News from the week of 28 Mar - 1 Apr 2016

Our weekly round-up what we’ve been reading and watching, from in the news and around the web:

On Wednesday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) convened a one-day ministerial conference on the global refugee crisis. U.N. Secretary General Bah-Ki Moon opened the conference by calling for “an exponential increase in global solidarity” for Syrian refugees, noting that one in ten will require resettlement. At the conference, the United States reiterated its commitment to resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by October 2016, but as reported by the Boston Globe, today marks the halfway point for meeting that goal and so far the United States has settled only about 1,300. That has prompted many human rights and refugee advocacy organizations, including Human Rights First, to renew its calls for the United States to not only ensure it will meet its goals, but to demonstrate greater global leadership.

Calls for America to take in more refugees raises important questions about how the United States can manage its backlog and process refugees more quickly while maintaining effective security screenings. The Atlantic digs into some of the proposed solutions in a special A&Q feature. Touching on some of the same ideas, David Bier, Director of Immigration Policy at the Niksanen Center, argues in The Huffington Post that taking in refugees is good for national security.

Elsewhere in global refugee policy, Monday marks the start of an E.U. deal that will have Greece sending refugees back to Turkey. Neither country is ready for such a transfer, prompting the United Nations to call for safeguards.

Behind the buzz of global conferences, controversial deals, and calls to action are the stories of real people, refugees whose circumstances seem to worsen by the day.

Human Rights First’s Senior Director of Refugee Protection, Eleanor Acer, tells how the story of the death of 1-year-old Mohammed Hassan is emblematic of the consequences of the resettlement backlog for so many families. Priscilla Philippi of the Arab Center portrays the human side of the crisis through a pictorial essay. And Arielle Bernstein contrasts the minimalist trend with refugees’ losses, in a piece that, for us, sparked reflections on privilege and empathy.

Have reactions to share, or want to learn how you can be involved in our efforts to raise veteran voices in support of refugees? Contact us at vfai@humanrightsfirst.org.