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UCL events news and reviews


Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis – lessons to be learnt

By ucyow3c, on 12 December 2016


Written by Lilian Schofield, UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit 

lebanon-refugees-distribution-511x414The debate and discourse surrounding migration and the current refugee crisis is one that can be contentious and to a certain extent emotive bringing about polarised stands amongst different parties. The surge of refugees to the UK and other European countries in the past few years has been a major issue to politicians and consequently, been in the foreground of policy makers as well as a topic of great concern among its citizens.  So serious is this issue that it has been regarded as a major emergency and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel stated that ‘the issue of asylum could be the next major European project’ (Berry et al 2016).

Read more on the UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit blog.


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.


The international protection of refugees and asylum seekers: New thinking, or no future?

By ucyow3c, on 28 February 2016

pencil-iconWritten by Gaiane Nuridzhanian, PhD candidate, UCL Laws

On 24 February 2016 Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Oxford, spoke at UCL about the current migrant crisis and the new approaches to employing the existing framework of international protection of refugees and asylum seekers to overcome it.

According to Professor Goodwin-Gill, one of the gaps of the current international legal system for refugee and asylum seekers protection lies in the failure to establish a framework based on co-operation and reciprocity. Indeed, such basic instruments as the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees do not contain provisions, which identify a specific state responsible for assisting a refugee or asylum seeker or a third state that should extend its co-operation to the refugee receiving state.

The system can be improved by refining the existing institutions rather than by revising the treaty base. For instance, revising the UNHCR statute to expressly include stateless and internally displaced persons within its mandate, providing proper funding for the UNHCR, enhancing UN inter-agency co-operation and devising an early-warning system to be managed by the UN bodies.


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.