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John Oliver and Wyatt Cenac Celebrate IRAP’s Life-Saving Work Providing Legal Services To Refugees And Displaced People Worldwide at “IRAP Tonight”

For Immediate Release

May 8, 2019

Press Contact

Sunshine Sachs

(212) 691-2800


(New York, NY) – On Tuesday, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) held its inaugural fundraising event “IRAP Tonight” hosted by John Oliver, with standup from both Oliver and Wyatt Cenac. During the event, IRAP presented both Masooma Hussaini and Sourya Saleh, First Female Afghan Pilots & Former IRAP Clients, with the Portrait of Courage Award and Carl Reisner, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, with the Visionary Award.

Last night’s event celebrated a decade of IRAP’s life-saving work providing legal services to refugees and displaced people throughout the world. In fact, IRAP has mobilized its vast network of law students, lawyers, and local, on-the-ground resources to help vulnerable individuals find legal pathways to safety. The event shined a light on the resilience and strength of displaced people and celebrated the tremendous community working to provide solutions for those seeking freedom and safe haven.

Photos from the event are available here

Please credit to: Rick Gilbert/Skyhook Entertainment for IRAP

Highlights from “IRAP Tonight” include:

  • John Oliver opened the program by sharing his commitment to IRAP’s life-saving work and the importance of the evening’s celebration – stressing the problems with the anti-refugee and anti-immigration policies in the U.S. and the importance of supporting IRAP’s work to reunite families and bring hope to millions of refugees around the world.
  • Oliver wasn’t without jokes, commenting: “I think we’ll know when America is in a better place, when America is absolutely furious with Anne Hathaway… You know what seems more important now than being angry with Anne Hathaway? Absolutely everything. That’s why I think she’s the canary in the coal mine for America.”
  • IRAP Co-founder and Executive Director, Becca Heller, who was introduced by John Oliver, started her opening by thanking IRAP’s longtime friends and supporters and introduced the animated video “A Refugee’s Journey,” created by Igor + Valentine. Heller relentlessly reminded the audience of the importance to “change the narrative around forced migration” and take action on behalf of refugees and displaced people to “show up, make your voice heard and demand [of the government]: Let. Them. In.”
  • Joanna Coles led a thorough conversation with former IRAP clients and honorees Masooma Hussaini and Sourya Saleh about their experience facing gender discrimination and threats to their lives and families, after becoming the first female Afghan fighter pilots, and about their refugee journeys. Masooma Hussaini commented: “It looked like I was stuck in a very well dug hole that was so dark, that no matter how loud I screamed for help no one would help me [and] IRAP was the only one that came to help me.”
  • Brad Karp, chair of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, presented the Visionary Award to his longtime friend and firm partner, Carl Reisner, who remarked about his work and the validity of the IRAP model: “They gave me training material, they gave me support, they took this corporate lawyer and turned me into an immigration lawyer…. You’re a human being, you should have rights, that is what IRAP is about.”
  • When Carl left his award on the podium after accepting, Wyatt Cenac was more than happy to take the award on his behalf – joking that he must have done nearly enough to be considered a visionary for refugees. [PHOTO]

To view the press release, click here.

International Refugee Assistance Project