IIHA Spring Event Series: February 2016 Round Up

This semester, the IIHA is organizing a series of events that focus on the very timely topic of “Challenges & Opportunities: Global Migration in the 21st Century.” With approximately 60 million people either forcibly displaced from their homes or migrating by choice, the current migration crisis presents a multi-faceted, global challenge. IIHA is promoting events focused on migration as well as hosting a series of events offering different perspectives on the crisis.

Below is a summary of the events that were promoted by IIHA in February 2016.

Speaker: Eleanor Acer, Senior Director, Refugee Protection Program, Human Rights First Syrian refugees in Vienna

As the conflict in Syria rages on, an estimated 4 million refugees have fled the country. While many have moved to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan for safety, an increasing number have made the perilous journey to Europe, which is struggling to cope with this unprecedented influx. Due to its geographic location, the United States has not felt the pressure of the Syrian refugee crisis like many of its allies. But the U.S. has an obligation to cooperate with the international community to address this mass movement of people. Eleanor Acer, Senior Director of the Refugee Protection Program at Human Rights First, will discuss the role the United States can play in this crisis.

As the director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program, Eleanor Acer oversees Human Rights First’s pro bono representation program and advocacy on issues relating to refugee protection, asylum, and migrants’ rights. Under Eleanor’s leadership, Human Rights First partners with volunteer attorneys in the United States to obtain asylum for more than 90% of its refugee clients. Eleanor advocates, speaks and writes regularly on issues relating to the human rights of refugees and migrants, including legal representation, detention, U.S. asylum law and policy and protection from xenophobic and bias-motivated violence. She has authored numerous reports and articles, and has testified before the U.S. Congress.

The influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa into Europe continues to rise. Bitter divisions among member states have jeopardized the Schengen Area of borderless travel within the EU. Populists are having a field day. Do we have a moral responsibility to help these migrants? How can we maximize the benefits of migration and minimize potentially negative impacts? This event featured Peter Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, a position he has held since 2006. He was previously attorney general of Ireland.

Mr. Sutherland emphasized that the migrant crisis is a global problem and proximity cannot define responsibility. The international community must come together to produce rational solutions to the ongoing crisis. View the webcast on Carnegie Council’s website.


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