Daniel Sullivan

Senior Advocate for Human Rights at Refugees International

Adrienne Fricke

Senior Fellow at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

The Refugee Crisis in a World of Closing Borders

About the Topic

It was a photograph that stunned the world: face down on a Turkish beach, the drowned body of three-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi. Alan was among 12 dead as an overloaded refugee boat capsized minutes after launching toward Greece in September 2015. Today, Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan generate nearly 60 percent of the world’s refugees. Over half of the estimated global refugee population of 25.4 million is under age 18. Rising also are the numbers of citizens internally displaced, 40 million homeless due to violence or, increasingly, weather. The Economist reported that in 2017, floods, storms, and droughts dislocated more citizens internally than did armed conflict. Witnessing the greatest human displacement since World War II, the UN warns that “an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home." Should the international community re-think its approach to refugee policies? As nations tighten their borders, what are the implications for global instability as millions of refugees face uncertain futures, including the young?

About the Speaker

Daniel P. Sullivan is the senior advocate for human rights at Refugees International, with a focus on Myanmar, Sudan, and South Sudan. Sullivan worked for five years with United to End Genocide (formerly, Save Darfur), including as director of policy and government relations, leading development of policy recommendations for Myanmar, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria, and for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. He has more than 15 years of human rights and foreign policy experience based at the Brookings Institution, Human Rights First, and the Albright Stonebridge Group, assisting former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in her role as co-chair of the Genocide Prevention Task Force.

Adrienne L. Fricke is a senior fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and a visiting scientist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is studying policy initiatives to improve access to healthcare for Syrian refugees and serving as a consultant in human rights and refugee-related issues in the Middle East and Africa. Since 2007, Fricke has worked with Physicians for Human Rights, serving most recently as Syria advisor designing and implementing projects for Syrian healthcare workers and human rights defenders. Previously, Fricke assessed the health of Sudanese refugee women living in Eastern Chad.