As sexual assault awareness month draws to a close, we sat down with Refugees International Senior Advocate for Women and Girls Devon Cone to discuss the issue of sexual assault and how it affects the displaced communities we work with.
A Refugees International team traveled to Colombia to bear witness to the experience of displaced Venezuelans. But they quickly discovered that it is impossible to view the Venezuelan displacement crisis on its own when there are already 7.7 million internally displaced people in Colombia amid ongoing internal armed conflict.
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.
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.
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.
Responding to the current global refugee crisis, the UN General Assembly in September 2016 convened a special meeting to examine the effectiveness of the international community’s response to mass movements of people. That meeting lead to two important outcomes, with the third - the Global Compact on Migration - still pending. Jeff Crisp argues that the formulation of a Global Compact represents an invaluable opportunity to reassess, revise and reinvigorate the international community’s efforts to protect and find solutions for the world’s refugees.
Izza Leghtas recently completed a two-week research mission in Turkey, investigating the ongoing challenges refugees face in accessing the formal labor market. She met men and women from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran, who shared their personal experiences and described their current jobs and work conditions.
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.
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.
Throughout the 20th century, it was a common and largely uncontested practice for refugees to be placed in camps when they arrived in their country of asylum. The advantages of this arrangement appeared to be self-evident. However, alternatives to camps must be pursued as a global principle, while the provision of appropriate support to refugees in urban centers and rural host communities must be guaranteed.
As the EU marks its 60th anniversary, EU member states now face the largest displacement crisis since World War II. Instead of responding with humanity and effectiveness, they have turned their backs on and closed their borders to people urgently seeking protection. Well over a million people have crossed the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2015, fleeing wars, violence, persecution, and human rights abuses in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea.
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.