Category Archives: Partnerships

Asylum Seekers Find Refuge in NYC Grassroots Organizations

 

New York City, May 8, 2017 In his home of Nigeria, Audu Kadiri was a relentless humanitarian: a human rights and healthcare advocate working on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients. But when he began to stand up against draconian laws criminalizing access to healthcare for the LGBTI community he faced opposition and eventually threats to his life.

Today he is in exile in New York City, waiting for his asylum interview that would allow him to fully start his life over. As a community activist at African Communities Together, he has not stopped in his pursuit of justice.

Last month, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) and the Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development hosted Audu at a Fordham University event entitled, Seeking Refuge in New York City. He was joined by Ellie Alter, Associate Director of Refugee and Immigrant Fund (RiF); Sydney Kornegay, Director of RDJ Shelter for asylum seekers; and Ahmed Awney, a Libyan architect, filmmaker, and asylum seeker.

Asylum seekers enter the country with a visa, such as a student or tourist visa. They apply for asylum upon arrival to seek protection from persecution, because of their religion, sexuality, political affiliation, or other reasons.

In other countries this process is commonly known as “Refugee Status Determination” in which an asylum seeker applies for refugee status, affording them sanctuary in their first country of arrival. The very lucky few, roughly one percent, are resettled to another country. The United States has had a long-tradition of resettling refugees after a long vetting process. Resettled refugees receive assistance from governmental agencies for access to housing, job placement, and documentation, which is not the case for asylum seekers.  

According to RiF, approximately 40,000 people applied for asylum in New York City in 2016 while 215 refugees were resettled in the city from abroad.   

“Resettled refugees are immediately assigned an organization, one of nine NGOs contracted by the US government, to support them from the day they get here with the basic needs that anyone should receive coming into the US as a refugee. In contrast, “when an asylum seeker gets here they are really facing a long road of a lack of support. There are not a ton of resources out there that we can lead them to, unfortunately…RiF was founded to fill this void of initial support,” explained Ellie.

Because asylum seekers arrive to a host country immediately after fleeing, they are often ill-prepared for the challenges ahead. In the United States, they have no legal right to work until they complete an arduous and lengthy application process. A shortage of attorneys who take asylum cases forces many to apply with little to no legal guidance, lowering their chances of securing protection. Furthermore, this application process causes many to live in what feels like perpetual limbo for asylum seekers who are also far from their families and support systems.

Many, therefore, rely on grassroots organizations like RiF and RDG Shelter to provide food, shelter and legal guidance. Organizations like these also offer physical and psychological space for community and acceptance in a foreign country.

When communities open their doors to asylum seekers, they participate in humanitarian action in their own backyards. Volunteers in New York dedicate their time to teaching English, cooking meals, organizing fundraisers, representing them in court, and donating food. Most importantly, they offer companionship, which the panelists agreed is a rewarding commitment.

“Just show up, show your face…that means a lot to a grassroots organization like ours,” said Ellie.

In today’s political climate, many asylum seekers waiting for their interviews fear they may not be successful in their pursuit of protection as they initially hoped.

“They are leaving it all behind, it is not easy. You are leaving all you have, all you have worked for to come to a new life,” said Audu.

In order to protect asylum seekers and other immigrants in the United States, Audu advocates that refugees and asylum seekers must be “shown respect instead of being looked at like a liability or a pest….and viewed as a human first, one who simply needs assistance.”

To learn more, watch the event on Facebook Live.

Rosalyn Kutsch, IIHA Student Outreach Intern

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RIF to hold next Asylum Seekers Meeting at Fordham University

14716219_604188369767315_1823985820247805721_nEach month the IIHA supports RIF to host Saturday gatherings for asylum seekers to learn and share information about living in New York. Experts and former asylum seekers will address topics such as education, job preparation, resume building, green-industry opportunities and social services. Learn more!

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Fordham and the IIHA formalize partnership with IOM

IIHA and IOM

Roger Milici, Stephen Freedman, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Ashraf El Nour, Brendan Cahill, and Olivia Headon (Photo by Dana Maxson)

Ambassador Swing and Joseph M. McShane, S.J. Fordham University and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) are proud to announce our partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which was formalized by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. and IOM Director General Ambassador William Lacy Swing at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus in New York.

dmp_8882The agreement between the two organizations was led and negotiated by IIHA Executive Director, Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9), who emphasized the importance of the partnership for training, research, and publications. We extend our sincere thanks to CIHC Board Member and IDHA Alumni Council Chairperson Emeritus, Argentina Szabados (IDHA 2), who, in her roles as IOM Regional Director for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia and Special Representative to IOM Director General, has been an absolutely integral part of the process.

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IIHA Hosts Second Cohort of NOHA Students at Fordham University

The IIHA hosted the second cohort of the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA) Erasmus Mundus students at Fordham University during the summer session from mid-June till mid-August. NOHA2016_UNIIHA Executive Director, Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9), welcomed the seven students from four European universities: Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany (Meryem Alci, Tatjana Bojarski and Malte Neuser), University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain (Daniela Brum da Silva Nieves and Guillermo Barros), University College Dublin in Ireland (Sara Bojö) and University of Groningen in the Netherlands (Hawa Kombian). IIHA Research Fellow, Rene Desiderio, Ph.D., served as Academic Advisor of the students.

During their stay at Fordham, the students conducted research for their master’s theses focusing on various humanitarian issues. Refugees(NOHA) - 2016 NOHA Students taken at the UN HeadquartersThese include humanitarian engagement with non-state armed groups, the use of new technologies by migrants and refugees, aid efficiency in complex conflict situations with particular focus on humanitarian aid in Syria, the scourge of sexual violence in conflict areas, accountability in the humanitarian innovation community, approaches to scale-up digital health interventions for women and children and good practices of remote management in humanitarian action.

UN_HQ_NOHA2016Students who attended some of the summer sessions offered by IIHA, including lectures presented during the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) in June, found them particularly useful in their thesis research, and helped the students to deepen their understanding of humanitarian issues and challenges. Topics that the students found to be especially beneficial included technology in humanitarian assistance, communications and media, civil-military cooperation, migration, and accountability. One student said that the sessions “were exceptionally well taught,” while another “acquired new perspectives and insights” on issues of great interest to the student.

NOHA(2016)_UNAs a venue for third-country research stay, the students said that they will encourage and recommend Fordham-IIHA to other NOHA students. The Institute, according to the students, provides excellent academic supervision, offers interesting courses given by practitioners, and provides opportunities to meet seasoned professionals and lecturers in the humanitarian field.

 

Student Feedback

“Fordham-IIHA provides an ideal environment to focus on one’s thesis research, as well as an opportunity to attend interesting lectures on humanitarian issues.  Moreover, the city is great destination to spend two intense and memorable summer months.”

-NOHA Student, University of Deutso (Bilbao, Spain)

“I would highly recommend future NOHA students to do their research stay at Fordham-IIHA because of the excellent academic supervision and interesting humanitarian courses it offers.”

-NOHA Student, Ruhr University (Bochum, Germany)

“At Fordham-IIHA, we felt that we were not alone because the Institute was there for us during our research stay. The academic standard is high. I made the right choice because I got the support that I needed for a meaningful thesis.” 

-NOHA Student, University of Deutso (Bilbao, Spain)

“The most rewarding aspect of my stay at Fordham IIHA was being able to pursue my thesis research plus an internship with High Tech Humanitarians (HTH) that created opportunities for me to attend some UN sessions with technology experts engaged in humanitarian and development issues, as well as to meet with an OCHA representative as part of my data collection efforts.”

-NOHA Student, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

“The hands-on supervision at Fordham IIHA was essential to refine ideas and cut a clearer path towards my master’s thesis goals. The opportunity to attend summer courses and meet seasoned professionals and lecturers in the humanitarian field have enriched my overall experience during my research stay.”

-NOHA Student, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

“Fordham IIHA provides the NOHA students an opportunity to focus solely on their master’s theses, receiving valuable support from an academic advisor, who helps to get their research on the right track.”

-NOHA Student, Ruhr University (Bochum, Germany)

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IIHA Launches Partnership with High Tech Humanitarians (HTH)

The IIHA begins 2016 with a new challenge: to support the dissemination and promotion of humanitarian innovation worldwide. This initiative, spearheaded by the development of a web platform called High Tech Humanitarians (HTH) and promoted by IIHA’s Humanitarian Innovation Fellow, Giulio Coppi, has a special focus on Open Source Technology. The open approach allows NGOs and local organizations to use, modify, adapt, and improve the solutions they prefer according to their own needs. In the future, HTH aims to expand its network to like-minded organizations at all levels, to create real and virtual spaces for open humanitarian innovation.
HTH is the first free platform for open source humanitarian innovation, to allow universal access to life-changing technology. HTH’s lean, simple structure and appearance is conceived to facilitate access from any kind of device, even if running on a very slow connection.
HTH believes that the lack of awareness about existing free tools is the primary obstacle in the struggle to give universal and equal access to life-saving and life-changing technological solutions.
Aimed at tech-friendly humanitarians, development actors, social workers, intrepid communities, and all other innovation-minded people, HTH promotes a culture of open source and equal, universal access to emerging technology, be it high-end or frugal, for everyone in the world. For this purpose, all the content of HTH is free under Creatives Common policy, notably the Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License.
To get started, just explore the Toolbox to find the OpenTech solution that best fits your needs, suggest an open source solution which is still not in the database for others to discover, or register to the HTH newsletter! Once you pick your tool, adapt it, use it, and if you want please share your experience by email or connect with the HTH community by following HTH on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or YouTube.

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