Welcome: An Idea Worth Spreading

By Rachel Nusbaum, HIAS.org


"Often refugees are defined by what they have lost, which is a lot. Their homes, their jobs, their communities, their friends and, in many cases, family members. But it's a mistake to only think about refugees that way, because they’re also just people. And they also have a lot of things. They have hope. They have education. They have skills. And they have a great desire to live in peace.”

“These are all things that refugees actually bring to communities, after they flee,” said HIAS Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Melanie Nezer.

Nezer spoke at the TEDx MidAtlantic conference in Washington, D.C. on October 21, 2016. The theme of the conference was “New Rules.” The organizers asked:

How can we be more empathetic when we design for the future? How can we reconnect policy with facts, truth, and logic? What ethics should we pursue as we shape our rapidly changing world? What are the New Rules that will help guide us for the next century?

Nezer spoke about refugees: the scale and the roots of the current global crisis, where refugees come from, where they often go, and possible solutions for those who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.

“It looks and feels like chaos,” Nezer said of the global crisis and why people are sometimes wary of refugees despite the rigorous screening process for refugees coming to the United States. She emphasized the huge risks people take to find safety. “People die in the Mediterranean, people die crossing our southern border. We don’t want that. They’re just doing what all of us would do in their situation.”

“Given the scale of the crisis, we can and should do more. We are a country that has always welcomed immigrants and refugees, and we have the capacity to do it,” Nezer said. “The U.S. is the largest supporter of refugees, but we could be doing more. And the rest of the world also needs to do more.”

Right now “we have a global movement of refugees, but we need a global movement for refugees. Governments should do more, but they won’t unless we demand it,” said Nezer.

Refugees “don’t have any power over policy, but we do because we’re here and we’re safe. So we really should use this opportunity to make our voices heard and do more to protect refugees,” Nezer said.

Watch the full talk by clicking play on the video above, or view it on the Tedx youtube channel.

Want to make your voice heard? Click here to find out how you can take action for refugees today.

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