In March 2014, Asylum Access will be attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s (CWS) fifty-eighth session to discuss the progress of gender equality and economic empowerment of female refugees with government and UN officials from around the world. In anticipation of its visit, Asylum Access submitted a written statement to the Commission, identifying the major barriers female refugees experience when seeking access to livelihood opportunities, education, health and gender equality.
Our submission specifically reviewed the implementation of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), contending that MDG programs must be inclusive of women and girl refugees to be truly effective. As the 2015 target date for the achievement of the MDGs draws near, the submission called upon governments and UN entities to make certain that female refugees are included in the post 2015 development agenda.
For many refugees residing in the urban regions of Kenya, business cannot be run as usual. As the High Court case of Kituo Cha Sheria v. Attorney General remains underway, members from the urban refugee community in Nairobi reported to Asylum Access that they fear participating in society as usual while their right to work and move freely outside refugee camps hang in the balance.
As previously reported by Asylum Access, the Kenyan government issued a directive in late 2012 and again in early 2013 to force all urban refugees to relocate to the already overcrowded refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma. Reports from human rights organizations emerged soon after the directive’s announcement, stating that as a result of the policies, refugees in Kenya’s urban centers, particularly those in Somali enclaves, had been subjected to a wide range of abuses, including police harassment, violence, discrimination, bribery and arbitrary detention. Local NGO Kituo Cha Sheria challenged the policies before the High Court, and on 23 January, the Court issued provisional orders to halt the implementation of the policy.
Our clients have told us repeatedly, to have work is to have life. However, refugees are still denied access to self-employment, wage earning employment and legal protections around the world. In addition, there is very little research to help us understand the practical barriers to refugee employment. In the coming months, Asylum Access will begin organizing a global advocacy plan, starting with issuing a survey to better understand these barriers. Armed with this information, Asylum Access, along with partners and coalition members, will start working toward practical solutions for refugees seeking self-sufficiency around the world.
Adina Appelbaum is a second year joint MPP/JD student at Georgetown University. She spent a year in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright Fellow providing legal aid to refugees who had fled from Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan. Adina has also worked with refugee issues at Asylum Access Ecuador and at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
By Adina Appelbaum
On May 30, 2012, the Ecuadorian government adopted Decreto 1182, a new restrictive decree that has replaced the previous policies regarding the refugee status determination process (RSD) in Ecuador. Decreto 1182 represents a great setback for refugee rights in Ecuador, as the law no longer includes a provision to accept refugees under the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees of 1984, which until recently has provided protection to thousands of Colombians fleeing violence. Under the new decree, asylum seekers now have only 15 business days to apply for status in Ecuador after entering the country and three to five days to submit an appeal for a negative decision. Additionally, refugees who are considered ilegitimas, or illegitimate, are now excluded from the process.
Asylum Access has just released a new report, No Place Called Home, presenting the findings of a 2010 survey of urban refugees living in Dar es Salaam. The aim of the study is to establish the existence of an urban population in Dar es Salaam with genuine claims to refugee status – and thus rights under Tanzanian and international law. In addition, Asylum Access sought to better understand the protection needs of this population, of which no official estimation exists.
On Labor Day, Americans celebrate the power of the individual worker in a society that believes everyone should be able to achieve prosperity through hard work and personal ability. That’s our national ethos: The American Dream. This ethos should also form the foundation of the federal government’s overseas refugee assistance.
Refugees spend an average of 17 years in exile. The majority of refugees live in Africa, Asia and Latin America and—whether in camps or urban areas—would prefer to work and support their families, but are denied access to lawful employment in violation of international law.