News from the Week of January 1

This weekend the VFAI team is in San Antonio at the Student Veterans of America National Conference 2018. With over 4,000 student veterans in attendance, NatCon is the largest annual gathering of post-9/11 veterans in the country. VFAI is thrilled to be in attendance to share our work protecting the SIV program for interpreters and translators, standing up for refugees, and countering anti-Muslim bigotry. Follow along on social media with the hashtag #NatCon2018!

If the United States believes it has a moral obligation to provide for vets, what should be done for translators who sacrificed just as much, if not more? A must-read from the Washington Post’s Alex Horton digs into the challenges that Iraqi and Afghan interpreters and translators face as they build new lives in America.

Earlier this week, Refugee Council USA released their monthly refugee arrivals data and aDecember Report Card on Refugee Arrivals. Only 2,215 refugees were admitted into the United States during the month of December; 5,323 refugees arrived during the entire first quarter of FY18, nearly 6,000 people behind schedule. Join us in challenging the administration by posting on social media using the hashtag #WhereRTheRefugees?

In an in-depth year in review, Refugees Deeply highlights developments in the global refugee crisis throughout 2017. From the mass exodus of refugees out of Myanmar and South Sudan to escalating returns of Afghans and threats to send back Syrians, refugees faced a crisis of resources and institutions last year.

NPR also looks back on 2017 in “The Year The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Unraveled.”  Attempts to shut down the program—challenged in the courts—have evolved to more calculated bureaucratic challenges that will have long-term consequences. "This is strategic, that's why it's different from previous anti-immigrant mindsets. It is a conscious effort to deconstruct the system," says Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq. “It's going to take a long time to rebuild.”

In a Vatican address on New Year’s Day, Pope Francis called on global leaders to step up and pave the way for refugees and migrants to reach safety. “Please do not extinguish the hope in their hearts; we do not suffocate their peace expectations!” the Pope said. “It is important that everyone, civil institutions, educational, welfare, and ecclesial realities are committed to ensuring refugees, migrants and everyone a future of peace.”

Refugee of the Week: Mohamad Al Jounde was just 12 years old when he decided to set up a school in the Bekaa Valley refugee camp, enlisting family members and volunteers to help build the school and teach a variety of subjects—from English to photography. Today, the school has more than 200 students. On Monday, Mohamad accepted the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize. “This is not just about teaching reading and writing, but giving young refugees a safe space to express themselves,” the 16-year-old says.