Browse by Theme: Refugees

Today and tomorrow (20-21 October 2016), European heads of state meet in Brussels for the European Council. At the top of the agenda is European policy on migration. Having recently returned from Greece where I was supporting CARE’s efforts to help refugees, I’ve seen for myself the desperate situation that so many refugees face. It represents a collective failure of European governments – and the proposals tabled for the European Council risk making the situation worse.

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In the run-up to the Global Summits on Refugees and Migrants at the United Nations in September 2016, CARE launched a petition to campaign for better protection for innocent civilians fleeing conflicts and natural disasters. We had three asks in our petition targeting the UK Prime Minister Theresa May, which secured the support of over 21,000 people. So to what extent did the Refugee and Migrant Summits deliver on our demands?

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There is an irony to current thinking on the private sector and peacebuilding.

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During her maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Theresa May launched a global campaign to end modern slavery (which she previously described as “the great human rights issue of our time”) and called upon other world leaders to join her in this endeavour. Yet every day young girls fleeing from conflict and violence fall prey to human trafficking rings and the UK is standing idly by.

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We all agree that the numbers are staggering: according to the UNHCR, on average, 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier. At the last count, Greece alone was home to 57,000 displaced people, 40 per cent of them children. But on what to do and who should do it is where agreement ends and polemics begin.

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Over 40 grassroots women-led civil society organisations, human rights and humanitarian agencies have today launched a new Joint Statement on Women and Girls outlining 10 recommendations for next week’s global refugee and migrant Summits – and beyond. So what do we know about the likely Summit outcomes from a gender perspective?

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What does it mean to be ‘a humanitarian’ working in Greece – a country in Europe that, notwithstanding its economic crisis, does not fit the bill of the classic ‘emergency’ context? How does the response in Greece challenge our assumptions about what it means to be a humanitarian?

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