REFUGEE CRISIS IN LATIN AMERICA
Norma was abducted, tied up, and gang raped. Her children were threatened and the police couldn't provide protection. So she fled from El Salvador to the United States via Mexico with the help of a smuggler. Today, she's sitting in a U.S. detention facility. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that "The violence in Central America's 'northern triangle' of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and parts of Mexico has reached war zone levels." For more information on violence against women in Central America and to hear the first-hand accounts of 160 women, see the UNHCR's latest report, Women on the Run.
A bill that would have halted resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States was defeated in the Senate on January 20. The legislation, which passed in the House last November, called for a vetting process so stringent that it would virtually bring the resettlement process to a standstill. Following the House vote, President Obama had issued a veto warning, saying the bill would "provide no meaningful additional security for the American people, instead serving only to create significant delays and obstacles in the fulfillment of a vital program that satisfies both humanitarian and national security objectives."
STARTUPS BY AND FOR REFUGEES
Bonnie Kallenberg, owner of Finders Keepers Consignments, initiated a scholarship program through New American Pathways to help refugees advance beyond minimum wage jobs. The program will provide refugees in the United States with vocational training and mentorship opportunities to help them succeed in their field of interest.
A new food delivery startup broke into the market last year, employing refugees who cook dishes from their home countries. Presently, the three chefs at Eat OffBeat (all women by the way!) are from Iraq, Nepal, and Eritrea. The team operates in New York, working in a shared commercial kitchen and catering to groups of ten or more. As the enterprise expands, they look forward to serving individual orders for residents in Manhattan.