Forced Migration

Jordan, and the wider region, has been hit with a massive and sudden movement of refugees fleeing conflict in various countries in the region. Consequences of this crisis include economic and social destabilization in a country already facing severe poverty. Columbia Global Centers | Amman continues to work on various programs, conferences, research projects, and talks, that address the refugee crisis and how host countries need to re-examine the humanitarian aid structure and relief models as well as how institutions can better respond to the crisis. Over the years, the Center deepened engagement with local partners, international organizations, regional universities, and the government to facilitate knowledge exchange between academia and practitioners.

The Durable Solutions Platform (DSP), the Program on Forced Migration and Health (PFMH) at Columbia University, and Columbia Global Centers | Amman held a research study entitled, A Medium-Term Approach towards Self-Reliance and Resilience of Syrian Refugees and Host Communities in Jordan. The research, led by Monette Zard, explores the lessons learned and ways forward for Syrian refugees’ protracted displacement in Jordan. As current refugee assistance programs are adapting to address medium- and longer-term needs, this report explores how Syrian refugees’ self-reliance can be fostered in a manner that promotes resilience and social cohesion with host communities. The report highlights some areas where strategic investments in policy and practice can be made to ensure that refugee access to education, livelihoods, and social assistance can be leveraged to elevate access and better lives for all.

Research Report

Columbia University, in partnership with Columbia Global Centers | Amman, The University of Jordan, The Institute of Family Health (IFH), and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) took a multidisciplinary approach to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis by conducting a research study that aims to understand the gendered health and mental health concerns of Syrian refugee women living in non-camp urban settings throughout Jordan. The study was spearheaded by Nabila El-Bassel and Neeraj Kaushal, and it involved a cross-sectional survey distributed to 507 Syrian refugee women over 6 months, in which the findings informed intervention and policies to develop comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, and improve health outcomes for Syrian refugee women in Jordan.

More information here.

Columbia Global Centers | Amman hosted 22 journalists from 16 different countries for a Dart Center journalism training workshop designed to build capacity of journalists covering the Syrian refugee crisis and response. The three-day workshop, led by Bruce Shapiro, Executive Director of Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, brought together correspondents – from TV and radio reporters, photojournalists, to newspaper reporters and multimedia journalists– who told the stories of displaced people who witnessed war, examining the impact of conflict on refugees and reporters alike considering tragic consequences of the displacement crisis, such as trauma, poverty and human suffering.

More information here

In partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Columbia Global Centers | Amman has established the Mellon Fellowship Program to support emerging displaced scholars working in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. The goal of the program is to create opportunities for scholars to reintegrate into academia and resume their academic pursuits. Eligible candidates are scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who have been forcibly uprooted from their home countries and respective academic institutions.

More information about the Fellowship is available here.


In collaboration with Columbia Global Centers | Amman, the Columbia University School of Nursing and the University of Jordan School of Nursing worked on an initiative, Health Status and Reproductive Health among Postpartum Syrian Women Refugees in Jordan: A Needs Assessment. The project, led by Jennifer Dohrn, was dedicated to understand the health needs and reproductive health practices of postpartum Syrian refugees who live outside of refugee camps in host communities across Jordan, for the purpose of providing services responsive to Syrian women in the postpartum period. The assessment was conducted in four areas in Jordan with plans to interview approximately six hundred women, focusing on their general health status and reproductive health knowledge and practices, as well as their attitudes towards breastfeeding, family planning, emotional/mental well-being, and preventions of sexually transmitted infections.  

After the collected data is analyzed, dissemination of the results with the Ministry of Health in Jordan can be used to explore a framework for a community-based participatory approach that includes the voices of refugee women in the development of programs to improve their reproductive health. This initiative was led by Jennifer Dohrn, Assistant Professor of Nursing at the Columbia University Medical Center and Director of the Office of Global Initiative and its WHO Collaborating Center for Advanced Practice Nursing.


In collaboration with Columbia Global Centers | Amman and International Rescue Committee in Jordan, the Department of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University undertook a qualitative study: “What’s happening in Syria even affects the rocks,” which provides an overview of the healthcare experience of Syrian refugees with NCDs residing in Jordan.

The study pays specific attention to urban refugees’ personal perspectives about illness, approaches to healthcare decision making, operational barriers faced with accessing care, reflections on healthcare quality, and methods for coping with challenges of healthcare access and quality.

The findings of the research study on non-communicable diseases among refugees in the Middle East were presented at Columbia Global Centers | Amman on January 29, 2019 by Dr. Fouad Fouad, Assistant Professor of Public Health Practice at the American University of Beirut, and Zahirah McNatt, Senior Research Associate at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. The results from the qualitative study and the joint project, Responding to Changing Health Needs in Complex Emergencies, between Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut was discussed, to foster dialogue amongst stakeholders about how to improve the accessibility and quality of NCD services for refugees in non-camp settings. The presentations were followed by breakout sessions that engage participants in a discussion on policy and practice implementation, to identify strategies for addressing NCD needs among refugees in urban settings, and produce recommendations for a variety of stakeholders that respond to the health needs of displaced communities in the Middle East.

The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 70 million people are currently living as refugees or asylum-seekers, or have been internally displaced due to wars and natural calamity – the largest such population in human history. A significant number of these individuals have had their education interrupted, severely impacting their potential for future success. The Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students (CUSDS) is an effort to combat this unprecedented humanitarian and economic loss by providing displaced students with the opportunity to pursue higher education at Columbia University, one of the leading educational institutions in the world.

More information and how to apply is available here.

The Columbia School of Social Work brought 16 students to Amman in 2018 and 2019 to provide an opportunity for students to gain knowledge and skills through a comprehensive study of Jordan’s experience with emergency response, assessing the unique culture, political and economic climate and humanitarian response practices. The course addressed barriers to economic opportunities, quality education and access to essential services affecting urban refugees in Jordan. Students analyzed social policies in the fields of health, education, employment, housing, livelihoods, and social work among others.

Faculty: Mashura Akilova

Columbia Global Centers | Amman, in partnership with Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Program on Forced Migration and Health and UNHCR MENA, held a special webinar to discuss policy responses to COVID-19 in refugee contexts in Jordan and Lebanon, and how support continues to reach people most in need.

The rate of increase in cases of COVID-19 is becoming greater in all parts of the world. As many countries are adopting containment strategies, enforcing months of lockdowns and intensifying medical battles to save coronavirus patients, the everyday social and economic patterns of societies are being dramatically disrupted. Such disruptions are exacerbated for refugees and forcibly displaced people who live in overcrowded settings, and who are already experiencing difficulty accessing healthcare and support services. Humanitarian actors are also faced with the challenge of containing and mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across this most vulnerable community, and are advocating for their inclusion in national prevention and mitigation efforts.  
During these unprecedented times, we must not lose sight of the impact of the pandemic on refugees and forcibly displaced people. As host governments and international aid groups are trying to figure out how best to move forward, there exists a clear gap when it comes to concrete evidence about the impact of COVID-19 on refugees, particularly those in urban settings, outside of refugee camps.

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May 30, 2018

Discussion on Regional Refugee Crises and the Role of Academia and the Official Signing of the MoU between UNHCR and Columbia Global Centers | Amman

On May 30, 2018, UNHCR’s Regional Director for MENA, Mr. Amin Awad and the Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University, Professor Safwan M. Masri, officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding and open a new chapter in collaborative efforts between UNHCR and Columbia Global Centers | Amman.

February 21, 2018

Call for Papers: “Pluralisms in Emergenc(i)es: Movement, Space, and Religious Difference” – Tunis

The Institute for Religion, Culture & Public Life and Columbia Global Centers are organizing a conference entitled "Pluralism(s) in Emergencies: Movement, Space, and Religious Difference" in Tunis, Tunisia on July 11-12, 2018. The project is being organized with support from the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS) at the University of Oslo; and the Centre for Religion, Conflict, and Globalization at the University of Groningen. 

July 23, 2017

الأردن يستضيف قمة تجمع قادة التمريض والقبالة

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July 21, 2017

Global nursing, midwifery summit to be held in Amman July 24-25

AMMAN — A global nursing and midwifery summit, to be held in Amman on July 24-25, will address large global health disparities and the development of a robust nursing and midwifery profession, a critical goal in regions with challenged human resources for healthcare services, a statement by the organisers said.

June 08, 2017

President’s Global Innovation Fund 2017

Provost John H. Coatsworth has announced the fifth round of grants from the President’s Global Innovation Fund (PGIF) on June 1, 2017. 11 projects received awards this year after being selected by a review committee of senior faculty drawn from both the Morningside and medical campuses.

April 12, 2017

The Evolving Visa and Border Regime by Elizabeth Redden

President Trump has said he wants “extreme vetting” and ideological testing of visa applicants. What will that look like, exactly? As American colleges wait to hear whether accepted applicants will take up their admission offers for the fall, what can they expect students who are coming from other countries to encounter when they apply for visas and when they show up at border security checkpoints at U.S. airports?

December 15, 2016

Refugee Crisis Reveals Critical Gaps in Support for Millions Fleeing Conflict

“As the world faces the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War, the refugee crisis demands a new level of response from our institutions,” says Professor Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University and Director of Columbia Global Centers | Amman

September 21, 2016

Exploring a Region in Transition as Change Sweeps the Middle East

Historic waves of migration, unprecedented digital activism, challenges to religious pluralism: amid all of these developments in the Middle East, Columbia Global Centers – Columbia University’s network of eight education and learning centers around the world – are exploring the implications of these changes on culture, health and safety, and politics in the region.

September 13, 2016

Redefining a University’s Role for a World in Crisis

NEW YORK, Sept. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- "With civil conflict, terrorist threats, and major health crises causing unprecedented disruption in communities all over the world, universities must step up to a new level of globalism in our outlook and in our activities," says Professor Safwan M. Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University

July 06, 2016

Global summit aims to develop sustainable network to support nursing and midwifery clinical research

On July 18-19, 2016, Columbia Global Centers | Amman and Columbia University School of Nursing will host the Global Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Research Development Initiative in Amman, Jordan. Experts from approximately 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region will meet to identify, prioritize, and gain consensus on how to address critical regional health needs.

April 26, 2016

Beyond the Rhetoric of False Choices: The Case for Lasting U.S. Engagement in the Middle East - A Talk by Ambassador Alice Wells

During the most tumultuous period the region has experienced in decades, the U.S. relationship with the Middle East has been the subject of intense interest and debate. Ambassador Wells made the case for why U.S. interests in the Middle East transcend the profound current challenges, and discussed how America’s national interests demand continued and deepened engagement with the region.

October 20, 2015

Syria’s Refugee Crisis: Public Health Challenges

In March 2011, pro-democracy protests erupted in Syria. Violent conflict between demonstrators and government forces spiraled into what is now, four and a half years later, a civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people and forced more than 4 million people to flee the country, with millions more families displaced inside Syria’s borders.

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