Refugees International President Eric Schwartz reflects on the current political environment in the United States with respect to refugee issues and the implications for the work of humanitarian and refugee advocates.
Refugees International is disappointed by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a broad Presidential ban that was imposed in September 2017 on entry of individuals from eight countries, most of which are have Muslim majorities. We believe the ban was motivated by religious bias, as reflected in repeated statements by the President prior to and subsequent to the presidential election, and that the government has failed to demonstrate that the measure was reasonably grounded in national security concerns.
In the wake of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, Refugees International condemns the separation of children of from parents seeking protection in the United States. These measures are nowhere mandated in U.S. law, are inhumane, and risk creating psychological and emotional damage to the children and their families.
Refugees International is dismayed by the Italian government’s refusal to allow the SOS Mediteranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ship, the Aquarius, to disembark in Italy. EU governments have the means to manage these arrivals in an organized, humane way that complies with their obligations under international law.
In this statement, President Eric Schwartz reacts to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to end asylum for victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. The Attorney General’s decision puts thousands of women’s lives at risk in countries where femicide is on the rise.
It is essential that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) address protection issues, as reaffirmation of protection principles in the GCM sends an important signal of support for the rights of migrants from governments of the world.
Refugees International is calling on the United Nations to address climate change-related human mobility in the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, and include protections for persons moving in the context of climate change-related adverse effects, including both sudden- and slow-onset hazards.
In the statement, Refugees International notes the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Development Program with the Government of Myanmar which would allow the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. However, RI is deeply concerned that continued impunity, restricted access to aid, and denial of basic human rights in Myanmar’s Rakhine State make repatriation a distant reality at this time.
This week marks the 70th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping. It is a time to reflect on the 134 peacekeepers who lost their lives this past year and to show gratitude to the nearly 105,000 troops, police, civilians, and volunteers - coming from 124 countries - who serve on 14 peacekeeping operations worldwide. After 70 years, UN Peacekeeping remains as relevant as ever.
In the statement, Refugees International makes clear why it urges the U.S. Senate to reject the nomination of Robert Mortensen as the next Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.
Refugees International remains alarmed by the significant budget cuts proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget, which was released on February 12, 2018. Budgets define prioritiesand this budget proposal, if approved by Congress, would be devastating to lifesaving humanitarian work across the globe.
In this statement, Refugees International expresses its deep concern regarding the return in recent weeks of thousands of Afghan nationals from Turkey back to Afghanistan where their safety is at risk. On April 23, Turkey’s minister of the interior announced that 7,100 Afghans had been returned to Afghanistan and that thousands more would follow shortly.
Refugees International is dismayed by Friday’s decision by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Honduras on July 5, 2018. The fate of some 57,000 Hondurans currently living in the United States, as well as their estimated 53,000 American citizen children, is now in question.
Twenty-one human rights and humanitarian organizations issued a statement today protesting the Greek government’s move to overturn a binding court ruling which ordered the government to end its abusive policy of trapping asylum seekers on Greece’s islands. The government’s move raises significant concerns about its challenge to rule of law.
Refugees International urges the United Nations Security Council to use its visits to Bangladesh and Myanmar to demand humanitarian access in Rakhine State and accountability for the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya. The visit to the camps in Bangladesh, where 700,000 Rohingya have fled, must also serve to highlight the urgent need for humanitarian support and improved coordination ahead of the monsoon and cyclone seasons.
On Friday, April 13, 2018, international donors gathered in Geneva for a Humanitarian Conference on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The conference was a crucial opportunity to focus global attention on the estimated 13.1 million Congolese citizens who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection. In this statement, Refugees International urged urgent action to establish humanitarian assistance for the affected Congolese civilians.
In this statement, Refugees International expresses its dismay at the sudden announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the April 2 agreement between Israel and UNHCR regarding Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. RI welcomed the agreement which would have allowed refugee resettlement opportunities in Western countries for more than 16,000 African asylum seekers and would have provided temporary status inside Israel for another 16,000 within this vulnerable population.
As President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman tomorrow, Refugees International calls upon the president to press for an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. In the absence of Saudi Arabia taking swift and concrete measures to protect and assist Yemeni civilians, President Trump should make clear that the United States will not continue to support a war that endangers the lives of millions.
Last week, the war in Syria marked a gruesome anniversary, with the nature and scope of the humanitarian tragedy continuing to defy description. The past year witnessed the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians. The regime in Damascus and its allies continued to strike hospitals and other civilian targets. The war crimes now continue in the siege of Eastern Ghouta. In this statement, Refugees International calls on the United States and international community to take immediate action to end this years-old crisis.
On March 14, 2018, RI Senior Advocate Mark Yarnell testified before a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on "Somalia’s Current Security and Stability Status." Hosted by the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, the hearing examined the security and humanitarian conditions in Somalia following the near famine in 2017.
Refugees International condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack over the weekend on Eastern Ghouta by the Assad regime in direct contravention of Saturday’s unanimous UN Security Council resolution 2401 calling for an immediate nationwide ceasefire. That attack coupled ground forces with air bombardment, reportedly including the use of chemical weapons.
Refugees International welcomes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passage of S.2060, the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act. This bipartisan legislation is a critical step forward in demanding accountability for the ethnic cleansing that has taken place in Burma (also known as Myanmar).
With the news that Myanmar and Bangladesh have reached an agreement on the return of the 600,000 Rohingya, Refugees International underlines several significant concerns about the terms of repatriation. Before any steps are undertaken, a number of safeguards must be put in place.
Refugees International President Eric Schwarz reacts to recent comments reliably attributed to the President of the United States, in which the President suggested that country of nationality, in and of itself, should impact eligibility for immigration to the United States. Schwartz underlines that this would depart from long-held U.S. policy and core values of the United States.
The Trump Administration has decided to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador. As a result, the fate of some 200,000 Salvadorans currently living in the United States is now in question, as is the status of nearly 200,000 of their American citizen children. The Salvadorans now have just 18 months to leave the United States, unless Congress takes action.
The EU and European governments continue to fail in their responsibilities to refugees and migrants who face severe abuse in Libyan detention centers operated by the Government of National Accord (GNA).
Refugees International President Eric Schwartz welcomes President Trump’s statement this week on the Yemen blockade, but the President’s words must be turned into immediate action as the blockade continues and millions of Yemeni lives are at stake.
Refugees International President Eric Schwartz issues a statement as the United States announced its decision to end its participation in the effort to develop a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Schwartz states that the U.S. decision is irresponsible and will limit U.S. capacity to influence a critical international discussion.
During their White House meeting, President Trump and Libya's Prime Minister al-Sarraj should discuss the plight of refugees and migrants in Libya, especially those housed in government-run detention facilities. Refugees International and other organizations have documented abuses taking place in these facilities. The U.S. president should urge the Libyan government to hold accountable those responsible.