Queen Rania's Speech at 2016 Rescue Gala - NY, USA

November 03, 2016

Katherine, thank you for your generous words. I am humbled, and inspired to work with the International Rescue Committee … for the millions of refugees--- mothers, fathers, children, vulnerable people – who are in desperate need of help and hope in equal measure.

Good evening to you all. It’s a pleasure to be here to celebrate the noble and life-saving work of the IRC. I wish, of course, that we could meet in happier circumstances. But, the reality is that, in our lifetime, we have never faced a larger, more urgent, or more heartbreaking humanitarian plight.

And that’s why we’re so fortunate to have David at the helm of IRC. Because the most defining global challenge of our time requires defining leadership. A leadership that combines sharp intellect with compassion and political acumen. A leadership that is dissatisfied with the same-old, short-term thinking, and seeks, instead long-term solutions across the humanitarian and development sectors. This paradigm shift is long overdue. If we are to – as we must – bring new hope and dignity to people affected by crises and conflict, we must think anew…in bold and innovative ways.

That’s why I joined IRC. Because coming from Jordan, where one in four of our population is a refugee, I know that a ‘business as usual’ approach no longer works. We need a revolution both in the way the global community supports refugees and in the way the global community supports host communities. And, let me tell you, no one wants that more than refugees themselves.

They need more than ‘likes’ on Facebook or Instagram pictures of their plight. They need results. Practical results. Well-equipped classrooms so their children can learn again. Safety for their girls. Hot showers and nutritious meals. Training opportunities. Jobs. In short, they need some measure of ‘normal’ to restore equilibrium to their lives. And beyond these practical measures, they need something that money cannot buy: they need simple humanity. A kind gesture. A warm smile. Someone who’ll listen and treat them with respect and dignity.

That’s why I joined IRC. Because that’s what their courageous and selfless staff do every day. I’ve seen it for myself. I know the impact of their work, and I want to share that with you tonight. Because beyond the headlines of horror and heartbreak, there are so many stories of hope to celebrate.

Like Safa’a, a 42-year old refugee who has lived in Jordan since 2012. Like millions of innocent, hard-working people, her life was overturned by the Syrian conflict. Her husband, arrested; her son, seriously injured; and her business destroyed, Safa’a did what you or I would do: she fled for her life.

Relief at reaching sanctuary in Jordan was short-lived. Then, she faced the daunting question of ‘what next?’ And this is where IRC provided a very practical and transformational lifeline.

Safa’a attended a small business training course run by IRC, and today, her new plumbing business provides more than much-needed income, it’s given her a new lease on life.

Miles away, in Nigeria, six month-old Falmata, received life-saving treatment for severe malnutrition in an IRC-supported hospital. But support didn’t stop there. Falmata’s mother took part in an IRC-run program that helps her, and many others, prepare nutritious meals for their little ones with the few resources they have.

Here in the US, Tekle, an asylem seeker from Ethiopia, worked with the IRC Microenterprise team to buy a business vehicle and secure a taxi permit. His income allows him to support his family and continue his PhD studies.

That’s why I joined IRC. Because the “R” in its title might stand for ‘rescue’ in the short-term. But in the long-term, it stands for rekindling hope…rebuilding lives…and reimagining futures. And when precious resources are as tight as they are, every dollar that goes towards building sustainable lives for refugees is a dollar well spent. It’s an investment in more peaceful and productive futures for us all.

We can’t turn back the clock or undo the terrible effects of the crises and conflicts that grip our world today. But with your support, we can give those worst affected a reason to hope and a route to recovery. We did it for Safa’a, Falmata, Tekle and their families; we’ve done it for thousands like them. But there are still so many more who need our help and humanity. Reaching them starts here, tonight, with you.

Thank you.