This Week in Restoring Family Links News 04/11/2015 - 04/17/2015

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, was this week from the evening of Wednesday, April 15th to the evening of Thursday, April 16th. This day is set aside to honor and remember the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. Around the world, millions recognize the importance of this day as an opportunity to stand against anti-Semitism and the hate that divides humanity. It is also an important opportunity to discuss the legacy of those who survived the atrocities committed during World War II, and how future generations should and can combat genocide and prejudice.

In recognition of this day of remembrance, the American Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links program held an event in honor of victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Rabbi Levi Shemtov, a well-respected and world renowned leader in the Jewish community led a candle lighting ceremony remembering the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust. The event highlighted a campaign encouraging interaction between youth and Holocaust survivors to help ensure that their legacy and hopes for the future live on in future generations. Three youth who participated in the campaign participated in a discussion about their experience.

To watch the full event, please click here.

Refugees in Kenya: Kenya’s second in-command recently released an ultimatum to the United Nations – resettle our refugees, or the Kenyan government will relocate them. While Kenya has been negotiating the resettlement of its Somali refugees for years, this push comes largely as a response to the Garissa University attack, where al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization, killed 147 students. The Dadaab refugee where more than 600,000 refugees reside, is believed by the Kenyan government to support al-Shabaab. The threat has alarmed both refugee communities and the UN Refugee Agency, both of which believe Somalia to be unprepared, and in many places still unsafe, for resettlement.

Conflict in Nigeria: One year ago, the insurgent group, Boko Haram kidnapped 219 schoolgirls. While hope is dwindling for their return, the “Bring Back our Girls” campaign continues to fight to ensure they will not be forgotten. Since the beginning of the insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, over 800,000 children have been displaced by fighting. Many have fled to neighboring Niger, Chad, or Cameroon, while other remain displaced within Nigeria itself. Regardless of where families and children have fled, the displacement has created a humanitarian crisis. While aid organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, continue their work to protect and aid the displaced, the needs far outreach the available resources.

This Week in Restoring Family Links News 04/04/2015 - 04/10/2015

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Conflict in Yemen: While conflict in Yemen is by no means a new topic, the recent Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi rebels has many worried about stability in the region and has already displaced huge numbers of people. The fighting also has humanitarian aid agencies worried about water and food security in the nation as supplies are dwindling. In addition to worries about basic needs, these agencies have voiced concern for the large number of child soldiers estimated to be among the fighting forces.

The outbreak of conflict has started to reverse the historic flow of refugees in the region. For decades, refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa have used Yemen as a staging ground for finding asylum and better economic opportunities in other Gulf nations. This conflict has many of these migrants seeking to return home in addition to the Yemeni refugees seeking safety in Somalia and Djibouti. Aid agencies operating in the Horn of Africa have scaled up their capacity to meet the needs of these refugees and continue to prepare for more in the instance that the conflict worsens.

Yarmouk Refugee Camp: Before the Syrian Civil War erupted, an estimated 160,000 people lived in Yarmouk. Now, fewer than 18,000 live there, under siege by the Islamic State. Fighting over the camp began last Wednesday and has worsened already miserable conditions for the refugees who have remained. Since the take-over, aid agencies including the United Nations (UN) and the International Committee of the Red Cross have decried the targeting of the camp and have urged for access for humanitarian aid. If granted access, the UN has proposed conducting an emergency evacuation. This week, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declined a request from Syria to arm Palestinians to aid in the fight against the Islamic State.

Holocaust Remembrance Day Campaign: Next week is Holocaust Remembrance Day. In order to honor the legacy of those who died during the Holocaust as well as its survivors, the American Red Cross is holding an event at its National Headquarters. The event marks the end of a pilot campaign to encourage interaction between youth and Holocaust survivors, to ensure that future generations continue to honor their legacy and work to prevent prejudice and genocide. The event can be attended in person or online. To RSVP and to learn more about the event, please visit our registration website.

Welcome Katie Gray!

Please join me in welcoming our new Restoring Family Links (RFL) Training Coordinator, Katie Gray in her new role on the RFL headquarters team, she will oversee development of training tools for the chapter network, manage the RFL Instructor Roster and coordinate national training events.

Katie comes to us with over five years of experience in the refugee, migration and humanitarian services field. She has worked with refugee and immigrant populations, coordinating and developing cross-cultural education and skill building programing, for the International Institute of St. Louis, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC). 

She first learned about the Restoring Family Links program when members of the outreach team at National Headquarters came to present about the program at the IRC office in Silver Spring, Maryland.  While serving as a refugee caseworker and program coordinator, Katie encountered many clients who were devastated due to the lack of contact or lost connection with their loved ones.  Immediately she became interested in how refugee and migrant serving organizations could partner more with RFL services to assist in the reunification of families.  Therefore, when the opening with the RFL Program at the American Red Cross National Headquarters became available, she embraced the opportunity to make a broader impact in the migration and humanitarian service field. 

In addition to her professional experience, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of San Francisco, California and a Global Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Webster University. Katie is very excited to join the RFL team services and looking forward to the opportunity to working with all of the RFL volunteers, mentors and staff across the chapter networks! 

Welcome, Katie! The whole RFL team at National Headquarters is excited to have you join us!