Beyond Survival: Livelihood Strategies for Refugees in the Middle East

What can be done static1.squarespace.comto improve the lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey?  A terrific interdisciplinary conference I attended last November at Cornell Law School, entitled Beyond Survival: Livelihood Strategies for Refugees in the Middle East, engaged with that question from a variety of perspectives, focusing on the pressing issues of employment and education.  Jointly organized by the Prof. Chantal Thomas of the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, Dean Eduardo Penalver and Associate Dean Laura Spitz of Cornell University Law School, Dr. Josyann Abisaab and Dr. Satchit Balsari of Weill Cornell Global Emergency Medicine Division, and Prof. Mostafa Minawi of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative, this was the first extended academic conference at a U.S. university to focus on the situation of Syrian refugees.  The conference brought together anthropologists, demographers, doctors, economists, education experts, historians, legal academics, public health experts, technologists, and UN headquarters and field staff from the region to discuss the current situation on the ground and potential strategies for improving access to jobs and schools.  Several speakers, including the UNHCR Representative in Jordan, had recently worked in and/or conducted research in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, and were able to provide timely, detailed, and comprehensive information about the numerous challenges facing the refugee populations in those countries.  A report summarizing the conference proceedings, including this information and expert analysis from a variety of fields, has just been made available here.  The goal of the report is to set research priorities for academics and research institutions “seeking innovative, evidence-based solutions” and to encourage dialogue and engagement among students and faculty at university campuses to meet the urgent needs of Syrian refugees, and to think more broadly about “our obligations to people beyond our borders.”

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