Part Five: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

 

“Tesfaye* and his family, including his wife and six children, are refugees in Kenya. Tesfaye has been a refugee for 20 years, having escaped persecution in his home country of Ethiopia. In December 2016, the family was elated to be informed that their resettlement case processing was finally coming to an end and that they would be resettled to the U.S. in a period of less than 2 months.

After 20 years of struggle, and surviving torture that left him with permanent physical injuries, Tesfaye could finally see the hope of a new beginning for his family – an opportunity to live in safety and dignity.

Tesfaye’s journey as a refugee has been extremely difficult. He originally fled to Kenya in 1997, began his family, and lived in Kenya until 2010, when he was deported back to Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, Tesfaye was detained for nearly one year in a prison where he was tortured. Relatives contributed money for Tesfaye’s release from prison and for the treatment of his torture wounds. In 2011 Tesfaye returned to Kenya, and to his wife and children, but surviving has not been easy. Despite working hard, and running a small food stand with the help of a business grant, the family continues to live in very poor living conditions.

Talking with Tesfaye on January 30, he was vaguely aware of a new presidency in the U.S., but did not know how the new policy would affect his travel plans. Tesfaye and his family will undoubtedly need to wait longer to travel, or may lose their chance altogether to be resettled. This will certainly come as a heavy blow to a family who has already endured so much hardship.”

This story was shared with us […]

By |February 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Part Five: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

Part Four: After a 2-year separation, 4-year-old reunites with mother

          

(Image left: 4-year old Mushkaad is finally reunited with her mother Samira in the U.S., after two years of separation. Image right: RefugePoint Kenya board member Sheikha Ali serves as a travel companion for Mushkaad during her journey from Uganda to the U.S.)

“How do you explain to the little girl that she will no longer be going to see her mother? How do you explain to the mother who anxiously has been waiting for her child that she will no longer see her 4-year old daughter?”

During the past few days we have been sharing stories of refugee families impacted by the recent executive order suspending the U.S. resettlement program, as told by RefugePoint Resettlement Experts. Many things have developed since Friday, when a federal judge from Washington state temporarily blocked enforcement of the travel ban, which allowed people who had been previously banned from travelling to board planes bound for the U.S.

Today, we share with you a special story of Mushkaad, A 4-year old Somali girl, as told to us by a RefugePoint Kenya board member, Sheikha Ali, who served as Mushkaad’s travel companion as she attempted and re-attempted her journey to reunite with her family in the U.S. after two years of separation.
Flight Cancelled

On January 27, Mushkaad, A 4-year old Somali girl wearing a beautiful white dress, and with her hair specially done up, was ready to finally board a plane and fly to Minnesota where she would reunite with her mother after two years of separation.

Sheikha Ali, a RefugePoint board member who is an employee of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), met the little girl in Kampala, Uganda, on the day of the flight. But the executive […]

By |February 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Part Four: After a 2-year separation, 4-year-old reunites with mother

Part Three: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

We continue with Part Three of our blog series (go back to Part One, go to Part Two), in which RefugePoint Resettlement Experts, who work across Africa to help refugees through the process resettlement, tell stories about how the recent executive order impacts the refugees whom they work with.

Today’s story chronicles a refugee family from Somalia who fled to Kenya, as told by one of our Resettlement Experts:

“I interviewed several families whom will now be blocked from entry to the United States. I interviewed a family headed by a Somali woman in her 60’s, her son, and several nieces and nephews whom had fled with her from Somalia. 

The female head of the household, who was the main applicant had been diagnosed with multiple severe medical issues. Within the camp, this woman relied on each of her nieces and nephews to feed and bathe her, to cook and clean, to accompany/carry her to the hospital, particularly when she fell unconscious, and to collect her medications. 

However, in the camp, she did not have access to sufficient medications or treatment. On the day of our interview, she struggled to even reach the office as two of her nephews carried her. We had received medical referrals declaring that treatment was not accessible for her within Kenya as a refugee.  However, such medical referrals were out of date, making emergency submission to the United States unlikely without an updated medical examination. 

Despite consistent requests, we were unable to attain an urgent and updated medical exam through the local medical staff. As such, I was advised to send the case on an urgent needs basis, so that the woman may attain medical attention within the shortest time possible. I met with this woman again at […]

By |February 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Part Three: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

Part Two: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

Imagine being violently chased from your home and losing everything – your home, business, friends and family members. And then, you are unable to return home, you are a refugee for 14 years, and you go through an 8 year vetting process to be resettled to the U.S. Finally, after 8 years of waiting, you are approved for resettlement to the U.S. on a specific date in February 2017. Finally, you and your family will be safe in the U.S. and able to begin life again. And then suddenly, with the stroke of a pen on January 27, an executive order banning refugees on refugees signed, and all of that is lost…

Today, we continue Part Two of our series (go back to Part One), in which RefugePoint Resettlement Experts, who work across Africa to help refugees through the process resettlement, tell stories about how the recent executive order impacts the refugees whom they work with.

The story above is not a hypothetical situation. It is a true story. Here is more about this story, which is of a family from Darfur that fled to Chad, as told by one of our Resettlement Experts:

“Twenty refugees were expected to reach the United States in February. Out of the 20, five were women and girls, nine were children below 15. All of the children were born and raised as refugees. The parents have been living as refugees for the last 14 years since they fled from Darfur region of Sudan in 2003.

Darfur is a region where there’s an ongoing conflict and displacement of civilians due to ethnic conflict. The refugees were chased out of their homes by the Janjaweed militia who attacked the village, killed several civilians and took away […]

By |February 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Part Two: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

Part One: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

RefugePoint has a team of Resettlement Experts who currently work in 20 countries across Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, identifying refugees who are most in need of resettlement. Those include refugees who are in danger, survivors of torture and violence, woman and girls at risk, and unaccompanied children.

Resettlement Experts identify those in need, conduct interviews with refugees to understand their complete story, verify facts, and help to move refugees through the process of resettlement – including the completion of background and security checks, medical exams, etc. The cases are then submitted to governments, which then conduct their own interview and extensive vetting.

RefugePoint Resettlement Experts work directly with the refugees whose lives are threatened as a result of President Trump’s executive order (EO) that is halting refugee resettlement. The facts about the executive order leave out a critical component – the human aspect. 67,689 refugees who were “travel ready” have now been stopped. Over the next few days, we are going to share stories of refugee families who are impacted by this executive order, as told by the RefugePoint Experts who are on the ground assisting these families.

Although a temporary 120 day suspension of the U.S. resettlement program may not seem like too long of a delay, for refugees with certain medical conditions, or for refugees who face extreme security issues, this delay could mean the difference between life and death. For others, the delay will mean that certain clearances that they had already gained within the resettlement process (including security checks and  medical examinations) will expire within that 120 day suspension, which could result in a resettlement delay of many more months, or even years.

We begin this series with a story of […]

By |February 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Part One: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

Take Action to Counter President Trump’s Anticipated Ban on Refugees

President Donald Trump is expected to order a temporary ban on all refugees resettling to the United States, and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. Additionally, it is anticipated that Trump’s Executive Order will reduce the 2017 ceiling on the arrival of refugees for resettlement to the United States from 110,000 to 50,000.

RefugePoint strongly opposes these decisions as they go against the core American value of welcoming families who come to the United States to start their lives again in safety and dignity. We know that nearly half of the world’s refugees are children, simply in search of a safe and secure environment in which to grow. It is profoundly un-American to turn away those seeking safety. This is not who we are as Americans. This is not who we are as a country.

Welcoming refugees makes America safer and stronger. Resettlement helps to stabilize some of our key strategic allies in countries and regions that are disproportionally affected by forced displacement. Continuing to welcome refugees from around the world sends a strong message to groups that want to sow fear that the United States remains a leading force for stability and liberty in the world.

Here are some steps that you can take to voice your concern about the expected ban on refugees:

Please contact President Trump at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact, and let the White House know that you oppose a ban on the arrival of refugees from Syria and around the world. You can also send the White House a Facebook message at Facebook.com/WhiteHouse

Please call your Senators and let them know that you oppose this anticipated order: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/, (202) 224-3121.

Sign this petition stating opposition to any plans to stop refugee resettlement.

RefugePoint is committed to continuing to seek […]

By |January 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Take Action to Counter President Trump’s Anticipated Ban on Refugees

Video Release: An Impossible Choice

An Impossible Choice (a Show of Force film) 

 

We all need help in our times of greatest challenge. Today we are confronted with the question: what can I do to help refugees in their most desperate hours?

RefugePoint started as a response to that question. You can watch our founding story in this Congo rescue video. With an unprecedented 65 million displaced by conflict and the average amount of time someone lives as a refugee nearing 20 years, you can take action.

About the Video

This Show of Force film, An Impossible Choice, chronicles the moral dilemma faced by Sasha Chanoff and Sheikha Ali, two humanitarian aid workers in Africa who ran a rescue mission in the Congo in 2000. Their directive was to rescue 112 people from the Congo. They were given a list with 112 names and specific instructions to not evacuate anyone other than the names on the list. Any attempt to do so would put the entire mission, and all of their lives, at risk. But when Sasha and Sheikha came across a group of widows and orphans in desperate need of evacuation, they faced a moral dilemma. Should they attempt to save the additional people, and in doing so put everyone’s lives at risk? Watch, the full video here.

Donate

Support our efforts to help refugees resettle to new countries, and help those who cannot resettle to attain self-reliance. These solutions enable refugees to resume and rebuild their lives. We work with children and women and families like those in this video.

Our first step is to help stabilize refugees when they are injured, scared, or desperate. You can help refugees along the path to a new life through the following options:

By |October 3rd, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Video Release: An Impossible Choice

World Humanitarian Summit: RefugePoint Shares Refugee Self-Reliance Model

This weekend two RefugePoint staff head to Istanbul for the first World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). As stated in a WHS tagline, the world is witnessing the highest level of human suffering since the Second World War. Global humanitarian budgets have skyrocketed in this millennium, from $2 billion in 2000 to $25 billion in 2014. Despite the record amount raised in 2014, it still left an unfunded gap of some $16 billion. The disparities between needs and resources are expected to increase further, with only an estimated half of the funds needed to respond to global crises raised in 2015.

The WHS on May 23-24 was spawned from the now broad recognition that the humanitarian system is no longer fit for purpose. As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees warned long before asylum-seekers started arriving in Europe in large numbers last summer, the humanitarian system is both broke and broken.

The aim of the WHS is to bring together world leaders, financial institutions, civil society and the private sector to jointly commit to new actions, funding and, importantly, ways of working to retool the system to match the challenges of our time.

Though not limited to refugees and migration issues, these topics are predictably prominent on the WHS agenda given that we’re witnessing the highest level of forced displacement ever recorded. With the seemingly endless layering of new crises on top of decades-old crises, the notion of humanitarian assistance as short-term emergency relief is becoming an anachronism. It is no longer sustainable to view displaced populations as the sole concern of a few specialized agencies that lack access to the considerably larger development coffers.

In the refugee context, this necessitates more support for countries hosting large numbers of refugees and […]

By |May 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on World Humanitarian Summit: RefugePoint Shares Refugee Self-Reliance Model

Resettlement: Our Most Successful Year Ever

This year was our most successful ever in terms of resettlement submissions. Though 2015 fourth quarter statistics are still being tabulated, we know that we have surpassed last year’s totals and referred more than 5,000 refugees for resettlement during 2015. Since 2005, we have referred 32,454 refugees for resettlement.
During this quarter, our staff referred approximately 1,250 of the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement from 15 locations in Africa, bringing our year-end total to approximately 5,000 referrals.

Our staff also facilitated additional resettlement by leading identification exercises to find the most vulnerable refugees and conducting quality review of resettlement submissions. Through these activities we facilitated the resettlement of approximately another 650 refugees this quarter. In total, we helped as many as approximately 1,900 refugees access resettlement during the fourth quarter of 2015.

2015 was not just a successful year for RefugePoint, but for resettlement out of Africa broadly. To give one example, UNHCR in the East & Horn of Africa was able to refer more refugees for resettlement in 2015 than during any other year in its past. RefugePoint was a critical part of this success, having deployed 8 Resettlement Experts and 6 Child Protection Experts to 11 different locations throughout the region.

A primary objective of RefugePoint’s deployment program is to capacitate the overall resettlement system so that the entire system is able to achieve its goal of extending resettlement to all refugees who need it, and therefore we are very pleased to be able to share in this success with UNHCR.

This quarter, we also extended our reach beyond Africa, to the Middle East and the Syrian refugee crisis. In December, our Operations Officer Johanna Babb, based in Geneva, co-facilitated UNHCR’s Resettlement Learning Program (RLP) workshop in Amman, […]

By |January 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Resettlement: Our Most Successful Year Ever

1,246 Nairobi Core Clients Graduate From Programs

This quarter we focused largely on monitoring and assessing client progress with an eye toward planning for 2016. Our staff in Nairobi conducted a comprehensive assessment of all RefugePoint clients. Through home visits, staff evaluated individuals’ and families’ living situations, health and wellness, education, and employment status. They looked at indicators around safety, security, and affordability. This marks the third round of biannual (twice yearly) assessments.

RefugePoint’s Livelihoods team was also hard at work visiting and monitoring 224 client-owned businesses that were all launched in 2015. From business training and best practices, to mentoring and monitoring, our clients received technical and financial support from trained staff to start small businesses in Nairobi. The aim of this program is to help refugees establish sustainable livelihoods in order to support themselves and their families. RefugePoint clients have successfully launched a variety of businesses, including selling traditional Congolese fabric, making and selling street-food, and selling second-hand clothes.

The counseling unit also wrapped up individual and group sessions for the year, collecting pre-and post-assessment information from individuals to determine the impact of therapeutic counseling. This was the first year that we conducted intensive therapy groups around single issues (for example, survivors of torture) and we are looking forward to learning from the information collected from clients.

These assessments are all a critical part of our model and help us determine when clients are ready to graduate from our services. We are happy to report that by the end of this year, 1,246 clients were able to sufficiently stabilize and graduate from our core program; they had secure households, stable livelihoods and a good path forward. This was nearly twice the number we had originally expected.

By |January 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 1,246 Nairobi Core Clients Graduate From Programs