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.

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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.

Syrian Refugees in the Media

by Katty Alhayek
published in MER278

It was September 2, 2015 when the Syrian refugee crisis abruptly came to dominate the English-language media. On that day broadcast and print outlets led with the iconic image of Alan Kurdi, 3, lying lifeless on a Turkish beach after his family’s failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The shocking picture prompted solemn pronouncements from Western leaders regarding the world’s responsibility to care for refugees, even as actual policy in most Western countries got worse.

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Oasis in the Desert?

Coproduction and the Future of Zaatari

by Denis Sullivan , Charles Simpson
published in MER278

From the summer of 2012 through 2014, there were rapid influxes of refugees from Syria into the Zaatari camp in Jordan. The camp’s population spiked in early 2013—from 56,000 in January to a peak of 202,000 just four months later—overwhelming the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Jordanian government officials who were trying to maintain order. Such runaway growth would have been difficult to manage in an established city in a developed state, much less an ad hoc community of tents in the desert.

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NGO Governance and Syrian Refugee “Subjects” in Jordan

by Sarah A. Tobin , Madeline Otis Campbell
published in MER278

The typical image of the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is one of suffering. Journalistic account after account introduces spectacular stories of devastation and loss. While perhaps dramatized, these tales are not false. Syrian refugee camps have forced hundreds of thousands of strangers to live together in austere, unequal and artificially constructed communities, which are subject to new national laws. To live in the camps is indeed to endure or have endured some form of suffering—but also to be part of a collective of survivors. As M.

Did Russian Intervention Break the Syrian Stalemate?

by Samer Abboud | published March 15, 2016 - 4:01pm

It is now a cliché to say that the Syrian conflict is complicated, and has multiple regional and international drivers.

On Failing to “Get It Together”

Syria’s Opposition Between Idealism and Realism

by Ali Nehmé Hamdan
published in MER277

Rain falls thick and heavy outside the window. Shadi sits in the near dark drinking sage tea, fighting the November chill, but more so the pessimistic vantage onto Syria from his refuge in neighboring Jordan. A vocal civil society activist in Homs during the early stages of the Syrian revolution, Shadi fled to Lebanon when it became clear that his pseudonym would no longer protect him from the informants of the regime of Bashar al-Asad. Only there, he feared that Asad’s Lebanese allies Hizballah might pick up where the regime had left off, and so he departed for Jordan’s quiet capital, Amman. A journalist now, he maintains regular contact with the Syrian opposition—inside and outside—but the view is not encouraging.

Losing Syria’s Youngest Generation

The Education Crisis Facing Syrian Refugees in Jordan

by Reva Dhingra | published March 2, 2016

Hasan bounces in his chair, pencil tapping against the table as he bends over the first page of a math exam. He hesitates, before stretching his hand frantically into the air as he waits for help from the program facilitator busy with one of the handful of other boys scattered across the classroom. Hasan is a student at one of over 90 Non-Formal Education Centers opened in Jordan by the education NGO Questscope in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, funded by a grant from UNICEF. The program, aimed at providing tenth-grade equivalency certificates for refugee and Jordanian children who have spent years without formal schooling, has witnessed a dramatic expansion since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

Have Yourself Some Anti-Refugee Hysteria

by Chris Toensing | published December 9, 2015

As holiday shoppers empty their wallets to buy presents for family and friends, there’s been an outbreak of miserliness among our politicians—directed at some of the world’s most helpless people.

At least 30 Republican governors, and one Democrat, are vowing to bar Syrian refugees from their states. One family was actually turned away at the Indiana state line when the local resettlement agency got a nasty phone call from the authorities.

“ISIS Is One Piece of the Puzzle”

Sheltering Women and Girls in Iraq and Syria

by Jillian Schwedler
published in MER276

Yifat Susskind is executive director of MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization based in New York. Jillian Schwedler spoke with her on October 28, 2015, the week after Yanar Mohammed, head of MADRE’s partner group the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), testified before the UN Security Council about women’s vital role in sustainable peacebuilding and about the task of sheltering women fleeing sexual violence, including from areas controlled by ISIS.

What are the basic challenges for your work in Iraq, where the state does not fully function?