Refugee Rights Hit the Wall

by Sophia Hoffmann
published in MER286

I was in Damascus in early 2007 to conduct research on the situation of newly arrived Iraqi refugees when I went looking for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Syria office. I found it in a two-room apartment downtown, staffed by a single Syrian protection officer. The pressures on the organization were becoming intense, she told me. Earlier that day she had spontaneously handed out some cash to a young Iraqi man who had nowhere to stay so that he could pay for a hotel. The thought of him having to sleep in a park was abhorrent and scandalous. UNHCR Syria’s annual budget was $1.4 million at the time.

Civilians in Mosul's Battle of Annihilation

by Nabil Al-Tikriti
published in MER286

Understanding the course of events and identifying the participants in the battle of Mosul is a difficult task. What is certain is that all parties neglected the fate of civilians and were unable to provide proper emergency medical relief. An examination of the battle is crucial to understanding the evolution of international humanitarian law in conflict zones.

 

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The Politics of Health in Counterterrorism Operations

by Jonathan Whittall
published in MER286

In the early morning hours of October 3, 2015, a helicopter gunship operated by US special forces circled the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan. It fired precise and repeated rounds on the main hospital building, quickly reducing it to rubble. Patients and staff who survived the airstrikes were shot while fleeing the burning building. By the end of the assault, 42 people had died, including 24 patients, 14 staff and four caretakers. The week prior to the attack on the hospital, the Taliban had taken control of the Afghan city of Kunduz. It was the first time the Taliban had gained control of a provincial capital since its fall from power in 2001 following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Extending the Borders of Europe

An Interview with Aurélie Ponthieu

by Aurélie Ponthieu
published in MER286

European policies on refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly restrictive. Borders are effectively being pushed off-shore, extending the problems of border management as far south as possible. Aurélie Ponthieu explains the effects of these measures, including crowded refugee centers on the Italian and Greek borders, deplorable conditions in Libyan detention centers and fewer rescues at sea. Ponthieu, the coordinator of the Forced Migration Team in the analysis department of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Belgium, was interviewed by Nabil Al-Tikriti.

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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.

Egypt's Popular Committees

From Moments of Madness to NGO Dilemmas

by Asya El-Meehy
published in MER265

During the 18-day uprising of 2011, police disappeared from the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities at the same time that the state emptied the prisons of thousands of convicts. Neighborhood watch brigades, typically led by young men, sprang up to fill the security void as reports of criminal violence mounted. Face to face, or via Facebook, these “popular committees” quickly organized themselves and spread beyond urban centers, driven by the imperative of community defense. In the words of one committee founder: “Committees were everywhere in villages and cities.

Where Famine Is Functional

Actual Adjustment and the Politics of Relief in Sudan

by Mark Duffield
published in MER172

Images of African famine once again scan Western television screens, prompting a renewed search for causes and solutions. In this worried atmosphere it is easy to overlook that international relief operations have now become a widespread and accepted response to this unfolding crisis. While Sudan and Ethiopia spring to mind, such interventions have also occurred in Uganda, Mozambique, Angola and Liberia.

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Bosnia and the Future of Military Humanitarianism

by Mark Duffield
published in MER187

Mark Duffield was in Bosnia and Croatia from January 9 to January 22, 1994 as part of a larger study of complex emergencies. The following is condensed from his “first impression” field report.

The war in former Yugoslavia has displaced over 4 million people. Nearly 3 million of these are in Bosnia, where half the population has been uprooted. From a humanitarian perspective, the war in Bosnia presents itself as the blockade and terrorization of civilian populations. While access can be negotiated, as the war has spread across central Bosnia this has become increasingly difficult. Food supplies have fallen to critical conditions.

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Sovereignty and Intervention After the Cold War

Lessons from the Emergency Relief Desk

by John Prendergast , Mark Duffield
published in MER187

Over the past several years, the perception has become widespread that the world has entered a period of profound change. A main feature of this change has been some erosion of the principle of state sovereignty as a major structural feature of international relations. The new activism of the United Nations and the trend toward selective military intervention for humanitarian purposes and as a means of international crisis management have been the most prominent features of this development.

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The NGO Phenomenon in the Arab World

An Interview with Ghanem Bibi

by Julie Peteet , Joe Stork
published in MER193

Ghanem Bibi is co-founder and coordinator of the Arab Resource Collective based in Nicosia. ARC generates Arabic-language resources for use in community health and childhood development projects, and serves as a networking resource for Arab NGOs. Julie Peteet spoke with him in August 1994, shortly after an Arab NGO preparatory meeting in Lebanon for the March 1995 UN Social Summit in Copenhagen. Joe Stork spoke with him further in early November 1994.

What was the range of organizations attending the regional preparatory meeting?

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