At the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump is likely to declare that the United States is the world’s leader in humanitarian assistance. Refugees International outlines five things the president must do to begin to transform his rhetoric about U.S. leadership into reality.
One year ago this week, Hurricane María made landfall in Puerto Rico causing catastrophic damage to the island. Women and girls are typically disproportionately impacted in natural disasters, and there are widely held standards and guidelines in place to guarantee their protection before, during, and after an emergency. However, insufficient protocols were put in place to ensure that women were protected during and after the storm. In fact, violence against women increased after Hurricane María, and women’s rights activists have now declared a crisis of gender-based violence (GBV) in the storm’s aftermath.
The Jordan Compact is an ambitious effort by the international community and the Kingdom of Jordan to help mitigate the economic toll of hosting a large number of Syrian refugees and turn it into a development opportunity. However, more than two years into the Compact, the results are disappointing and many refugees in Jordan are worse off.
The Trump administration is engaged in a sustained campaign against vulnerable women, men, and children seeking asylum in the United States. It is an effort waged through policies and actions designed to deter individuals from seeking protection, and to close off avenues for asylum that are well grounded in international and domestic law and established practice. In a new report, Refugees International provides recommendations for ending abuses against vulnerable people seeking protection from persecution at the U.S. southern border.
One year after the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Myanmar military that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, Refugees International outlines five key priorities the world must address in order to begin tackling the root causes of the Rohingya crisis.
For decades, armed conflicts have ravaged the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), resulting in massive displacement and critical humanitarian needs. Over 13.1 million Congolese require humanitarian assistance, and with limited resources, humanitarians in the DRC are forced to make tough trade-offs as new conflicts emerge amid protracted ones—with aid delivery slowing down and increasingly diverted with each new outbreak. Insufficient funding threatens to unravel decades of investment and push the DRC deeper into chaos.
As northeast Syria recovers from occupation by ISIS, there is an important opportunity to strengthen the capacity of local humanitarian groups to help the region recover. These groups work in IDP camps, in host communities, with the displaced, with residents who never left, and with IDP and refugee returnees. They provide a range of services from food distribution to health care to shelter assistance in places where many international aid organizations do not or cannot have a presence. However, these groups are significantly limited in what they can achieve due to scarce funding and lack of capacity.
The Trump administration’s current policies in the area of so-called “zero tolerance” are far from clear. Criminal prosecution and detention of migrants continue to be key administration tools in a policy of deterrence, and until recently, family separation has been a common and abhorrent practice. There are clear indications that the administration is still pursuing a family detention option, which could also apply to families that seek asylum at ports of entry. The zero tolerance policy is decidedly cruel. This RI issue brief explores alternatives to detention.
The Rohingya minority in Myanmar has undergone a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing marked by widespread and systematic sexual violence. While Rohingya women living in refugee camps in Bangladesh are currently safe from the violence in Myanmar, gender-based violence (GBV) continues in refuge, with hundreds of incidents reported weekly. And despite the acute awareness of the use of sexual violence as a weapon against the Rohingya, the humanitarian community in Bangladesh was—and remains—ill-prepared to prioritize the response to GBV as a lifesaving matter.
Syria is in the midst of one of the largest and fastest displacement crises since the start of the country’s bloody civil war eight years ago. As many as 330,000 Syrians have been displaced and are fleeing toward Jordan and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights to escape the Syrian government’s rapid advance. But despite the worsening crisis, international borders remain closed.
In June, the President signed an Executive Order (EO) in response to widespread concerns about the administration’s practice of separating adult asylum seekers from their children at the U.S. border. The EO is designed to replace a family separation policy with a family detention policy, but there is considerable uncertainty about how this will operate in practice. At the heart of this issue is the Flores Settlement, which regulates the treatment of children in the custody of federal immigration authorities. We took a close look at the settlement and what’s next.
As the former capital of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Raqqa serves as an important barometer in measuring the progress of recovery in the wake of the liberation of much of northeast Syria. However, to date, efforts to stabilize the city and address the humanitarian situation have not kept pace with realities on the ground.
The Trump administration Executive Order on June 20 did not immediately end the abhorrent practice of family separation and the criminalization of asylum seekers at the U.S. border. RI remains concerned that the president has replaced a family separation policy with a family detention policy.
The United States and other donors have an important opportunity to consolidate stability in northeast Syria, which has been largely liberated from the Islamic State. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have begun to return home, but much work remains to be done with major population centers like Raqqa still riddled with explosive devices and basic services still to be restored. Actions by the Trump administration, however, threaten to unravel fragile progress on the ground.
This report warns that a humanitarian catastrophe is imminently threatening the lives of nearly one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh as they now face the onset of the monsoon and cyclone seasons. The humanitarian response, including preparation for the monsoon season, has been significant and substantial – but it has also been hamstrung by obstacles and lack of effective management and coordination by the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations system. Failure to overcome these challenges is unnecessarily putting lives at risk.
This Refugees International (RI) report examines the status of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, as the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to either remove this population from Israel or place large numbers in indefinite detention. The report examines Israeli government policies that have denied protection to asylum seekers and alarming new proposals that would put this vulnerable population in greater peril.
This Refugees International report details how European policies designed to keep asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy are trapping thousands of men, women and children in appalling conditions in Libya. Based on a February 2018 field mission, the report describes the harrowing experiences of people detained in Libya’s notoriously abusive immigration detention system where they are exposed to grave human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and physical and sexual abuse.
This Refugees International issue brief examines the key tasks for the United Nations and its member states to establish a robust Global Compact for Refugees with governance mechanisms that can actually mobilize political leadership and engagement among both donor and host states that results in tangibly improved refugee response efforts.
As UN member states meet to discuss the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, it is essential that they consider the specific needs of individuals impacted by natural disasters and the adverse effects of climate change. Those moving across international borders in the context of disasters and climate change do not always fall neatly within existing definitions of refugees and migrants, leaving the most vulnerable individuals without sufficient protection and at risk of human rights violations.
With the upcoming discussions on the Global Compact on Refugees in Geneva next week, Refugees International examines both the refugees compact and the Global Compact on Migration. In this new issue brief, we examine the strength of the compacts and offer suggestions to better secure the rights and protections for refugees and migrants.
The crisis in Northeast Nigeria has reached an inflection point. Widespread famine no longer appears imminent, and the Nigerian military has pushed Boko Haram out of a number of cities and towns. However, the humanitarian crisis is far from over, and major challenges remain in responding to the needs of the internally displaced. At the same time, Nigerian officials are pressing for large-scale returns of the displaced to recently liberated areas—often before conditions can legitimately support returns. The Nigerian government should pause organized returns to insecure areas and work with the international community to improve services and protection for the displaced, while setting the stage for sustainable pathways home. In addition, the government must work to support local integration for those who may never return home.
Según los hallazgos en el informe de Refugees International (RI), tanto Estados Unidos como México deportan a personas con considerables necesidades de protección a Honduras y El Salvador, países de los que huyeron. El informe, Vidas en riesgo: Fallas en las medidas de protección afectan a hondureños y salvadoreños deportados de Estados Unidos y México, indica que el proceso de protección en todas las etapas –desde la tramitación de una solicitud de asilo hasta la deportación y reinserción en el país de origen– se caracteriza por graves fallas que, en última instancia, ponen en peligro vidas humanas. La investigación de RI también determinó que, a pesar de las inversiones sustanciales en servicios de acogida para los deportados, tanto Honduras como El Salvador tienen sistemas de protección deficientes.
Both the United States and Mexico are deporting individuals with significant protection needs back to Honduras and El Salvador – the countries from which they fled. In this report, Refugees International (RI) finds that the protection process at every stage – from asylum application to deportation to reintegration into the country of origin – suffers from serious failures that ultimately put lives at risk. The RI research also found that despite important investments in reception services for deportees, both Honduras and El Salvador have weak protection systems.
The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security has decided not to extend the Temporary Protected Status designation for El Salvador. That decision impacts more than 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States and potentially undermines the stability of El Salvador should they be forced to return. The policy brief outlines the implications of the TPS decision.
The same military responsible for a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya in western Myanmar is also responsible for serious human rights abuses and denial of life-saving aid in the north of the country. Some 100,000 people living in displacement camps in Kachin and northern Shan States face increased restrictions on aid delivery, decreased international aid, and waning global attention. A team from Refugees International (RI) recently traveled to displacement camps in northern Myanmar to document the ongoing humanitarian and protection crisis and to shine a light on a population suffering in shadows for too long.
In November, Refugees International carried out a mission to Puerto Rico to investigate the U.S. response to Hurricane Maria. Our team found the response by federal and Puerto Rican authorities was still largely uncoordinated and poorly implemented, prolonging the humanitarian emergency on the ground. Thousands of people still lack sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry, safe places to sleep.
This Refugees International report details how Myanmar’s military - the same military responsible for ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar - is also responsible for severe human rights abuses and blocking of life-saving aid to a mostly Christian minority in the north of the country. A team from Refugees International was able to access a restricted area outside of government control in Myanmar’s Kachin State to document the conditions of displaced persons.
A new Refugees International report details that, while refugees may seek employment under Turkish law, legal jobs are largely inaccessible for the vast majority of refugees in Turkey. The study, “I Am Only Looking for My Rights”: Legal Employment Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Turkey, finds that without legal employment, refugees become trapped in a cycle of informal work where the risk of exploitation and abuse is high and wages are low. Refugees in Turkey face enormous
Following the violent expulsion of some 400,000 Rohingya in Myanmar in the course of three weeks (now more than 500,000), Refugees International (RI) President Eric Schwartz and Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan traveled to Bangladesh to assess the situation and bear witness. This policy brief is based on that mission, which involved interviews with Rohingya refugees who recently arrived from Myanmar as well as with United Nations and Bangladesh government officials and international aid workers in Bangladesh.