Turned Away: No Refuge for People Forced From Home

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Knight Studio at the Newseum

558 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

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Turned Away: No Refuge for People Forced From Home

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 - 12:30 PM

Located in the Knight Studio at the Newseum

Please use the Group Entrance, located at the rear of the building on C Street.


Join Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for an urgent panel discussion on the mounting obstacles confronting people forced from home. In the United States, across Europe, and around the world, refugee protections are increasingly ignored. This is the alarming new normal: millions of vulnerable people are stranded with no place to turn. Safe and legal routes are closed off. Refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants are turned away by governments, and even sent back into danger. People seeking safety are being treated like criminals—and so are individuals and organizations providing lifesaving humanitarian aid.

From Mexico to the Mediterranean and beyond, MSF teams witness the impact of harsh deterrence policies on people’s medical and mental health.

The discussion will be moderated by Sarah Stillman, staff writer for The New Yorker and director of the Global Migration Project at Columbia Journalism School, and will feature Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project; Dr. Craig Spencer, member of MSF-USA’s board of directors and director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center; María Hernández Matas, project coordinator for MSF's migrants project in Mexico; and Bianca Benvenuti, MSF-Italy advocacy officer and migration policy specialist. This timely conversation, on the eve of World Refugee Day, will examine what it means to deny security to those who most need it, and how we can develop a more humanitarian response to this humanitarian crisis.

Can't make this in person? Register to view the webcast.


Please note: you do not need a Newseum admission ticket to attend this event. Attending this free event does not include admission to the Newseum exhibits.

Seating i​s available on a first-come, first-served basis, so please check in at least five minutes before the start of the event. Doors will open at 11:30 AM. Light refreshments will be served.




The Panel

Sarah Stillman is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she covers immigration, criminal justice, and more. She also directs the Global Migration Project at Columbia Journalism School, where she runs an investigative team covering refugee and migration issues. For The New Yorker, she has written on topics ranging from civil asset forfeiture to debtors’ prisons, and from Mexico’s drug cartels to Bangladesh’s garment-factory workers. She is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. Stillman recently won a National Magazine Award for Public Service for “No Refuge,” an investigation documenting more than sixty cases of asylum-seekers and other immigrants deported to their deaths. She is now working to expand this collaboratively-reported database, documenting the fate of U.S. deportees around the world, from Somalia to Cambodia to Iraq. Stillman got her start covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, she won a Michael Kelly Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, a Sidney Hillman Prize, and other national prizes for "The Invisible Army," which documented human trafficking and labor abuses against foreign war-zone workers on U.S. military bases.

Omar Jadwat is director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, which he joined as a Skadden Fellow in 2002. Omar has litigated numerous groundbreaking cases at IRP, including suits challenging the Trump administration’s Muslim ban; Arizona’s SB 1070 and other state and local anti-immigrant laws; and ICE’s use of immigration detainers. He graduated from NYU Law School and was a law clerk for Judge John G. Koeltl of the Southern District of New York. He is also an adjunct professor at NYU Law.

Bianca Benvenuti has been working as Advocacy Officer for MSF in Italy since 2017. Her area of expertise includes forced migration and the humanitarian impact of asylum and migration policies. Prior to joining MSF, Bianca worked for think tanks in Rome and Istanbul; her research interests include EU-Turkey relations, the migration crisis, EU’s externalization policy as well as the history and politics of the Kurdish issue. She volunteered for several grassroots civil society organizations, providing socio-legal assistance to migrants and asylum seekers. She holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Rome3.

María Hernández Matas, migrants project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Mexico is an economist specialized in development economics. She began her professional career as a consultant, and later on became project manager in the area of business intelligence. She created her own consulting firm in 2012. In parallel, she dedicates part of her time to cultivate her passion for the humanitarian work, which she discovered while at university through a volunteer program in India. In 2015, she decided to turn her passion into profession and started working with Doctors Without Borders, first as a financial coordinator in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Yemen, and then as field coordinator in Yemen and now in Mexico.

Craig Spencer MD MPH is the director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine and an assistant professor of medicine and population and family health at the Columbia University Medical Center. He divides his time between providing clinical care in New York and working internationally in public health and humanitarian response. He has worked in Africa and Southeast Asia as a field epidemiologist on numerous projects examining access to medical care and human rights, including measuring mortality and maternal health in Burundi, access to legal documentation in Indonesia, child separation in emergencies in D.R. Congo and South Sudan, and coordinating Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) national epidemiological response in Guinea during the Ebola outbreak. In addition to his international public health work, Craig has provided medical care in the Caribbean, Central America, West and East Africa, and most recently abroad onboard a MSF medical search and rescue boat in the Mediterranean.

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Knight Studio at the Newseum

558 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

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