Middle East Report
SUFFERING AND THE LIMITS OF RELIEF
Human suffering is at record levels globally as a result of violent conflicts in some countries and the ravaging effects of neoliberal economic policies and climate change-related disasters in others. The number of refugees and asylum seekers trying to find safety and relief is larger than any time since World War II, and so is the number of people facing severe hunger and malnutrition. While the humanitarian system, a conglomeration of international and local agencies, provides emergency relief to those barely hanging on in zones of conflict or extreme deprivation, the current state of humanitarianism is incapable of redressing the causes of mass suffering and offers no solution for today’s conflicts.
Suffering and the Limits of Relief seeks to explore the effects and the limits of humanitarian initiatives throughout the Middle East and the larger processes, problems, and possibilities inherent in the humanitarian imagination. Middle East Report 286 is partially available online.
SA Smythe describes the radical, anarchic and collective agenda of “the Black Mediterranean” as a response to the “mathematics of unliving” resulting from policy initiatives to limit access to Europe and to manage those who have reached Italian shores.
In an interview, Aurélie Ponthieu explains how European Union migration policy has aimed to externalize migration patterns and effectively extend EU borders well into the Middle East and North Africa, leading to overcrowded refugee centers, deplorable detention centers, and uncounted deaths on land and at sea.
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Hilal Elver analyzes the man-made causes of famines and food crises. The paradox of epic levels of hunger and malnutrition is the fact that global food production is sufficient to feed the entire population of the world.
Jonathan Whittall explains how healthcare facilities and medical providers have become objects of warfare in the midst of today’s counter-terrorism operations.
Medical anthropologist and physician Orkideh Behrouzan discusses the cultural politics of mental health in Iran, including the ways in which younger generations have adapted and appropriated psychological concepts to understand themselves in the context of forty years of revolution and conflict.
Nabil Al-Tikriti analyzes the effects of the 2016-2017 Battle of Mosul on evolving international humanitarian law and protocols of civilian protection during urban conflict.
Iraqi poet and journalist Omar Al-Jaffal portrays the challenges young Iraqis face in light of yesterday’s despair and today’s hopelessness.
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh analyzes the dire effects of the Trump administration’s dramatic cut in UNRWA funding on the agency’s staff, as well as on services provided for Palestinian refugees throughout the region.
Sophia Hoffman describes the securitization of refugee policy regimes that have resulted in greater restrictions on their right of movement and stricter controls over their personal information and biometric data.
Parastou Hassouri examines the challenges faced by today’s refugees under an international refugee system which is breaking down under the stress of growing displacement numbers, political indifference and bureaucratic obstacles.
Finally, Max Weiss reviews Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult in light of the ongoing legacies of the Lebanese civil war.
Our editor’s picks of new and recommended reading rounds out the issue.
Subscribe to Middle East Report or order individual copies here.
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.