Tag Archives: Refugee camps

IIHA Spring Event Series: March 2016 Round Up

This semester, the IIHA is organizing a series of events that focus on the very timely topic of “Challenges & Opportunities: Global Migration in the 21st Century.” With approximately 60 million people either forcibly displaced from their homes or migrating by choice, the current migration crisis presents a multi-faceted, global challenge. IIHA is promoting events focused on migration as well as hosting a series of events offering different perspectives on the crisis.

Below is a summary of the events that were promoted and hosted by IIHA in March 2016.

This event spotlighted positive outcomes of including and encouraging youth production of media in formal and informal educational settings and will include a screening of Syrian youth-produced videos in Jordanian refugee camps. Jordi Torrent, Project Manager of the Media Literacy Programs of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), coordinated the conference with Lewis Freeman from Fordham University’s Department of Communication and Media Studies.

The conference provided an opportunity to showcase and discuss youth-produced media and the work of New York-based youth media organizations. The conference included screenings and discussion on Syrian youth-produced videos in Jordanian refugees camps, empowering youth through media production, PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival on Migration: Celebrating Diversity & Social Inclusion, inter-cultural dialogue & youth media production and a roundtable discussion with representatives of: Global Kids; Cartwheel Initiative; Texas A&M University-Media Rise; BYkids; Global Nomads Group Moderated by David W. Kleeman, Dubit Limited, and Children’s Media Association.

Salam Neighbor is a documentary on the Syrian refugee crisis and Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. This is a critical moment, with more refugees today than anytime in the last century. In Syria alone, more than four million people have fled the country to escape the atrocities of war. Right now, we are at risk of losing a generation of youth, destabilizing the region, and perpetuating a cycle of violence and poverty. American filmmakers Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple were the first filmmakers ever allowed by the United Nations to be given a tent and registered inside a refugee camp, they were able to get a never before seen look into the world’s most pressing crisis. Zach Ingrasci, Director/Producer of Salam Neighbor, discussed his experience last winter living alongside displaced families in the Za’atari refugee camp after the screening.

  • March 15, 2016 | Documentary screening: Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis
    Hosted by: Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs

“Chris and Xand van Tulleken – doctors, part-time aid workers and twin brothers – want to see for themselves what conditions are like for migrants fleeing through Europe at the height of winter. Over two weeks in early January, Chris and Xand travelled to Lesbos in Greece, through the Balkans and on to Berlin and Calais to understand what’s being done on a medical and humanitarian level in response to the current refugee crisis. Spending time with medics, charities and volunteers in camps and clinics, at border crossings and transit points, they wanted to find out what the situation is like on the ground and, wherever possible, lend a hand during the biggest migration crisis of our times.” (BBC) Dr. Alex van Tulleken, IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow, discussed his experience filming the documentary and answered questions after the screening. Watch the documentary on YouTube. You can read more about the documentary on Evening StandardBBC, TelegraphThe Guardian, and Fordham News.

Violence in Syria has displaced more than half of its population. More than 4.5 million refugees have fled into neighboring countries with an additional half a million making their way to Europe. What is the impact on Turkey? How can these refugees be protected?

Kemal Kirişci is the TÜSİAD senior fellow and director of the Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project at Brookings Institution. Previously, Kirişci was a professor of international relations and held the Jean Monnet chair in European integration in the department of political science and international relations at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

Mr. Kirişci spoke on the migrant crisis and the ethical implications regarding it. Specifically, he emphasized:

  1. Syrian migrant crisis is not the only current migrant crisis
  2. The international community needs to do more in terms of burden sharing
  3. Safe zones should be created but currently require UN Security Council approval
  4. The recent European Union deal with Turkey, while not without it’s flaws, has a silver lining – it is meant to help refugees

View the webcast on Carnegie Council’s website.

  • March 31, 2016 | Humanitarian Sector Response to the Migration Crisis with Christophe Lobry-Boulanger
    Hosted by: Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs

Christophe Lobry-Boulanger began his lecture by explaining the structure of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the role of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) within this movement. He then moved into an overview of the organization’s current operations around the world that are responding to the migration crisis. Using facts and figures about the positive impact that migration can have on host economies, Mr. Lobry-Boulanger encouraged attendees to think of the current migration situation as not only a crisis, but also an opportunity. Citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s words regarding Germany’s decision to take in over one million refugees: “wir brauchen sie” (we need them) and “wir können es schaffen” (we can do it), Mr. Lobry-Boulanger highlighted that not only is a positive response to the migration crisis possible, it is actually to the benefit of many countries involved.

Lobry-Boulanger has over 15 years of service with the International Red Cross and American Red Cross. After serving at the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, he developed the International Services Department at the Greater New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, with a strong focus on international humanitarian law. As a volunteer with the GNY Red Cross and as an international delegate, he has been deployed to Haiti, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Kenya to help provide humanitarian aid and assistance. For the past four years, he has served as an adviser at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Delegation to the United Nations, where he was responsible for the health file, among others. He has recently come back from West Africa, where he was the deputy head of Regional Ebola Response for the Red Cross Movement and various refugee-related missions in Europe.

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Room for Debate: Should refugee camps be operated as permanent cities?

Zaatari Refugee Camp

Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, Photo Credit: dezeen magazine

With an estimated 15.1 million refugees around the world, refugee camps have been and have become a fact of life for many. History reveals that refugee camps are rarely if ever truly temporary. Statistics show that the average stay of refugees is now roughly seventeen years – almost two decades that can hardly be thought of as a temporary solution. It is now more than ever time to rethink how refugee camps are built and managed. Kilian Kleinschmidt and Paul Currion offer their differing perspectives and opinions in two recent articles for consideration.

Use Existing Abandoned Cities for Resettlement

A former manager for the Zaatari camp in Jordan, Kilian Kleinschmidt believes the world must move away from thinking of refugee camps as temporary. He suggests that refugees can be resettled and empowered; as many local people have migrated to more urbanized cities for work, why not use those deserted cities as housing for refugees? Kleinschmidt argues these mostly deserted cities could be “development zones” where refugees learn to become self-sustaining.

Urbanize Existing Refugee Camps for Resettlement

Paul Currion takes a different view; making the point that if refugees are unwilling to stay in impoverished or ghost towns in their own countries, what makes anyone think they will want to do the same thing in another country? He argues that these cities would ultimately become benign dictatorships. He argues that ultimately, the issue of the growth of refugee camps is not one of migration, but one of urbanization. As refugee camps grow, they must be managed and governed more as actual cities, not just refugee camps.

The Reality

The refugee camps in Calais, known to many as “The Jungle” are a prime example of camps that were meant to be temporary, but are now showing signs of permanency. The collection of informal settlements developed in 2002 as a staging post for those attempting entry into the United Kingdom, but the camps have now become semi-permanent dwelling places due to the dangers of border crossing and lack of other viable options for settlement. The camps, which are located on an old landfill, house approximately 6,000 refugees. The camps are marked by makeshift tents, overcrowding, and a lack of basic services. Dr. Lynne Jones, Co-Director of the IIHA Mental Health in Complex Emergencies course, recently volunteered in Calais and the IIHA highlighted her experience in a blog post in late November 2015. Dr. Alexander van Tulleken, IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow, also recently spoke about his time in the Calais Jungle in his documentary, Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis and reflected upon the experience in the article, What Should We Do? Contradictions and Complicity in the European Refugee Crisis. As the IIHA continues its Spring 2016 Event Series, Challenges and Opportunities: Migration in the 21st Century, we encourage you to comment on this pressing issue, and engage with the questions below.


  • What should the role of the French government be in The Jungle?

  • How can they reconcile the fact that many inhabitants of The Jungle do not want to become part of the French system?

  • Are governments responsible for governing and providing basic infrastructure to people who arrive at their shores?

Please feel free to comment below, or share with your colleagues and networks to start a conversation!


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