Released from Detention

July 7, 2020

When the Otay Mesa Detention Center at the U.S-Mexico border had the highest confirmed COVID-19 cases of any detention facility in the country, our grantee, ABA Immigration Justice Project, worked tirelessly to get detainees released. Check out this moving video they made of all of their clients they were able to get out of detention over the course of a week in May. 

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Black Lives Matter

June 4, 2020

Refugee Action Fund condemns racism in all its forms—racism that dehumanizes people and leads to needless death, like the death of George Floyd and so many others.

Refugee Action Fund was founded to uphold the dignity and humanity of individuals who are marginalized because of who they are and the circumstances that shape their lives. Our work is driven by the values of equality, justice and inclusion. While we work to raise up the humanity of forced migrants, we cannot stand idly by as we witness the oppression of African Americans and people of color around the world.

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The Layering of Crises with COVID-19

May 7, 2020

By Julie Gersten

Four years ago, Refugee Action Fund launched in response to the growing refugee crisis as we witnessed millions of people fleeing for their lives. As the news cycle continued to churn out photographs and video footage of people traveling on boat and on foot with no safe place to go, we decided we had to act. Our goal was to mobilize our networks and raise money to support organizations providing safety and restoring humanity to people who were fleeing for survival.

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of the same crisis—the number of displaced people in our world continues to increase and governments continue to shut their doors—but with another crisis of great magnitude layered on top of it. Right now, millions of refugees are highly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19—subject to intense poverty, unstable and overcrowded housing, lack of access to medical treatment, persecution and violence. And, as countries close their borders to all but essential travel, refugees—whose travel is so essential because they are fleeing for their lives— are finding themselves trapped in impossible circumstances.

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Naji's Story

December 11, 2018

Eighteen-year-old Syrian refugee Naji Aldabaan became the man of the house at the age of 10 after his father was imprisoned and tortured by the Syrian military for 40 days. During that time, Naji left his house only to buy bread for his family. He watched a woman get shot and killed before his eyes. As bombs fell in his neighborhood, Naji’s family walked for hours in the cold night to seek refuge in Jordan.

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Hope in the Journey to Asylum

December 6, 2019

By Greg Sharenow

An asylum seeker is not a desperate person or a beggar coming to enjoy the privilege of being in the United States. Many of us find ourselves here because we don’t have anywhere to turn. If I knew that I would come here to experience everything that I am going through right now, I’m not sure that I would choose that. But at the same time, my purpose and my only idea was to save my life and my family’s life. I have no doubt about it—with me being a well-trained engineer and my wife a doctor—when this nation stretches their hands out to help us, to welcome us here, we are ready to give back.

These are words offered by Mr. Hope*, an asylum seeker from Cameroon who spoke at Refugee Action Fund’s event in Orange County on Wednesday.

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Refugee Action Fund Hosts a Special Evening in NYC

November 22, 2019

What a night! We’re still glowing from Refugee Action Fund’s benefit in New York City. More than 200 people packed the room and we raised $250,000 to ensure that all refugees and forcibly displaced people find safety, dignity and opportunities to rebuild their lives.

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Introducing Our New York Leadership Committee!

September 9, 2019

By Julie Gersten

New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world and home to millions of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. As the Refugee Action Fund deepens its work to respond to the global refugee crisis, I’m thrilled that we have launched our New York Leadership Committee! This Committee is comprised of dedicated individuals in the financial industry—many of whom are from immigrant families themselves. Together, they will expand our network of supporters and serve as ambassadors for the Refugee Action Fund in the New York Metropolitan area.

I hope you’ll take a minute to get to know our New York Leadership Committee members and learn why they’re responding to the refugee crisis.

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Reflections from Beirut on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

May 15, 2019

By Julie Gersten

Recently, I was invited to travel to Lebanon with the International Refugee Assistance Project, an organization supported by Refugee Action Fund that provides legal advocacy for refugees and displaced people in need of a safe place to call home. The trip was designed to train law students and lawyers to do legal intake on Syrian refugees. IRAP is not only the first organization to provide direct legal services to refugees throughout the process of UNHCR registration, refugee status determination, protection, and resettlement; they also work with law schools and law firms to build the capacity and availability of lawyers to do this critical work. Here are some reflections from my experience.

Sitting on the airplane to Beirut, I tried to prepare myself for meeting refugee families whose lives are engulfed by hardship. I reviewed the 10-page legal intake form I received from the International Refugee Assistance Project. The questions go on and on, probing the most specific and personal details of people’s lives and their trauma.

Six days later, when I sat in a room across from a Syrian family desperate to resettle to a country where their son could get treatment for his serious medical condition, I was surprised to learn that neither of the parents could read.

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Leaving Liberia: My Family's Refugee Story

March 13, 2019

By Badou Edgar Khan

I came to this country with just ten dollars in my pocket, worked hard, and climbed up the socio-economic ladder to build a meaningful life for my family.

This familiar ‘rags to riches’ story may be a bit cliché—and mostly on point—but I know, as an immigrant, that the experience of thriving within a new country is usually more complex, especially for refugees and forced migrants.

My name is Badou Edgar Khan. I was born in Liberia, West Africa. When I immigrated to the United States from Liberia in the 1980s, I left my family with the hope of advancing my education. My father, who worked for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) mission to the United Nations, had a plan to send me to high school in New York. He provided me $3,500 to subsidize my education, housing, and food. And when my father returned home after helping me get settled, I was fortunate to have a strong support system in my home country that brought me solace. 

Then, everything changed. What started as a small uprising in Liberia became a full-fledged civil war. By July 1990, Charles Taylor and his rebel forces breached the capital Monrovia, my home town. I lost track of my family and my world began to unravel.

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My Family's Refugee Story

December 21, 2018

By Hussein Allidina

In 1972, my mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles were among more than 80,000 Asians living in Uganda who were forcibly displaced by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Gripped by fear and uncertainty, my family saw their lives as prosperous farmers and business owners crumble before their eyes. In a matter of weeks, my mother and her three sisters fled for Canada. My grandmother and uncle were relocated to a refugee camp in Italy before settling in Canada years later.

I cannot imagine how vulnerable my mother must have felt as she navigated an unfamiliar country on an entirely different continent. And yet, when my mom looks back at that time, she tells a more uplifting story — a story of gratitude; gratitude for the many Canadians, including neighbors, community members and people at the local mosque, who provided the lifesaving support that she needed to start over.

Lily, June,Yasmin.jpg
My aunts with their caseworker in the winter
of 1972 when they arrived in Canada.
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