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  • Writer's pictureFotis Filippou

Community voices: Nothing about us without us

As part of our series of community calls, members of the Taking the Lead network come together regularly to learn from the experiences and expertise of one another.

For our call in December 2023, we were joined by Anila Noor and Robert Hakiza who reflected on the Global Refugee Forum that had just concluded in Geneva. Anila had just come back from Geneva. Robert's visa application had been rejected, so he - as many other refugees - did not manage to attend in-person.

Anila Noor is a refugee activist based in the Netherlands. She has diverse experience working with national and international nonprofit organisations and causes namely dealing with peace-building efforts, refugee integration, and special education focused on women's rights. She is the founder and Managing Director of New Women Connectors (NWC), a social change movement that advocates for feminist ideals and the meaningful participation of refugee, migrant and stateless people in policy-making.

Anila found herself involved in the subjects of forced migration and identity crisis when she had to go through the same experience. Since then, she has been working as a refugee social entrepreneur focusing on Forced Migration, Asylum, Refugee Policies and Advocacy for the Rights of Migrants. Anila is also a member of the Equality & Diversity Expert Group of the European Commission.

Robert Hakiza is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID). A refugee from Congo, Robert is also a founding and steering committee member of the Refugee-Led Organization Network (RELON Uganda) and the Global Refugee Led Network (GRN).

He is the Chairperson of the African Refugee Led Network (ARN) and is a graduate of the Catholic University of Bukavu in DRC with a degree in Agriculture. He also holds a certificate in forced migration from the International Summer School of forced migration of Oxford University, in United Kingdom.

Robert is also a TED Fellow, an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, and an Obama Foundation Fellow.

In 2013 Robert worked as an assistant researcher in Uganda with The Humanitarian Innovation Project (HIP) of the University of Oxford, and YARID in 2016 became the first refugee-led organization to win the $100,000 Ockenden International Prize, which recognizes work promoting the self-reliance of refugees and displaced people.

The Taking the Lead community calls are being hosted by MobLab Collective's Emma You Biermann. Emma's mother was herself a refugee from Cambodia who fled to the UK in the 1970s as a result of US bombings on her country. Emma is a transformational trainer, facilitator, strategist and physical movement practitioner, working for trauma informed systems change.

During the call, interpretation was provided by Na Takallam.


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