Conventional Humanitarian Solutions Fail the Test

by Parastou Hassouri
published in MER286

Syrians experienced the largest single-day exodus of the war on March 15, 2018. Seven years to the day since the start of the uprising in Syria, some 45,000 civilians fled their homes in besieged Eastern Ghouta. The fact that such large-scale displacement took place over the course of a single day as the conflict entered its eighth year is a stark reminder that the displacement caused by the war has not abated and will not end any time soon.

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.

The Black Mediterranean and the Politics of the Imagination

by SA Smythe
published in MER286

The sea in Italy doesn’t even recede.

You need to cross it to get to the stronghold, you need to cross the sea in between, the Mediterranean Sea—the White Sea to the Arabs.

Many face the White Sea. But from my coasts, on the Horn of Africa, before reaching the White Sea some brave the Ocean on a dhow. They want to know if it’s really necessary to go that far.

Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, “A Dhow Crosses the Sea" [1]

Editorial

The Poverty of Our Humanitarian Imagination

by Ilana Feldman
published in MER286

In a world awash with violent, large-scale displacements and with borders closed to refugees across Europe, the United States and Australia, much has been said about the failures of humanitarian compassion. Reports abound of migrants left to drown by the thousands in the Mediterranean, [1] and of those who reach foreign shores being warehoused in under-resourced and dangerous camps. The stories stand as an indictment of the global community’s lack of will to deal with—let alone acknowledge a shared responsibility for—these crises.

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.

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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.

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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.