Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, applauded the House passage of her bipartisan Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act as part of the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is Congress' annual defense spending bill.
Meng's legislation would ensure that women and girls in refugee camps are able to access bathrooms without fear of violence. While many hope to find safety in temporary refugee camps, violence and insecurity often follow. Women and girls are at higher risk of experiencing sexual assault and violence if they do not have separate and properly lit bathrooms. Meng's bill would remedy this problem by ensuring recipients of U.S. aid provide safe and secure access to sanitation facilities.
"I am thrilled to see this legislation pass the House as part of our annual defense spending bill. It addresses a critical issue: the safety of women and girls in refugee camps," said Congresswoman Meng. "Women, girls, and other vulnerable populations must feel safe accessing the most basic of amenities while experiencing displacement in refugee camps. I am proud that this bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to seeing it signed into law after it clears the Senate."
"Refugees are among the most vulnerable populations in the world, especially women and girls. I'm thrilled that this commonsense measure to ensure women and girls have safe accommodations while using sanitation facilities at refugee camps will become law as part of the NDAA, said Congressman Lee Zeldin, who joined Meng in introducing the bill. "I'm grateful to Congresswoman Meng for her tireless efforts to pass this important bipartisan initiative."
"Refugees International applauds the inclusion of the Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023," said Ann Hollingsworth, the Senior Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor for Refugees International. "The Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act will require organizations that receive U.S. funding to ensure that women do not have to travel long distances to use the restroom, that there are separate bathroom facilities for men and women, and that adequate lighting is available. Refugee women and girls are at heightened risk for violence, and steps like these are important to reduce the risks that they will face harm. Refugees International thanks the legislation's sponsor, Representative Meng, and the bipartisan supporters of the Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act."
The Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act was originally introduced in 2019, and previously passed the House unanimously.