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.
At the close of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, Francisca Vigaud-Walsh writes that women’s bodies are often a battleground in conflict zones, and humanitarian aid areas must be a place for healing their wounds. Programs such as the U.S. initiative "Safe From the Start" are essential tools in the addressing the impacts of violence against woman and girls in conflicts.
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.
Following a recent mission to the Northern Triangle region of Central American, Refugees International finds that current conditions require that the United States government not deport Temporary Protective Status beneficiaries from Honduras and El Salvador. Rather, the U.S. should provide alternatives for Honduran and Salvadoran women, men and children to remain in the United States legally.
An important renewal of global commitment to peacekeeping took place recently at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial conference in Vancouver. Member countries and international organizations presented their commitments to improve and reinforce peacekeeping efforts. But at this time of funding cuts in many countries, the actual fulfillment of those pledges will be a challenge.
This was a year of new beginnings and the start of an exciting opportunity as I took on the leadership of Refugees International. But as I begin this gratifying new chapter of my own professional life, I am fully aware that for millions of refugees and displaced people around the world, 2017 was a devastating year.
In short, two months after Hurricane Maria pummeled this island, the U.S. response remains too slow and bureaucratic, and lacks transparency and the broad information-sharing that is essential to an effective disaster response.
In October, a Refugees International (RI) colleague and I traveled to Turkey to revisit the issue of work permits and livelihood access for the 3.5 million refugees now living there – 3.2 million of whom are Syrians. As in previous missions, we interviewed Syrian refugees who had recently fled their war-torn homeland.
Turkey faces a long list of challenges that come with hosting 3.5 million refugees, the highest number for any refugee-hosting country, but the Turkish authorities and international and humanitarian actors should not treat people differently based on the country from which they fled.
For the first time in its 38 year history, Refugees International (RI) is conducting a mission to the United States. Over the next week, my colleagues and I will be in Puerto Rico where eight weeks after Hurricane Maria made a direct hit, urgent humanitarian needs remain unmet.
Despite the alarming numbers of people in need, as well as the grave atrocities being carried out, the Kasai region has received very little international attention and humanitarian funding. More than 30,000 people have fled from the Kasai region into Angola, seeking protection and support, and another 1.4 million people are internally displaced. The UN estimates that roughly one million people are food insecure, including 400,000 children who are facing malnutrition. The needs are staggering
As tensions between English- and French-speaking communities in Cameroon continue to rise, RI Advocate Alexandra Lamarche calls on the United States and the international community to facilitate talks between the factions while this emerging crisis can still be mitigated.
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.
Following the liberation of Raqqa, Syria from ISIS control, Daryl Grisgraber looks at the humanitarian needs of internally displaced people and of those who remained during the conflict. The physical and logistical obstacles to providing humanitarian aid may be fewer with the end of the fighting, but in a sense aid organizations are now playing catch-up with people whom they couldn’t previously serve adequately or at all.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it will cut food rations by 30 percent for the hundreds of thousands of Somalis in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya. WFP said the decision is the result of funding shortfalls. However, many of the Somali refugees believe the reductions are the result of a Kenyan government move to close the Dadaab and push the Somali refugees toward “voluntary” repatriation to Somalia.
On October 5, 2017, Refugees International hosted its 15th Annual New York Circle, entitled "A Night for Refugees." RI honored Ambassador Samantha Power, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, with Refugees International's 2017 Exceptional Service Award.
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: