginalized community. Now, accountability is urgently needed to provide a sense of justice to the Rohingya, to act as a deterrent against further abuses of the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in the country, and to help stabilize the region.
Thirty-nine years on, Walter Mondale's inspiring 1979 call to action over the Vietnamese boat people was a watershed moment. Remembering Mondale’s speech in Geneva reminds us of an alternative vision of U.S. humanitarian leadership in the world. It is a vision that honors both U.S. interests and American values, and it offers a brighter future for hundreds of millions around the globe.
On July 19, 1979, thirty-nine years ago, Refugees International undertook its first large-scale public advocacy effort on behalf of refugees. On that date, then-executive director Diane Lawson, along with one of RI’s founders Michael Morrissey, published a full-page ad in the Washington Post. Addressed to U.S. senators and representatives, the advocacy letter called for increased support for Indochinese refugees and set the course for our organization’s decades-long commitment to advocating for lifesaving action.
More than one in 10 internally displaced people are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions of IDPs are falling between the cracks of a humanitarian system in urgent need of reform. An important first step is to establish the position of special representative of the secretary-general (SRSG) for IDPs.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear the right of every human being to seek safety in another country. But eight years into the Syrian conflict, this most basic of human rights barely matters because there is so little leeway for people to leave Syrian territory in the first place. If the international community truly wants to help Syrians, it must insist that Syria’s neighbors open their borders, and it needs to offer financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to make that happen.
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 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.