Back to Basics: The Humanitarian Ideal

HHI Statement from the Director

Dear friends and colleagues, 

The President's recent executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the United States has created immediate and devastating consequences for many in the medical and public health professions, some of whom are our colleagues. Many more will be detained, interrogated, and denied access to their work, their families, and their homes. The repercussions of these actions will be felt around the world. 

We are facing a period in American politics that threatens to divide this nation over issues of race, religion, and cultural identity. It would be a mistake to view this movement as strictly partisan politics. The protection of basic human rights is an issue that rises above political orientation and is a basic principle upon which our nation was founded. 

HHI cannot change the current political climate, but we can affect our sphere of influence by advancing the work of humanitarianism. For us, this will take the form of striving to protect the well-being of refugees, immigrants, and those most affected by these policies - and reaffirming respect for international humanitarian law and basic norms of humanity. 

In the coming weeks, HHI will be joining our networks of universities, health institutions, NGOs, community and civic groups, and colleagues to amplify the voice of a growing number of citizens who see these actions as a threat to our national standing in the world. We will continue to take an active role in upholding the ideals of humanity and equity, upon which the field of humanitarianism was built.


Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH 
Chairman: Department of Emergency Medicine 
Brigham and Women's Hospital 
Professor: Harvard Medical School 
Professor: Harvard School of Public Health