Writing about Violence

A Joint Reflection from Latin America and the Middle East

by Hiba Bou Akar , Roosbelinda Cárdenas
published in MER284

Although we cannot pinpoint the exact origin of the idea to co-teach a comparative course on contemporary politics in the Middle East and Latin America, we remember well what followed from that initial decision in late 2015. First there was the excitement that accompanies an emergent sense of possibility. As we reviewed the literature while designing the course, we found numerous connections and continuities that allowed us to place Latin America and the Middle East in joint focus. But resonance and similarity were not the only promise, so we developed a syllabus that also explored the differences and disjunctures. We discussed the state’s role in gendering, as people in the informal sector stake their claims to livelihoods in Egypt and the Dominican Republic.

Managing Security Webs in the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain al-Hilweh

by Erling Lorentzen Sogge
published in MER282

On May 31, 2017, Fatah commander Col. Bassam al-Saad was juggling three telephones—two mobile phones and one landline—at his office in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh. As the commander of the Joint Palestinian Security Force (JPSF), the defacto military police of the self-governed camp, the colonel was in the process of overseeing the deployment of his roughly 100-strong force. Entering a particularly sensitive area in the war-torn Tiri neighborhood following devastating clashes in April between the JPSF and a local Islamist group, he was also juggling the ratio of police from each political faction to ensure a smooth operation.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Refugees or Migrants?

Difficulties of West Africans in Morocco

by Parastou Hassouri | published September 12, 2017

Much of the media attention on global displacement currently focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis and refugees’ attempts to enter Europe through Eastern Mediterranean routes. Certainly, the large scale of displacement that has occurred as a result of the war in Syria (the number of registered refugees has surpassed five million), and the rise in number of asylum applications being made in Europe, merit our attention. However, Syrian refugee flows in the Eastern Mediterranean are only part of a larger picture of forced migration.

Into the Emergency Maze

Injuries of Refuge in an Impoverished Sicilian Town

by Silvia Pasquetti
published in MER280

It was a sunny and warm day in February 2015, in the midst of an otherwise atypically rainy and cold Sicilian winter. Awate and Drissa [1] sat next to one other on the edge of the covered balcony at the small reception center for asylum seekers where they lived. Both wore headphones but their bodies moved out of sync as they followed the different rhythms that pumped into their ears. Driving past the center [2] with his car window down, Roberto commented as I sat next to him: “They always seem so relaxed, with their headphones and flashy shoes. They are taken care of.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Sudanese and Somali Refugees in Jordan

Hierarchies of Aid in Protracted Displacement Crises

by Rochelle Davis , Abbie Taylor , Will Todman , Emma Murphy
published in MER279

In late 2015, hundreds of Sudanese staged a sit-in outside the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan. Their hope was to obtain recognition of their rights as refugees and asylum seekers, and to receive better treatment from the agency. A previous protest in 2014 had ended when Jordanian police persuaded (or compelled) the Sudanese to leave the site. This time, however, after the Sudanese had camped out for a month in the posh neighborhood of Khalda, the police arrived in force in the early hours of a mid-December morning. They dismantled the camp and transported some 800 protesters and others—men, women and children—to a holding facility close to Queen Alia International Airport.

North Africa’s Invisible Refugees

by Alice Wilson
published in MER278

It is December 2014, and on a chilly desert night in a refugee camp, a family sits in a circle inside their tent. Each family member wraps as much of his or her person as possible in a shared blanket. The mother, Almuadala, is making tea on a charcoal furnace. All are listening to Mohamad Fadel, the father, who is telling the story of how he identified the body of his father, who was killed in the conflict that caused thousands of families like this one to become refugees forty years ago. Mohamad Fadel was taken to an unmarked collective grave, just discovered in 2013. There he was able to recognize his father from the clothes he had been wearing the last time that Mohamad Fadel saw him alive.

Letter from Ellinikon

by Parastou Hassouri
published in MER278

On a bright and sunny day in early April, outside a terminal at what was once the Ellinikon International Airport in Athens, I listened as Javad, 16, told the story of the second refugee flight of his life. Javad (not his real name) is a member of the Hazara ethnic group and originally hails from the Baghlan province of Afghanistan. His family fled his home country during the rule of the Taliban, who infamously targeted the Hazaras for massacre, in part because most Hazaras are Persian-speaking Shi‘a. They escaped to Iran, where they lived in relative safety, but not dignity, as Afghans often face the exploitation of Iranian employers and the discrimination of the government.

Growing Up in Wartime

Images of Refugee Children’s Education in Syrian Television Drama

by Hayden Bates , Rebecca Joubin
published in MER278

For years prior to the March 2011 uprising in Syria, writers of the sketch comedy series Buq‘at Daw’ (Spotlight) used symbolism and wordplay to mount a not-so-subtle challenge to the regime on state television. [1] In a 2002 skit, written by Samir al-Barqawi and directed by Layth Hajju, a teacher chalks tumuh (ambition) on the board and asks his pupils to tell him what theirs might be. One boy, Sa‘id, duly jots down his life goal on a piece of paper. The camera never shows what the child has written, but the teacher is so frightened by what he sees that he calls in the school’s principal to deal with the “disaster.” The boy’s father is summoned, and he is likewise terrified.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Mobilizing in Exile

Syrian Associational Life in Turkey and Lebanon

by Killian Clarke , Gözde Güran
published in MER278

The neighborhood of Narlıca sits on the outskirts of the small city of Antakya, Turkey. A spread of low-rise, brick-and-cement buildings separated by unpaved roads, Narlıca was a lightly populated working-class suburb prior to the outbreak of civil war across the border in Syria. Today, with that war dragging into its sixth year, the neighborhood has taken on a new identity as Antakya’s “little Syria.” The population has more than doubled, with Syrian residents now outnumbering Turks; most of the storefront signs are in Arabic; and newly opened schools teach the Syrian curriculum.

Putting Refugee Work Permits to Work

by Vicky Kelberer
published in MER278

For decades, humanitarian experts and international organizations have called upon host countries to give more work permits to refugees. Permits are posed as a way to alleviate the poverty of refugees and lessen their dependency on aid. Host countries have traditionally shunned the notion, however, fearing the creation of permanent populations of refugees in competition with citizens for jobs. Most host countries, in fact, have done the opposite, blocking access to work and deporting refugees found working illegally.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.