Addressing the Plight of Refugees

Posted by Pamela Passman
Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

Earlier today I attended the 2010 Voices of Courage Awards luncheon in New York hosted by the Women’s Refugee Commission, an organization that advocates for laws, policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and displaced women and young people.

The Women’s Refugee Commission emerged a decade ago as a leading advocate for protection of women and unaccompanied children in the United States. The Commission identified the need for legal representation for the thousands of children who were appearing in U.S. immigration court without a lawyer, despite the formal proceedings and the sometimes life-and-death consequences of the judge’s ruling. The Commission has also undertaken incredible work developing and identifying economic opportunities for refugee women and children. We share a common belief that providing sustained social and economic opportunities for underserved populations, especially young people, is key to building thriving communities and a better world.

During the event a number of incredible stories of how people and organizations are working to address the refugee issue were showcased.

Among those recognized was Amalia Guzmán Molina, who is originally from El Salvador and founded Families of the Incarcerated, which works with the families of those who have been detained by immigration services in the United States. Also honored was Deogratias Niyizonkiza, who was born in Burundi and spent time in the United States before setting up Village Health Works, a non-profit organization providing free health care in Burundi to more than 28,000 patients, many of them refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.

Microsoft was named as this year’s Corporate Honoree for Microsoft Unlimited Potential and our partnership with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an organization focused on helping refugee and immigrant children who are in the United States without their parents or legal guardian. KIND provides them with legal counsel, ensuring that no child faces the immigration system alone.

For over 20 years the Women’s Refugee Commission has fought passionately for systemic change for refugee women and children. Microsoft is honored to be recognized by the commission. We accept this recognition on behalf of our people and our partners in governments, NGOs and communities around the world. It’s only through partnerships that these programs succeed.

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