Middle East Report
No. 278 (Spring 2016)
LIFE IN EXILE
The Middle East is once again the world’s biggest producer of refugees, due primarily to the catastrophic war in Syria. The region has also long hosted the greatest number of refugees on earth—indeed, the exodus of Syrians is the latest of a nearly unbroken series of refugee crises stretching back to the early twentieth century. The spring issue of Middle East Report explores important dimensions of the current emergency.
Sarah A. Tobin and Madeline Otis Campbell examine the intent and unexpected outcomes of educational and other programs run by the hundreds of non-governmental organizations at Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
At first, write Denis Sullivan and Charles Simpson, the UN and the Jordanian government struggled to meet the basic needs of the Syrians newly resident in Zaatari. The challenge now is to move from crisis management to strategic planning, since there is no sign as yet the refugees will be able to go home. Jordan shocked observers by removing legal restrictions on work for Syrians, but Vicky Kelberer finds key weaknesses in the new permit system.
One thing is certain amidst all the questions: Syrians have not been idle in their new Middle Eastern homes. Killian Clarke and Gözde Güran report on inspiring projects of communal self-help undertaken by Syrians in Lebanon and Turkey.
Hayden Bates and Rebecca Joubin review the images of refugee children broadcast in Syrian television serials made from various political perspectives. Katty Alhayek offers a critical appraisal of the sudden Western media attention to the Syrian refugee crisis in the fall of 2015.
But as Alice Wilson notes regarding Sahrawis made refugees in 1976, “The window of visibility for refugee populations will not be open indefinitely—nor to all.” Parastou Hassouri visits a camp for Afghans and others stranded in Greece by the retightened asylum rules in northern Europe.
Also featured: Basak Kus assesses the political implications of the expansion of credit to the Turkish working class; Louise Cainkar looks at identity formation among Palestinians born in America who moved back to Palestine as teenagers; and more.
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Middle East Report is published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a progressive, independent organization based in Washington, DC. Since 1971 MERIP has provided critical analysis of the Middle East, focusing on political economy, popular struggles, and the implications of US and international policy for the region.