Operation Smile’s Founders Reflect on How Life Is a Contact Sport

For inspiration in the new year, it helps to remember that “sometimes the strongest bonds of friendship get forged in the service of others.” In this clip from the Hilton Prize Coalition’s “Leading Thoughts” Storytelling Program series, Kathleen Magee and Bill Magee, co-founders of Operation Smile, describe how a whole new model of emergency response emerged out of a simple question from fellow Coalition member Partners in Health, with whom they had been partnering in Haiti when the devastating earthquake of 2010 hit.

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Leading Thoughts: Recording the Voice of the Coalition

In this post, director of the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program, Steve Connors, shares how the Leading Thoughts video clip series developed as a way to demonstrate the connection between the on-the-ground work of the Coalition’s members, each of whom is a Hilton Humanitarian Prize-winning organization, with the visions and insights of their respective leaders.

Leading Thoughts: Recording the Voice of the Coalition
By Steve Connors

In the summer of 2016, the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program released its pilot production, a short film documenting the work of six Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureates involved in the relief effort following Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake. On Shifting Ground weaves together a chorus of voices from these Coalition member organizations to tell a ground-level story of the experiences, challenges and triumphs faced in the aftermath of the disaster.

One of the Storytelling Program’s main goals has been to amplify the voices of the staff working directly with the communities. So to put together this film, we enlisted the help of the staff to create the production crew and conducted one-on-one interviews with members of the staff from all six organizations. The process of making this film revealed that the Coalition organizations did not have much awareness about each other’s story; in many instances, the production itself helped these organizations to learn about each other and identify ways to collaborate.

From this experience, it became clear that the Storytelling Program could serve as a vehicle for these organizations to create connections on several levels. The production had necessitated frequent communications between the participating organizations across all levels of the organizations themselves, involving staff from in-country offices to executives at headquarters. The Coalition learned that not only would sharing stories between organizations inform and inspire them to partner with each other on overlapping issues, but also, this program could provide a way to demonstrate the connections that exist between the daily, on-the-ground work with the visions of the organizations’ remarkable leaders.

My background is in journalism, and its exploration of facts and truths. I carried that methodology through in the creation of the series of executive-level interviews that came to be called “Leading Thoughts,” and to create a Story Wall on which to host the content.  Beginning with Jeff Meer, the Executive Director of Handicap International US, I have so far conducted 12 of these interviews.

My approach eschews the standard Q&A technique in favor of a strongly conversational approach that leads away from formal, prepared statements and towards a deeper, more meaningful dialogue.  This also allows us to understand the personality of the leader and what he or she uniquely brings to the organization. When taken as a whole, Leading Thoughts also allows us access to the collective value of the Coalition and its potential. We covered many themes in these interviews, such as the relationship between collaborative programs and fundraising, the personal transformations of these leaders through the experience of their work, the challenges they face and work to overcome, and perhaps most important of all, their respective visions for the future of global health and development.

Throughout the series, we uncover the complexity of issues that are being addressed and the creativity of the search for solutions.  Leading Thoughts is meant to contribute to an internal dialogue from which important collaborative programs can emerge, connecting the local and headquarter staff in a new way and providing an opportunity for audiences beyond the Coalition to learn directly from these top-level leaders. The basis for a collaborative program itself, storytelling is a mechanism for collaboration, with each story an example of the future of collective impact in the development community.

What has continued to impress me about these leaders during our conversations is their overall mastery of their subject, the desire to share the hard-won lessons of experience, and the passion with which they pursue excellence. As we continue to conduct the Leading Thoughts interviews, I look forward to being reminded, yet again, of the vocational energy with which these remarkable people are creating a world in which those they serve can live with dignity.

(Photo: Steve Connors and HPC Fellow Amul Thapa preparing for an interview in Nepal)

Leading Thoughts

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

2017 HPC Fellow: Joshua Tobing, SOS Children’s Villages

Joshua Tobing completed a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship at the US headquarters of SOS Children’s Villages, the largest NGO in the world dedicated to the care of orphaned and abandoned children. He channeled his strong passion for ethics and responsibility in fundraising to serve on the marketing and communications team, where he was involved with the research and implementation of impactful communication strategies for SOS’s large network of supporters. Joshua studied Integrated Marketing Communications, English Literature, and Prelaw at Pacific Union College in Napa, CA. In this post, Joshua reflects on the widespread effects on communities from investment into supports for children.

Beyond the Warm Glow: A Global Perspective on Charitable Giving
by Joshua Tobing

With the SOS team (HPC Fellow Alum Sarah Baker, Bryan Colombo, Josh Tobing, Kirsten Feyling)

In charity fundraising, we frequently think in terms of the “warm glow” feeling that drives many donors to support causes and organizations. In addition to this, it should come as no surprise that personal philanthropy comes in cycles – oftentimes with surges triggered by outside events.

I myself experienced this trigger when photographs of a three-year-old Syrian boy’s body on the shores of Greece aired on international media. I was not alone in this – in the 24 hours after those images went public, organizations working with Syrian refugees saw massive surges in web traffic and funding.

But what happens after that moment is gone? What happens after our “warm glow” wears off? As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with SOS Children’s Villages – the largest NGO in the world dedicated to the care of vulnerable children – these were exactly the questions I sought to answer with the organization every day.

If the global events of recent years have taught us anything, they have taught us about the world’s delicate interconnectivity. Instability in a faraway land never just stays in that faraway land.

An image from the report by SOS, “The Care Effect: Why No Child Should Grow Up Alone”

A recently released report from SOS Children’s Villages International, “The Care Effect: Why No Child Should Grow Up Alone,” shows exactly how the support of developing communities strengthens the world we all live in. Globally, 220 million children are at risk of growing up without parental care – that’s one in ten – and that’s bad news for all of us. This video illustrates the issue well.

My time at SOS showed me how, when children grow up without proper care and education, not only do they face an elevated risk for experiencing violence, abuse, and trafficking, they are effectively barred from contributing their true talents and potential to their communities and to society. As the harmful effects of child poverty grow exponentially with each generation, their impact on our own lives grows as well.

Through my experience working with SOS Children’s Villages as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I learned that when you invest in the care of children through long-term support for community development, youth education and employability, youth identity development, and family strengthening programs, you are providing a much-needed intervention in the painful cycle of global poverty. The effects of donor support, beyond the “warm glow,” are real and lasting, strengthening the global economy and reducing instability, conflict, and potential for terrorism.

(Photos courtesy of SOS)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Hilton Prize Coalition Highlights of 2017

Happy New Year to all on behalf of the Hilton Prize Coalition. As Coalition members continue to innovate ways to alleviate suffering and build resilient communities, 2018 is already shaping up to be a transformative year for humanitarian professionals across the world. Now, more than ever, in the face of global crises, it is critical for organizations across the international community to collaborate effectively, adapt to new circumstances and face changing needs. Brought together by the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and united under a shared spirit of collaboration and innovation, the 22 members of the Hilton Prize Coalition are uniquely positioned to provide insights from their collective experience, able to build on the events and initiatives of the past year. Below are some highlights of the Coalition’s work in 2017, with a glimpse of things to come.

Fellows Program

Katharine Kreis with Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow Catherine May

By the end of its second year, the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program had engaged 25 Fellows, exceeding its goal of 20. The participation of Coalition members in the selection and rigorous training of these HPC Fellows ensured a high-performing cohort in 2017, with eight nationalities represented and placements in 16 cities around the world. Fellows developed expertise in topics that spanned the international development and humanitarian sectors, with several Fellows offered positions after completing their fellowships with the host organizations. Read more here.

While blog posts by Fellows offer reflections on the training and experiences these future leaders receive through the Program, the Coalition in 2017 shared reflections on the program from the perspective of organizations that have been hosting these emerging leaders. This post by Katharine Kreis, the director of strategic initiatives and the lead of nutrition innovation at PATHoriginally appeared in the Philanthropy News Digest in December.

Collaborative Models Program

Through the Collaborative Models Program, the Coalition implemented several projects involving various combinations of Coalition member organizations and other community partners. A few are described below.

  • In March, Operation Smile hosted training sessions in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) and Help Age International at Operation Smile’s Roma Downey Center in Amman, Jordan. Overall, a total of 30 AHA certifications – 29 Basic Life Support (BLS) Provider certifications and one BLS Instructor re-certification – were issued by Egypt-based AHA instructors. Read about it here.
  • In June, Landesa and BRAC released a collaborative issue brief, “Land Tenure as a Critical Consideration for Climate Change-Related Displacement in Slow-Onset Disaster Zones.” Through this brief, the Coalition seeks to bring attention to the critical issues of climate change, refugees, and land tenure rights. Read the brief here. To coincide with World Environment Day, Jennifer Duncan, Sr. Attorney and Land Tenure Specialist (Landesa), and Ashley Toombs, External Affairs Manager (BRAC), wrote an op-ed for Devex that highlights recommendations from the issue brief on climate change-related displacement and slow-onset disaster zones.
  • Coalition members Covenant House International and the IRCT (the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims) have been working together to develop a comprehensive set of materials on issues related to trauma informed care. These materials will be used for training and as reference for healthcare workers and specialists to better understand the effects of trauma and how to approach traumatized youth. The project team plans to roll out a co-authored background paper, “Cultivating Resilience,” and a training package through the Coalition shortly. In the meantime, reflections on the process have been shared throughout the project, first through a blog post by youth psychologist Gabriela Monroy and then through a November 2017 article in the Philanthropy Journal.

Storytelling Program – “Refuge” & “Leading Thoughts” Series

Syrian children from a nearby refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley sit patiently as their mothers plant seeds in a local farmer’s field.

Following the release of the Coalition’s pilot production, Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program Director, Steve Connors, traveled through Lebanon and Serbia to connect with several Coalition member organizations serving the most vulnerable communities among the millions of displaced men, women and children seeking refuge in places of safety. The resulting stories are the basis of the next Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling project, entitled “Refuge,” a series of film clips that will provide a glimpse of what humanitarian work looks like today. Presented as vignettes, the films focus on a few days in the life of staff at four Laureate organizations working in the region: SOS Children’s Villages, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), HelpAge International and Handicap International. The first vignette was previewed at the Hilton Prize Coalition Annual Meeting in October, and will be released publicly in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Coalition’s short documentary film, “On Shifting Ground,” remains in circulation across the international community, promoting dialogue about effective disaster preparation, while the Coalition continues to share insights from Laureate organizations through its “Leading Thoughts” video series, in which leaders of the organizations featured share what they’ve learned, both in their current roles and from their experiences in the field. Videos are posted on the Story Wall as they become available.

The Coalition will continue to share updates on the initiatives underway through these Signature programs, share more insights from across the international community, and resurface favorite posts that have resonated with readers in the past. Stay tuned.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

2017 HPC Fellow: Ana Rabogliatti, Operation Smile

As a 2017 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, Ana Rabogliatti was immersed in many facets of global public health programming through her placement with Coalition member Operation Smile, an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. Ana is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies at the University of Virginia, with a focus on Environmental Sustainability. In this post, Ana reflects on her experience engaging with diverse groups of students, donors and stakeholders while working on Operation Smile’s annual International Student Leadership Conference and other important projects.

Opening the Doors for Change
by Ana Rabogliatti

As a university student selected to serve as the 2017 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow at Operation Smile, I learned immediately that the organization has a miraculous effect on all who step foot through their doors. The collective vision to change lives captures people who’ve often had no prior experience working inside a global non-governmental organization, like me, and fold them organically into the vision. Operation Smile is all about helping children, but they instill knowledge, action and passion for continued impact all the way around. The mission of Operation Smile is deep and boundless. I’ve been changed, and am honored by the challenge and responsibility to embrace this experience as the beginning of a journey.

Operation Smile has been making a global impact through research, surgical missions, and medical education for the past 35 years. When I walked through the front door on my first day, I was welcomed into the complexities of programming that Co-Founder Kathy Magee and her team tackle on a daily basis, playing a supporting role to a variety of simultaneous projects.

Most of my focus was devoted to a Student Program “Until We Heal” campaign that culminated in Operation Smile’s annual International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC), this year held in Rome, Italy for almost 700 high school students, university students, chaperones and staff from 35 countries. Joining together to celebrate the accomplishments and progress of student-driven initiatives throughout the year, these select student leaders led forums, rallied regional clubs, engaged in problem-solving, learned more about safe surgery and global health, practiced CPR, and welcomed global speakers.

Students hold up their signed “Until We Heal” pledges (Photo: Operation Smile)

Mentoring came from motivational speakers like Santo Versace, Operation Smile Italy board member and head of Versace house of fashion; Michelle Poler and her “100 Days Without Fear” story; Ferrari race car driver, Michela Cerruti; and representatives from the United Nations and Global Fund who were once Operation Smile student volunteers themselves. The highlight of the conference – and one of my biggest responsibilities – was to help produce a musical concert promoting the Until We Heal pledge that Operation Smile “will not stop until we heal every child with a cleft.” As production assistant, I managed the venue, helped with team communication and messaging, coordinated performers and speakers, and assisted with all logistics related to sound, lighting, cues, and run of show. The celebration was a call to action for all students to get involved and make positive change in the world. Illustrating Kathy’s view that “the youth are filled with optimism,” please see the 3-minute highlight video of Operation Smile’s ISLC.

I was also a part of a large project that allowed me to increase my proficiency in research, global health, study techniques and what it takes to actually “do” research. Operation Smile and its academic partners at the University of Southern California (USC) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) conduct the International Family Study, which is research Operation Smile initiated to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors related to cleft deformities. The research team has collected more than 12,000 individual DNA samples from 9 countries during Operation Smile missions so far. Research indicates potential risk factors such as smoking and vitamin deficiencies contribute. With increased funding and more samples, they will soon be able to process entire genomes of genetic information, which will eventually yield more comprehensive results and preventive programs.

Another area of strong focus for my Fellowship included support for the Birdsong Peanut Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) Nutrition Program, which is a new arm of intervention for Operation Smile. Malnourished cleft patients who are denied surgery due to underweight issues now have a therapy available to restore nutrition and increase eligibility for surgery. This eliminates one of the barriers in accessing safe surgery, and can enhance nourishment for an individual for up to a year. Since this project is relatively new, with the peanut-based RUTF distributed in just 8 countries so far, I was able to understand the program development, phased growth, obstacles and potentials involved with the start-up of an extensive global project.

I plan to continue my program interests as Operation Smile’s intern this fall, expanding my experience to advance the existing university program within Operation Smile’s Student Program landscape. To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of a selected University Committee to develop the first-ever National University Conference in January 2018 for university-only students. With a leadership focus, the conference will be designed to support college-level curriculum. Speakers are being selected in a way that will best aid college students in their graduate and post-graduate opportunities with Operation Smile, and other NGOs and health organizations.

I requested to continue my work with Operation Smile not because I must, but simply because I choose to follow what Operation Smile instilled. A desire to do more, contribute more, and help lead the charge for positive global impact. Thanks to the support from the Hilton Prize Coalition, I gained an unyielding sense of determination to further my own humanitarian efforts, and will forever be an Operation Smile ambassador, opening the doors for change.

(Photos courtesy of Operation Smile)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Driving Innovation in Global Development: Why We Need Next-Generation Leaders

The Hilton Prize Coalition is pleased to present reflections on the Coalition’s Fellows Program from the perspective of organizations that have been hosting these emerging leaders. Katharine Kreis is the director of strategic initiatives and the lead of nutrition innovation at PATH. This post originally appeared on the Philanthropy News Digest Philantopic Blog on December 13, 2017.

Driving Innovation in Global Development: Why We Need Next-Generation Leaders
by Katharine Kreis

The face of global development is changing. Shifting priorities, new organizations, new technologies — the landscape of the field is in flux. And in this era of sustainable development, a new generation of global leaders is poised to play a leading role in catalyzing change.

The Challenges Ahead
Despite decades of progress, the global community continues to grapple with urgent challenges such as poverty, malnutrition, and environmental degradation. Global trends such as urbanization, income inequality, climate change, and technological disruption increasingly are driving the scale and intensity of these challenges, forcing us to think differently and more collaboratively. The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is emblematic of this changing landscape. The message is clear: business as usual is no longer an option.

Edible insects

In the area of global nutrition, these trends are already having a profound impact. Malnutrition remains one of the most pervasive challenges and is the leading underlying cause of child mortality worldwide. As the planet becomes more populated and prosperous, food production and consumption patterns are changing and stressing our fragile natural resources. With the global population on track to hit 9.8 billion people by 2050, the field of nutrition is ripe for innovation. The task at hand is significant, if not daunting: How do we sustainably meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population?

To address hard problems like these, we need to consider new approaches and sustainable solutions. The health and livelihoods of many vulnerable communities — and the planet we all share — depend on it.

Engaging Emerging Leaders
Harnessing the insights and talents of the next generation of global leaders will be critical to unlocking innovation for sustainable development. With an eye to the future, early-career professionals can help us examine problems in new ways, elevate diverse perspectives, and surface creative new ideas. We should not underestimate the value of the entrepreneurial energy that early-career professionals bring to the table. By questioning age-old assumptions and confronting problems with analytic, data-driven vigor, they can help us chip away at some of the barriers that have slowed our progress.

The author with Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow Catherine May

For PATH, the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program has provided an invaluable opportunity to engage future leaders from around the world in tackling some of today’s most persistent challenges. From investigating the potential of edible insects as a sustainable animal-source food, to unpacking the relationship between tobacco use and nutrition outcomes, to exploring the many synergies between agriculture and nutrition, our team’s Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows have drawn on their diverse backgrounds to help PATH facilitate bold cross-sectoral solutions aimed at improving nutrition for people around the world.

while we have valued their creativity and contributions, they have gained professional development opportunities to advance their careers. During their time at PATH, our fellows have developed their skills, cultivated their networks, made friends, and completed a project that addresses the next generation of health and development challenges. But the time our fellows spend with PATH is only a small part of their professional journeys, as they each embark on careers focused on creating a brighter future for people and the planet.

Investing in the Future
The scope and scale of the challenges we face necessitate immediate action. Addressing these challenges will require new ideas, creative thinking, curiosity, and humility. Our future will soon be reality for the next cohort of global development leaders. To achieve the aspirational goals we’ve set for ourselves for 2030, let’s make sure that the next-generation thinkers of today have a seat at the table.

(Photos courtesy of the author)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Leading Thoughts: Pierre Ferrari, Heifer International

The Hilton Prize Coalition continues to present reflections about the work being conducted by Coalition members to build resilience in communities across the world. This latest clip from the “Leading Thoughts” Storytelling Program series features Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO of Heifer International. In it, Pierre describes the process of working with communities to understand and put in place the resources and supports that will help community members create a dignified and sustainable way of life.

 
About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Guest Blog: Tiffany Basciano on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees

In advance of International Human Rights Day, December 10, today’s post was written by Tiffany Basciano, Associate Director and a professorial lecturer in the International Law and Organizations Program at Johns Hopkins – School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). At SAIS, she founded the International Human Rights Clinic, which provides a unique experiential learning opportunity for graduate students.

Professor Basciano’s academic interests include international human rights law and rule of law development. She has provided expertise at various meetings with external stakeholders, such as discussing human rights education with a visiting delegation from China, as well as briefing the government of Myanmar on the Convention against Torture.

In this post, Professor Basciano advocates for more responsibility-sharing in the refugee crisis, providing snapshots of three refugee-hosting countries: Bangladesh, Uganda, and Turkey. Views are the author’s own.

All Hands on Deck: Responsibility-Sharing of Hosting Refugees
by Tiffany Basciano

Considering that the grant of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries, and that a satisfactory solution of a problem of which the United Nations has recognized the international scope and nature cannot therefore be achieved without international co-operation.
-Preamble, The Refugee Convention, 1951

Introduction
At the end of 2016, developing countries continued to host a staggering percentage of the world’s refugees at 84%. With the recent movement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, as well as South Sudanese refugees topping the one million mark in Uganda, the disproportionate weight on certain countries is coming painfully into focus. Indeed, although the media gave much attention to the genuine difficulties faced by Europe in addressing migratory outflows from Syria and North Africa, it was Turkey, in 2016, that once again hosted the largest number of refugees in the world with close to three million, mainly Syrian, refugees. The mass movement of people fleeing from terrible violence is all too frequent. It is beyond time for developed countries to breathe life into the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and ease the inequitable, unsustainable, and unwise burden on the developing world. Below are snapshots of three refugee-hosting countries: Bangladesh, Uganda, and Turkey that illustrate the need for improved responsibility-sharing in the management of refugees.

Bangladesh
Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated and poorest countries in the world, is hosting over 800,000 Rohingya refugees with 600,000 plus arriving in the past few months. The preexisting conditions in Bangladesh are just not conducive to addressing a cross-border humanitarian crisis of this scale. Surrounding communities in Bangladesh are already feeling the economic strain brought on by the refugee flow. Due to the current demands on resources and the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters, the potential for hardships for Bangladeshis and refugees alike is significant.

The hope is that the Rohingya refugees will be able to return voluntarily to Myanmar and live in peace. However, it is indeterminate when the point for safe return will arrive. Even if that point does arrive, will individuals choose to return, and if they do, will they be able to reclaim their land? Still, if the Rohingya were to remain in Bangladesh, the robust protections afforded to refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are unlikely to transpire, as Bangladesh is not a party. In any event, Bangladesh is hesitant to grant refugee status to the Rohingya. Complicating matters further for the Rohingya is the oppressive legal black hole of statelessness. Thus, it will be an uphill battle to find an amenable resolution for all parties, which also adequately protects the Rohingya.

Refugees continue to cross from Myanmar into Bangladesh. With a tempered response from the United Nations Security Council due to pressure from Russia and China, it is unclear when the violence will stop. The conditions in the camps are dreadful with aid and direct assistance needed now. More of the international community must step up to protect the Rohingya refugees and help Bangladesh manage this crisis.

Uganda
In 2016, Uganda, a small landlocked country in Central East Africa, registered the most refugees, largely South Sudanese, of any country. Currently, Uganda is facing several critical challenges, such as poverty, food security, and public health concerns. Their public health initiatives range from containing an outbreak of the Marburg Virus to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic to reducing Malaria infections. Such demanding priorities on top of hosting refugees complicates Uganda’s ability to manage a widespread crisis over the long term.

Often praised for its progressive policies, Uganda offers small plots of land, freedom of movement, and work authorization to refugees. Uganda’s famous hospitality has tangible benefits, such as clearing unproductive land and the growth of local businesses. However, there are also difficulties. A recent report indicated that some refugees in the Palorinya camp, suffering from a delayed food delivery, crossed back into South Sudan in search of food – a choice between starvation or risking death by conflict is not a choice at all. The conditions for local Ugandans have likewise been challenging. A devastating drought resulting in food shortages led to instances of Ugandans pretending to be refugees to receive food aid. Given underlying issues of poverty and food security, it is unsurprising that aid distribution to refugees has caused some tension with local communities.

Donor funding is desperately required to meet the needs of refugees in Uganda, but developed countries must also ease the strain of physically hosting over one million additional people. Because of the continuing conflict in South Sudan and corresponding refugee flows, it is hard to imagine how Uganda can sustain its hospitality indefinitely.

Turkey
The case of Turkey adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. Although it is a story of the successes and challenges of hosting the largest refugee population in the world, it is also the story of how the European Union (EU) sold its soul to stem refugee flows into Europe and corral them in Turkey.

Turkey, which borders Syria, became a host-country for refugees, as well as a transit point for migratory flows into Greece. To prevent this type of perilous migration, in March 2016, the EU and Turkey brokered a deal. The deal called for Turkey to prevent refugees from crossing into the EU and for new irregular migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey to be returned to Turkey. In exchange, the EU would resettle Syrian refugees from Turkey on a one-for-one basis, provide significant financial support to care for refugees in Turkey, and fast-track visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. Since then, arrivals into Greece have decreased significantly, but not stopped, and the percentage of returns to Turkey of new arrivals has been minimal.

This deal came with significant political and moral costs for the EU. The EU is now at the mercy of Turkish President Erdoğan with refugees used as bargaining chips. Meanwhile, Turkey’s human rights record continues to complicate its accession to the EU but is conveniently good enough to be a third-party state to return irregular migrants – calling into question the EU’s principled leadership on human rights.

As much as European countries were concerned with integration issues and political backlash from the migration flows, Turkey also has similar, though seemingly underappreciated, concerns. Erdoğan faced a backlash at the suggestion of allowing Syrians to apply for Turkish citizenship. With millions of refugees, a language barrier, a high unemployment rate, and other factors, integration is bound to cause tension in Turkey.

The EU-Turkey deal is tenuous. It could unfold due to domestic politics within Turkey, or a souring of relations between the EU and Turkey. A failed deal would make the EU’s moral compromise all for naught. It is unfair and misguided to allow Turkey, a country approaching 81 million people to host almost 3.3 million refugees. As such, the EU needs to correct the imbalance and go beyond the deal to increase resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU.

Conclusion
One must commend Bangladesh, Uganda, and Turkey for providing safe haven to so many. However, global refugee crises of this magnitude cannot and should not merely be “contained” locally. These crises are an “all hands on deck” moment that requires developed countries to host a fairer share of the world’s refugees. To move forward, leaders need to condemn any rhetoric that unconscionably and wrongly scapegoats refugees for political gain (See U.S. President Trump for what not to do). The creation of welcoming political climates will make it easier for third-party countries to increase resettlement numbers or start resettlement programs – one of the several ways in which wealthier countries can improve the equity among refugee-hosting countries.

Stemming the violence that creates refugee flows would be an ideal charge of the international community, but it is wishful thinking in the current international security apparatus. Refugees and citizens of the developing world deserve the opportunity to not only survive but also thrive – a birthright for many living in the developed world. Whether for humanitarian, security, moral, religious, political, legal, or a combination of reasons, developed countries need to meet their global civic duty and ease the burden on the developing world for protecting refugees.

Links for References

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

2017 Fellow: Ruby Holmes, Handicap International

As the International Day of Persons with Disabilities approaches on Sunday, December 3, the Hilton Prize Coalition presents some reflections by Ruby Holmes, a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow based in Silver Spring, MD with Handicap International (HI), where she supported HI’s role in planning and executing the 2nd annual Harkin International Disability Employment Summit and co-authoring “Good for Business: Promoting Partnerships to Employ People with Disabilities.” Ruby is currently working on her Master’s degree in international peace and conflict resolution at American University and received her Bachelor’s degree in international/global studies from the University of Oregon. In this post, Ruby reflects on the discrimination and marginalization of people with disabilities during times of peace, conflict, and natural disasters.

International Disability Rights: Accessing Waged Employment
by Ruby Holmes

People with disabilities around the world face extreme levels of discrimination, marginalization, exclusion in societies and are often left out of government policies. Many countries lack legislation that address disability rights and when they do, these laws often fail to be implemented. Research during my time as a graduate student has revealed that a country’s economic, legislative, physical, and social environment may create or maintain barriers to the participation of people with disabilities in economic, civic, and community life. Even with existing legislation in the United States such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination and barriers exist. I’ve witnessed this throughout my life as close friends and family members with disabilities experience different levels of exclusion in various aspects of their lives. Barriers can include inaccessible buildings, lack of accessible transportation, inadequate health, education, and employment standards, lower levels of services and funding for those services, as well as inadequate data and analysis for evidence-based, efficient, and effective policies.

Additionally, members of a community often see people with disabilities as a burden and inadequate compared to non-disabled members of the community. These social attitudes add another level of discrimination that people with disabilities face; their communities do not support their ability to thrive and reach their full potential in society. This systemic marginalization means that people with disabilities face daily battles through direct violence, the inability to access buildings such as schools or places of employment and the absence of social services. All of these instances deny people with disabilities the ability to fully participate in society, to achieve their full potential and personal dreams.

While the marginalization of people with disabilities can be a reality in many communities during times of peace, this discrimination becomes compounded and especially true during times of conflict or natural disasters. It is a known fact that the instance of disability increases dramatically during times of conflict and disasters, increasing the population of people living with a disability. Perhaps most known is the instance of landmines and other explosive devises causing mobility and physical disabilities, as well as psychological traumas, loss of hearing and eyesight, and a vast array of other impairments. However, both natural disasters and situations of conflict have no limit on the types of disabilities that result and can cause hearing and visual disabilities as well. Just as important, non-apparent disabilities are caused during times of disaster and conflict. Post-traumatic stress, psychosocial, and other mental health disabilities affect individuals at alarming rates yet are often ignored or treated with less priority. Individuals and entire communities can be directly affected, experiencing all different disability types, needing support and services to recover in the short and long term.

The Harkin Summit

Given these realities and witnessing the hardships those close to me have gone through, I have found a deep passion to work towards the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout peacebuilding efforts. With the current, horrific global state of affairs, it is easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed. However, I am optimistic and extremely fortunate that I have had the honor to meet and work with empowered individuals with disabilities around the world who are working hard to fight for their rights. Economic development and access to waged employment is just one of the many factors that contribute to successful peacebuilding, which organizations like Handicap International are working toward. I give many thanks to the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program for providing me with the opportunity to contribute to this work. During my time as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow at HI, I sat on the planning committee for the Harkin International Disability Employment, where I supported the team on event logistics and was a co-author for Good for Business: Promoting Partnerships to Employ People with Disabilities, HI’s white paper that was showcased at the Summit. The paper provides practical information and lessons learned on how multinational corporations can fully include people with disabilities into the workplace. Building off of information provided in HI’s 2016 white paper, Situation of Wage Employment of People with Disabilities: Ten Developing Countries in Focus, this paper offers solutions.

The Harkin Summit convened high-level representatives and grassroots implementers from around the world, who are all working to increase the employment of people with disabilities. The Summit offered a space for representatives from business, disability advocacy, government, education, foundations, and civil society to identify and create strategies to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. More than 300 experts from 40 countries shared knowledge on employment opportunities in various settings, and honored pioneers in disability employment.

I’m grateful for all that I learned and the people I got to meet at the Harkin Summit. I met individuals from multinational corporations who expressed a passion for and commitment to employing more people with disabilities around the world. I witnessed partnerships form between NGOs and corporations to collaborate so businesses can hire and retain more employees with disabilities. There is still much work to be done in the world of international disability rights and peacebuilding, but events like the Harkin Summit help to ensure we keep the momentum moving forward. In fact, Senator Harkin charged the audience with a new goal: to double the rate of employment of people with disabilities in the next decade.

(Photos courtesy of the author)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Coalition Member Spotlight: Women for Women International

In honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which falls on November 25, the Hilton Prize Coalition shines a spotlight on 2006 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate, Women for Women International, and the work they are doing today with women who have been displaced by war and conflict in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and around the world.

Yazidi women attend a training session supported by WfWI in Khanke, Kurdistan. These weekly sessions include English, literacy, women’s justice and gender-based violence training. (Photo credit: Alison Baskerville/WfWI 2016)

For nearly 25 years, Women for Women International (WfWI) has worked in some of the toughest places in the world to serve the most impoverished and marginalized women. In 2015 in the light of crisis in Iraq and Syria, we began working with local partners in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to serve Yezidi survivors of violence as well as other displaced Iraqi women and Syrian refugee women. Through our local partners, we’ve already been able to serve more than 500 women and provide them with socio-economic empowerment trainings, psychosocial services and trauma counseling, as well as referrals for legal aid. Women who participate in our program learn valuable vocational and business skills and about their health and rights, and begin healing from the emotional trauma of war and violence.

Four million refugees and displaced people are struggling to rebuild their lives in Iraq. Displaced for months or years, women who have been forced out of their homes by conflict face particular challenges that threaten their basic security, economic well-being, and even survival. The needs of women refugees in KRI are immense. In addition to facing violence and discrimination due to being women and refugees, many face severe poverty. Especially after losing male family members to conflict, more women are becoming heads of households—but without skills and opportunities for employment, they struggle to pay for their families’ needs. In fact, one in four of all the refugee households in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon is headed by women, and only one in five holds paid jobs and one in five has support from other relatives. One third say they don’t have enough to eat. At WfWI, we know that we need to invest more in refugee women and make sure that their particular needs are met. To do this, earlier this year, we opened a dedicated country office in KRI. Through our country office we hope to serve thousands of more refugee and displaced women in the coming years.

Beyond the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, since 1993, WfWI has served more than 462,000 women survivors of war in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Sudan. With a long-term vision for sustainable change and development, WfWI works with the most marginalized and socially-excluded women so they have the skills, networks, and tools they need to rebuild their lives, communities, and nations. Through Women for Women International’s comprehensive 12-month program, women learn about their rights and health, and gain key life, vocational, and business skills to access livelihoods and break free from trauma and poverty. In 2006, we proudly received the prestigious Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for our transformative work with women around the world.

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