NRV INTervention - Iyad Kallas
Dear Distinguished Representatives,
Years ago, I left Syria for Europe to seek safety.
Since then, not a day has gone by when I have not thought of my loved ones and other fellow Syrians left behind, in dire situations in different countries, deprived of safety, robbed of their futures, and of their voices. These overwhelming thoughts triggered my sense of responsibility to dedicate the past years to empowerment of refugee communities around me. I co-founded a refugee-led organization which engages and serves hundreds of thousand fellow Syrians.
Throughout these years, I’ve also met other refugees working to empower our peers, to organize and assume our responsibility to address the global refugee crisis and to engage our host communities. We formed a “Network for Refugee Voices” to remind the world community that refugees have agency and that our contribution is key to develop solutions that are effective and sustainable.
Today, we come to appeal to you to not leave us to do this work alone, and we address you with three calls to action:
Hearing me, a refugee voice, in this room, is only a step in the right direction. I hope that we will continue to inform this process with concrete proposals. Thank you!
Second Thematic Session Of the GLOBAL COMPACT ON REFUGEES – PANEL TWO: HOW CAN WE SUPPORT STATES TO RECEIVE LARGE NUMBERS OF REFUGEES IN A SAFE AND DIGNIFIED MANNER?
NRV INTERVENTION- HAQQI BAHRAM
Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies,
Like millions of people, I fled from war. I first arrived in Greece where the assistance I received was not safe nor dignified, as I was immediately detained for the only crime of seeking safety. As a result, like many others, I had to take matters into my own hands. I had to flee further and seek my own solutions outside the institutional response. I relied on my fellow refugees, friends I made in my host community, and my agency.
Today, I represent a coalition of refugee-led organisations, the Network for Refugee Voices. My colleagues and I work every day to support refugees in our communities. We understand what they are going though and we now have the tools to help.
I have experienced firsthand what an effective, safe and dignified response to large movements of refugees looks like. It is a response where refugees are included, and supported, as agents of change. Refugees are best placed to identify vulnerabilities within our communities. Few are a more legitimate stakeholder in dialogue with host communities than we are.
Therefore, I believe that the first step to ensure the safe and dignified reception of large numbers of refugees is to involve refugees from the onset of the crisis to help develop the most cost effective and sustainable solutions. These solutions must then be supported by long term strategies that are not just based on a limited assessment of our needs but on a holistic analysis of our aspirations.
For the benefit of refugees, as well as that of host communities and donors, I urge you to commit to create space for refugee voices to be heard in the policy discussions that concern them.
Third Thematic Session Of The Global Compact On Refugees - Side Event: Refugee Voices – Closing the refugee representation gap
NRV'S AMEENAH SAWWAN AND AMAF YOUSEF PARTICIPATE IN A SIDE EVENT During THE THIRD THEMATIC SESSION OF THE GCR.
Side event: Refugee voices – Closing the Refugee Representation Gap
Fourth Thematic Session Of The Global Compact On Refugees - Panel four: how can we make local solutions work for refugees and the communities in which they live?
NRV Intervention - Ruham hawash
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm a Palestinian-Syrian refugee living in Germany.
My experience in Citizens for Syria has proved to me that refugee led initiatives allow for the creation of local solutions, employment opportunities and to combat xenophobia. My experience has also shown me that refugees are the most legitimate and effective actors in fighting xenophobia.
As long as others speak on our behalf, we will not be able to demonstrate our integration, and develop a harmonious relationship with our host communities.
All too often, refugees are only seen as recipients of humanitarian aid.
Effective solutions can only be made and implemented through building self reliance schemes that involve us. To do this, we need better recognition of refugee skills and qualifications to prevent an inefficient allocation of human capital, in a given labor market. Refugees must be given flexible educational opportunities, as well as greater chances to gain employment through reduced bureaucratic burden.
We must also acknowledge the diversity between refugee community, and employ an inter-sectional approach when designing and implementing refugee focused projects.
Fifth Thematic Session Of The Global Compact on refugees - panel 2: how can we ensure a whole of society response?
NRV Intervention - MOhammed Badran
As refugee leaders from NRV, we strongly believe in the ‘whole-of-society approach’. Rather than being dependent on our hosts’ aid and generosity, refugee-led initiatives empower us to take action.
The current system creates a cycle of dependency. This cycle limits opportunities for refugees with the agency to succeed, and lift others out of vulnerable situations into self-reliance. Refugee-led initiatives can help to reverse this trend.
Throughout my experience in Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands, a refugee -led organization, refugees can create their own initiatives when they are given the space to do so.
Chair, we urge all not to rob refugees of their agency, by keeping them in a situation of dependency.
States should take ownership of refugee initiatives and advocate for it.
Finally, we remind all, that states took a commitment towards a ‘whole-of-society approach’ in the New York Declaration point 69 which is including us in the consultations.
On this basis, we urge you all to continue to uphold this commitment in 2018.
Thank you very much.
NRV's Iyad Kallas speaking at The UNHCR High Commissioner’s Dialogue
Thank you for giving me the chance to speak on behalf of the Network for Refugee Voices.
My six year old daughter was swallowed by the war. My house was burnt down to the ground. I lost my left leg and with it the ability to provide for my family. I feel stuck with nowhere to go, but if I could I would depart someplace where I could go back to being a hairdresser and tell stories about life and hope.
This is not my personal story. This was one of many stories that were whispered in my ears while I was wandering around refugee camps in many countries. Albeit agonizing, these stories inspire hope and best practices when they speak of success and they draw attention to red flags when they speak about failure.
These stories motivated me along with some of my refugee colleagues to create Souriali, a refugee led media platform to share information about our lives’ experiences, about us as humans, who seek refuge and dignity. Humans who were given a chance or had to fight for one to succeed, or were cornered by despair and dark even radical thoughts, but most importantly of the humans who out of necessity learned first hand about self reliance and burden sharing. Even before the international community decided to label our lives as the century’s crisis.
As a Syrian I see these stories as living examples of how we, as refugees, are capable resourceful and self-sufficient when informed, empowered and given agency.
We have demonstrated tangible ways to strategize and implement efficient, comprehensive and relevant solutions for our daily challenges. We learnt that self reliance starts organically with us before anyone else, and we learnt that a ‘whole of society approach’ would not be ‘whole’ without our participation in designing, implementing and informing decision makers about a better comprehensive refugee response.
We’ve learnt that our stories hold valuable information in them, and that we are not only victims of the crisis, but also a vital part of the solution, and should be at the center of policy making.
That is the reason why some of us came together last March to form the Network for Refugee Voices, with the aim to bridge the gap between ‘you’ and ‘us’, and to inform this process with lessons and practices that we and our close ones had first hand experience with.
Encouraged by this motive, we have circulated recently some of these lessons and recommendations in the form of a green paper. As we highlighted in our non paper and as stressed by Mr. High Commissioner, and many voices from today’s sessions, we are calling on you to ensure that refugees have a seat at the tables next year during the conversations to draft the Global Compact on Refugees and its programme of action.
This participation should be genuine, meaningful and effective and beyond formalities, as it is a key element to sustainable and successful outcomes for all stakeholders, including ‘you’ and ‘us’.
We have a lot to offer, and in our minds that question is not what you can do for us, but it is what can we do together.
Thank you so much.