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  • Foni Joyce: Full Remarks at UN Summit for Refugee and Migrants

    Photo credit: Marcy Hersh
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    On Monday, September 19, 2016, Foni Joyce, a young South Sudanese refugee woman and participant in the Global Refugee Youth Consultations led by Women's Refugee Commission and UNHCR, addressed world leaders at the first high-level summit focused on “Addressing the Large Movements of Refugees” at the 71st UN General Assembly. Her full remarks are available below.

    tags: Women, Youth

    Voiceless No More: Honoring Refugee Youth on World Humanitarian Day

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    On this World Humanitarian Day when record numbers of people have been forced to flee for their lives and humanitarian workers are also under siege, it is hard to find reason for hope. But we don't have to look far.

    tags: Children, Youth

    “Working to improve our own futures”: Strengthening Networks of Women with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

    Refugee women and girls with disabilities participate in a planning workshop with  UNHCR and partners in Bangladesh (c) WRC/Emma Pearce
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    More than 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of violence and conflict; at least 9 million of them are likely to be persons with disabilities. The vast majority of people displaced by conflict are women, children, and youth.

    Over and over, we see that humanitarian crises result in enormous risks to women and girls in the form of rape, assault, intimate partner violence, early marriage, and all forms of exploitation.

    The risks, dangers, and challenges are worse for displaced women and girls with disabilities.

    tags: Disabilities

    António Guterres: A Voice of Courage for Refugee Women & Children

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    “Fight for a world where women and girls are respected in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities, where they can walk freely, without fear.” This was a call to governments and humanitarian organizations by António Guterres, while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Cho Lay Mar: A Voice of Courage in Myanmar

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    Cho Lay Mar is a tireless advocate for internally displaced minority women in her native Myanmar (also known as Burma). Although decades of internal conflict have ended, and the country now has a democratically elected government, displaced women have very hard lives, Cho Lay Mar says.

    Cho Lay Mar’s father was Pakistani, and she grew up aware of her “mixed blood.” She strongly believes people are the same. “I am always concerned with how we can live harmoniously,” she says. After she graduated, Cho Lay Mar became a teacher in a government school, where she imparted the idea of peaceful co-existence to her ethnically diverse students.

    Mina Jaf, a Voice of Courage for Refugees in Europe

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    Mina Jaf was a refugee from the day she was born – in the midst of a chemical gas attack on her village in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1988. She fled with her family over the mountains to Iran and over the next 11 years, they went back and forth between the two countries, often spending no more than one night in the same place.

    Pretending to be asleep, the young Mina listened to refugees from Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda tell their horrific stories of rape and domestic violence. She understood that they risked stigmatization and shame if their experiences became common knowledge.

    Mina grew up determined to fight for the rights of all refugee women.

    The WRC at the Commission on the Status of Women

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    From Syria to South Sudan, from Central America to Central Africa, women and girls are forced to flee war and conflict and to live in a protracted displacement. Though they are typically impoverished and traumatized, these women and girls are models of resilience. They survive despite all obstacles.

    With 60 million refugees throughout the world today, and a growing percentage of them choosing to live in cities, the international community can no longer keep displaced women and girls separate from efforts to promote development through women’s empowerment. In fact, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals depends on their inclusion.

    When humanitarian crises occur, women and girls’ inequality exacerbates their vulnerability. But, when we treat displacement as an opportunity rather than a problem, refugee women and girls can transform their lives and their communities. The Women’s Refugee Commission is pleased to participate in the 2016 Commission on the Status of Women to promote refugee women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.

    The World’s Unheard Experts on Refugee Youth

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    I just spent four days sequestered in a grassy compound in the suburbs of Quito, Ecuador with 24 Colombian refugee youth leaders and a handful of local youth, laughing at their skits, crying with their stories and blown away by their drive and ambition.

    Millions of young people around the world live in displacement. Being refugees, they’re rarely seen as individuals on the cusp of adulthood, with hopes and dreams. Their potential often goes un-tapped and they’re rarely asked about the future they’d like to create. They’re even less likely to be offered support to get there. Despite their numbers and their potential, youth are often left out of humanitarian activities and programs intended to serve refugees.

    tags: Children, Youth

    Refugees Fleeing Mortal Danger in Central America Face Daily Fear of Deportation in US

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    This is not a question of strict border security. These are kids and women who are essentially turning themselves in. They’re not sneaking over a fence, rather, they’re presenting themselves to the border and asking for protection, said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission.

    Influx of Refugees and Limited Firewood Leads to Spike in Gender-based Violence

    Forest around Nyarugusu refugee camp
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    Violence against women and girls collecting firewood is spiking in and around the refugee camp in Tanzania where more than 100,000 Burundian refugees have sought safety in recent months.