News from the Week of April 8th

Earlier this week the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis, Panos Moumtzis, expressed his deep concern about the displacement of close to seven hundred thousand Syrians since the beginning of 2018. Meanwhile, the United States has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees this year. By comparison, over the same three-and-a-half-month period in 2016, we accepted 790.  

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis commented on the need to address the refugee crisis, saying “I've never seen refugees as traumatized as coming out of Syria. It's got to end.”

Burley Smith, an American veteran who joined a famous evacuation operation during the Korean War, will visit South Korea to commemorate the event. The December 1950 operation safely evacuated approximately one hundred thousand war refugees aboard the SS Meredith Victory and other merchant ships. Smith is one of only three American crew members from the operation who are still alive.

Geisha Williams, a former refugee from Cuba, is the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She says refugees and immigrants bring energy, innovation and creativity to business, and an unmatched "hunger for advancement and betterment." This sentiment is bolstered by evidence: a recent report found that the longer refugees remain in the United States, the more likely they are to embrace tenets of the traditional American dream—buying homes and starting their own businesses.

On Tuesday in Lawton, Oklahoma, VFAI founder Scott Cooper will join veteran leaders Brandy Baxter and Adam Babiker, and Cameron University student-veterans Ricardo Flores and Waheed Gbadamosi for a discussion about diversity in the military and veteran community. 

Looking for a thoughtful film this weekend? We recommend two! One is a virtual reality project from Human Rights First and RYOT studios, Crossing The Line, which sheds light on the untold stories of asylum seekers: mothers, fathers and children fleeing violence, persecution, and fear.

The second in our double –feature is "This Is Home: A Refugee Story," a feature-length documentary by Alexandra Shiva. It’s a moving a portrait of four refugee Syrian families navigating new lives in Baltimore, the piece received the 2018 Sundance Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. It is now screening in cities throughout the United States.