Tag: refugee camps

Sonia Ben Ali, URBAN REFUGEES co-founder :

I recall a discussion with URBAN REFUGEES co-founder, David Delvallé, three years ago: he said, “You’ll see, one day you will be talking about our mission in a TED talk.” I did not believe it then… but 3 years later, it became reality!
My talk at TEDx Champs Elysées was a tremendous step for our organization, which is still small in structure but with a beautiful breadth of vision.
Our dream is to make the invisible, visible in the eyes of the world. How better to achieve this than with a TED talk?
I am deeply grateful to the organizers for providing us this opportunity, and I hope with all my heart that it represents a great stride forward in bringing awareness to the challenges of urban refugees. We invite you to watch and share the talk with your friends, neighbors, and networks, and look forward to sharing more good news with you soon!

If you wish to support the URBAN REFUGEES’ team, please click here.

By Michael Kagan

Four years ago next month, UNHCR issued its Policy on Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas, perhaps the UN’s most important 21st Century statement of protection strategy. Depending on who you listen to, we are either at the nascent stages of a new era of rights-based refugee assistance, or due for a skeptical realization that not much as changed.

On paper and in rhetoric, the 2009 urban policy represents a break from fundamental flaws of 20th Century refugee practice. A previous 1997 version of this policy was understood as condemning urban refugees as “irregular movers,” troublemakers who were making it more difficult for UNHCR and its partners. Camps were normal and good, and refugees should be discouraged from trying to leave them.

In UNHCR’s words, the new policy “marks the beginning of a new approach.” Refugees are now to be reconceived as people with autonomy. The focus is to be on their rights, their legal status, their ability to support themselves and to raise their families in dignity.

But as always, the situation on the ground is more complicated. Four years on, the world is still littered with refugee camps imposed on refugees whether they like it or not. In East Africa, on the Thai border with Burma, in dozens of other places refugees are directly or indirectly forced to live in remote camps.

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