New research throws spotlight on positive practices and ongoing gaps to meet the needs of 6.7 million displaced people with disabilities
New York, NY – A new report from the Women's Refugee Commission, Disability Inclusion: Translating Policy into Practice in Humanitarian Action, launched today, highlights the challenges facing the estimated 6.7 million people with disabilities who are forcibly displaced around the world due to persecution, conflict and human rights violations, as well as advances in improving accessibility and inclusion in humanitarian programs.
Group discussions with more than 770 displaced persons, including persons with disabilities and their families, and nearly 400 humanitarian actors across eight countries, revealed that women, children and youth with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to protection concerns.
- Thomson Reuters to partner on online video series and host high-profile Times Square panel event on women's leadership on May 20th
- Hollywood advocates Meryl Streep and Liv Ullmann will speak at WRC "Voices of Courage" Awards Luncheon honoring former refugees in New York City on May 1st
The often unheard voices of refugees and displaced women and children will be given a new platform thanks to a campaign from the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) in partnership with Thomson Reuters.
The year-long Voices of Courage campaign, which marks the WRC's 25th anniversary of advocating for refugee women and children across the world, will shine a spotlight on people displaced by war, persecution and natural disaster, as well as promote women's leadership in its many forms.
A series of short WRC videos will showcase stories such as that of Lorena Castro, who fled Colombia as a 12-year-old girl to escape an abusive father – only to find herself held in an immigration detention facility in Pennsylvania for two years with her mother and sisters.
- Women’s Refugee Commission to recognize Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, Chernor Bah from Sierra Leone and Mary Tal from Cameroon for outstanding leadership at “Voices of Courage” Awards Luncheon on May 1st
- Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep and actress, director and WRC co-founder Liv Ullmann to appear, with Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai presenting via video
- Meryl Streep “delighted” to be able to honor “individuals who have become leaders of refugee women and girls in their own communities”
April 16th, 2014 – A visionary Liberian campaigner whose peace activism helped end the 14-year Second Civil War and earned her the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize is one of three former refugees being honored by the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) at the Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 1st in New York City.
Leymah Gbowee, whose story is told in the 2008 documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell and her memoir Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War, will receive the Voices of Courage accolade alongside girls champion and youth education advocate Chernor Bah, and lawyer and refugee rights activist Mary Tal.
Three-time Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep and Oscar-nominated actress and director and WRC co-founder Liv Ullmann will take to the stage at the Thomson Reuters-sponsored event to share first person refugee accounts, with Dr. Sima Samar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai (via video) presenting the awards.
Speaking ahead of her appearance at the May 1st event, Meryl Streep said: “As an advocate for the empowerment of women and girls, I’m delighted to be part of an initiative like the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Voices of Courage Awards that honors individuals who have become leaders of refugee women and girls in their own communities.”
***SAVE THE DATE***
Event: Voices of Courage Awards, May 1, 2014, Cipriani 42nd Street
Women's Refugee Commission to mark 25th anniversary with Voices of Courage Awards for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee and former refugees from Sierra Leone and Cameroon
Meryl Streep and WRC co-founder Liv Ullmann to speak, Malala Yousafzai to present via video
New York, NY, March 17, 2014 – The Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) will honor three exemplary former refugees and celebrate its 25th anniversary at the Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 1 in New York City.
Three-time Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep and Oscar-nominated actress and director Liv Ullmann, who is the WRC co-founder and honorary chair, will speak at the event, together with Dr. Sima Samar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who will appear via video.
The Voices of Courage honorees for 2014 are the Liberian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Chernor Bah from Sierra Leone and Mary Tal from Cameroon.
Women's Refugee Commission calls for better protection measures, gender-based programs and a switch to long-term planning as new report shows harsh reality of life for women and girls fleeing into Jordan
New York, NY -- On the eve of the third anniversary of the start of the war in Syria, the Women's Refugee Commission is calling for a renewed focus on the needs of the largest and most at-risk group of refugees – women and children – and a switch to long-term planning in the field.
In a report out today, Unpacking Gender: The Humanitarian Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan, the New York-based organization reveals new research carried out in Jordan, where more than half a million Syrian refugees now reside, on how gender needs are being catered for in the humanitarian response.
The Women’s Refugee Commission* welcomes the theme of the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. This thematic focus provides the international community with a significant opportunity to address the gaps in the ability of the Goals to engender development for the most marginalized women and girls, including those who are refugees or internally displaced, and create a transformative new development framework.
Standards will reduce threat of rape for immigrants in detention
WASHINGTON, D.C.—On February 28, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized the long-awaited Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations to protect immigration detainees from sexual assault and abuse in immigration detention. While Congress unanimously passed the legislation over 10 years ago, enactment and implementation in DHS facilities has repeatedly been delayed.
WASHINGTON, DC--The Women's Refugee Commission staff has met with more than 150 children, aged 15 to 17, who had been apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the U.S./Mexico border. Almost all of them told distressing stories of mistreatment at the hands of Border Patrol officials, including being dragged along the ground and Tasered, and held in ice-cold cells at Border Patrol stations known as "la hielera" (the freezer). The children were unable to file complaints about the abuse they suffered because they had no Internet access in federal detention.
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 2013 – Congresswoman Barbara Boxer [D-CA] today introduced the Humane Short Term Custody Act, legislation aimed at improving the standards of treatment for individuals detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The bill focuses in particular on ensuring individuals detained in CBP short-term hold facilities are treated humanely.
On December 9, the Women’s Refugee Commission served as a sponsor for “A Wish for the Holidays.” Now in its third year, “A Wish for the Holidays” brings the voices of children into the immigration reform conversation, and calls upon Congress to keep families together by passing fair immigration reform.
This year, more than 6,000 children pledged to write letters to Congress, asking lawmakers to grant one wish: to keep families together. Representatives of the Women’s Refugee Commission joined children from across the country in delivering these letters to key members of the House of Representatives, and helped the children share their personal stories about why immigration reform is critical for children and families.
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2013 – Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled "Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Sexual Abuse." The report examined the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) data system for sexual abuse and assault allegations in immigration detention, whether DHS has provisions to address such charges, and to what extent DHS monitors field office compliance with said provisions.
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has left unknown numbers of children separated from their families. Once the initial relief phase has ended, we will likely find that some of these children have been orphaned. United Nations and international relief agencies are now conducting registration and tracing to facilitate family reunification where possible, and to determine how best to meet the needs of unaccompanied children.
New York, NY, November 13, 2013--Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on November 8, has affected an estimated 11.3 million people.More than 800,000 have been displaced. Among the two million people who need food aid, nearly 300,000 are pregnant women or new mothers. According to the most recent national census, nearly one million children under age 19 years live in the hardest-hit areas of Tacloban City and Leyte Province; of these, nearly 200,000 are adolescent girls (10-19), a sub-population that faces unique risks to their health, safety and well-being.
As humanitarian agencies act to support affected communities, ensuring the most effective and accountable response requires that equitable attention be paid to the needs and risks of the most vulnerable.
New York, NY, September 23, 2013--The Women’s Refugee Commission is pleased to take part in the High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD). We commend the UN, Member States and civil society groups for coming together and organizing this important event around the theme “The way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” WRC looks forward to this unique opportunity to engage in discussions, information sharing and the identification of new ways to ensure that disability concerns are embedded in the post-2015 agenda.
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19, 2013 – Yesterday, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard [D-CA] introduced the Protect Family Values at the Border Act, legislation aimed at improving the standards of treatment for individuals apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The bill focuses in particular on preventing practices that separate families and threaten the safety of women and children at the border.
"Based on reports of human rights abuses on the border, it is critical to establish clear standards for the humane treatment of migrants and give the Department of Homeland Security the flexibility it needs to keep families together. This bill will help institutionalize a culture that treats individuals with fairness, dignity and respect and reflects our values as Americans," said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2013 —The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) long-awaited and critical Parental Interests Directive, which was issued today.
The Parental Interests Directive will not reduce the number of immigration enforcement actions taking place across the country and does not change the fact that thousands of families are separated due to our broken immigration system, but is an important step forward in the effort to protect the parental rights of those in immigration custody.
The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) is honored to have the opportunity to participate as an Observer in the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It commends all Member States that have ratified the Convention since the last meeting of States Parties and calls on all others to ratify as soon as possible. WRC welcomes the theme, “Ensuring adequate standard of living: empowerment and participation of persons with disabilities within the framework of the CRPD” and the sub themes: “Economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies”; “Disability-inclusive development in national, regional and international processes”; and “Community-based rehabilitation and habilitation for inclusive society.” We look forward to hearing from the distinguished panelists on each of these important topics, which are so critical to the well-being of persons with disabilities, including those displaced by conflict and crises.
Washington- Today Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard and Representative Ros-Lehtinenintroduced the Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act, legislation to improve conditions and protections for unaccompanied children detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CTVPA was included in Senate immigration reform legislation (S.744). The introduction of this legislation today will give the House of Representatives the opportunity to debate the importance of protection of children in the immigration system.
“Tens of thousands of children arrive at our border each year having endured harrowing journeys from their home countries,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “Along the way, many are trafficked and suffer horrendous abuses, including sexual assault. Unfortunately, despite the billions we spend on border security, these vulnerable kids aren’t always afforded the care and compassion they deserve. The Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act will deploy trained child welfare experts to our border stations to ensure we are effectively identifying child trafficking victims and that all children in CBP custody are treated with basic kindness and dignity.”
Contacts: Ed Walz, First Focus, 202-657-0685
Diana Quick, Women’s Refugee Commission, 212.551.3087
Washington – Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced today the Help Separated Families Act, legislation to improve the likelihood that children taken into state custody following immigration enforcement actions against their parents can ultimately reunify with their parents. Similar language has been included in Senate immigration reform legislation (S. 744), so today’s introduction of House legislation sets the stage for a House debate over the impact of immigration enforcement policies on children and their parents.
Washington, DC, June 27, 2013 -- The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds the U.S. Senate in its historic passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. This comprehensive immigration reform legislation is a long overdue victory for human rights and due process that would put millions of women, children and families on a pathway to citizenship.
“Today, the Senate has demonstrated its broad commitment to sensible, humane and lasting immigration reform that includes many protections for women, children and families,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC). “While the bill is not perfect, and the road through the House of Representatives will be difficult, today’s Senate vote is a big step forward for immigrant rights.”
UNICEF press release announces launch of 2013 State of the World's Children Report. WRC's Emma Pearce, Senior Program Officer, Disability Program, spoke on a panel at the NYC launch.
Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole
Da Nang, Viet Nam, 30 May 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
For immediate release: May 20, 2013
TELEPRESSER: Experts to Discuss Effects of Senate Immigration Bill & Amendments on Families, Women
Women’s & Immigrant Rights Leaders to Join Deported Mother, Child Separated from Parents to Discuss Needs of Families in Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
***Press briefing to be held by phone on Tuesday, May 21, 2:00pm EST***
What: National telephone press briefing on the impact of immigration policies that separate parents from their U.S. citizen children
Who: We Belong Together, Women for Common-Sense Immigration Reform
When: Tuesday, May 21, 2:00pm EDT / 11:00am PDT
To participate: Dial in to 805-399-1000. Access code 188849#.
For Immediate Release: May 9, 2013
Contact: Ed Walz, First Focus, 202-657-0685
Diana Quick, Women’s Refugee Commission, 212-551-3087
Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children and the Women's Refugee Commission today applauded U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for filing an amendment to strengthen protections for children in the Senate “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration reform bill. The amendment is also cosponsored by Democratic Senators Chris Coons (DE), Dianne Feinstein (CA), and Mazie Hirono (HI), and by Republican Senator John Cornyn (TX). The Franken-Grassley amendment would keep families together whenever possible and help mitigate harm to children, including preventing children from entering foster care when immigration enforcement results in the detention or removal of their parents.
Washington, DC – More than 180 women’s rights, immigrant rights, labor, faith, LGBTQ, and other organizations from across the United States have submitted a statement for the record to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging the Committee and all members of Congress to ensure that women’s priorities are at the forefront of the immigration debate and are specifically addressed in resulting legislation.
Women’s Refugee Commission Applauds the Introduction of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
Washington, D.C., April 17, 2013 – The Women's Refugee Commission applauds the introduction of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act in the Senate and commends the bipartisan “Gang of 8” for its renewed commitment to fixing a broken immigration system.
Women's Refugee Commission urges that displaced persons with disabilities be recognized for their capacities and determination to overcome the odds
New York, NY, April 16, 2013 – The Women's Refugee Commission is honoring refugees with disabilities from two of the world's hotspots – Somalia and South Sudan – at its 2013 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 2 in New York City. The Government of Australia and its overseas aid program, AusAID, will also be recognized for their leadership supporting initiatives that develop the capacity of displaced persons with disabilities to lead full lives and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
WASHINGTON D.C., March 18, 2013— The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes an historic hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee entitled “How Comprehensive Immigration Reform Should Address the Needs of Women and Families. The hearing coincides with a month-long advocacy campaign, March for Immigrant Women: A Month of Action for Citizenship, Families and Justice.
Immigrant women are integral building blocks of thriving and successful communities in the United States, are vital to this country’s economy and contribute significantly to its growth. Historically, however, immigration law has disproportionately disadvantaged women, and by extension their families. Family is a core value for women. The desire to be with family, and to make a better life for their family, is one of the primary reasons why women come to the United States.
“Our immigration policies once placed great value on family unity, and this focus contributed to the development of strong communities and a successful and diverse country,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “Regrettably, family unity has been eroded in recent years by inefficiencies in the family-based visa system and overly zealous immigration enforcement that is tearing families apart. It is paramount that efforts to reform our immigration laws restore the primacy of family unity and provide women and their families with opportunities to contribute to the common good now and in the future.”
WASHINGTON D.C., March 18, 2013— The Women’s Refugee Commission, as a member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR), has helped organize the March 18 Rally for Immigrant Women, Youth and Families. Immigrant women, youth and movement leaders will be in attendance demanding immigration reform that works for women and families, as well as advances in equality, health, education, family unity and justice.
“Approximately 5 million undocumented women and 1 million undocumented children currently live in the United States, yet our immigration laws and policies have historically been—and continue to be—unfair to both groups,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “The reality is that we have a broken immigration system that disproportionately marginalizes women and children. If we’re seeking immigration reform that is truly comprehensive, we must include solutions that specifically address their needs.”
To raise awareness and generate new ideas to address the plight of displaced women working to support their families across the world, J.P. Morgan Social Finance recently hosted a panel discussion featuring leaders from The Women’s Refugee Commission and UN Women timed to coincide with the 2013 Commission on the Status of Women.
More than 50 guests, ranging from various government missions to the UN to a director from the MacArthur Foundation to a Member of Afghanistan’s Parliament, attended the panel discussion. Titled “Creating Safe and Effective Livelihoods for Women in Crisis-Affected Settings,” panelists described approaches to involve women in setting economic policy as well as creating paths for safe, sustainable employment.
Americans for Immigrant Justice and the Women’s Refugee Commission welcome the House Appropriations Committee’s oversight hearing on Immigration Enforcement. The Committee’s consideration of the implications of the recent decision by the Immigrant and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to release hundreds of low-risk immigrant detainees as a pre-sequester, cost savings measure is well-timed. Given the fiscal crisis now facing the United States, it is prudent to examine whether a Congressional mandate to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fill an explicit number of immigration detention beds on a daily basis is appropriate. In addition to the opportunity to implement a more fiscally sound detention policy increasing the use of cost effective and efficient alternatives, this is an historic opportunity for Congress to realign the immigration detention system with our national values of treating all humans with dignity and respect.