Lurking Insecurity

Squatters in Khartoum

by Anthony Shadid
published in MER216

Black clouds off the Nile River hang low over Mandela Camp, ushering in the storms that bring misery to an already wretched existence on the outskirts of Sudan’s capital. The clouds soon open up over the sprawling squatter settlement, and the rain begins its relentless fall. Barnaba Marial Marol, his cheeks hollow with hunger and his eyes heavy with sorrow, begins his story.

The Forgotten Refugees of Balochistan

by Stephen Dedalus
published in MER244

While the US “war on terror” in Afghanistan and areas in bordering Pakistan occupies the imagination of millions in the West, the simmering conflict in the Pakistani province of Balochistan (Baluchistan) an its disastrous effects on the civilian population evade the radar of popular media. In 2005, when Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, threatened Baloch insurgents with such violence that “you won’t even know what hit you,” hardly anyone outside Pakistan noticed. Soon, the Pakistani military launched a “shock and awe” campaign, involving helicopter gunships, fighter jets, heavy artillery and machine guns, against Baloch nationalists demanding greater political autonomy from the federal government.

A Different Kind of Memory

An Interview with Zochrot

by Meera Shah
published in MER244

“Who is trying to change the names of Haifa streets to the street names in the period prior to the War of Independence?” This question led an article in the December 15, 2004 edition of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv. Someone -- “people from outside,” said the mayor -- had placed signs in Arabic that labeled major thoroughfares as they had been known prior to the expulsion of many of the city’s Palestinians, and the incorporation of Haifa into the nascent state of Israel, during the war of 1948.

Jordan's Unwelcome "Guests"

by Stefanie Nanes
published in MER244

Ask any Jordanian in Amman about Iraqis in their country, and they will immediately tell you that Iraqis have driven up the prices of virtually everything in the capital. Apartments cost double what they did five years ago. The prices of food and gasoline have soared. Iraqis arrive with suitcases full of cash, drive around in expensive cars and make life much more difficult for Jordanians—or such is the widespread belief.

The Politics of Refugee Advocacy and Humanitarian Assistance

by Kathryn Libal , Scott Harding
published in MER244

Despite advance warnings of entrenched conflict and the displacement of tens of thousands of people, in 2003 the Bush administration embarked on a regime-changing war in Iraq with little consideration of the human costs. The Iraq war has created a flow of forced migrants, both within and across national borders, numbering around four million people, or approximately 15 percent of Iraq’s population. This ongoing forced migration dwarfs original expectations among humanitarian organizations and is considered the largest forced migration in the region since the Palestinian diaspora of 1948.

The Road to Nahr al-Barid

Lebanese Political Discourse and Palestinian Civil Rights

by Muhammad Ali Khalidi , Diane Riskedahl
published in MER244

How long will the state erect military checkpoints in residential areas, treating them as though they were camps sheltering wanted people and gunmen, while all the Palestinian camps, which shelter criminals and wanted people, enjoy freedom of movement, politically, militarily and in terms of security, as though they were security islands independent of Lebanon politically, militarily and in terms of security?

Refugees in Limbo

The Plight of Iraqis in Bordering States

by Madona Mokbel
published in MER244

Long lines of Iraqis form early in the morning at the compound of a Damascus non-profit agency that provides social services for Iraqi refugees. About 100 men, women and children patiently wait their turn to meet with the agency’s case workers. Some of the older women begin to tire and move slowly away from the line to sit on benches located along the compound’s old walls. Most of the men remain standing in the queue. They are busy attending to their young children, while their wives are caring for the babies. Most look anxious, and they fidget, wary of the long wait ahead. To pass the time, some make small talk, but generally the crowd is quiet.

Unsettling the Categories of Displacement

by Julie Peteet
published in MER244

The Middle East has long had the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s major producers of refugees. By the beginning of 2007, the Middle East was generating 5,931,000 refugees out of a world total of 13,948,800. Over the past century, not just conflict but development projects, environmental disasters and state-mandated settlement of nomads have driven people from their homes. [1]

Of Reactivism and Relief

by Mayssun Sukarieh
published in MER244

As with every crisis that befalls the Palestinians in Lebanon, the Lebanese army’s siege of the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp impelled hundreds of people to pitch in with the relief effort. After fighting broke out in late May, and over 30,000 Nahr al-Barid residents fled to the nearby Baddawi camp, volunteers ferried food, blankets and medicine to the displaced. Such “humanitarian assistance,” along with petitions and open letters calling for protecting civilians, was all that pro-Palestinian Lebanese and international activists could think of to do as the army lobbed shells into the camp outside Tripoli. The needs of the displaced are indeed great, but many Palestinians wish their supporters would focus their energies elsewhere.