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Voice of America: Reaching and Engaging Refugee and Displaced Communities

Voice of America: Reaching and Engaging Refugee and Displaced Communities
Voice of America: Reaching and Engaging Refugee and Displaced Communities

As the number of displaced persons and refugees continues to multiply, it is important to provide more news coverage of forced migration. But it is just as urgent that public service media take steps to reach these populations with news, information and educational programming. VOA is among the organizations providing targeted media content to some key refugee populations.

  • What can NGOs and journalists who cover conflicts and crises tell us about the lives of refugees and displaced persons who are on the move and separated from their communities?
  • Is it possible to reach more displaced persons with information than we are now?
  • Is it a matter of innovation, more resources or both?

As VOA celebrates its 80th anniversary, please join Acting VOA Director Yolanda López and a distinguished panel for a virtual discussion of this topic.

Reaching and Engaging Refugee and Displaced Communities

11:00 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Introduction: Yolanda Lopez, Acting VOA Director

Moderator: Gary Butterworth, VOA Refugee Program Manager


Kasim Abdurehim, VOA International Journalist

Nina Papadopoulos, Vice President of Education, International Social Impact, Sesame Workshop

Paul Dillon, Director, International Organization for Migration, Media and Communications Division

Biliny Manyang, Kakuma News Reflector

Join us live via our Facebook and YouTube channels.

Please register for the event here and click the "I'll be there" button.

Speaker Biographies:

Yolanda López, Acting VOA Director

A veteran journalist, Yolanda López was appointed Acting VOA Director on January 21, 2021. She has led VOA coverage through a particularly turbulent time in global affairs: the coup in Myanmar, the evacuation of Afghan journalists following the Taliban takeover and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Prior to the appointment, Yolanda served as Director of the VOA News Center, overseeing all editorial and content production, including US elections and the Covid-19 pandemic. She joined VOA in 2015 as Latin America Division Director. Under her leadership, the division experienced significant growth in audience by expanding media partnerships and affiliations. A native of Barcelona, Spain, she worked for the Spanish language television network Univision as news director, producer, and executive producer. Prior to joining Univision, she was an on-air personality for a Telemundo affiliate in Texas. López was a communications and digital media professional in Barcelona. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

Gary Butterworth, VOA Refugee Program Manager

Gary Butterworth was selected to launch VOA’s refugee program in 2019. This initiative ensures that forcibly displaced communities are able to access VOA content and that stories of displacement reach global audiences. Butterworth served as coordinating producer of VOA’s award-winning 2018 documentary, “Displaced,” for which contributor Greta Van Susteren was invited to testify to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Rohingya crisis. Butterworth briefed the U.S. Congressional Research Service on this crisis and helped launch the first radio newscast in the Rohingya language by a major news outlet. He also served on the field production team of “EmPOWERing Refugees,” a televised town hall discussion from Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp that was recognized by UNHCR as a “Good Practice” according to the Global Compact on Refugees. He also coordinated production of VOA’s 2021 documentary, “A Day in the Life of Refugees,” a groundbreaking project that simultaneously chronicles World Refugee Day from more than 30 countries around the globe. Butterworth’s unique understanding of VOA operations, international broadcast technology, and TV production is being leveraged to improve information flows to and from the 100 million individuals experiencing forcible displacement. Butterworth holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University.

Kasim Abdurehim, VOA International Journalist

Kasim Abdurehim joined Voice of America in 2019 as an international journalist at the Extremism Watch Desk. He was born in the city of Kashgar on the historic Silk Road in Central Asia. He now works for VOA’s China branch, where he covers news mainly on China and Central Asia. Prior to joining VOA, Kasim ran a private English language school in China from 2006 to 2017. Until today, he has used a pen name, Asim Kashgarian, to conceal his identity.

Nina Papadopoulos, Vice President of Education, International Social Impact, Sesame Workshop

Dr. Nina Papadopoulos has worked for over 25 years promoting the right of education in both stable and conflict and crisis-affected environments. In her role as Vice President of Education, International Social Impact with Sesame Workshop, she provides technical leadership and strategic direction in designing, implementing and evaluating early childhood education initiatives. She has worked through both USG and NGOs organizations to provide global thought leadership on humanitarian-development coherence in education, education and resilience, and inclusive education. She has worked in leadership roles in education programming, providing technical assistance to 23 USAID missions, including Afghanistan, Malawi, Pakistan, South Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Dr. Papadopoulos has been an adjunct at Georgetown University in the Program on Justice and Peace Studies and holds an Education Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts.

Paul Dillon, Director, International Organization for Migration Media and Communications Division

Paul Dillon is the Director (a.i.) of IOM’s Media and Communications Division in Geneva. Scottish-born & Canadian-raised, he worked as a journalist for 18 years, the last seven covering conflicts, disasters and political upheaval in Central- and Southeast Asia. Paul joined IOM as a media officer in Aceh, Indonesia, following the 2004 Asian Tsunami, where some of the earliest attempts were made to systematically investigate and address humanitarian communications gaps in a crisis situation.

Biliny Manyang, Kakuma News Reflector

Biliny Manyang was born in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp to parents who fled what is now South Sudan in the early 1990s. As an aspiring young journalist and fashion model, she rose through Kakuma’s refugee-run media scene in both entertainment and journalism. She won season seven of “Kakuma’s Got Talent,” and she files for the Kakuma News Reflector, better known as Kanere, which has been profiled by Columbia Journalism Review, among others. “I’m a truth-teller,” she says. Despite difficult conditions for journalists in the camps, she is passionate about press freedom, as well as the rights of women and girls.