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  • 2011 Voices of Courage Awards “Urban Refugees”

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    • When: Tuesday, May 3, 2011, Noon-2:00 p.m. EST (Reception at 11:30 a.m.)
    • Where: Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd Street, New York City
    • Theme: Urban Refugees
    • Presenters: Mamie Gummer, Maria Hinojosa, Liv Ullmann
    • Refugee Honorees: Zrinka Bralo and Stella Mkiliwane
    • Corporate Honoree: Thomson Reuters Foundation
    • Dress: Business attire

    This year at our Voices of Courage Awards luncheon, we are honoring two refugee women who are working to improve the lives of their fellow refugees who are displaced or asylum-seeking in urban areas. We will also honor Thomson Reuters Foundation for its innovative approach to providing critical information on humanitarian crises to humanitarian workers, policy makers and other key players in conflicts and natural disasters.

    An estimated 80 percent of all refugees are women, children and young people. An estimated 50 percent of the world’s 10.5 million refugees now reside in cities, compared to one-third who live in camps. Urban refugees are constrained by their limited assets, support networks and lack of appropriate job skills, in addition to legal, cultural and linguistic barriers to establishing sustainable livelihoods. Women and girls often have little alternative other than to engage in harmful strategies to earn money to support their families, such as survival sex, or to join the informal economy, where they face extortion, exploitation and abuse. Young people are often not in school and cannot find work, leading to rising crime rates and insecurity.

    For additional information about the 2011 Voices of Courage Awards luncheon, please contact Women’s Refugee Commission Benefit Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212.763.8590.

    Refugee Honorees

    Photo by Beth Crosland

    Zrinka Bralo was a journalist for several years in Bosnia, spending five years at the National Radio in Sarajevo. After war broke out, she reported from Sarajevo, alongside some of the world’s leading war correspondents.  As the conflict escalated, Zrinka sought asylum in the United Kingdom. She was at first refused and fought deportation for three years, finally winning the right to stay in the country. To this day, she is a fierce advocate for asylum-seekers, and  set up the National Coalition of Anti-deportation Campaigns in London.

    Since 2001, Zrinka has served as head of the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum in London, which reaches 5,000 people annually. She has led several successful campaigns in London on behalf of refugees.

    In northern Bosnia, she helped found an organization called Most Mira (Bridge to Peace), which hosts an annual arts festival for children born into segregation and facing postwar trauma.

    Learn more about Zrinka.

    Stella Mkiliwane is of the minority Ndebele tribe in Zimbabwe and after being abducted, interrogated and threatened by security agents, she fled to South Africa in 2007. Soon after, she began volunteering with the Refugee Ministries Centre (RMC). A family therapist and social worker by training, she played a significant role in humanitarian relief and protection in response to the wave of violence against foreigners in South Africa in May 2008, when approximately 100,000 families were displaced. She mobilized relief and resources for those displaced and later carried out assessment work of those living in temporary shelters.

    Now the director of operations of the RMC, she has instilled a “zero tolerance of corruption” policy for organizational and governmental staff alike. Not wanting to be restrained to a desk job, Stella also continues to offer one-on-one counseling to refugees and asylum seekers at a Walk-in Centre run by RMC in Johannesburg.

    Learn more  about Stella.

    Corporate Honoree


    THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION is being honored for AlertNet, the world’s humanitarian news network. Established in 1997 in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, AlertNet provides news and information on natural disasters, conflicts, refugees, hunger, diseases and climate change to relief workers, donors, policy makers, researchers, students, journalists and the general public, aiding humanitarian efforts throughout the world.

    AltertNet also deploys reporting teams to disaster zones to disseminate fast, reliable information to affected populations in local languages on everything from how to minimize disease risks to where to get medical help and how to trace missing relatives.

    AlertNet represents Thomson Reuters’ commitment to the Knowledge Effect–the belief that the right information in the right hands leads to amazing things.

    Read about our 2010 Voices of Courage Award Luncheon.