“We need to speak and act as if we are looking in a mirror or at a family photo.”
On July 18, 2016, USCRI President and CEO Lavinia Limon addressed United Nations (UN) member states at an informal interactive multi-stakeholder hearing at UN Headquarters in preparation for the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016. USCRI offered clear rights-based solutions from its experience advocating to end refugee warehousing since 2004. “We need to recognize their human rights, not just their refugee rights,” Limon said.
“We need to let them work and not be kept on international assistance. We need to let them move as they see fit. We need to provide aid which enables them to make their own decisions,” Limon recommended.
In 2004, the USCRI published a controversial annual World Refugee Survey, which focused on the warehousing of refugees and rights guaranteed for refugees under the 1951 Convention. At the time, warehousing was “a word that people felt very uncomfortable with and subsequently the whole concept was renamed “protracted refugee situations,” Limon reflected. She said that USCRI is very pleased that language has changed from “burden sharing” to responsibility sharing. “We would like to propose that perhaps people think about opportunity sharing instead of responsibility sharing.” Limon suggested.
“While we may have changed the language, however, there is no progress as we face the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Refugees are still in protracted situations and deprived of their rights,” Limon stated.
“They have survived more than most of us can imagine. They know how to survive and thrive if given the opportunity. We must recognize that refugees are not different species. They speak and act and we need to speak and act as if we are looking in a mirror or at a family photo.”
Read the full statement here.