International Rescue Committee donors, staff and special guests gathered at the IRC's annual Rescue Dinner in New York on Nov. 2 to support refugees and families in crisis. The event raised $20 million for the IRC’s humanitarian work worldwide.
The IRC presented our Freedom Award at the event to philanthropist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg for his efforts to pioneer change on a global scale in the areas of public health, arts and culture, the environment, education, and government innovation.
Through his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bloomberg announced a gift of $10 million at the event. “I’m proud to say America has always opened its arms to the most vulnerable, and given them a chance to start anew,” he said. “In return, they have given us back so much."
The IRC also honored actress, director and IRC Overseer Liv Ullmann with the John C. Whitehead Humanitarian Award for her compassionate advocacy on behalf of refugees. In her acceptance speech, Ullmann reflected on her ancestors who were refugees, driven from their homes in Oslo during World War II after her grandfather was targeted for helping Jewish families escape danger in their own country.
“I never got to meet my grandfather, but he inspired me anyway by his model choice not to sit still,” Ullmann said. “I am deeply grateful to the IRC for showing us a path forward into the future where all can be – and where no one can come up to another and say, ‘You do not belong.’”
The evening also included remarks by IRC president and CEO David Miliband.
Two refugees who were assisted by the IRC shared their stories, including Rooha Hagar from Iran, who resettled in Texas with her family.
The evening also featured two musical performances by Somalia-born rapper and recording artist K'naan. And a special video starring actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key featured Luther the "anger translator," a character created by Key.