On 4-5 May 2016, the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies and International Development Research Center held a conference on the Syrian Refugee Crisis titled ‘Launching a Homegrown Development Agenda to Address the Syrian Refugee Crisis’. Here Emeritus Professor Dawn Chatty was interviewed about her research on the regional response to the crisis, focusing on Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Professor Chatty comments on the importance of understanding the region’s history in understanding the response. “History matters”, she says, particularly in the Levant region of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. The strength of the social ties in this region is very much derived from the multi-ethnic nature of the Ottoman Empire, which ended less than 100 years ago. During the late stage of the Empire, she says that “ties between people were less important in terms of territorial base; they were horizontal ties… what was important was the strength of the social ties, and of course, economic ties.”
She highlights the incredible numbers of displaced that have been accommodated within Lebanon: “With the current crisis…there are huge numbers of Syrians who have come into [Lebanon] – nearly 30% of the population are now displaced Syrians... And it’s really surprised the world… can you imagine a country like the United Kingdom, which has a population of about 64 million, suddenly receiving a displaced population of 20 million, and coping? Impossible. But I think that the reason why Lebanon has managed so well is the strength of social ties, and the economic ties.”
The interview continues, covering the need for humanitarian workers, used to working in African contexts, to adapt to the particular regional context of the Levant; the differences between the responses of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to the refugee crisis; the importance of providing educational facilities for young refugees; and what can be learnt from previous refugee crises in the region, such as Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.
Watch the interview here >>