Annual Reports & Financials

Welcome letter from 2015 Annual Report

No one leaves home unless...

In her powerful poem Home, Warsan Shire movingly conveys the reality refugees face—the chaos and danger of flight, the excruciating choices, the frightening quest for safety in a land of strangers.

In 2015 the western world awoke to a refugee crisis that had been intensifying for several years. Today, more than 60 million people—the highest number ever recorded—are displaced by persecution and violence.

This is the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation. The United States is the only country with the resources, know-how, and commitment necessary to lead a global effort to relieve the suffering and resolve the crisis.

What it has lacked so far is political will.

We are pressing our country to step into this vacuum and lead. Americans have long seen themselves as a nation that welcomes and protects victims of persecution and war. It is time for us to live those values.

For nearly forty years, Human Rights First has worked to protect refugees. Last fall, when the House of Representatives passed legislation to shut out Syrian and Iraqi refugees, we mobilized a bipartisan group of national security leaders who argued that protecting refugees—particularly those fleeing the brutality of ISIS—is critical in our struggle against terrorism. The bill died in the Senate.

We continue to push for a response to the refugee crisis worthy of the United States. President Obama pledged to take in 10,000 Syrians in fiscal year 2016—a welcome but inadequate step. We think that number should be at least 100,000. In addition, we are urging the United States to increase aid to the frontline states sheltering most of the refugees, and press other countries to do more.

To lead by example, the United States must also deal humanely with refugees fleeing across our southern border. We waged a campaign against the Obama Administration’s cruel “family detention” policy, which locked up Central American refugees and their young children. We won an important victory when Pennsylvania revoked the license of a “family detention” center because of the harm it inflicts on children.

We will never stop challenging our country to live up to its ideals. This report highlights some of our most important accomplishments in 2015.

Thank you for supporting this essential—and life-saving—work.

Elisa Massimino,
President and CEO, Human Rights First


Annual Reports

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Human Rights First is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3), international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. To maintain our independence, we accept no government funding.

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