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Research. Rethink. Resolve.

January 2014

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    The Women's refugee commission turns 25


    In 1989, a group of visionary women founded the Women's Refugee Commission to research the needs of refugee women and children and advocate on their behalf. In 2014, we’re celebrating our 25th anniversary with a special Voices of Courage campaign and our biggest-ever luncheon.  

    The Voices of Courage campaign will tell 25 stories that capture the most important moments of the last quarter century. These multimedia pieces will showcase inspiring refugees, critical issues, groundbreaking work and visionaries who changed the field. So bookmark the site and check back often.

    At our Voices of Courage luncheon, we will honor Chernor Bah and Mary Tal: two refugees who are working to protect the rights and well-being of their fellow refugees. You’ll hear from extraordinary presenters, including Liv UllmannMeryl Streep, and Dr. Sima Samar. Save the date or buy your tickets, and we’ll see you on May 1st

    What Adolescent Girls Need: Safe Spaces, Solid Skills & More

    “For the first time in my life, I feel I can do something useful, and plan for my future.”
     
    Last year, in collaboration with operational partners, the WRC developed three girl-centered pilot programs in refugee camp settings  in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. This year, we are documenting and analyzing any unforeseen challenges, and laying out strategies to ensure that girls can access the programs, participate in them without reservation and reap all of the benefits.
     
    WRC program officer Kate Paik recently traveled to monitor a program in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in Uganda, implemented by the Danish Refugee Council. She visited a safe space where 96 out-of-school girls, aged 14-16 years, gather to build valuable social networks with their peers, access mentors, develop confidence and learn skills that will be critical for safe livelihoods in the future.
     
    Kate consulted with the girls, their mentors, their parents and community members. One grandmother told Kate: “Now that I’m too old to work in the field, I wish I had some other skills to support myself and my family. This project is helping my granddaughter gain skills so she can be self-employed and does not live in poverty in old age.”


    THanks for Giving


    Once more, a sincere thank you to those of you who supported us in 2013. Your donations make our work possible. By reading our reports, sharing information via Twitter and Facebook, and engaging with these issues, you help to turn information into action.


    The WRC Looks Inside Border Detention Facilities


    In December, the Migrant Rights and Justice team got a rare glimpse inside government facilities where migrant women and children are detained in Southern California. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations are traditionally off-limits to visitors—however, the WRC was granted access and allowed to interview the detained migrants for the first time.

    We spoke with unaccompanied children, women traveling with small children, and asylum seekers. Direct conversations like these are essential to our work. We conducted full interviews regarding their reasons for migrating as well as their experiences in detention. We have provided our findings to the government and will continue to advocate for improved conditions.  


    Guide to Help Detained Parents Keep their Families Together


    The WRC has developed a guide for parents in immigration detention, helping them ensure they know their rights and are able to maintain custody of their children. We’re teaming with Catapult, a crowdfunding platform, to raise the money to design and print the guide in English and in Spanish—and to put a copy in every immigration detention facility in the United States.

    After several generous year-end donations, we’re happy to report that we’ve raised $9,900 and are 66 percent of the way to our goal! The sooner we reach $15,000, the sooner this guide will reach parents. Please help us get there


    Spotlight on Refugee Crises 


    December saw the onset of violence in South Sudan, where a political power struggle ignited latent ethnic tensions and violence continues to rage. According to the United Nations, 395,000 people have been displaced, with 43,000 refugees seeking safety in neighboring countries. The UN reports that only 50 percent have been reached with aid.

    The crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to worsen. One in five Central Africans—almost 1 million people—are displaced. Some 2.2 million people need immediate humanitarian assistance.

    The recovery from Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in the Philippines is continuing. Significant progress is being made, although much remains to be done, and women and children are still at risk. The WRC’s senior program officer for livelihoods in emergencies, Ann Young Lee, traveled to the Philippines to provide technical aid with the recovery, and has more trips planned.

    Read more here.