From left to right: Noubar Afeyan, Moderna Co-founder and Chairman; Sasha Chanoff, Founder and CEO of RefugePoint; Vilas Dhar (event sponsor), President and Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation; Chef José Andrés, Founder of World Central Kitchen; Susan Sarandon, Academy Award-winning actor; and Julia Dhar (event sponsor), Managing Director & Partner at Boston Consulting Group. Photo: Chris Jensen, RefugePoint
NEW YORK, Sept. 20 – At Nubeluz by Chef José Andrés in Manhattan and with supporting remarks from the humanitarian chef, Academy Award-winning actor Susan Sarandon, Moderna Co-founder and Chairman Noubar Afeyan, and other philanthropists, RefugePoint announced today the launching of its Family Reunion Initiative at an event co-hosted with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.
Through the initiative, RefugePoint, a nonprofit that advances lasting solutions for refugees, will lead a global effort to help reunite one million separated refugee families over the next five years. Assisting unaccompanied refugee children to reunite with their parents and other family members will be a major focus of this effort. The organization aims to raise $8 million to build this program.
Chef José Andrés, Founder of World Central Kitchen, who provides meals in response to humanitarian crises around the world, including refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine gave remarks at the event and highlighted the importance of reuniting refugee families.
Over 110 million people – about one in 74 of the world’s population — have been forced from their homes as a result of conflict and are often separated from family and loved ones along the way. In far too many cases, refugee families are never reunited. Those fortunate enough to trace the whereabouts of lost family members often remain separated by international borders and restrictive immigration laws. RefugePoint helps refugees reunite with family members and works to make family reunification more accessible to refugees in the US and worldwide.
Shaped by her experiences as a woman raised in Afghanistan, Lina Tori Jan, an advocate for human rights and equality around the world, now leads the implementation of Georgetown University’s Afghanistan initiative, Onward for Afghan Women, and is a RefugePoint Board member. As a displaced person herself, Lina described her personal experience reuniting with her own family members after the fall of Kabul: “Knowing my family was out—that they were safe—after weeks of uncertainty, was one of the best moments of my life. Unfortunately, many others are still separated from their families and in urgent need of assistance. Together, we can play a role in addressing these challenges.”
Susan Sarandon, who has supported RefugePoint since 2006 said: “I met one of the first people RefugePoint helped – a mother from the Congo who found the most creative ways to keep her children alive. But her oldest daughter was missing – had been taken. She and the other children came to the US. RefugePoint worked very hard to find that daughter and to reunite that family. Now, she is living a very full life and is helping other people.”
RefugePoint has relied on private funding to launch a number of global efforts to expand solutions for refugees and has long served as a leader in advancing family reunification. Through this new initiative, it aims to build on that role over the next five years by:
- Directly helping refugees in many host countries around the world to reunite with loved ones, with a focus on unaccompanied and separated children.
- Piloting and scaling innovative approaches to increase refugees’ access to family reunification casework and related supports.
- Training and enabling other organizations to support refugee family reunification, with an emphasis on engagement of refugee-led organizations and diasporas.
- Helping to spearhead the Global Family Reunification Network, a coalition that shares best practices and aims to advance family reunification efforts around the world.
“The bond between a parent and a child is the most instinctive and necessary of human relationships. War and human rights abuses have separated far too many children from their parents. I am thrilled that RefugePoint will play a leadership role in aiming to help one million family members reunite over the next five years,” said Sasha Chanoff, the founder and CEO of RefugePoint.
Some of RefugePoint’s core partners in its work include the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Red Cross Family Reunification Working Group, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), and Leiden University.