MRCF trustees, members and staff are very proud to announce that Zrinka Bralo, MRCF Executive Director, has been awarded the 2011 Voices of Courage Award from the
Women’s Refugee Commission in New York.
Founded in 1989 by Liv Ullmann, actress and human rights activist, and Catherine O’Neill, Director of the UN Information Center in Washington D.C., the Women’s Refugee Commission is affiliated with the International Rescue Committee. The Commission advocates for laws, policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children and young people, including those seeking asylum. Zrinka has been recognised for her work with refugees in urban areas and will be honoured at the ceremony in New York in May 2011.
As we mark the centenary of International Women’s Day, we should recall that there are currently more than 40 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide. Of these, 80% are women, children and young people, while 26 million are IDPs.
Zrinka has continuously worked to fill in the gaps and find innovative and helpful solutions for refugees and migrants while empowering others in the process. Since 2001 she has headed the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF) in London, an organisation that delivers services to thousands of refugees across the UK.
‘Our aim at MRCF is to increase public awareness of the plight of refugees while at the same time attempting to equip refugees, migrants and asylum seekers with the skills and resources necessary for them to live meaningful lives in the UK,’ said Zrinka.
In addition to the innovative projects that MRCF delivered under her leadership, such as training for refugee and migrant doctors and dentists, mentoring programmes and digital activism training, Zrinka has worked tirelessly to influence laws and policies in a way that will improve the lives of refugees. For instance, she served as a Commissioner on the Independent Asylum Commission (IAC), the most comprehensive review of the refugee protection system in the UK which resulted in 180 recommendations for improvement of immigration policy and systems. She continues this work with Citizens UK, and has recently been in negotiations with the relevant government agencies to end detention of children and families for immigration purposes.
In northern Bosnia, she helped found an organization called Most Mira (Bridge of Peace), which hosts an annual arts festival for children born into segregation and facing post-war trauma.
“I am delighted that MRCF has been recognised by this prestigious international organisation. This honour is a result of true team work and it will inspire our members, volunteers and the MRCF team to continue to face challenges in our future work with added enthusiasm.”