World Refugee Day Update, June 20, 2016
FAWCO UN Reps Team and selected club activities in support of refugees
Please send an email to let us know what your members are doing to help refugees in your community.
FAWCO UN Rep Jane Politi was recently elected Vice Chair of the NGO Committee on Migration (NGO CoM) in NY. FAWCO is proud to support the NGO CoM's efforts, including co-sponsoring a position paper that was featured on a UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) blog. The NGO CoM, FAWCO and other partners also organized a panel discussion at the UN Commission on the Status of Women on the importance of early childhood education to increasing resilience among refugee children.
FAWCO promotes the UNHCR's petition to world governments #WithRefugees http://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/petition/
To learn more about the global situation of refugees, displaced people and migrants, watch this new UNHCR video.
AAWE members started a Refugee Task Force in February 2016, focusing their efforts on education and advocacy, donations and fundraising, and integration. They are collaborating with a French NGO supporting a school for refugees, the American Cathedral in Paris, and the parent group at the American School of Paris. The Task Force has become an active network of concerned members who meet regularly to share ideas, experiences, resources and connections. They have identified programs and partners, held social and cultural exchange events to raise funds, collected and delivered in-kind donations, trained tutors, and identified host families for refugees. Recent projects include collection and distribution of 70 backpacks filled with things like underwear, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, shaving cream - all carefully and lovingly packed, and collection of donations of furniture and organization of transport to refugee camps in northern France, where they will furnish a new school facility.
A million refugees came through Greece in 2015; 58,000 remain in the country following border closures along the Balkan route to Northern Europe. The death toll of refugees and migrants lost in the Mediterranean in 2015 reached a staggering figure of over 3,700, and 2016 is already proving to be the deadliest year on record. Since Winter 2015, AWOG members have
• donated food, clothing, blankets and shoes to refugee camps and organizations in Athens, Lesvos and Chios
• volunteered at a warehouse, sorting and distributing in-kind donations for camps
• raised funds and collected in-kind donations for teenage boy refugees. aged 10-18 who have been separated from their parents.
Campaign for a Woman UN Secretary-General
FAWCO supported the Campaign for a Woman UN Secretary General. At the Interim Meeting in March 2016, over 60 FAWCO women signed a petition calling for the next UN SG to be a woman. We passed the petitions on to the Campaign's Chair to demonstrate our commitment to this important cause. After 70 years of the UN with 8 male SGs, now is the time. Read more about it in Erica Higbie's article The Ultimate in Political Empowerment for Women.
FAWCO Co-sponsors Panel at CSW60
FAWCO co-sponsored an event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women's NGO Forum in March 2016 on "Empowering Syrian Refugee Women and Children for a Better Future: Challenges and Innovative Solutions in Early Childhood Development". FAWCO co-sponsored this important event with the NGO Committee on Migration, the World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP), UN High Commission for Refugees and the PEACE Foundation. You can download a report on the event here.
Empowering Syrian Refugee Women and Children Panel at CSW60
UN NGO Reps Team News
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence begin each year on November 25 - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and end on December 10 - Human Rights Day. FAWCO's Human Rights Task Force promotes member club particpation in the 16 Days campaign and offers ideas for how you can get involved in its Bulletins. You can also learn more about the 16 Days campaign on the UN Women website.
Refugee Relief: How Can FAWCO Clubs Help?
Latest News from Lesvos, Greece: Read the report and check out the resources provided by Grace Christovasilis, FAWCO's UN NGO Rep in Athens, on organizations helping on the ground in Lesvos.
We see the headlines every day, and read in the New York Times (Sept. 14, 2015): “More than 200,000 Syrian people have been killed in the 4 1/2-year Syrian civil war.The constant violence has forced more than four million to flee the country, fueling a refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe...”
FAWCO women are well-informed, so there's no need to recap the news here. However, for background information, a recent BBC article summarizes the ongoing situation with refugees arriving in Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries in conflict. FAWCO clubs in Lebanon, Greece and Italy have been especially affected, but in recent weeks, the influx of people fleeing from war has arrived in Europe.
FAWCO's UN NGO Team has Reps in Athens, where Grace Christovasilis (AWOG) is our representative to the UNHCR field office, and in New York, where Jane Politi (AWA Rome) is a member of the NGO Committee on Migration. FAWCO has signed on to the Committee on Migration's statements on the refugee situation, including Providing Education and Care for Syria’s Littlest Refugees (June 2015). Children under age 18 make up as many as 50% of all refugees worldwide. For more information on their activities, contact Grace or Jane by email.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The big news at the UN in September 2015 was the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, successors to the Millennium Development Goals. The end of 2015 marks the end of the MDG target period. In a report on the achievements of the MDGs, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon summarized: “The MDGs have taught us how governments, business and civil society can work together to achieve transformational breakthroughs.”
The post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda is: “A call for action to change our world… We resolve to build a better future for all people... We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty; just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet.The world will be a better place in 2030 if we succeed in our objectives... As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”
Read more, and find links to UN reports and documents on the MDGs and SDGs here.
FAWCO UN Youth Rep Valia Mitsakis attended a briefing on the Transition from MDGs to SDGs and posted her report here. UN Rep Jane Politi attended an NGO briefing on the new development agenda and submitted her observations from the NGO gallery. Erica Higbie follows the decisive issue of Financing for Development and sent a report. Erica Higbie also represents FAWCO on the NGO Working Group on Girls (WGG) in New York. The WGG created a video showing girls around the world talking about the issues that concern them: Sustainable Development Girls.
In December 2016, FAWCO together with the NGO Committee on Migration and the World Organization for Early Childhood Education co-sponsored a paper ON Migrant and Refugee Children as Protagonists of Development and Peace. The paper was presented at the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In October 2016, FAWCO joined other women's organizations in signing two statements that were submitted to UN Women for the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women: one prepared by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Vienna, and one by Graduate Women International. Read the NGO CSW Vienna statement here and the GWI statement here.
In May 2016, FAWCO joined more than 230 NGOs in signing a letter to ECOSOC Member States, copied to the presidents of the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council and the UN Secretary-General, raising concerns about the use of ECOSOC procedural tactics intended to restrict NGO participation in the UN. The letter, originally drafted by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), was timed to coincide with the second 2016 session of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs at the UN Headquarters in New York, May-June 2016. The letter including the list of signatories is here.
In April 2016, FAWCO signed on to a Response to the Report of the UN Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit by the NGO Committee on Migration. You can read the statement and see the list of signatories here.
In March 2016, FAWCO joined other members of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in Vienna in signing A written statement and an oral statement to the 60th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2016. FAWCO also supported a written statement and an oral statement presented to the CSW by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in Vienna in 2015.
FAWCO signed a Statement on Women's Rights and Non-State Terror that was presented to the UN by a group of NGOs led by Zonta International. You can read the statement here.
FAWCO signed two Statements by the NGO Committee on Migration: Providing Education and Care for Syria’s Littlest Refugees and preventing deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.
FAWCO signed a statement of support for continued funding of Planned Parenthood in the US. The letter was drafted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, signed by 95 civil and human rights organizations, and sent to the US Senate.