News from the Week of April 18th 2016

Over 400 migrants, many of them asylum seekers from Somalia, drowned when their boat capsized in the sea between Libya and Italy—the deadliest shipwreck in a year. The forty survivors drifted at sea for three days without food or water before being rescued; they are now recovering in the care of UNHCR in Athens.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to the Turkish-Syrian border this weekend to promote the month-old deal between Turkey and the European Union, lauding Turkey for its efforts to deal with the crisis. (Wondering what this E.U.-Turkey deal is? The Guardian has a great, simple primer.)

The calls keep coming in for the United States to do more to help Syrian refugees, from at home and abroad. A Washington Post editorial declared the resettlement process “too slow, and helping too few,” noting that not only does our failure to act pose a risk to the stability of frontline nations, but it will also serve to “erode U.S. moral leadership.” Margaret Huang, interim Executive Director of Amnesty International, echoes that sentiment in Time Magazine: “We are at a defining moment. The U.S. must reaffirm the values upon which it was built. Given the stakes, it cannot betray those values now.”

The European Union’s Special Representative on Human Rights further cautioned that rhetoric conflating refugees with terrorism is “extremely dangerous” and without evidence, and called on the United States to help relieve the pressure on Europe by accepting more refugees. Meanwhile Tennessee legislators voted to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement.

In other stories from the frontlines, two of the dozen Syrian refugees flown to Rome with Pope Francis following his visit to a Lesbos refugee camp share their stories. And in a six-part series, #5YearsWeFled, the Atlantic Council takes us inside the difficult journey Syrian refugees face—from their decision to flee to their appeal for asylum in Europe.

Lastly, the New York Times and Thomson Reuters won the prestigious Photography Pulitzer for their gripping coverage of the refugee crisis. In other photographic news, tomorrow the Annenberg Foundation unveils a new UN-backed exhibit, Refugee, which displays the scale of the refugee crisis and the individual human stories within it.  

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