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    Research. Rethink. Resolve.

    December 2012

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    Dear Friend,

    As a Women’s Refugee Commission supporter, you have much to be proud of this year. You helped us conduct some of the first-ever research among adolescent refugee girls; at the camps we visited, girls told us that we were the first people who had spoken to them directly to find out what they thought, and how they think their lives could be improved. You helped us develop guidance on how to ensure women who have been displaced because of armed conflict or natural disaster have work opportunities that are safe. And you helped us successfully advocate for policies and regulations that will protect immigrant women detained in U.S. facilities.

    None of this would have been possible without your help. Now as we look forward to the coming year, we ask that you consider making a donation to the Women’s Refugee Commission. Right now, you have double the incentive: Generous donors have announced that they will match the first $50,000 we raise. This is a wonderful opportunity to join our dedicated group of supporters and to ensure your donation goes twice as far.

    By making a donation, you are making an investment in some of the world’s most vulnerable women, children and youth. Your support gives them a chance at a brighter future.

    With gratitude and warm wishes,
    Sarah Costa's Signature
    Sarah Costa
    Executive Director

    Significant Progress in Protecting Immigrants in U.S. Custody

    After years of advocating on this issue, we are happy to report the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released long-awaited draft regulations on the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). PREA, the first legislation intended to create a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and assault in all confinement facilities, passed unanimously in Congress in 2003. But there have been repeated delays in enacting and implementing the regulations. Meanwhile, many immigrant women and children in detention facilities face sexual assault and remain extremely vulnerable, as documented in a 2010 Human Rights Watch report.

    The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes DHS’s draft regulations as an important step toward fundamentally reducing the threat of sexual assault and rape in immigration detention centers while creating more meaningful pathways to recourse and justice for those immigrants who are victims of assault. We are now calling for the Department of Health and Human Services—which has thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented children in its custody—to enact similar regulations. Read more.

    Making Work Safe

    How can we ensure economic programs meant to help women and girls don’t in fact expose them to more dangers? Our new two-minute animated video explores the risks refugee women and girls face when it comes to work and what we’re doing to make things safer for them. We have developed a “safety mapping tool,” which helps to chart out where in the community women feel unsafe and which relationships increase their risks. Check it out to learn more.

    Global Policies to Improve Conditions for Urban Refugees

    For the past two years, we have been leading groundbreaking research into the economic and social status of refugees living in cities, assessing what opportunities do—or do not—exist for them to work and support themselves and their families. Senior Director for Programs Dale Buscher recently presented at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre 30th Anniversary Conference, “Understanding Global Refugee Policy,” on our findings and recommendations. The conference drew 125 participants—researchers, practitioners and representatives from donor governments—and focused on how policies around refugees have shaped or influenced legislation and practice around the world. We continue to be the leading voice on developing livelihood programs for urban refugees.

    Tapping the Potential of Displaced Youth

    "There is enormous potential for empowering refugee youth living in cities. But there are very few programs for them. We believe that if young women and men have their basic needs met in education and health, and if they have access to employment opportunities, they can transform economies."
    —Senior Program Officer Josh Chaffin

    Urban refugees—specifically youth—were also the topic of discussion at an event we co-hosted last week with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

    Young people escaping armed conflict and natural disasters often flee to urban settings in search of economic security, food and shelter. But they often arrive with limited resources and are vulnerable to exploitation and violence. Employers often turn them away, leaving them to rely on risky survival strategies or low-paying, unstable work in the informal economy. And they usually have few prospects for getting an education.

    Highlighting these and other concerns, Senior Program Officer Josh Chaffin presented our work in this area, focusing on a number of successful interventions in India, Panama, Kenya and Egypt and ways the humanitarian community can improve the prospects of young urban refugees.

    Watch a webcast of the event.

    Stay tuned for our soon-to-be-released global guidance report, designed to help policymakers and those implementing programs specifically targeting urban refugee youth.