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.
As United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres visits Rohingya camps in Bangladesh on July 2, he must address the restrictive policies and lack of effective management and coordination that are hindering humanitarian support efforts there.
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.
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.