Living in Fear: SHS panel on refugee crisis
The School of Humanitarian Studies launched a lecture series entitled Exploring Humanitarian Perspectives during a lunch time panel on Nov. 29, 2016. The panel discussion and photo exhibit, entitled Living in Fear: The Impact of the Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East and North African (MENA) Region, was moderated by Prof. Kenneth Christie, from the School of Humanitarian Studies. We were privileged to have a fantastic panel with a wealth of experience across a range of settings. The panelists included Alison Paul, Senior Manager, Safety and Wellbeing from the Canadian Red Cross; Shelley Williamson, Human Security and Peacebuilding alum, refugee advocate and former site coordinator for mother/baby nutrition organization in Greece; and our own Prof. Hassan Wafai, from the School of Business who continues to be an active supporter of initiatives and institutions supporting new refugees. During the discussion, the haunting and beautiful photos by Abdulazez Dukhan, an 18 year old Syrian Refugee and advocate, were on display. His work illustrates the beauty of Syria and its people and the ugliness of the war.
The panelists provided students from across the masters programs in the School of Humanitarian Studies, an engaging discussion across a range of topics pertaining to the local and global impacts of mass migration of people as a result of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly Syria. Kenneth Christie opened the discussion with a broad overview of where we find ourselves, locally and globally, as a result of ongoing and tragic conflicts in the region. Alison Paul provided an overview of the critical impact of trauma, before and during migration, on psychosocial well-being and resilience of those she has worked with. She focused particularly on the impacts and resilience of children. Shelley Williamson introduced the photo exhibit by Abdulazez Dukhan and also discussed the self determination and the unprecedented global volunteer movement that has emerged from the refugee crisis. This volunteer movement, made up of hundreds of free lance volunteers, has addressed the gaps felt by the overwhelmed UN and NGO sectors. Based on personal experience and work with multiple local organizations, Hassan Wafai contextualised the discussion by focusing on what is happening in Syria, neighbouring countries, but also in Victoria for newly arrived Syrians.