REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS STORIES
The Impact of Our Work Across the Globe
Support for the world's most vulnerable people
Today, the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide has surpassed historic levels, with more than 68 million refugees and displaced people worldwide. More than half of the world's refugees are children. Despite these troubling numbers, the current U.S. administration has made clear its intention to drastically cut U.S. budgeted funding for humanitarian assistance and response programs, The House and Senate have rejected the administration’s policies and have continued to support lifesaving programs for the world's most vulnerable people. RI has been on the front lines of these efforts, advocating for continued U.S. humanitarian support and leadership.
Advocating for Robust Famine Response
In 2017, RI successfully campaigned for an additional $990 million in emergency U.S. government funding targeting the famine response in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, and South Sudan. In July, RI staff testified before Congress on the persistent risk of famine, urging Congress to continue humanitarian assistance and funding for programs that build resilience to future droughts. In 2018, RI was again part of a successful effort to sustain and even increase levels of U.S. humanitarian assistance.
Assistance for Displaced People within Syria and Iraq
Throughout the past year, RI has continued to highlight humanitarian needs inside Syria and Iraq. An RI team traveled inside of Syria, examining the mechanisms for delivering aid as humanitarian access inside the country became increasingly restricted. Following RI's report on the effectiveness of small Syrian aid organizations operating inside of Syria, the U.S. Department of State prioritized aid proposals that seek to work with these local Syrian aid groups. In addition, the U.S. government's major funding contributions for Syrians in 2017 specifically addressed the need to support communities hosting Syrian refugees, recommendations that RI has advocated for over several years. What's more, In collaboration with humanitarian NGO partners, RI advocacy contributed to significant funding for vulnerable Syrians, including $697 million in assistance to countries hosting Syrian refugees and for Syrian's suffering from the war's impact.
In 2017 and 2018, RI continued its advocacy on behalf of the millions of displaced Iraqis, successfully pressing the United Nations and the U.S. government to make humanitarian assistance - including demining - a priority as displaced Iraqis began to return to their once-besieged cities and towns. Working in partnership with other advocacy groups and NGOs, RI also helped to secure high-level U.S. government representation at the international Iraq reconstruction conference in Kuwait. RI regularly engaged with the National Security Council, a lead decision-maker on U.S. policy toward Iraq, to emphasize the importance of continuing humanitarian assistance as an essential element of stabilization and security efforts.
Advocating on behalf of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
In 2017, RI was among the first organizations to publicly recognize the violence against the Rohingya people as ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity - and to demand U.S. government action. Within the first weeks of the crisis, RI traveled to Bangladesh and produced the report, Bearing Witness to Crimes Against Humanity. In the report, RI detailed the depth of the crisis and the violence perpetrated against Rohingya men, women, and children. The report also examined conditions within the burgeoning refugee camps in Bangladesh. RI's president and staff advocated for U.S. and international action to address the crisis, with interviews in the New York Times, the Associated Press, and Reuters, as well as on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR reports. In Hill testimony, RI staff called for U.S. officials to declare ethnic cleansing had taken place and to implement sanctions against Myanmar's military leadership.
Support for Syrian and Non-Syrian Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Turkey
In 2017, RI continued its efforts working on behalf of Syrians, non-Syrians, and asylum seekers in Turkey and elsewhere around the Mediterranean. In particular, RI advocated for access to legal employment, safe working conditions, and fair wages in Turkey. Aid to non-Syrian refugees has also been a particular focus of RI's advocacy efforts over the past year. In March, the U.S. State Department issued a call for NGO funding applications for programs benefiting non-Syrian refugees and made clear that it would only fund programs which served refugees numbering 50 percent non-Syrians.
A Safety Net for People Displaced by Disasters in the Wake of Hurricane Maria
Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Refugees International reported on the failed U.S. government response in Puerto Rico and significantly raised public awareness about the need for greater efforts to address the ongoing emergency and for long-term recovery assistance. The RI report, Keeping Faith with our Fellow Americans, received widespread media attention. An Associated Press story about the RI report and its findings was carried in the New York Times and Washington Post and promoted other interviews including on NPR's All Things Considered and the PBS program Frontline. The RI report and media coverage prompted the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue a statement defending their actions in Puerto Rico.
Working to End Gender-Based Violence and Protecting the Rights of Refugee and Displaced Women and Girls
Refugees International works to address the needs and rights of refugee and displaced women and girls. In the past year, RI staff has traveled to Iraq, Uganda, and Bangladesh to assess reports of mass rapes and other abuses experienced by women and girls in conflict zones and in displacement and refugee settings. Following RI's 2017 mission to Iraq and its examination of abuse allegations against Iraqi women in detention camps, then UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande issued a statement saying, "Humanitarians are deeply worried about incidents of collective punishment..and sexual exploitation and violence, including in emergency sites and camps." In October 2017, RI joined with other organizations to advocate that the proposed Global Compact on Refugees include strong language supporting and protecting women and girls.