No space for grief

In the shelter, a girl on her way to work in the fields

By Aniek Santema       The floor in Ouzai where Mariam lives becomes a familiar place. I know the people in this corner of the tall building and they greet me happily when I visit them. Today, the stairs that lead up to this floor are slippery and covered with garbage like empty bags of chips, chocolate wraps and orange peels. While climbing up the stairs to the third floor, I pass by some small kids with stains on their clothes, faces and hands, running and playing on the stairs. The youngest must be around 2 years old. Many of the kids walk around on bare feet, even though it is not warmer than 12 degrees today. 3 boys come down the stairs while playing loud music on one of their phones. On Mariam’s floor, I find Aziza playing with some small kids in the gallery, away from the dark rooms, getting some daylight. The colourful laundry that hangs outside to dry gives some colour to the grey building that breaths hopelessness. I follow the small, dark corridor in the left corner of the floor and knock on Mariam’s door. – Fieldnotes, 6 March 2017

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The Political Agency of Refugees

Cindy_Horst_tcm249-762996By Matea Curcovic Westendorp        Dr. Cindy Horst is an anthropologist located in Oslo, Norway where she works as a senior researcher at the research institute PRIO. Her main focus for the past 20 years has been on refugees – from spending two years in a refugee camp in Kenya researching Somali refugees, to more recently collecting life stories from refugees residing in Oslo. Lees verder

“I was nowhere”

RefugeesBy Marie Linne    Dalal contacted me during my fieldwork among refugees who aspire to study in the Netherlands. She agreed to meet with me for an interview, to talk about her experiences as a refugee and as a student in the VASVU programme at VU University Amsterdam. It is a 9 month long programme, that tries to function as a bridging programme for international students before they enter a Dutch Bachelors programme. About 80 percent of the students are refugees, and the course provides them with the basics in different subjects. It is mostly set up with the aim to bring everyone to the same level, enabling them to enter a Dutch university programme afterwards easier. At the same time it is already a sort of integrational course, to get students used to the language, pace and the way of studying in the Netherlands. Lees verder

A refugee camp in the Netherlands as a public sphere

Bron: RTL Nieuws
Bron: RTL Nieuws

By Nynke van Dijck     Some weeks ago there was a big storm in the Netherlands. ‘Code Orange’ was issued to tell people to be careful while going on the road or making use of public transport. In the south of the Netherlands, in a city called Nijmegen, a new refugee camp was built which was supposed to host around 800 people from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. When the weather got worse, the tents in the camp were shaking, water was leaking through the roof and a loud alarm was going off the whole night. No one in the camp could sleep and the shelter administration (COA) was not reachable. Lees verder

Keulen: een urban legend?

Keine Gewalt gegen Frauen
© APA/AFP/Roberto Pfeil

Door Peter Versteeg      Het nieuwe jaar was nog tamelijk vers toen verontrustend nieuws bekend werd. Met oudejaarsnacht zouden vele tientallen vrouwen op het Keulse stationsplein zijn beroofd en aangerand. Het aantal aangiften van aanranding is boven de 500 gestegen, waaronder twee maal verkrachting. Verschillende keren stond ik op het punt om hier iets over te schrijven, maar ik werd steeds weerhouden door de gevoeligheid rond het onderwerp. Lees verder

Fortress Europe continues to treat migrants as criminals

By Dimitris Dalakoglou             The European Union, one of the strongest economies in the world and home to some of the most advanced state apparatuses in human history, is preparing to shut down its borders, one after the other, because it can’t cope with the number of refugees arriving from war in the Middle East. These same institutions were of course able to find the resources to finance an expensive military operation on the European sea borders against the same refugees.
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Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán’s xenophobia rejects the country’s multi-ethnic history

By Pál Nyíri    My son and I have come to see the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble’s show An Evocation of Subcarpathia. According to the introduction to the venerable troupe’s new show, it wants to showcase the multicultural musical and dance heritage of the Western Ukrainian region that formerly belonged to Czechoslovakia and, before then, Hungary, and had a mixed population that included Ruthenians, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews, Gypsies, and Hutsuls. That heritage – juxtaposed rather than hierarchically arranged, the text emphasises – is displayed in the folk dresses of the performers and the languages they sing in (including, counterfactually, Hebrew). But the photos projected on the wall mix nostalgia for a bygone time of diversity with nostalgia for Greater Hungary that is the bread and butter of contemporary Hungarian nationalism.

Photo: Laszlo Balogh/Reuters
Photo: Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

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What the F@*#CK happened??? ~the jigsaw puzzle of humanity

picture May 29th demonstration
© Saskia Jenelle

By Saskia Jenelle     This story relates to my fieldwork, which takes place in Amsterdam and concerns undocumented refugees. My research focuses on how refugees and the volunteers who work with them experience encounters with ‘others’, and how these encounters influences their perception of human dignity. I would like to share a recent experience with you. 

On May 29th 2015 the refugees from ‘We Are Here’ who resided in the ‘Vluchtgebouw’ (literally ‘Escape building’) had to leave the building that had served as their home for nine months. They were offered shelter in a barrack in Amsterdam-North and decided to walk the distance, making it serve as a form of protest to raise awareness for their need for adequate accommodations and fair legal proceedings based on international human rights.

To show support I joined the walk, together with friends and volunteers of the refugees who are active and loving supporters, and refugees from other ‘Vlucht-havens’. 

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A Grim New Phase in Yemen’s Migration History

04-10-2015Yemen_Djibouti
Yemeni families arriving in Djibouti. ©UNHCR/F. van Damme. Used with permission.

By Marina de Regt  “Yemen’s conflict is getting so bad that some Yemenis are fleeing to Somalia,” read a recent headline read a recent headline on Vice News. The article mentioned that 32 Yemenis, mainly women and children, made the trip to Berbera, a port town in Somaliland (and not Somalia). Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have crossed the Gulf of Aden since the outbreak of the Somali civil war in 1991. But now the tide seems to have turned. Yemen has become a war zone, as a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia bombs the country in an attempt to stop the Houthis, an insurgent movement opposed to the government, from gaining control over the entirety of Yemeni territory. But, instead of protecting the Yemeni population, these attacks have created more chaos, despair and destruction.

The situation is especially bad in Aden, Yemen’s main port, strategically located near Bab al-Mandab, the strait connecting the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. Street fighting in Aden has intensified, mainly between the city’s inhabitants, on one side, and the Houthis and army units loyal to ‘Ali ‘Abdallah Salih, Yemen’s former president, on the other. Water is not available any longer, electricity is intermittent and food shortages are very serious. Life in Aden is unbearable without water and electricity, as the climate is very hot and humid. People are slowly starving. Those who can are trying to escape, but many do not have the opportunity.

Continue reading here, on http://www.merip.org, where this blog was originally posted. MERIP kindly allowed us to repost it here.

Marina de Regt is Assistant Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She specializes in gender and migration in and between Yemen and Ethiopia. She wrote  a number of other blogs about the situation in Yemen (in Dutch): Chaos in Jemen en de plicht van de antropoloog; Wat is er aan de hand in Jemen?; Jemen’s Martelkampen.

Potential famine among Syrian refugees has far-reaching implications for the Middle East

Erik van Ommering   Last week around 1.7 million refugees from Syria received the following text message on their cellphones:

“We deeply regret that WFP has not yet received funds to reload your blue card for food for December 2014. We will inform you by SMS as soon as funding is received and we can resume food assistance”

The message was sent by the World Food Program (WFP), one of the UN agencies that has played a vital role in supporting refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. Hosting refugees “in the region” has been a key policy pursued by the Netherlands and other countries. Accordingly they seek to both provide aid in efficient manners and discourage refugees from seeking asylum inside, for instance, the European Union.

Purchasing basic food items in a Lebanese grocery story (photo by WFP, link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/8713978464/in/set-72157633416163971)
Purchasing basic food items in a Lebanese grocery, © WFP

As refugees register in their respective host countries, they receive a special credit card (the ‘blue card’) that is charged monthly by the WFP with the amount of USD 30, enabling refugees to purchase basic food items in selected grocery stores. For many who own little more than the clothes they wore as they fled the brutalities of Syria’s war, this support has proved indispensable. Its suspension may therefore spur catastrophe.

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Where and how can unrecognized refugees from Burma in Thailand be themselves?

By Ursula Cats and Allegra Palmer January this year, a concrete wall collapsed in Pathum Thani, Thailand, severely injuring Charlie Tiyu, a man from Burma who lives in Thailand as an undocumented migrant worker. He broke his left hip and suffered internal injuries, including a crushed large intestine and a bruised bladder. And yet, his injuries were not the biggest of his concerns. Lees verder

Anthropology alumnus founds NGO for unrecognized refugee women from Burma

 
Ursula Cats in Thailand

By Ursula Cats When I started my fieldwork as a Master’s student last year, I had many ideals and I mainly wanted to represent the women I was researching as “agents of change”. What I actually experienced was different. As I wrote in an e-mail to my supervisor Ellen Bal towards the end of my fieldwork: “I can clearly see the restrictions these young women have. I can see that they are active agents, but their impossibilities are also becoming painfully obvious.”

I have always had the motivation to support people who have fewer opportunities than I do. To gain more knowledge on developmental work, I decided to enroll in the Master’s program in anthropology in September 2009. It was not complicated to find a focus for my fieldwork: the women who had fled from Burma to Thailand. The anthropological theories I used, however, did not correspond directly with what I actually saw and experienced. Eventually I was able to gain a perspective based on the stories of the women themselves, which I used in my thesis to shed light on the situation of unrecognized refugee women from Burma. 

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