Building on the Success of 2011

By Michael Boyce

Happy New Year, from all of us at Refugees International! Before we start tackling the challenges of 2012 – and there will be many – we bring you a brief wrap-up of all things RI from the year gone by.

First, "RI in 2011: By the Numbers":

  • Field Missions Conducted: 16, including research in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, and Tunisia.
  • Reports Published: 18, including two in-depth reports on statelessness in Kuwait and flood-related displacement in Colombia.
  • Advocacy Meetings Across the World: Too many to count – and we have the business cards to prove it.
  • New Staff Hired: 11
  • New Offices Opened: One: our new outpost in London. (More details coming soon!)

But of course, those numbers only convey so much about RI's work. For a better sense of what we've been up to – and why it matters – here are a few of our advocacy successes from the past year:

  • In early 2011, after RI called for greater assistance to displaced Iraqis living in squalid squatter settlements, the U.S. and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) made the provision of assistance to these communities a top priority.
  • In March 2011, two communities in Equateur province in the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a non-aggression pact ending more than a year of deadly conflict. We were pleased that peace arrived after the UN and other agencies followed RI’s recommendation to support reconciliation efforts.
  • After we sounded the alarm in March 2011 that 5,600 South Sudanese were stranded in a transit facility near Khartoum that was built for 800, aid agencies stepped in to expedite their return to South Sudan.
  • Following our June 2011 report on Afghanistan, in September UNHCR increased the number of protection staff to track displacement in the country’s northern regions. Also on the heels of RI's report, NATO announced that it would re-start its dialogue with NGOs and draft a first-ever policy on internal displacement in Afghanistan.
  • In August 2011, as the new UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was being formed, RI was instrumental in pushing the UN Security Council to prioritize the protection of civilians and authorize the greatest possible number of troops.
  • In October 2011, with serious cuts to foreign assistance looming, RI advocates pushed for and secured $8 million in U.S. aid to Colombian refugees, almost half the total funding for international NGOs working on this issue.
  • The 2012 Defense spending bill, passed by Congress in December 2011, included key language drafted by RI on the African Standby Force (ASF). The bill requires the Pentagon to assess the African Union’s development of the ASF: a planned multi-nation peacekeeping forced designed for rapid deployment throughout the continent.

We're proud of these successes and what they achieved for displaced and stateless families around the world. But 2012 promises to be a challenging year: indeed, just since January 1st we’ve witnessed disturbing violent events in South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere. Your support will therefore be critical as we continue our life-saving advocacy around the world.

To all of our readers this past year, thank you for your comments, your tweets, and more – and may 2012 bring you prosperity and peace.