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UCL events news and reviews


Hospitality and hostility: the role of established refugees in a crisis

By Melissa Bradshaw, on 9 November 2016

Even in the most sympathetic coverage, refugees often come across as passive and dependent. Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s Lunch Hour Lecture showed how refugees, in fact, actively help each other in highly challenging and complex situations. Her lecture focused on Baddawi, a refugee camp in North Lebanon.

Dr Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is leading a new four-year AHRC-ESRC funded research project, Local Community Experiences of and Responses to Displacement from Syria, that “aims to disrupt the assumption that citizens are hosts and aid providers while refugees are dependent recipients of aid”.

baddawi3This interdisciplinary and participatory research in nine communities in the Middle East will address the need for evidence that tells us how local communities respond to people displaced by conflict.

Dr Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is also Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit, and Coordinator of UCL’s Refuge in a Moving World Research Network, which seeks to examine the effects of UCL’s institutional response to the refugee crisis and strengthen its impact.

She outlined three trends: ‘Protracted displacement’ describes displacement that has lasted for more than 26 years; ‘urban displacement’ applies to the 65% of refugees living in cities; ‘overlapping displacement’ between different refugee groups has until now not been thoroughly analysed.

Baddawi is a Palestinian refugee camp run by competing groups and militia – a place of both violence and sanctuary, said Dr Fiddian-Qasmiyeh. It was established in 1955.

In 2007, 15 thousand refugees moved to Baddawi from Nahr al-Bared, another refugee camp that had become the centre of fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, a radical Sunni Islamist group.


Round table on the refugee crisis in Europe at UCL SSEES

By Kilian Thayaparan, on 22 September 2015

The refugee crisis has been a global issue for a long time, but never has it been more at the centre of the world’s attention than over the past month. The media has been saturated with shocking and often distressing images that highlight the challenges faced by refugees; there has been a flood of opinion and increased debate among influential figures and the general public alike; and political action has been taken on a national and global scale.

With such an overwhelming amount of information, and from so many sources, simply understanding the situation and the issues that underpin it is by no means an easy task.

That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to attend a roundtable panel discussion on the subject, held at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) on 15 September, featuring scholars and activists who looked to explore the various dimensions to the complex situation.

Chaired by Sherrill Stroschein (UCL Political Science) before a large, captivated and expectedly passionate audience, the event was kicked off by Rouba Mhaissen (SOAS), who addressed the key question of why Syrian refugees are trying to enter Europe. To do this, she asked the audience to put themselves in place of Najah – a happy, pregnant mother-of-two living in Syria in 2010.


UCL hosts migration briefing for foreign media

By ucyow3c, on 12 February 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Dominique Fourniol, Head of UCL Media Relations

Some 30 London-based foreign correspondents of media including El Pais of Spain, France’s Europe 1 and Xinhua of China came into UCL this week (10 February) for a briefing designed to shed some light on the often controversial topic of migration to the UK.

“UK migration: separating facts from fiction”, headed by Professor Christian Dustmann (UCL Economics and Director of the Centre for Research and Analysis for Migration), took place the day after the Swiss electorate voted to bring back quotas for EU migrants, underlining that this is a topical issue beyond the UK’s shores.

Professor Dustmann kicked off by stating that the briefing’s objective was to bring facts into a debate “that is often emotional and based on anecdotes rather than factual analysis.” His presentation set out how, since 1989, there has been global acceleration of migration, both across frontiers but also internally (notably China) and that if anything the UK’s percentage of migrants in the population is relatively modest in comparison with a range of OECD countries (at just over ten per cent), whereas today over one in four of the Swiss and Australian populations were born abroad. The UK is also among the smaller number of countries whose migrants are on average more highly educated than the native population.


All Connected? Immigration, politics and eugenics

By Ben Stevens H P Stevens, on 3 November 2011

Eugenics remains synonymous with the Nazis and their murderous obsession with an Aryan master race; yet, until the outbreak of the Second World War, it remained a mainstream British scientific pursuit.

Dr Gavin Schaffer, Senior Lecturer in British History at the University of Birmingham, used that somewhat discomfiting fact to set the scene for his complex lecture, ‘All Connected? Immigration, politics and eugenics’, at the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology last week.