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.
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.