August 2017

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Violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar

In recent weeks, the Myanmar military has engaged in increased violence against the Rohingya population, sparking a mass exodus of Rohingya into Bangladesh. In response to this crisis, Refugees International now has a team in Bangladesh led by RI President Eric Schwartz to assess the situation and conditions for Rohingya refugees. Read a recent blog from RI President Eric Schwartz: Sounding the Alarm on the Rohingya Crisis. RI was pleased that our call to the U.S. to halt expanded military cooperation with Myanmar was heeded by Senator John McCain after a strong advocacy push from RI and our partners. Eric discussed the ongoing crisis on Al Jazeera English and with the Dhaka Tribune. RI's concerns about the recent violence were also covered by the Associated Press

RI has been engaged in advocating for Rohingya rights for a number of years. Following a July 2017 mission to the Rohingya refugee camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, RI Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan authored the report, Reluctant Refuge: Rohingya Safe but not Secure in Bangladesh. Timed with the Bangladesh report release, RI also issued a policy brief on the ongoing abuses and oppression of the Rohingya within Myanmar.

Drought and Displacement in Somalia

Continuing drought conditions in Somalia have resulted in a prolonged humanitarian crisis, leaving significant numbers of Somalis destitute and facing near famine conditions. More than 800,000 people have been forced to flee in order to reach lifesaving assistance. Following their recent mission to Somalia, RI Senior Advocate Mark Yarnell and Climate Displacement Program Manager Alice Thomas authored the report, On the Edge of Disaster: Somalis Forced to Flee Drought and Near Famine Conditions. Mark and Alice are currently briefing State Department officials and Members of Congress on the current conditions and humanitarian needs in Somalia.

Letter urging the State Department to keep refugee bureau

In July, RI President Eric Schwartz along with 40 former U.S. officials and 18 humanitarian organization leaders sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging the Trump administration to affirm the role of the State Department’s refugee bureau. Articles about the letter were published by the Washington PostReuters, and Politico, among other news outlets.

Refugees stranded on the Greek islands

RI Senior Advocate for Europe Izza Leghtas recently completed her latest mission examining the plight of refugees and migrants attempting to reach Europe. Izza wrote about the dire conditions in her latest report, 'Like a Prison': Asylum-seekers Confined to the Greek Islands. Also see our photo report from Greece on the asylum-seekers living in limbo, in untenable conditions, and with growing anxiety about their futures. Izza voiced concerns about the conditions for asylum-seekers in interviews with Radio France International and AFP.

Advocates in Action

  • RI President Eric Schwartz testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing titled, “The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan.” Watch the hearing here and read his testimony here.
  • RI Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan appeared as a panelist for a Senate Human Rights Caucus briefing, “Forced to Flee Burma: Stories of Rohingya in Bangladesh”. View a clip of his remarks here

Climate Displacement Program Manager Alice Thomas gave a presentation at the Global Compact on Migration Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue, held at UN Headquarters in New York.

RI in the News

  • RI President Eric Schwartz discussed the challenges facing refugees as Gen. John Kelly took over the role of White House chief of staff with the Financial Times.
  • RI Senior Advocate for Europe Izza Leghtas commented on Italy’s new plan to stop refugees and migrants from leaving Libya and crossing the Mediterranean in TIME
  • RI Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan discussed the ongoing plight of the Rohingya people on the NPR program, "The Takeaway".
  • During his testimony on food security before the Senate, RI President Eric Schwartz discussed the current situation in Yemen and the Trump administration’s response to the crisis, and is quoted in USA Today.
  • RI Senior Advocate Mark Yarnell discussed the displacement and humanitarian crisis in Somalia on MPR News. RI's report was also covered by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
  • RI President Eric Schwartz discussed the leadership and mission of UN Secretary-General António Guterres with the Washington Diplomat.


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