We, a group of experts, met at Georgetown University on August 24, 2015 to discuss ways to improve responses to the current situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The workshop concluded that there is urgent need to raise the visibility of IDPs in two principal regards: gaining access to IDPs in acute crises, such as Syria, in order to provide effective protection; and finding solutions for IDPs in the many protracted situations of displacement that have already lasted for decades.
On September 2, photographs of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian who drowned off the shores of the Mediterranean, shocked and offended the conscience of the world. Alan's death highlights the brutal effects of the Syrian civil war and the mounting refugee crisis it is spawning: since the onset of violence 4 years ago, over 10 million people have been driven from their homes. In desperation, tens of thousands are risking death again to flee to Europe.
This year, the world continues to witness an unprecedented rise in the scale and number of humanitarian crises unfolding around the globe. In addition to protracted crises in Syria and South Sudan, there has been further deterioration in the situation in Iraq; a new conflict in Yemen; and back-to-back earthquakes in Nepal. These are just a few of the man-made and natural disasters to which humanitarian actors are currently responding. In the wake of these and other humanitarian needs around the world, we request your support for the highest possible base and overall funding levels in the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bills for humanitarian accounts. Now more than ever, it is critically important to shore-up funding for the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA), International Disaster Assistance (IDA), Food for Peace (FFP), and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) accounts. Specifically, we urge that these accounts be funded at no less than the following levels - $3.059 billion for MRA, $1.895 billion for IDA, $1.466 billion for FFP, and $50 million for ERMA.
This week, you have likely seen the heartbreaking photos of Syrian
refugees fleeing tragic circumstances and risking their lives and the
lives of their family members to find safety. The world mourns those who
have lost their lives in these
You and members of your administration have spoken eloquently about the war crimes and
crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Assad government in Syria and the need for a
political solution to end the crisis. Your administration has also directed over $4 billion in
humanitarian aid to assist the people of Syria. But, despite the clarity of those statements and the
American people’s generosity with humanitarian aid under your leadership, the Syrian
government has continued its campaign of mass homicide and terror against civilians.
As you prepare to visit Kenya and Ethiopia later this week, we, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write to share our appreciation for your engagement on some key concerns on the sub-continent, including the crucial role of governance. To this end, last summer’s US-Africa Leaders Summit was an important milestone and your upcoming trip presents an opportunity to reaffirm your administration’s commitment to addressing the core challenges faced by millions of Africans.
We, the undersigned members and partners of InterAction, write to urge you to swiftly confirm Gayle E. Smith to be the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
We are writing as representatives of international organisations deeply
concerned about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State,
Myanmar (Burma), to urge you to give this situation increased personal
attention and to use your personal influence to urge the Government of
Myanmar to increase access for international humanitarian aid to Rakhine
This year, your office is tasked with the search for a worthy successor
to the current incumbent. We were very pleased that he was selected in a
process that was open to the public through the presence of
representatives from non-governmental organizations on the search
committee, as well as the solicitation of public comments on the final
candidates under consideration.
Reciban un cordial saludo de la Oficina en Washington para Asuntos
Latinoamericanos (WOLA, por sus siglas en inglés), del Grupo de Trabajo
para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (LAWG, por sus siglas en inglés) y de
Refugees International. Por medio de la presente, les escribimos para
expresar nuestra preocupación por la vulnerabilidad en la que se
encuentra la defensora Esperanza Hernández Lugo, defensora de derechos
humanos que acompaña en temas humanitarios a la población que sufre
desplazamiento interno en el estado de Sinaloa.
Today, more than 120,000 United Nations peacekeepers are deployed within 16 operations across the globe. They are increasingly sent into the most dangerous and desperate of conflict zones, with mandates that are broader and more challenging than ever before. Sensing that these unprecedented demands had stretched the UN to the breaking point, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon established a high-level independent panel in October 2014 to “make a comprehensive assessment of the state of UN peace operations today, and the emerging needs of the future.” The panel is expected to deliver a draft report to the Secretary General in May 2015, with the final report made public during the UN General Assembly in September 2015.
The Hyogo Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction (HFA) has
provided critical guidance to reduce disaster risk. Its implementation
has, however, highlighted gaps in addressing the underlying risk factors
and effectively safeguarding communities. Evidence at the local level
indicates that impacts are increasing. This is due to policies and plans
not adequately addressing the reality on the ground. In particular,
this includes the constant threat of small-scale, recurrent, localized
disasters. However, these disasters are largely unacknowledged and
unrecorded, leaving communities to fend for themselves. Both intensive
and smaller-scale, chronic disasters can wipe out development gains and
trap people in cycles of poverty that erode their ability to cope.
Further, their impacts disproportionately affect marginalized groups
including the poor, children, people with disabilities, women, the
elderly, and indigenous groups.
We, the undersigned members and partners of InterAction, write to urge
you to support funding in FY 2016 for poverty-focused international
development and humanitarian assistance accounts at no less than the
levels outlined in the attached recommendations and our accompanying Choose to Invest FY2016.
As a group of 13 non-governmental organizations working on the frontlines of the Syria crisis to assist civilians affected by the conflict, we kindly request that you or another high-level representative of the United States government attend the upcoming Syria Crisis Donor Pledging Conference in Kuwait on March 31, 2015. The scope of the crisis, the severity of humanitarian need, and the profound impact of the conflict on a region key to U.S. national interest necessitates the highest level of U.S. government representation possible. Given the leadership role the U.S. has played in addressing this humanitarian crisis, we believe that your attendance will encourage other states to prioritize high level representation, pledge more funds, and demonstrate greater commitment to providing longer term support to the civilians affected by this crisis and the countries that are hosting them.
We write to highlight the urgent and critical importance of appointing another prominent, highlevel Special Envoy For the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since the appointment of Senator Russell Feingold as Special Envoy less than two years ago, the United States (U.S.) has played an increasingly central role in addressing one of the most enduring and serious humanitarian and human rights crises in the world in the DRC. The United States’ engagement was critical to the effective removal of the rebel group M23, elevating accountability as an essential element of a durable peace, and taking the lead in calling for timely and transparent democratic elections.
This year, the world has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the scale
and number of humanitarian crises unfolding around the globe. Within the
last 12 months, five “Level 3” humanitarian emergencies – the highest
UN classification for the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises
in the world – have been declared in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the
Central African Republic, and the Philippines. In the wake of these and
other humanitarian needs around the world including the Ebola outbreak
in West Africa, we request your support for robust levels of funding in
the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations bills for humanitarian accounts. Now
more than ever, it is critically important to shore-up funding for the
Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA), International Disaster
Assistance (IDA), Food for Peace (FFP), and Emergency Refugee and
Migration Assistance (ERMA) accounts.
Severe conflict is underway in Katanga Province. Villages across
northern Katanga have been razed, forcing as many as 540,000 people to
flee. Thousands of human rights violations – including killings,
torture, and sexual violence – have been committed by the Mai Mai Bakata
Katanga rebel group, Bantu and Pygmy self-defense militias, and members
of the Congolese military.
We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to express our grave
concerns about the deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis in
Iraq. Together, we call for a stronger response from the United States,
including a clear, long-term strategy for addressing what could become a
Ms. Crocker, whose nomination faces no known opposition in the Senate
and was voted unanimously out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
has nevertheless been waiting over 250 days for a confirmation vote.
Fulfilling these recommendations would also better position the U.S. to
advance its international leadership in proactive crisis response by
strengthening a range of multilateral policy tools and diplomatic
resources that have been impeded by recent Congressional budgetary
processes and pressures.
The Rohingya, a stateless minority of Myanmar, have endured decades
of abuse, persecution and discrimination. One year ago, on 3 June 2012,
the massacre of ten Muslims travelling in Rakhine State, following the
killing and reported rape of a Buddhist woman, marked the beginning of a
series of violent attacks against the Rohingya and other Muslim
communities. The violence of June and October 2012 resulted in countless
deaths, destruction to property, large scale internal displacement and
segregation within Rakhine state of Myanmar. Consequently, thousands of
Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and beyond.
Refugees International strongly recommends the activation of a national-level CCCM cluster
to jointly address the needs of displaced persons living in CCCM camps
as well as those living in spontaneous settlements and with host
families. To ensure that spontaneous sites are given equal priority, RI recommends that UNHCR and IOM co-lead the national cluster
and work collaboratively to support displaced persons according to
their needs and irrespective of their location. RI further recommends
the creation of a Strategic Advisory Group to include government
representatives, key UN agencies, and relevant NGO partners.
As the situation once again dramatically deteriorates in eastern
Congo, the U.S. response to the crisis has patently failed and is out of
step with other Western nations. The United States must take immediate
steps to address meaningfully one of the greatest ongoing humanitarian
crises of our generation.
Refugees International continues to be encouraged by the Security
Council’s ongoing engagement on the issue of the protection of civilians
in armed conflict. Despite a heightened recognition of the critical
importance of protection of civilians to the work of the Security
Council, as well as numerous tactical innovations at the field level, RI
remains concerned about the inability of individual states, as well as
the broader international community, to meet the widespread challenges
that prevent individuals, particularly those forcibly displaced or at a
heightened risk of statelessness, from living in safety and security
during times of conflict.
In advance of President Barack Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address, Refugees International would like to highlight the ongoing displacement crisis in the Horn of Africa. We urge President Obama to use the upcoming State of the Union Address to showcase U.S. leadership on this issue and the need for sustained, high-level attention to the plight of those impacted by drought and famine.
Refugees International congratulates the U.S. Government on this
impressive plan to empower women as partners in peace and security. Just
a few years ago, such a strong, far-reaching plan would have been
unthinkable, and we commend President Obama for his leadership on this
RI appreciates the important, and politically sensitive task that the Committee must perform over the coming months. We encourage Committee members and staff to seize the opportunity to return the U.S. to sound fiscal footing while safeguarding America's effective investments in lifesaving action and global leadership.
We are very concerned about the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan that began on 5 June, and the devastating impact it is having on civilians. Without immediate intervention by the UN Security Council to ensure
“eyes and ears” on the ground in Southern Kordofan, the grave risks to
international peace and security presented by the ongoing crisis will
remain unchecked, and the Security Council’s ability to protect
civilians from further abuses will be substantially undermined.
The United States Congress in deciding the future of funding for the Department of State and foreign
operations in the FY2012 budget and
appropriations bills. RI strongly believes that reducing support for vulnerable people in
unstable countries would be a grave mistake for U.S. foreign policy.
We respectfully ask you to call on Democrats and Republicans in the 112th Congress to work together to strengthen America’s global standing by continuing critical humanitarian engagement and investments. This would embrace America’s values of generosity and compassion by honoring the U.S. commitment to assist and protect the world’s most vulnerable people.
In advance of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Washington
to honor the memory and contributions of Ambassador Richard C.
Holbrooke, I would like to highlight Refugees International’s (RI)
concerns regarding critical humanitarian and human rights issues in
Pakistan and urge you to raise them during your bilateral discussions.
Minority communities on both sides of the north-south border require protection around the time of the referendum and in its aftermath.
The broad and far-reaching implications of climate change on human rights mean that national governments must do more to protect vulnerable populations.
Among the long list of issues that the two parties must resolve prior
to the January 2011 referendum on southern indenpendence, citizenship
and the protection of minority communities on either side of the border
have the most potential to develop into serious humanitarian crises.
For the past several years, Refugees International has been concerned about the lack of a coherent UN strategy for Sudan.
As you visit with government leaders from Ecuador and Colombia next
week, you have an opportunity to assert U.S. leadership in addressing
one of the world’s worst displacement crises. Refugees International
and the U.S. Office on Colombia urge you to prioritize assistance and
protection to refugees and internally displaced people in your
discussions with government officials, and ultimately take the
opportunity to address the Colombian refugee crisis from a regional
En las reuniones que sostendrá con lideres de Ecuador y Colombia la semana entrante, usted tendrá la oportunidad de demostrar el liderazgo de nuestra nación con respecto a la crisis
humanitaria que representa el desplazamiento involuntario de personas
desde sus lugares de origen.
As the U.S. military presence in Iraq shrinks over the coming year,
Refugees International urges you to work together to ensure that there
is sufficient support and protection for vulnerable displaced Iraqis,
both inside Iraq and in neighboring countries.
As members of InterAction, the largest coalition of US-based
international development and humanitarian NGOs, we are writing to
express our very serious concerns about the number of vacancies at the
top levels of the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID). While we commend you for your commitment to strengthening USAID
and its capacity to lead the U.S. government’s foreign aid work, we are
concerned about the continuing staffing delays at the agency’s highest
I did not want to miss this opportunity to pay tribute to you tonight
for your six years of leadership and service as the Chairman of the
Board of Directors of Refugees International.
We write to express our serious concerns for the safety and protection
of the 4689 Lao Hmong who were forcibly returned by the Thai government
from Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai to Laos on December 28, 2009.
I write to highlight the plight of refugees and displaced people and to
urge you to commit to a continued and vigorous humanitarian response,
especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, in your State of the
Union address. Your remarks are an opportunity to outline the role of
the United States in responding to complex emergencies around the
world, emphasize that the needs of the most vulnerable are central to
U.S. values and security interests, and assure the American people that
the United States will remain the world’s leader on humanitarian
We applaud your leadership and commitment to addressing sexual violence
in armed conflict. As you continue to monitor the situation in Sudan
and work to facilitate effective humanitarian operations for Darfuris
displaced in Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic, we the
undersigned organizations urge you to ensure that programming for
survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGV) is recognized as
essential and incorporated into the basic needs objectives for
humanitarian operations in the region.
As donors, including the U.S. and EU, meet next week to discuss in particular security sector reform in the DRC, we would like to urge you, as the Special Envoy for the Africa Great Lakes region, to take the following recommendations into account.
We, the undersigned, write to thank Senator Jim Webb and the Senate
Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs for
holding a hearing on U.S.-Burma relations, and applaud efforts to find
new ways to encourage dialogue with the Burmese people.
I would like to thank you for your letter dated September 22. My colleagues and I appreciate the time that you took to respond to our latest DRC field report in detail. I want to stress at the outset that in the case of MONUC Refugees International’s basic approach is critical support --- we may point out problems and deficiencies, but always from a core perspective of appreciating the work that you do and the vital role that MONUC plays in developing a stable Congo where its people can live in safety and dignity.
Refugees International (RI) is pleased to learn of your decision to
visit Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on August 11th. Very few
Secretaries of State take the time to visit embattled, isolated places
such as the eastern Congo and your decision to do so shows admirable
commitment to easing the suffering of the Congolese people.
Conflict and violence in Colombia, often directed at civilians,
continues to force more than 250,000 people every year to abandon their
homes and land and seek sanctuary elsewhere, including neighboring
countries. Colombia’s forced displacement is the worst humanitarian
crisis in the Americas, and second only to Sudan worldwide.
We are writing to you as a member of the Board of Directors and the
President of Refugees International, a Washington-based humanitarian
advocacy organization that advocates for lifesaving assistance and
protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement
crises. We are approaching you as the Foreign Minister of a leading
Islamic state to express concern about the humanitarian situation in
Pakistan and to urge your government to support the Pakistani
government and the United Nations in responding to this crisis.
Je vous écris pour féliciter le Burkina Faso pour ses efforts soutenus afin de donner une identité à ses citoyens, surtout aux nouveau-nés et jeunes enfants, à l’intérieur de ses frontières.
I am writing to congratulate Burkina Faso on its revitalized effort to give an identity, particularly to newborn
and young children, within the country’s borders.
The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Refugees International, are non-governmental organizations that work to promote and defend human rights in the American hemisphere. We write to express our concern with regard to draft Article 16 of the proposed Constitutional reform, which is currently being debated in the Dominican National Assembly.
El Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), el Centro Robert F. Kennedy para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos y Refugees International, organizaciones que trabajamos por la defensa y promoción de los derechos humanos en el hemisferio americano, en esta oportunidad, nos dirigimos al Gobierno dominicano para manifestar nuestra inquietud con respeto al artículo 16 del Anteproyecto de Reforma Constitucional actualmente en debate en la Asamblea Nacional dominicana.
We, the undersigned 44 U.S. organizations, represent concerned Americans and thousands of individuals who are committed to providing the people of Iraq with effective humanitarian and development assistance. At this critical juncture, the United States must continue to strongly engage Iraqis in the recovery, rebuilding and renewal of their country.
Même avant le déclenchement des activités militaires principales, les opérations conjointes ont déjà provoqué des déplacements majeurs au Nord et Sud Kivu. Si l’évaluation des chiffres n’est que provisoire, de nombreuses personnes se sont enfuies suite au début des combats et aux avertissements de combat imminent, ainsi que tout simplement par peur, venant s’ajouter aux 1,2 million de personnes déjà déplacées au cours des précédentes vagues de combat.
Even before the main thrust of military action has begun, the joint operations have already sparked significant displacement in North and South Kivu. While estimates of numbers remain tentative, people have fled in response to warnings of imminent combat, actual outbreaks of fighting, and just plain fear, adding to the 1.2 million already displaced in earlier waves of fighting.
The Rohingya have been rendered stateless in Burma and have experienced systematic discrimination, exclusion, and human rights violations in Burma for decades, prompting hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, most notably Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. Most are without legal status and are vulnerable to arrest, imprisonment, detention and deportation.
Internal displacement continues to be one of the most challenging humanitarian problems of our time. As a leading donor and voice in the humanitarian field, it is essential that the United States address this problem.
Now is not the time to curtail engagement with Burma on humanitarian issues. If funding is cut off in 2009, the operating environment for NGOs and community organizations may return to restrictive pre-cyclone restrictions.
Over four million Iraqis have been forced from their homes due to the intense violence in their country, with nearly half seeking refuge in neighboring countries and half displaced in different governorates inside Iraq. The United States, through Congressional leadership, has improved its response to the needs of vulnerable Iraqis, through an increase in humanitarian funding and an increase in the refugee resettlement program, yet more still needs to be done.
Since the beginning of the 2003 war, millions of Iraqis have been displaced inside Iraq and throughout the region. The U.S. response is incommensurate with the scope of the need. Equally troubling is the fact that there seems to be no clear long-term strategy to address the crisis that is likely to become a protracted one.
Pre-cyclone conditions ranked Burma as one of the poorest countries in the world. Those who have lost their homes, crops, and means of livelihood will shortly be dependent on international assistance. Without it many will die.
The movement of refugees is on a scale not seen in the Middle East since 1948, and although more international attention has focused on the issue in the last 12 months, far too little has been done to tackle the displacement crisis. The US, the UK, and the Iraqi governments should be doing much more to lead a rapid, comprehensive and robust international response, both from a humanitarian point of view and in the interests of long-term regional stability.
Globally, the military is filling a vacuum created by shrinking civilian capacity, and the result will be short-term solutions for the vexing and enduring challenges facing the world’s “bottom billion”. The militarization of aid in pursuit of national security objectives will not enhance US ability to achieve its foreign policy goals – including prevailing in the war against terrorism.
The nations of Africa have a long history of insecurity and instability. Today, the continent holds the highest number of people displaced due to conflict in the world, and their access to basic services such as clean water, food, healthcare and education is largely inadequate.
With over two million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries and 2.4 million displaced within their own country, Iraq is one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and threatens to undermine regional stability. Despite its scale, the international response, including that of the United Nations, has been woefully inadequate.
Over 4.5 million Iraqis have been displaced since 2003, with nearly 2.5 million Iraqi civilians fleeing to neighboring countries, and over 2 million displaced internally within Iraq. This displacement crisis has grave humanitarian implications as well as potential negative ramifications for regional security.
Iraq, the US and the Arab league must do more to ensure that refugees receive the protection and assistance they deserve. Without decisive leadership, the health and lives of thousands of refugees and the stability of the region are at risk.
MONUC, the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission, has played a crucial role in the DRC’s progress, but now needs to evolve to help consolidate peace while leading efforts to rebuild. While peace has returned to many parts of the east, pockets of insecurity, abuse, displacement, and need persist.