Raising the Alarm on the Ongoing Rohingya Crisis
Over the past month, an estimated 600,000 Rohingya men, women, and children have fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, streaming into make-shift settlements in Bangladesh. RI has continued to raise the alarm on the ongoing Rohingya crisis. Senior Advocate for Human Rights Dan Sullivan testified in front of Congress on the crisis. You can view a video of the hearing here. RI President Eric Schwartz has spoken out on the crisis in numerous interviews (see media section below) and authored a Washington Post op-ed, “No More Excuses – The Rohingya Need Our Help.” RI also issued a policy brief on the crisis, “Bearing Witness to Crimes against Humanity.”
Displacement, Detention, and Abuses in Iraq
RI continues to monitor the displacement crisis in Iraq, which has intensified following the liberation of Mosul from ISIS control. In a recent mission to Iraq, Senior Advocate Daryl Grisgraber examined the plight of 11 million Iraqis who need humanitarian assistance. Her report, “Too Much, Too Soon: Displaced Iraqis and the Push to Return Home,” concludes that while the original causes of their vulnerability — conflict and displacement – may be lessening, their unmet daily needs remain. Senior Advocate Francisca Vigaud-Walsh wrote about alleged abuses of women and girls held in detention following their liberation from formerly ISIS-controlled areas. The issue brief, “Guilt by Association: Iraqi Women Detained and Subject to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse,” generated much attention among Iraqi and humanitarian officials.
Following RI’s continued efforts to focus attention on the significant humanitarian needs in Iraq, USAID announced that it would contribute more than $260 million in additional assistance to the Iraqi people.
"A Night for Refugees" in New York
On October 5, 2017, Refugees International hosted its 15th Annual New York Circle, an event titled "A Night for Refugees." RI honored Ambassador Samantha Power, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, with our 2017 Exceptional Service Award. Board Member Emeritus Sam Waterston served as the evening's master of ceremonies, and Mariela Shaker, celebrated Syrian musician and refugee from Aleppo, performed.
Accepting the award, Ambassador Power noted: “There is so much that each of us can do [to help refugees]…We can double the size of the checks we write to Refugees International. We can fund refugee-friendly political candidates at whatever level of government. And we can help a refugee family, because it is scary to come to this country…”
RI Welcomes Alexandra Lamarche
RI welcomes its newest team member, Advocate Alexandra Lamarche, who will focus on refugee, displacement, and peacekeeping issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining RI, Alexandra held positions in the Canadian government, working on conflict, reconciliation, and migration in the Central African Republic, Chad, Lebanon, Mauritania, Côté d'Ivoire, and Uganda. She holds a master’s degree in conflict, security and development from the University of Sussex in England and a bachelor of social sciences in conflict studies and human rights from the University of Ottawa.
Advocates in Action
- RI Senior Advocates Daryl Grisgraber and Izza Leghtas discussed the refugee crises in the Middle East and Europe at a Women in Foreign Policy event. RI Senior Advisor Dawn Calabia moderated the event.
- RI was pleased to welcome Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commisisoner for Refugees, to our DC office for a roundtable on the global refugee crisis.
- Senior Advocate Mark Yarnell attended UNHCR’s Executive Committee (ExCom) meeting in Geneva.
- RI President Eric Schwartz participated in a Council on Foreign Relations event on the Rohingya crisis and shared findings from his recent mission to the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
RI in the News
- On October 24, the White House issued a new Executive Order limiting refugee admissions. RI issued a statement arguing against the Administration’s new policy, which was quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Atlantic, among other U.S. and global news outlets.
- As the Rohingya refugee crisis intensified in October, Eric Schwartz spoke on a number of TV news programs, including the PBS News Hour with Judy Woodruff: What can stop the extreme violence against Rohingya Muslims? Eric also discussed the crisis with MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson. You can view the interview here.
- Upon his return from the RI mission to Bangladesh, Senior Advocate Daniel Sullivan authored a USA Today op-ed on the violence in Myanmar titled, Aung San Suu Kyi, understand this: Ethnic cleansing is going on in your Myanmar.
- Senior Advocate Francisca Vigaud-Walsh was quoted in The Guardian, explaining the increased tensions in Uganda after food shortages for refugees were slashed by half.