February 2012Latest News Latest Reports
I recently returned from an international conference in Doha, Qatar, that shined a spotlight on an otherwise neglected and socially excluded population: people affected by conflict and living with disabilities. The Shafallah Forum “Crisis, Conflict and Disability: Ensuring Equality” was an initiative of her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, wife of the Emir of Qatar. The conference drew some 250 delegates from around the world, including many first ladies, Nobel Peace Prize winner Tun Channareth—who was disabled by a landmine—other persons with disabilities and representatives from major world news outlets.
It was extremely encouraging to see displaced persons with disabilities finally getting the attention they need. An estimated 4 million people who have been displaced by conflict are living with disabilities today, and they are among the most vulnerable of the vulnerable—with extremely limited access to services.
At the close of the conference, I worked with representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Human Rights Watch and other participants to draft a declaration calling attention to the rights and needs of displaced people living with disabilities and setting forth a plan of action. The Women’s Refugee Commission has led groundbreaking work in this area, and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure these plans become reality.
New Report Highlights Education and Job Training Needs of Displaced Youth
Uprooted from their homes and schools, displaced youth have historically fallen through the cracks—leaving a large population that is often out of school and unemployed. To meet their needs, our Displaced Youth Initiative has worked to increase attention and support for comprehensive education and job training programs that help prepare young women and men for life during and after displacement. During our research, we met with hundreds of displaced young women and men in Jordan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda and the United States. We listened to them to learn what worked and what is needed to address the gaps. Our new report Tapping the Potential of Displaced Youth reflects our learning from this initiative and provides technical knowledge to strengthen and create greater access for displaced young women and men to quality education and training opportunities and safe, dignified livelihoods.
Technology Helping to Save Mothers’ Lives in Refugee Settings
As we reported in October, the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment, or “LifeWrap,” may be an invaluable medical solution to help save mothers’ lives in remote settings. The garment is a low-technology, simple first-aid device that reduces bleeding and reverses shock induced by severe bleeding following childbirth.
Last fall, Women’s Refugee Commission staff travelled to western Tanzania with Pathfinder International to learn about how the garment has been used there in refugee camps and surrounding communities. Our findings have been released in this report for practitioners.
Health workers in several developing countries have reported great success with the garment, and now that our reproductive health team has documented its effectiveness in the Tanzania camp, we are advocating that other refugee camps and crisis-affected areas incorporate the garment into their maternal health programs to assess the benefits and identify any challenges or drawbacks.
WRC Joins New Coalition to Improve International Health Care Work Force
Frontline health workers are the first, and often the only, link to health care for millions of women and their families, especially refugees and others living in war-torn areas. Health care providers in these areas—mostly community health workers and midwives—can provide families with a range of proven, lifesaving services, including maternal and newborn care. The Women’s Refugee Commission recently joined with 15 other influential global health organizations in launching the Frontline Health Workers Coalition. The Coalition will advocate for increased investment by the U.S. government in more and better trained frontline health workers, as the most cost-effective way to save lives and address HIV and other global health crises.
Focus on Immigrant Parents Separated from their Children
Today, 5,100 children are in foster care in the United States because a parent has been detained or deported, and 15,000 more are expected to enter the system in the next five years. For the past three years, our Detention and Asylum Program has been at the forefront of a national advocacy effort to protect the rights of immigrant mothers and fathers who are detained or deported to maintain custody of their children. And it seems that our voice has been heard loud and clear. President Obama recently called the separation of parents and children because of immigration enforcement a real problem. And ABC’s World News and Nightline recently featured the issue in this story.
Women Survivors of Sexual Violence in Former Yugoslavia Mobilize
A lifelong advocate for the protection and empowerment of women and girls, board member Dr. Indira Kajosevic Skoric recently presented to a packed room of WRC and IRC staff and colleagues on her oral history research on survivors of sexual violence from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. She shared stories of nine Muslim women survivors who are now advocates for women’s rights and social justice. Dr. Skoric is the cofounder and executive director of the Reconciliation and Culture Cooperative Network, a nonprofit organization that focuses on communal healing among immigrants from the Western Balkans.
In the News
The Huffington Post published “Pregnant and Displaced: Double the Danger” by Executive Director Sarah Costa.
Sarah was also mentioned in the Gulf Times article “Dignitaries to Attend Shafallah Forum.”
Michelle Brané, Director, Detention and Asylum, was featured on Washington, D.C.’s WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show on immigration enforcement and detention. Michelle was also quoted in a National Review article “Detained and Abused.”
AlertNet published “Building a Better and Safer Haiti for Women and Children” by Director of Advocacy and External Relations Joan Timoney.
The Women's Refugee Commission was established in 1989 to address the particular needs of refugee and displaced women and children.