Tag Archives: Refugees

Tackling the Complexity of the Yemeni Crisis

Learn more at our upcoming event at Fordham University.

New York City, April 10, 2017 – Two years after the onset of conflict in Yemen, the country is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. Despite the two million Yemenis internally displaced, seven million at risk of famine and 18.8 million in need of humanitarian aid, less than 10 percent of the United Nations two billion dollar humanitarian appeal has been met by donor nations and nations party to the conflict have done little to cease hostilities.

Giulio Coppi, Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs Innovation Fellow, recently embarked on a fact-finding mission to Oman and Djibouti to study the impact of the crisis and subsequent forced migration in the region. He sat down with the IIHA Communications Officer, Angela Wells, to recount his findings.

What was the goal of your recent research trip on the Yemeni crisis?

This recent research trip led me to study the regional impact of the Yemeni crisis, with a special focus on migration and health. I traveled through Oman and Djibouti, meeting local actors and visiting refugee and migrant communities. I also tried – unsuccessfully – to enter Yemen to meet people and local organizations. I really focused on understanding what lies beneath the surface of the most banal crises in the current media landscape.


How would you explain the Yemeni crisis to someone unfamiliar with what lies beneath the surface of the crisis?

To an outsider with little background, Yemen could look like just another case of civil war due to bad governance and political instability, or maybe another country engulfed in sectarian and religious violence. The truth is much more complicated than that: Yemen is being intentionally strangled economically, militarily and politically by internal and international actors involved in a conflict with profound historical and geopolitical roots.

Yemen was recently listed as one of four of the most serious humanitarian crises of our time. Can you explain the situation provoking people to flee the country and the complexities humanitarian workers are dealing with within Yemen?

The inclusion of Yemen as one of four of the most serious humanitarian crises of our time comes right after its definition as a forgotten crisis. The country passed from oblivion to full spotlight in a matter of days. This is mostly due to the adoption by some organizations and UN agencies of the keyword “famine”, that immediately made it to the headlines.

Unfortunately, this leads to yet another oversimplification. It generates the false impression that all is needed is to fund agencies that deliver food. This action alone would be shortsighted and ineffective, as the situation requires a much bolder response. Humanitarians are faced with a daunting task: replacing the whole public and private sector that has been wiped away by sanctions, embargoes, violence, and corruption. Overstretched and exposed, humanitarians increase their risk of being perceived as non-neutral, or partial, and becoming a target for further violence.

We know that mixed migration flows to and from Yemen are very complex with migrants from the Horn of Africa fleeing to Yemen and Yemenis fleeing to the Horn. Can you explain this in more detail?

Due to its strategic position, Yemen has always been a crossroad of nations and people. The escalation of the conflict in 2015 resulted in a temporary suspension of the migratory movements of people from the Horn of Africa, most notably Ethiopia and Somalia, towards the Arab Gulf countries.

It is counterintuitive, but with the conflict, these figures have actually increased. Some migrants do not know about the conflict, but others actually hope the collapse of internal governance could facilitate their journey. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Saudi Arabia and Oman have sealed and militarized their borders, and militias control most areas of Yemen, who kidnap for ransom and often abuse migrants.

On the other side, Yemenis fleeing to the Horn of Africa has actually dwindled. I found that Yemenis prefer to seek asylum in countries more culturally similar and with more economic opportunities. Most of the refugees who sought safe haven in Djibouti tried to move on as quickly as possible, once they realized the hardship of living as a migrant in the country.

What is the reality for Yemenis fleeing to nearby countries like Djibouti and Oman?

 For most Yemenis arriving in Djibouti, one of the poorest countries in the world, they are really shocked at the conditions in the camps. Markazi camp, where they are hosted, is a camp in the middle of a desolate desert. The closest city, Obock, is a provincial town without markets or livelihood opportunities. Food and other goods arrive from the capital city from time to time, while many items are still being brought in from Yemen. In summer, the camp is swept by the khamsin (dust storms with wind speeds as high as forty miles an hour), and temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Refugees endure these conditions in tents, huts or in containers with no electricity and really meager food provisions.

In Oman and Saudi Arabia, conditions are much better for those who manage to enter and stay. In contrast to Djibouti, which grants all Yemenis prima facie refugee status, Arab Gulf States are not parties to refugee treaties and only grant standard visas. While initially they made a display of generosity towards their neighbors, that attitude quickly changed as it became clear the conflict would not be a short one. Today, those under official visas – like medical or study visas – are granted the same services as local nationals. Those who are not so lucky face exclusion from any assistance, and a constant risk of deportation.

Where else are Yemenis seeking refuge and what are they experiencing in these reception countries?

Today, the majority of Yemenis are not hosted by their next door neighbors, but have rather continued on their journey to seek asylum in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, while some have been able to make their way to Europe or the United States. Yemen has a vast diaspora, and very often families have at least one member with a foreign citizenship allowing some refugees a chance of reunification with their community abroad, be it in Djibouti, Oman, Lebanon or Germany. Those who are able to join their communities abroad have a better chance for smooth integration and acceptance by local populations. However, coexistence isn’t always easy, especially when their expanded presence puts a strain on limited land and resources, which can destabilize local demographics and add further strain to existing public services.

Recently, a boat of Somali migrants was bombed 30 miles off the coast of Yemen by Saudi-backed forces. Do you see this as a worrying trend for the future or an isolated incident and why?

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and I do not think it will be the last. The Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a vital commercial route, was already heavily militarized before the conflict and even more so today. Furthermore, this attack is representative of a worrying trend on the access of safe routes for forced migrants globally. We see around the world how increasingly innocent civilians trying to escape the perils of war are being directly and purposefully attacked in systemic and horrifying ways. This is not only in violation of international laws, but is a deeply worrying indication that humanitarian channels and national values for unfettered humanitarian access is more compromised than every before.

 Is there anything else you’d like to add?

In these times when all the attention is focused on Syria and the horrible tragedy in Syria, it is also important to remind everyone of the words of Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): “Yemen after five months looked like Syria after five years.”

The level and extent of the destruction in Yemen is unparalleled for intensity and impact. What is worse, very little efforts have been made by the UN Security Council to call for safe humanitarian access, cross-border protection, or cessation of hostilities in Yemen. It is about time the UN Security Council, and involved parties to the conflict, adopt a more proactive role to end this conflict, before Yemen and its population reach the point of no return.

Non-Fordham guests must register in advance for the upcoming event Tackling the Complexity of the Yemeni Crisis.

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Syrian Voices: Customs and Traditions in Humanitarian Crises

Monday, March 6, 2017 – As conflict wages on in Syria, nearby countries have opened their doors to millions of new people seeking refuge. In Lebanon, one in four people is a Syrian refugee. While Lebanon is the biggest host of the five million Syrian refugees globally, truly integrating their neighbors into society has proved challenging for the small country where economic strains and competition for scarce resources is ever increasing.

House of Peace (HOPe) in Syria is striving to understand and address the evolving relationships of displaced persons within refugee populations, amongst their host communities and with non-governmental organizations.

Their new report, Syrian Voices, aims to raise voices, analyze opinions and propose positive recommendations for advancing integration and social peacebuilding. HOPe conducted workshops with around 300 participants, most of whom were Syrian refugees living in Lebanon but also Palestinians and Lebanese host community members.

“The main impetus behind this paper is helping people concerned with the Syrian crisis to see things from the eyes of those who are suffering the most; to contribute in bringing people from different points of views closer by helping them overcoming their prejudices and self-evident beliefs,” said Elias Sadkni, Director of HOPe and International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance 39 alumnus.

Restrictions to integration. A major finding of the report was the ways in which government policy and NGO modus-operandi surrounding refugee response in Lebanon have changed the ways in which Syrian communities relate each other and their hosts.

Strict residency and labor laws for Syrians in Lebanon have made securing employment particularly difficult for men. Women, however, are more easily able to find work opportunities in the informal labor market and through the support of vocational trainings and services provided by organizations.

Perhaps even more disconcerting was the effect that strict work restrictions had on fueling forced marriage or labor on children in the country. In 2016, some NGOs estimated between 60 and 70 percent of refugee children are working and Human Rights Watch reported that more than 250,000 Syrian children were out of school in Lebanon.

“Harsh regulations that prevent most refugees from maintaining legal residency or working are undermining Lebanon’s generous school enrollment policies…With 70 percent of Syrian families living below the poverty line in 2015, many cannot afford school-related costs like transportation and school supplies, or rely on their children to work,” said Human Rights Watch.

The Syrian Voices report reiterated this point adding that “participants felt Humanitarian and UN efforts are not prioritizing educational establishments for Syrian refugees; in addition to this issue, the majority of educational establishments in Lebanon refuse to accept Syrians.”

Blurring cultures. Despite the challenges that come with displacement, Syrian participants also expressed that social solidarity amongst their communities remained strong in exile. This solidarity at times extended into their relationships with their host communities, and in turn caused the lines between Syrian and Lebanese cultures to blur.

“Many participants felt that adapting to Lebanese culture is causing changes in the customs and traditions of Syrian refugees. Some expressed dismay at these changes, fear their permanency, and believe they have been a source of intra-communal tension, whilst others embrace them,” said the report.

Improved humanitarian intervention. Other focus groups with NGO representatives examined the complex role NGOs play in the Syrian crisis.

Representatives voiced concerns that “their presence at times has contributed to existing tensions or created new ones”, because they failed to partake in adequate contextual and cultural analyses before implementing projects. Others noted a lack of transparency between donors and the community.

Syria Voices ultimately concludes in a list of recommendations for the humanitarian community to improve their continuing intervention, suggesting that humanitarian organizations begin to truly address the root causes of suffering amongst Syrians in Lebanon by:

  • Ensuring and advocating for equal access to adult education, vocational training and employment opportunities for Syrian adults of both genders;
  • Developing mechanisms for effective child protection from exploitation;
  • Enhancing educational opportunities for children;
  • Truly engaging with Syrian and Lebanese communities to better understand conflict
  • Improving communication methods between agencies in order to learn from each other’s experiences and best practices; and
  • Promoting more positive and less stereotypically harmful narratives about Syrian refugees in Lebanese media.

Ultimately, HOPe believes this report can be a guiding resource for the humanitarian sector, one that encourages agencies to question and improve their increasingly important response to the Syrian crisis.

Syrian Voices is a research-initiated project aimed at spreading Syrian perspectives on issues of social peace. The goal of the paper is to inform the humanitarian community, allowing stakeholders to implement recommendations and best practices to help resolve conflict in Syria and surrounding areas.

Andrew Seger, IIHA Communications Intern

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New York City stands in solidarity with refugees and immigrants

New Yorkers have been standing in solidarity with immigrants and refugees from across the globe. In 2016, 40,000 individuals applied for asylum in New York City, as compared to 283 refugees who were resettled in the city. New IIHA intern and Humanitarian Studies student, Andrew Seger, captured some of these moments throughout the city.



Tens of thousands of New Yorkers met at JFK International Airport on January 28th, and gathered again in Battery Park on the 29th. They came from all over to show support for refugees and immigrants.



They joined in chants like, “Say it loud, say it clear: refugees are welcome here!,” and “Love, no hate! That’s what makes America great!”



Many called to mind America’s history as a country shaped immigrants. Many quoted “The New Colossus,” the poem inscribed at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”



Fordham University student Neil Joyce, FCRH ’19, joined those in Battery Park.
“I believe that morally and constitutionally, we have a duty to allow these people into our country. They have a right to enter this country and pursue their dreams,” Joyce said.



Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Cory Booker (NJ), along with Mayor Bill de Blasio (NYC) and many other elected officials gave speeches in Battery Park.
“We cannot just luxuriate in our freedoms and our liberties; we must earn them by fighting to expand them to all citizens and all people,” Senator Booker said.



Even many children, on the backs of parents and in strollers, held up colorful signs at the rallies.



The overwhelming support continued on February 2nd, when the Yemeni American Community organized a rally in Brooklyn. The Community says near 1,000 Yemeni business owners closed their businesses early to show support for Yemenis at home and abroad.



Adnan Alshabbi, owner of Golden Deli in Washington Heights, closed the doors to his bodega for the first time in 25 years. He stood in solidarity with Yemeni’s across the world, including his family members who still live in Yemen.


Photo credit: Andrew Seger, IIHA Communications Intern

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by | February 9, 2017 · 10:36 am

IIHA stands in solidarity with refugees

As humanitarian disasters rise in scale and severity around the world, an unprecedented number of people have become forcibly displaced from their homes. As humanitarians, we recognize that our shared responsibility to the plight of  refugees and immigrants does not end in camps or at the onset of disaster, but rather extends into our own communities and with our own neighbors. Today, more than ever, we are presented with this call to bear witness.

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation have a long standing tradition of training men and women around the world to effectively participate in answering this challenge.  Our educational approach has been, for twenty years, remarkably consistent: by learning from and knowing one another, we become better humanitarian professionals. Consequently, we are able to provide aid to those affected by crises with intelligence, flexibility, and dignity.  That celebration of other cultures and viewpoints has been a hallmark of every course we offer – whether to humanitarian professionals or undergraduate students.

Grounded in values of social justice and inclusivity, we are in full solidarity with our students and alumni from all around the world as well as the millions of refugees and migrants whom they serve – regardless of religion, nationality or immigration status.

In one week we will begin our 49th IDHA course, this time  in Kathmandu, followed by courses in Barcelona, Vienna, Cali, New York, and Amman. We will continue to cooperate with other academic and non-academic partners, and especially our family of alumni, to offer assistance to those who most need it. We look forward, as an independent Center and as an academic Institute, to preserving the rights of all, and the championing of a better world.

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President, CIHC; University Professor, IIHA
Brendan Cahill, Executive Director, IIHA
Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E., Humanitarian Programs Director, CIHC

Photo credit: Andrew Leger, IIHA Communications Intern

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IIHA Spring Event Series: April Round-Up Part 2

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 and hosted by IIHA in second part of April 2016. Check out “IIHA Spring Event Series: April Round-Up Part 1” for more event summaries.


  • April 15, 2016 | Refugees: From Liability to Opportunity with Kilian Kleinschmidt
    Hosted by: SWITxBOARD and The New School

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 4.00.57 PMGlobal networker and humanitarian expert Kilian Kleinschmidt spoke at The New School on how technology, innovation, and inclusion can reframe the discourse on refugees, current approaches to humanitarian relief, and refugee and migration management.

Following a 25 year UN career working in humanitarian relief in conflict areas around the world, Mr. Kleinschmidt founded the Innovation and Planning Agency (IPA) to foster the use of technology and sustainable management in refugee response and humanitarian relief. This approach emphasizes organized management of migration and treats refugees as agents with ambition. In his most recent role as UNHCR Field Manager and ‘mayor’ of Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, he worked to transform the camp into an environment that cultivates livelihoods, supports local initiatives, and fosters community in what evolved into a self-determined city.

Mr. Kleinschmidt discussed his views on the IPA approach, the future of humanitarian relief, and the challenges facing the international system.


  • April 16, 2016 | SWITxBOARD and IPA USA Launch Party in Partnership With Techfugees
    Hosted by: SWITxBOARD

Founded by Kilian Kleinschmidt, the former ‘mayor’ of Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan following a 25+ year UN career, the Innovation & Planning Agency (IPA) matches technological, social, financial and spatial innovations with the needs, talents and skills of dispossessed populations in several service lines: Project Development, Incubator Hubs, Consulting, Social Design, Academy, and Ventures. At the core of IPA is SWITxBOARD, a digital platform to connect the world’s capacity with the wold’s needs. IPA is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.

Techfugees was created as a tech community response to the European refugee crisis, involving a network of concerned individuals and organizations. They act as the conduit to tech companies, investors, and NGOs – bridging the gap between the agility and innovation of tech sector to the expertise of NGO’s on the ground.


  • April 29, 2016 | “The Last Supper: The Plight of Christians in Arab Lands” with Klaus Wivel
    Hosted by: Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs


Klaus Wivel is a Danish journalist and the New York correspondent for Weekendavisen, one of Denmark’s most prestigious newspapers. He has written on a wide range of topics and often focuses on Israel-Palestine and the Middle East. Alarmed by scant attention paid to the hardships endured by the 7.5 million Christians in the Middle East, journalist Wivel traveled to Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories on a quest to learn more about their fate. With the increase of religious violence in the past few years, Wivel’s book The Last Supper: The Plight of Christians in Arab Lands is a prescient and unsettling account of a severely beleaguered religious group living, so it seems, on borrowed time. Wivel asks: “Why have we not done more to protect these people?”

In his lecture to faculty, staff, and students of Fordham University, Wivel noted that in 1900, the population of Christians was approximately 10 percent but is currently 4 percent in some of the countries he visited. He cited the rise of extreme Islam and persecution of Christian minorities as main reasons why Christians are leaving the area. Despite these gradual yet considerable movements of people, Wivel highlighted the continuing lack of attention being drawn to the persecution of Christian in Arab Lands and the contributing factors such as security and competing religious and political interests. While there are no easy answers, Wivel suggested a multilateral coalition focusing on the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and providing more humanitarian aid in the short-term to marginalized populations.

Fordham News recently featured an article on Wivel’s lecture, and coupled it with the closely related event, “Endangered: Religious Minorities in the Middle East and Their Struggle for Survival,” hosted by Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture (CRC).


Charles Mario Russell gave a presentation on selected topics regarding immigration and asylum law. Mario Russell is the Director for Immigrant and Refugee Services (Senior Attorney) at Catholic Charities and an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University Law. Mario Russell principally conducts and supervises federal administrative and U.S. Court of Appeals litigation for asylum seekers and immigrants. Mario has served as a consultant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hungary and Poland and has advised the National Commission on Migration in Thailand. Mario is a frequent lecturer and panelist on refugee and immigration law and litigation at national and regional conferences and trainings by organizations such as the New York Immigration Coalition and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

This event is part of an on going series of presentations in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition “What This Journey Breeds” in the Ildiko Butler Gallery, Lincoln Center Campus, May 31 to September 30, 2016.

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IIHA Spring Event Series: April Round-Up Part 1

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. The 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 and hosted by the IIHA in first part of April 2016. Check back at the end of the month for “IIHA Spring Event Series: April Round-Up Part 2” for more event summaries.

  • April 5, 2016 | Documentary screening: Refugee Kids: One Small School takes on the World
    Hosted by: Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs

2016-04-05 18.59.46Refugee Kids: One Small School takes on the World is a short documentary that follows students at a New York City summer program organized by the International Rescue Committee for children seeking asylum from the world’s most volatile conflicts. The film presents an intimate, emotionally gripping account of the students’ stories of escaping war and conflict and resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks as their lives unfold over the course of one formative summer. Refugee Kids humanizes complex geopolitics and depict the challenges and urgency of immigration to America in an increasingly dangerous – and interconnected – world.

The film screening was followed by a Q&A session hosted by the film’s directors, Renee Silverman and Peter Miller. The directors spoke about their decision to use the children’s illustrations as a medium through which they were able to communicate the difficult realities of their stories. In particular, the illustrations provided a glimpse through the eyes of children, while preserving the dignity and humanity of each child.

  • April 8-10, 2016 | Association of Pratical Theology Biennial Conference

Hosted by: Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education – Fordham University

The Association of Practical Theology at Fordham University hosted its 33rd biennial conference; the theme of the conference was “Live, Move, and Have Being: Migration and Pracitical Theology.” The conference addressed how “the life-altering dislocations and relocations of many kinds of migration move our world today” and “how might practical theology engage migration so as to foster the ability to ‘live, move, and have being’ (Acts 17:28)?” The conference program consisted of tours of the United Nation, research sessions, and even included a session at a tattoo parlor in the Bronx.

unnamedIn 2016 the International Forum traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden. The theme for the conference was “Change. Save. Sustain. In Partnership with Patients”. The International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare is one of the world’s largest gatherings of healthcare professionals committed to improving patient care and their safety.

IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow, Alexander Van Tulleken, M.D. spoke on the keynote panel on Tuesday, April 13. The panel, entitled “Providing Best Healthcare During the European Refugee Crisis – Mobilising Health and Care Support Services” focused on sharing learning on delivering health services to the most vulnerable across the migration route. An analysis of the pan-European experience of access to healthcare for migrants and the challenges of meeting the needs of refugees and migrants arriving in Sweden was presented.

Watch the video of Dr. Van Tulleken’s panel on the International Forum’s website.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 4.00.57 PM

With the Syrian conflict now in its fifth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. This film is the story of what happens next. By following two refugee families in transition and an aid worker fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the second largest refugee camp in the world. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.

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IIHA Event Series Resources: Humanitarian Sector Response to the Migration Crisis

Christophe Lobry-Boulanger from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) spoke at Fordham on Thursday, March 31, 2016 as part of IIHA’s Spring Event Series “Challenges & Opportunities: Global Migration in the 21st Century”. You can read more about his presentation on our blog.

Mr. Lobry-Boulanger has recommended the following reading for those that are interested in continuing the conversation:

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IIHA Spring Event Series: March 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 and hosted by IIHA in March 2016.

This event spotlighted positive outcomes of including and encouraging youth production of media in formal and informal educational settings and will include a screening of Syrian youth-produced videos in Jordanian refugee camps. Jordi Torrent, Project Manager of the Media Literacy Programs of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), coordinated the conference with Lewis Freeman from Fordham University’s Department of Communication and Media Studies.

The conference provided an opportunity to showcase and discuss youth-produced media and the work of New York-based youth media organizations. The conference included screenings and discussion on Syrian youth-produced videos in Jordanian refugees camps, empowering youth through media production, PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival on Migration: Celebrating Diversity & Social Inclusion, inter-cultural dialogue & youth media production and a roundtable discussion with representatives of: Global Kids; Cartwheel Initiative; Texas A&M University-Media Rise; BYkids; Global Nomads Group Moderated by David W. Kleeman, Dubit Limited, and Children’s Media Association.

Salam Neighbor is a documentary on the Syrian refugee crisis and Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. This is a critical moment, with more refugees today than anytime in the last century. In Syria alone, more than four million people have fled the country to escape the atrocities of war. Right now, we are at risk of losing a generation of youth, destabilizing the region, and perpetuating a cycle of violence and poverty. American filmmakers Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple were the first filmmakers ever allowed by the United Nations to be given a tent and registered inside a refugee camp, they were able to get a never before seen look into the world’s most pressing crisis. Zach Ingrasci, Director/Producer of Salam Neighbor, discussed his experience last winter living alongside displaced families in the Za’atari refugee camp after the screening.

  • March 15, 2016 | Documentary screening: Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis
    Hosted by: Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs

“Chris and Xand van Tulleken – doctors, part-time aid workers and twin brothers – want to see for themselves what conditions are like for migrants fleeing through Europe at the height of winter. Over two weeks in early January, Chris and Xand travelled to Lesbos in Greece, through the Balkans and on to Berlin and Calais to understand what’s being done on a medical and humanitarian level in response to the current refugee crisis. Spending time with medics, charities and volunteers in camps and clinics, at border crossings and transit points, they wanted to find out what the situation is like on the ground and, wherever possible, lend a hand during the biggest migration crisis of our times.” (BBC) Dr. Alex van Tulleken, IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow, discussed his experience filming the documentary and answered questions after the screening. Watch the documentary on YouTube. You can read more about the documentary on Evening StandardBBC, TelegraphThe Guardian, and Fordham News.

Violence in Syria has displaced more than half of its population. More than 4.5 million refugees have fled into neighboring countries with an additional half a million making their way to Europe. What is the impact on Turkey? How can these refugees be protected?

Kemal Kirişci is the TÜSİAD senior fellow and director of the Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project at Brookings Institution. Previously, Kirişci was a professor of international relations and held the Jean Monnet chair in European integration in the department of political science and international relations at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

Mr. Kirişci spoke on the migrant crisis and the ethical implications regarding it. Specifically, he emphasized:

  1. Syrian migrant crisis is not the only current migrant crisis
  2. The international community needs to do more in terms of burden sharing
  3. Safe zones should be created but currently require UN Security Council approval
  4. The recent European Union deal with Turkey, while not without it’s flaws, has a silver lining – it is meant to help refugees

View the webcast on Carnegie Council’s website.

  • March 31, 2016 | Humanitarian Sector Response to the Migration Crisis with Christophe Lobry-Boulanger
    Hosted by: Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs

Christophe Lobry-Boulanger began his lecture by explaining the structure of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the role of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) within this movement. He then moved into an overview of the organization’s current operations around the world that are responding to the migration crisis. Using facts and figures about the positive impact that migration can have on host economies, Mr. Lobry-Boulanger encouraged attendees to think of the current migration situation as not only a crisis, but also an opportunity. Citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s words regarding Germany’s decision to take in over one million refugees: “wir brauchen sie” (we need them) and “wir können es schaffen” (we can do it), Mr. Lobry-Boulanger highlighted that not only is a positive response to the migration crisis possible, it is actually to the benefit of many countries involved.

Lobry-Boulanger has over 15 years of service with the International Red Cross and American Red Cross. After serving at the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, he developed the International Services Department at the Greater New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, with a strong focus on international humanitarian law. As a volunteer with the GNY Red Cross and as an international delegate, he has been deployed to Haiti, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Kenya to help provide humanitarian aid and assistance. For the past four years, he has served as an adviser at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Delegation to the United Nations, where he was responsible for the health file, among others. He has recently come back from West Africa, where he was the deputy head of Regional Ebola Response for the Red Cross Movement and various refugee-related missions in Europe.

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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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IIHA Event: Documentary Screening of Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World

For the next event in IIHA’s spring 2016 event series, Challenges & Opportunities: Global Migration in the 21st Century, IIHA will host a documentary screening of Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World followed by Q&A with the film’s directors.

This short documentary follows students at a New York City summer program for children seeking asylum from the world’s most volatile conflicts. The film presents an intimate, emotionally gripping account of the students’ stories of escaping war and conflict and resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks as their lives unfold over the course of one formative summer. Refugee Kids humanizes complex geopolitics and depict the challenges and urgency of immigration to America in an increasingly dangerous – and interconnected – world.

Light refreshments will be served.

  • Date & Time: Tuesday, April 5th at 6pm
  • Location: Fordham University | Room 902 | Lowenstein Building | 113 W. 60th Street, New York, NY 10023
  • Chick here to RSVP

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