Blog

Inter-Governmental and Community-Based Services for Syrian Refugees Living in France

Authors: A collaborative work, by Amelia C. Arsenault and Caitlin Morris

In light of statements from political leaders expressing a sense of humanitarian duty, multiple high-profile terrorist attacks, and a controversial cultural environment regarding integration and multiculturalism, France’s experience with Syrian refugees provides interesting insights into community mobilization and host-community relations. In accordance with UNHCR standards, France began expediting asylum claims from Syrian nationals in 2013 in an attempt to process refugees within three months. In addition to these expedited applications, 500 Syrian refugees determined to be in a “situation of extreme vulnerability coming from neighbouring countries of Syria” were granted accelerated admission due to a special ad hoc resettlement program, which was renewed in 2015. In September 2015, Francois Hollande, former president of France, claimed that France had a “humanitarian duty” to allow 30,000 Syrian refugees into the country over the span of two years, despite growing Islamophobia and anxiety regarding Syrian immigration. In an effort to assist refugees’ transition into French life, France has established a variety of community-based and governmental organizations aimed at providing essential services to refugees, including financial aid, food services, and language training. A case study of the French city of Lyon offers a look at the opportunities, as well as the challenges of community mobilization for refugees living in France.

Lyon provides access to multiple organizations operating at the local and national level which provide services for refugees, allowing the host communities to assist with migrant settlement. Forum Réfugiés Cosi (FRC) is a non-governmental organization that is based in Lyon and operates across France. Founded in 1982, this organization attempts to ease integration for refugees by providing humanitarian aid such as housing, medical care, and other social services. In order to determine the most effective forms of aid, FRC also endeavors to understand the causes and consequences of the civil conflict in Syria, as well as critical issues that pertain directly to Syrian refugees facing resettlement in France.1 FRC has called upon European leaders to provide humanitarian aid and refugee status to those fleeing the Syrian civil war by joining a campaign called “À l’Europe D’Agir” (Europe to Act). FRC also holds an annual “umbrella walk” in Lyon, in which participants carry umbrellas to symbolize the responsibility of host countries, such as France, to provide refugees with protection and asylum.

“Free Syria Lyon” is a nongovernmental organization operating in Lyon that provides critical aid to Syrian refugees. This organization does not operate at the national level, but rather focuses its efforts in support of Syrian refugees who have resettled in the city of Lyon. Free Syria Lyon’s mandate includes efforts to gain an understanding of Syrian culture, in an attempt to facilitate the difficult transition that refugees face when integrating into French society. Furthermore, Free Syria Lyon works alongside both Syrian refugees and French citizens to increase tolerance, and ease any anxiety or tension between French nationals and Syrian refugees living in Lyon. As a regional NGO, Free Syria Lyon has also been instrumental in funding programs that introduce Syrians to French culture, history, and language. Lastly, the Free Syria Lyon group attempts to provide refugees with any assistance that they may need, including securing housing, accessing banking services, and obtaining health coverage.

France Terre D’asile (FTDA) is one of the best-known non-governmental organizations operating in France, earning the French Republic’s Human Rights Prize in 19892. Operating throughout France, FTDA works with other non-governmental organizations to both improve the immigration process for those seeking asylum in France, and promote migrant rights. FTDA translates to “France, Land of Asylum” and promotes the welcoming acceptance of refugees, while advocating for social benefits such as education, employment, housing, and language training. They also provide referrals to other resources when refugees are in need of legal, administrative, or political aid or counsel. It is important to note that while FTDA helps process and support refugees arriving in France, they also help refugees return to their country of origin when it is safe to do so. In an effort to help vulnerable youth who are at risk of exploitation by traffickers, smugglers, and other criminal networks, FTDA began the “Young Refugee House” in St. Omer. Members of FTDA attempt to locate unaccompanied refugee children and encourage them to request to be placed under the care of the French Child Protection services. Furthermore, they provide counselling for minors and information about legal resources as well as emergency medical care. In relation to Syrian refugees, FTDA has spoken out against anti-refugee sentiments that are becoming prevalent in Europe. Matthieu Tardis, Secretariat General of FTDA, criticized France’s treatment of Syrian refugees and widespread xenophobia throughout Europe, claiming that France was experiencing a “moral crisis” in relation to the acceptance of Syrian refugees.3

Despite the efforts of the aforementioned organizations, recent terrorist attacks throughout Europe have increased the sense of insecurity among the French that Syrian refugees may pose a significant threat to national security; at times, xenophobia and fear of migrants throughout France has resulted in a breakdown in host community-refugee relations. Specifically, an attack on a Lyon chemical factory in June 2015, where one victim was beheaded, inflamed the xenophobia and general fear of migrants throughout France. News reports claimed that an Arabic text was found at the scene; consequently, French officials considered the attack to be influenced by Islamic terrorism, and France was put on a high terror alert.4 Despite the fact that the perpetrator of this attack was not a Syrian refugee, statistics show that many French nationals began to voice their opposition to Francois Hollande’s proposition for increased acceptance of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers in response to terrorist attacks. Some news reports suggest that anti-Muslim attacks have increased across Europe in response to the terrorist attacks as well, with many Muslims reporting assaults and verbal harassment.5 In September 2015, fans at a soccer game hosted in Lyon were photographed holding signs that said: “Refugees Not Welcome”. While the banner was quickly removed; these sorts of acts represent a growing atmosphere of xenophobia and Islamophobia throughout France. While there have been no outward reports of physical violence against Syrian refugees living in Lyon, it could be argued that Syrian refugees have become victims of systemic discrimination and harassment. For example, housing centres in Lyon are filling up rapidly and are perpetually plagued by overcrowding, making it difficult to accommodate all refugees in need of shelter. Furthermore, the atmosphere of anti-refugee sentiment, and the fear of refugees as “others” represents systemic challenges faced by Syrians attempting to transition into French society.

Despite a lack of evidence linking Syrian refugees living in France to terrorist attacks, any terrorist related events have resulted in widespread anxiety and fear throughout host communities at both the state and city level. Despite the efforts of many groups and organizations, there still exists a lack of basic services for many Syrians living in France; consequently, a large number of refugees, from Syria and elsewhere, are destined to feel unwelcome. While local and national organizations have been expanding and adapting to accommodate the large influx of refugees, greater efforts are required before Syrian refugees can truly feel at home in France. Hence the importance of community mobilization.

1 “Actualités.” Accueil – Forum Réfugiés – Cosi. Accessed November 21, 2016.
http://www.forumrefugies.org/.
2 “France Terre D’Asile.” ERSO Project: France Terre D’Asile. Accessed November 27, 2016.
http://www2.erso-project.eu/network-members/france-terre-dasile/.
3 “Time for France to Show Fraternité to Refugees?” The Local. September 03, 2015. Accessed
November 27, 2016. http://www.thelocal.fr/20150903/what-happened-to-france-sheltering-refugees.
4 News, BBC. “France Attack: Man Decapitated at Factory near Lyon.” BBC News. June 26, 2015.
Accessed November 21, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33284937.
5 (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. “Attacks against Muslims on the Rise after Paris Strikes | Europe |
DW.COM | 26.11.2015.” DW.COM. December 26, 2015. Accessed November 21, 2016.
http://www.dw.com/en/attacks-against-muslims-on-the-rise-after-paris-strikes/a-18878424.
  

Civil society conflict: The negative impact of International NGOs on grassroots and social movements

Author: Jacqueline Gilchrist

When considering the optimal way to mitigate poverty in the Global South, proposed solutions often involve international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). INGOs can be based in various countries, but an abundance of these are based in the Global North. These organizations tend to focus on implementing short-term, tangible projects. It is generally assumed in the Global North that these compassionate organizations will enter communities, carry out development programs, and then leave having addressed poverty; and it is for this reason that numerous donors in the Global North pour their money into INGOs. Moreover, INGOs often collaborate with existing local grassroots or social movements. According to journalist Augusta Dwyer, these movements are “made up of impoverished people who have joined together to struggle for some concrete goal.” Such movements typically begin their activities by focusing on protest and resistance. Eventually, these movements take on activities similar to those carried out by INGOs. When an INGO attaches itself to a social or grassroots movement, this arrangement can produce numerous benefits, like increased funding and raise international awareness.

On the flipside, there is a risk that INGO involvement will dilute local demands in order to fit international agendas. Alternatively, INGOs might focus on one specific objective, while ignoring others that may be equally important for the movement’s cause. I argue that relationships between INGOs and movements by and for impoverished communities in  the Global South are often structurally harmful, as they promote external interests, are too short-sighted, and often disempower the poor.

One of the primary reasons that grassroots and social movements accept the help of INGOs is for the purposes of funding. While the individuals behind these movements may devise creative solutions to their communities’ problems, they often lack the resources to implement their ideas. As such, these individuals often seek the help of INGOs to kick-start their movements. For instance, INGOs are often voluntary by nature and have no source of income other than donor funding. Accordingly, INGOs have a certain level of accountability to these external donors. In addition, these donors typically expect a measurable result from the INGO if they are to continue donating to the organization. This dynamic may lead to NGOs implementing the agenda of their donor’s, rather than necessarily creating lasting and equal relationships within the community. As scholar J-E Noh writes, INGOs are all-too frequently losing their charitable, volunteer-oriented basis and instead consist primarily of “donor-driven programs and business-like changes”. Since many of the donors to these INGOs come from the Global North, this situation may constitute a new, growing dependency on the Global North. This dependency can be harmful to the grassroots movements, as it frequently results in more “Western-style,” capitalist solutions to problems of poverty, rather than local solutions by and for the affected community. Nonetheless, donor-dependency dynamics are not limited to the Global North. In India, for example, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are frequently linked to state institutions. As a result, while the social and grassroots movements seeking to partner with NGOs contest the state’s power, NGOs are themselves influenced by the state. The conflict of interest in these scenarios are clear, and can have detrimental results to the success and continuation of the grassroots and social movements against government policies.

There are widespread fears that INGOs are increasingly taking on a corporate character, due to the requirements of funding. Specifically, concerned individuals fear that corporatization will cause INGOs to favour donors over the impoverished communities whom they are meant to be helping. As a consequence, these organizations will little attachment to the community. INGOs therefore tend to create programs that have short-term, Band-Aid solutions, consequently sustaining poverty at a systemic level.

Additionally, the activities of INGOs are often project-focused. That is, INGOs seek to achieve one concrete goal. Once an INGO achieves this goal, they move on to another project, usually in another community. This approach may be effective in certain scenarios, particularly those of humanitarian and emergency aid. However, this project-based strategy is not as effective in empowering the poor and powerless over time. The empowerment of vulnerable groups is a long process. INGOs will often only take on one small portion of this large, interconnected challenge. An example of this is described in Dwyer’s 2011 book “Broke but Unbroken”. Here, a member of a grassroots movement states that a “partner” INGO only took on one very tangible project, while his movement “struggles for long-term issues that can last a whole lifetime.” Indeed, grassroots and social movement are inherently rooted in the interconnectedness and the causes of poverty in different communities. Although social and grassroots movements are often formed as a result of one particular problem, they do not, in Dwyer’s words, “abandon a movement once they’ve won what they set out to win but stay to fight for others.” In this sense, they very much differ from INGOs.

Due to the short-term nature of INGOs’ activities, their involvement in social and grassroots movements may enhance the success of one particular goal, while simultaneously undermining the achievement of other goals of the movement. Consequently, the poverty in these communities could be perpetuated by the existence of the INGOs, and the dependency that they cause. In particular, factors such as a reliance on INGOs for funding, a deepened dependence on INGOs based on short-term projects, or INGO ‘experts’ treating members of grassroots movements in a patronizing manner can all contribute to the disempowerment of impoverished communities.

Furthermore, the top-down nature of INGOs – meaning internal organization systems where directors and a board of ‘experts’ are the ones making the decisions – can have negative effects on poverty reduction as well. A top-down approach can place people who are incapable of grappling with the poor’s plight in charge of their wellbeing, constituting a clear clash. Grassroots and social movements often serve as proof that there is indeed a drive and creativity amongst the poor, and that given the proper resources, they can create innovative and lasting solutions to their problems. A bottom-up approach, with autonomy and independence from INGOs, results in self-directed development projects grounded in existing social and grassroots movements. Multiple authors have demonstrated that such initiatives can find success without the help of INGOs.

In closing, INGOs and grassroots/social movements often have similar objectives at their core. They are all seeking to end poverty, empower the poor, and repair the problems and inequalities that exist globally. But a growing donor-dependency complex among INGOs, as well as the short-term, project-oriented, and top-down nature of INGOs, have created a negative relationship between the two groups. As a result, linkages between INGOs and local movements often promote external interests, create a dependency, and disempower the poor. Nevertheless, INGOs still have a place in the fight against poverty. The co-existence of INGOs alongside grassroots and social movements can create a multiplicitous, diverse civil society which can effectively combat unfavorable circumstances. In order to truly realize their purported goals, INGOs must work in solidarity with grassroots and social movements. Rather than taking funding for themselves and creating short-term programs, INGOs should simply act as facilitators, advocates, and educators of existing, successful movements founded by impoverished communities. In that sense, INGOs should be considered as complementary mechanisms, not supplementary.

 

References

Azzam, F. (2014). Why Should We Have to “Represent” Anyone? Sur: International Journal on Human Rights, 11(20), 272–280.

Bornstein, E. & Sharma, A. (2016). The righteous and the rightful: The technomoral politics of NGOs, social movements, and the state in India. American Ethnologist, 43(1), 76–90. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12264

Dwyer, A. (2011). Broke but unbroken. Canada: Fernwood Publishing.

Fox, J., & Hernández, L. (1992). Mexico’s Difficult Democracy: Grassroots Movements, NGOs, and Local Government. Alternatives; Boulder, Colo.,[Etc.], 17(2), 165–208.

Hammami, R. (2000). Palestinian NGOs Since Oslo: From NGO Politics to Social Movements? Middle East Report, (214), 16–48. https://doi.org/10.2307/1520188

Jad, I. (2004). The NGO‐isation of Arab Women’s Movements. IDS Bulletin, 35(4), 34–42. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1759-5436.2004.tb00153.x

Jalali, R. (2013). Financing Empowerment? How Foreign Aid to Southern Ngos and Social Movements Undermines Grass‐Roots Mobilization. Sociology Compass, 7(1), 55–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12007

Klees, S. (1998). NGOs: Progressive force or neo-liberal tool? Current Issues in Comparative Education, 1(1) 49-54. Retrieved from http://www.tc.columbia.edu/cice/pdf/25634_1_1_Klees.pdf

Noh, J.-E. (2017). The Role of NGOs in Building CSR Discourse around Human Rights in Developing Countries. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 9(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.5130/ccs.v9i1.4826

Pattnaik, B.K., & Panda, B. (2005). Perceiving the role of grassroots NGOs: From the new social movement perspective. Social Change, 35(3), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/004908570503500301

Tomilnson, B. (2013). Working with Civil Society in Foreign Aid: Possibilities for South-South Cooperation? Beijing, China: United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved from http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/documents/partners/civil_society/publications/2013_UNDP-CH-Working-With-Civil-Society-in-Foreign-Aid_EN.pdf

Experiential learning with CMIC

Writer: Allison MacDonald

Yara, Alison, and Rumi at Stories of Student Mobilization at UOttawa, an event organized by CMIC’s CSL volunteers

I completed a Community Service Learning (CSL) placement with CMIC, as a volunteer. CMIC enables its volunteers to contribute to the organization in many different ways. I expressed an interest in conducting research on the role of music as a tool for community mobilization as soon as I received confirmation of my involvement with CMIC. After meeting with Professor Emily Wills, one of the directors of the program, she expressed an interest in having an event hosted by CMIC in early December that the three students doing CSL placements would have the responsibility to plan. Over the fall semester, I devoted 30 hours of my time working a wide range of CMIC projects.

In this post, I will first describe in detail the work I completed, including a case study of planning the event, “Stories of Student Mobilization at uOttawa.” Next will be a theoretical reflection where I will describe the interconnectedness of my CMIC placement and the course I took, Conflict and Development. In my practical reflection, I will explain any shifts of perspective, understandings I have gained, and my interest in continuing as a volunteer with CMIC. On a final note, I will reflect on my skills development especially with regard to values, self-efficacy, and post-graduation.

There are three main tasks that I contributed to over the course of the semester. Firstly, I found a large selection of articles detailing research that has been done on music programs all around the world, from community music therapy (CoMT) programs in rural schools in Malawi to CoMT programs for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. I also found literature on the theory informing music therapy and music education, such as avoiding neo-colonialism in music therapy practices, music as an anti-oppressive practice, and the best methods of building community through music. Of those many articles, I chose four to read, summarize and pull key quotations from; two of these articles were theoretically inclined, and two were case studies of the practice of music as a tool for community mobilization.

The second task I undertook was writing a blog post on Professor Christopher Kyriakides’ webinar, “The Dynamic of Trust in Refugee-Host Relations”, hosted by the Al-Qazzaz Foundation for Education and Development. The webinar covered concepts such as “existential transactions of worth” and trust formation between sponsors and refugees in Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. I attempted to highlight the significance of his research through my blog post.

The third task and final task I undertook was leading the planning of “Stories of Student Mobilization at uOttawa.” For this task I will provide a short case study on the challenges I faced and my attempts to address the challenges. There were two obstacles: first, to find an appropriate location in such a short time frame; second was confirming participation and attendance from the uOttawa student organization community. The first avenue I explored to secure a venue was going through Conventions and Reservations at uOttawa. This did not end in success because it required payment. My second attempt was reaching out to Café Nostalgica and Café Alternatif. Again, I ran into issues; Café Nostalgica wanted $1500 in items purchased to make it an exclusive event and Café Alt was closed beginning December 1st. My last attempt, which was successful, was booking the basement of the Royal Oak restaurant. That leaves the second challenge to address. To overcome it required a team effort from Rumi, Yara, and I. We reached out to our contacts in different student organizations, we created a Facebook event page with the help of CMIC’s social media manager, Ainslie Pierrynowski, and I created an announcement broadcast through the SIDGS office. In the end, our teamwork and multiple methods of outreach were successful. A few attendees shared their stories. In the end, the event was largely successful in its networking capacity and informal conversations, which resulted in the formation of many new connections between attendees.

My research regarding the role of music as a community mobilizing tool overlaps with two key pieces of content from Conflict and Development. The concepts used together, conflict and development, imply that there has been a crisis from which people must recover and subsequently pursue paths of development to heal their individual self and build solidarity and reconciliation within their community. Tools of mobilization such as sport, music, art, and theatre can help individuals not only develop skills and start their process of healing, but these tools of mobilization can also help individuals become contributing members of their communities through teamwork, trust-building, and reconciliation. The result is communities that can thrive and act collectively to achieve goals. These are the key lessons I learnt from reading articles on the power of music, music education and music therapy, especially in the context of community music therapy practices.

These same key lessons appear in two readings assigned in the course: in the article by Swanger and another by Abdo. Swanger (2007) writes about Casa Amiga, a crisis centre for women living in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It focuses on helping women who have experienced domestic violence and ‘femicide.’ Casa Amiga resists the structural violence caused by forces of globalization through building a culture of solidarity. Through convivio (from the Spanish verb, convivir, to live together) and feminism, the women mobilize to build a community of trust and a culture of solidarity. In Nahla Abdo’s book Captive Revolution: Palestinian Women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle Within the Israeli Prison System (2014), Abdo explains how women have mobilized using education as a tool of resistance while serving prison sentences filled with horrific treatment, abuse and torture (Chapter 5). According to Abdo: “It is no exaggeration to say that reading and writing were used as critical strategies of resistance in prison: these were weapons in the struggle itself. […] The strong relations, the bonding and the solidarity established between women political detainees enhanced their power and forced the prison authorities, on various occasions, to answer their demands.” Learning about tools and methods of mobilization in times of crisis within the course proved essential to understanding the research I undertook on the importance of music as one of these tools.

Completing my CSL placement with CMIC was rewarding because I not only learned a great deal of knowledge about tools of mobilization, sponsor-refugee relations, and personal stories of mobilization, but I was able to produce pieces of writing that reflected the significance of what I learned. I now have a greater appreciation of the importance of community mobilization as a tool to resolve conflict and build solidarity. Effective community mobilization uses a variety of skills, from education, to music, or sports, or any activity requiring teamwork and interpersonal relationship-building, while also encouraging individual healing. I have continued contributing to CMIC and look forward carrying on as a volunteer with the program.

This semester has opened the door for me with regards to how I can be an active citizen and raise awareness for an issue in a different way than I have in the past. Volunteering with CMIC gave me an outlet to do the things that I love—research, writing, and learning—while also furthering the goals of a program that is doing an incredible amount of good for people in need of access to opportunities. After this experience, I feel that I have been able to concretely practice the values I hold dear and the values I want to utilize in my career. Secondly, my post-graduation path has been reaffirmed with this placement. I want to pursue a career in security, conflict, and migration and asylum policy. Exposure and involvement in CMIC, a program that touches on these topics, has invigorated in me the feeling that I am following the right path. Self-efficacy, especially in terms of accountability and time-management is always a challenge during a semester full of coursework and commitments. However, with the intent of achieving a good standard of work and concrete results from the placement, I worked hard to take initiative, engage in critical thinking and propose solutions, and manage my limited time.

What a rewarding, interesting and invigorating CSL placement with Community Mobilization in Crisis! This was my second CSL placement and I was happy to have contributed in multiple ways.

Syrian Refugee-Host Community Relations in Nova Scotia

Title: Syrian Refugee-Host Community Relations in Nova Scotia

Writer: Ainslie Pierrynowski

Nova Scotia’s resettlement of 1 079 Syrian refugees between November 4th, 2015 and August 31st, 2016 is not only notable for the relatively large number of Syrian refugees which the province took in—the third highest number per capita of all the Canadian provinces[i]—but also for the remarkable level of community support involved in the process of resettling Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia. Prior to the Federal Government’s plan of November 2015 to resettle 25 000 Syrian refugees in Canada by February 2016,[ii] few services for refugees and sponsorship groups existed outside of the province’s capital and urban centre of Halifax[iii]. As of November 6th, 2016[iv], this is the sole Nova Scotia community with programs in place to accept government-assisted refugees. As news of the Syrian refugee crisis permeated local and national media, however, grassroots-organized rallies in support of resettling Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia took place in various locations, namely Halifax,[v] St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish,[vi] and Cape Breton[vii]. Furthermore, a public meeting in favour of supporting Syrian refugees was organized by community members in Sydney,[viii] and 2015 saw newly formed private sponsorship groups arise across the province, like Lifeline Syria Cape Breton in northern Nova Scotia (created in September 2015) to Digby Welcomes Refugees (created in November 2015), located at the province’s southern tip.[ix] Public opinion toward refugees seemed generally positive in Canada overall and particularly in Atlantic Canada, according to the most recent information available at the time of writing. A December 2015 Forum Research poll found that 48% of Canadians supported the government’s recently announced plan to bring in Syrian refugees,[x] while a Nanos Research survey conducted at the same time found that 65% of Canadians support taking in 25 000 refugees by February 2016 (as prescribed in the government plan) or taking in even more refugees.[xi] In fact, the latter poll found that support for taking in more than 25 000 refugees was highest among Atlantic Canadians, at 45%, compared to 28% across Canada.

The seemingly positive reception of Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia seems surprising in light of Atlantic Canada’s reputation for having an unwelcoming attitude toward outsiders without roots in the community, referred to derisively as “come-from-away’s” (CFAs).[xii] This attitude had been identified in a 2007 study[xiii] as one of the primary reasons as to why immigrant health professionals frequently choose to leave Atlantic Canada in favour of other provinces. This “quasi-racist clannishness”[xiv] renders immigrants subject to distrust and subtle discrimination and hence puts them at a disadvantage in terms of employment and job opportunities. For instance, a nurse, who had moved to Atlantic Canada six years before being interviewed, cited a co-worker’s degrading comment that newly hired nurses “from away” were different and “not like [them]”[xv] and claimed that hiring practices that seemingly favoured locals over more experienced newcomers.[xvi] Indeed, Nancy W. Jabbra found that Nova Scotia is relatively ethnically homogenous, with the Nova Scotian population consisting of 73.3% people of British descent, 12.2% those of French descent, and 14.6% those of other origins, compared to 41.5% people of British descent, 28.8% people of French descent, and 30.2% people of other origins in Canada’s population as a whole.[xvii]

Several factors can help to explain Nova Scotians’ apparent positive reception of Syrian refugees, despite the purported prevalence of hostility toward newcomers in Atlantic Canada. First, the Nova Scotia government’s statement on Syrian refugees,[xviii] as well as media interviews with members of the Nova Scotian public, cite altruistic, humanitarian reasons for accepting Syrian refugees. Indeed, one donor to a Halifax organization supporting Syrian refugees claimed that seeing Alan Kurdi’s photograph emotionally moved her and prompted her to act,[xix] as did several attendees at a Cape Breton meeting in support of accepting Syrian refugees.[xx] According to University of Prince Edward Island professor Don Desserud, Atlantic Canada’s post-Confederation economic stagnation has fostered Atlantic Canadians’ apprehensiveness toward outsiders, who are perceived as “looking down at”[xxi] economically insecure Atlantic Canadians. Therefore, if Atlantic Canada’s unwelcoming attitude toward outsiders can indeed be attributed to the perception that affluent newcomers look down on Atlantic Canadians[xxii], then Syrian refugees’ dire plight may explain Nova Scotia’s more sympathetic reception of this group.

Second, collective memory may play a role in Nova Scotia’s acceptance of Syrian refugees. In particular, Stephen Augustine, Dean of Unamaki College—a Mi’kmaq studies institute at Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton University—alluded to Cape Breton’s history of accepting immigrants from other areas of the world in an attempt to convince his community to take in Syrian refugees.[xxiii] For example, one Halifax donor who supported Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia paralleled her grandparents’ journey from the Soviet Union to Canada reflected in Syrian refugees’ migration to Nova Scotia, hence her support for Syrian refugees coming to the province.[xxiv] Further, support from a substantial community of Syrian and Lebanese descent in Cape Breton, owing to immigration to Nova Scotia during the early 20th century and the Lebanese civil war in the 1970’s[xxv], has also contributed to the growth of Lifeline Syria Cape Breton.[xxvi]

Third and finally, support for Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia has been shaped by the province’s economic reality. The 2014 provincial government commissioned-report on the Nova Scotian economy, Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians,[xxvii] also known as the Ivany Report, argued that urgent action was needed to combat Nova Scotia’s post-Confederation economic stagnation due to the decline of its manufacturing, mining, forestry, and fishing industries, as well as the province’s aging population and substantial outmigration rate.[xxviii] Specifically, the report contended that Nova Scotia must drastically increase its intake of immigrants to sustain itself financially.[xxix] Meanwhile, according to Jabbra, newcomers to Canada have been drawn to economic opportunity in more prosperous areas beyond Atlantic Canada, hence Nova Scotia’s comparative lack of diversity and high provincial outmigration rates.[xxx] Thus, Nova Scotia is trapped in a Catch-22, in that the province needs more people to buy Nova Scotian products and start businesses, but Nova Scotia needs to provide economic incentives so that newcomers come to and remain in the province.  As a result, multiple Nova Scotian political leaders and organizations have echoed the Ivany report’s financial arguments for increased immigration in the context of taking in Syrian refugees, including Nova Scotia Member of Parliament and President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison,[xxxi] the Halifax Chamber of Commerce,[xxxii] and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.[xxxiii] These individuals and groups argue that the influx of Syrian refugees will increase Nova Scotia’s dwindling population and thereby provide more people to work, start businesses, buy Nova Scotian products, and ultimately fuel the province’s economy.

As such, the reasons behind Nova Scotia’s acceptance of Syrian refugees are multidimensional, founded on humanitarianism, collective memory, and economic forces. Nonetheless, the Syrian refugee experience in Nova Scotia has not been free of difficulties. For instance, Syrian refugees have struggled with relatively high food prices and fulfilling religious and medical dietary requirements, which has been compounded by the language barrier[1]. Owing to the food insecurity faced by many Syrian refugees in the province as well as an economic downtown in the Albertan oil sector (where a substantial number of Nova Scotians were employed), food bank usage has surged by over 17% in Nova Scotia in 2015.[2] Given the social and financial concerns of both host communities and Syrian refugees in the province, Syrian refugee-host community relations in Nova Scotia may very well structure the future of both groups.

 

[1] Olesya Shyvikova, “Syrian refugees grapple with dietary needs and high food prices,” CBC News, 10 May 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/syrian-refugees-food-challenges-1.3575574

[2] Michael Lewis, “Influx of Syrian refugees fuels surge in food bank use, report says,” The Toronto Star, 15 November 2016, http://www.news1130.com/2016/11/15/report-suggests-more-canadians-are-using-food-banks/

[i] Kashmala Fida, “Maritime Provinces Lead the Way in resettling Syrian Refugees per Capita,” CBC News, March 1, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/syrian-refugees-new-brunswick-1.3471591

[ii] Department of Immigration, Citizenship, and Refugees, “Backgrounder: #WelcomeRefugees to Canada,” Government of Canada, November 24, 2015, http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1021909

[iii] —, “#WelcomeRefugees: Key Figures,” Government of Canada, November 6, 2016, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/milestones.asp

[iv] Ibid.

[v] CBC News, “Halifax rally wants country to let in more Syrian refugees,” CBC News, October 10, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/nova-scotia/halifax-rally-syrian-refugees-syria-1.3266444

[vi] Kristian Rasenberg, “StFX for SAFE to hold Peace for Syria Walk,” The Xavierian, October 10, 2016, http://www.xaverian.ca/articles/2016/10/10/stfx-for-safe-to-hold-peace-for-syria-walk

[vii] Tom Ayers, “Rally for Refugees set for CBU,” Chronicle Herald, September 16, 2015, http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1311467-rally-for-refugees-set-for-cbu

[viii] Ken MacLeod, “Meeting confirms desire of Cape Bretoners to host Syrian Refugees, Cape Breton Post, September 8, 2015, http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2015-09-08/article-4270233/Meeting-confirms-desire-of-Cape-Bretoners-to-host-Syrian-refugees/1

[ix] Refugees Belong, “Other Sponsorship Efforts,” Refugees Belong, ACCESSED DECEMBER 10, 2016, http://www.refugeesbelong.ca/other-sponsorship-efforts.html

[x] Éric Grenier, “Is Canadians’ support for taking in Syrian refugees increasing?,” CBC News, 10 December 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/grenier-syria-refugee-poll-1.3357236

[xi] Josh Dehaas, “Exclusive poll finds huge support for Syrian refugees,” 23 December 2015, http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/exclusive-poll-finds-huge-support-for-syrian-refugees-1.2712799

[xii] Michael Macdonald, “Cliquish Atlantic Canadians rethink an unfriendly phrase: ‘Come from away,’” The Canadian Press, 7 July 2016, Factiva, Document CPR0000020160708ec770003s.

[xiii] Godfrey Baldacchino, Sarath Chandrasekere, & Pat Saunders, “INTERNATIONALLY EDUCATED HEALTH PROFESSIONS IN ATLANTIC CANADA,” Canadian Issues Spring 2007: (2007), 104-107, accessed December 10 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/208675125?accountid=14701

[xiv] Ibid, 104.

[xv] Ibid, 106.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Nancy W. Jabbra. “Ethnicity in Atlantic Canada” Canadian Ethnic Studies-Etudes Ethniques Au Canada, 20 no. 3: (1988): 1, accessed Decmber 10, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1293147470?accountid=14701

[xviii] Government of Nova Scotia, “Refugee Response,” Government of Nova Scotia, 16 March 2016, http://novascotia.ca/refugeeresponse/

[xix] The Canadian Press, “BR-Syrian-Refugees-Donors,” The Canadian Press, 25 December 2015, Factiva, Document BNW0000020151226ebcp0000o.

[xx] Ken MacLeod, “Meeting confirms desire of Cape Bretoners to host Syrian Refugees, Cape Breton Post, 8 September 2015, http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2015-09-08/article-4270233/Meeting-confirms-desire-of-Cape-Bretoners-to-host-Syrian-refugees/1

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] Michael Macdonald, “Cliquish Atlantic Canadians rethink an unfriendly phrase: ‘Come from away,’” The Canadian Press, 7 July 2016, Factiva, Document CPR0000020160708ec770003s.

[xxiii] Tina Roache, “Mi’kmaw professor calling on Indigenous leaders to push Canada to accept more Syrian refugees,” APTN National News, 17 September 2015, http://aptn.ca/news/2015/09/17/mikmaw-professor-calling-on-indigenous-leaders-to-push-canada-to-accept-more-syrian-refugees/

[xxiv] The Canadian Press, “BR-Syrian-Refugees-Donors,” The Canadian Press, 25 December 2015, Factiva, Document BNW0000020151226ebcp0000o.

[xxv] Nancy W. Jabbra, “ Household and family among Lebanese immigrants in Nova Scotia: Continuity, change and adaptation,” Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 22 no. 1: (1991), 41, accessed December 10, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1297323458?accountid=14701

[xxvi] Cedars Club, Posts on 12 Feburary 2016, 4 February 2016, 30 January 2016, 26 Janurary 2016, 4 January 2016, 17 December 2015, and 15 November 2015 in “Cedars Club Sydney,” Cedars Club, https://www.facebook.com/cedarsclubsydney/?rf=121024814641107

[xxvii] Ray Ivany, “Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians,” One Nova Scotia Commission (Government of Nova Scotia), February 2014, accessed December 9, 2016, http://onens.ca/wp-content/uploads/Now_or_never_short.pdf

[xxviii] Ibid, 12-16.

[xxix] Ibid, 24.

[xxx] Nancy W. Jabbra. (1988). Ethnicity in Atlantic Canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies-Etudes Ethniques Au Canada, 20(3), 2, accessed December 10, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1293147470?accountid=14701

[xxxi] Michael Macdonald, “Cliquish Atlantic Canadians rethink an unfriendly phrase: ‘Come from away,’” The Canadian Press, July 7, 2016, Factiva, Document CPR0000020160708ec770003s

[xxxii] Fabian, Sabrina. Syrian refugees will help stimulate economy, says Halifax Chamber of Commerce, 13 November 2015, CBC News,  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/syrian-refugees-halifax-entrepreneurs-economy-1.3317089

[xxxiii] Demont, John. Halifax at Forefront of National Refugee Effort, 4 October 2014, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (originally published in The Chronicle Herald), http://www.isans.ca/demont-halifax-at-forefront-of-national-refugee-effort/

Smart Risks—How small grants are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems

Title: Smart Risks—How small grants are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems

Writer: Aleah Ostrowski

 

Introduction and Goals

The goal of the authors of this book was to demonstrate and explain to readers that investing in local communities and the creation of meaningful interpersonal relationships with a strong focus on the use of local knowledge is an investment that is worth it in terms of the risks associated (Lentfer & Cothran, 2017, p.1).

Book cover of the book Smart Risks by Jennifer Lentfer and Tanya Cothran

The authors certainly fulfill the guidelines and goals of the book and this is evident throughout the clear table of contents at the beginning of the book and throughout each chapter. Every chapter includes what can be drawn from the chapter and what can be taken away from the story that every author has presented and shared with the readers. This review will include theories that were addressed within the book, the proximity of the authors, the audience that it targets, ways that it could be improved and the strong points.

Theories and Methods

The authors explain the theories and methods that are used in this book in different ways. The first method is through story-telling. The book is first split up into five different smart risks which include; “investing in local expertise”, “being non-prescriptive and flexible, with a long-term outlook”, “looking to the grassroots for innovation”, “rethinking accountability” and “practicing vulnerability” (Lentfer & Cothran, 2017, Contents). Then the book is broken down into smaller parts which include first-hand stories from the different authors and their experiences with this particular topic in relation to the smart risks that are explained more broadly. Therefore, the theories are mainly explained through the method of telling a story, but at the end of each chapter there is a summary with the main points that the readers can draw from the book which was very useful. This provides the readers with an easy way of picking out the most important elements of the chapter and how the theories and methods can be learned and applied to the real world. The theories are very applicable to the book’s aims in terms of explaining how using these methods can contribute to taking smart risks within international development.

Proximity

The authors are certainly close enough in distance to the topic because they are telling the story from their own point of view and explaining first hand experiences in terms of the challenges they may have faced or overcome throughout their time working in international development. Each chapter is written by a different author and is a unique experience from the next. It shows that not everyone’s experience working in international development is the same and provides insight for others.

Listening practice in a meeting between refugees and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs at a camp in the Parwan Se district of Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012

Not only do the authors tell the story from their own personal experiences but they also give advice for those that may be working or learning about international development and trying to improve the ways in which they can contribute by not only contributing but also simply listening to what the demands of different communities are. I would say that the whole book really avoids sounding judgmental or that they are in a position of power, in fact the authors sound as though they are really trying to put the power in the hands of local people and giving them the ability to use their knowledge in effective ways by providing them with the proper tools.

Relating to Literature

Since this book is fairly new, it is certainly encouraging ideas and theories that are still quite new to the international community in terms of working in development. Many large development banks are known for providing large loans to developing countries with high interest which are nearly impossible to pay back. However, some of the more recent findings are presenting the idea of small grants for developing communities and countries to put the power to allocate the funds in the hands of the local people without leaving them in debt (Bulow & Rogoff, 2005, p.393). Therefore, these findings, presented by Bulow and Rogoff in the article Grants versus Loans for Development Banks, support the same arguments made in Smart Risks in the way that it is explained that local knowledge is what will make the risk of small grants worth while (2005, p.393). The argument about providing small grants instead of large loans made in the article by Bulow and Rogoff is explained in more detail in Chapter 13 written by Tanya Cothran (2017, p.77). Cothran’s chapter concludes by explaining that small grants are more effective and beneficial because they place the power in the hands of business owners instead of the government (2017, p.79).

Improvements

The book could be improved a several ways, but one of the main aspects that stood out was that the advice and conclusions that are given at the end of some of the chapters seem as though these are the only ways to do development correctly. Something that would bring a unique perspective to the book would be to incorporate some of the opinions and experiences of those currently living in communities in developing countries that the authors may have interacted with. Even though these authors have worked and studied in development, it would provide a more holistic perspective by incorporating the stories of those that are not in positions of power or privilege.

Target Audience

This book is an easy read and could certainly be understood from someone that is not studying or working in international development. Closer to the start of the book there is actually a section that explains who the book is meant for, which include “readers from individuals with small contributions to make, to large philanthropists, and heads of organizations with portfolios of millions to spend” (Lentfer & Cothran, 2017, p.13).  The beginning of the book starts off with different examples of real world people that are simply trying to help others in developing countries but may not know how or may not have the resources to help in an effective way (Lentfer & Cothran, 2017, p.1-3). Therefore, the language used is very simple and would be easy for almost anyone to understand. The structure itself conveys the ideas in a clear way and I think that the book would be suitable for undergraduate students, graduate students and experts because it provides a different perspective about how to focus on local development using small grants instead of large loans. I think that even some higher grade high school students would be able to read this book, possibly in a global studies class, just because the ideas are explained in plain words that are easy to understand. This book would be an enlightening read for young people that aspire to make a difference.

Conclusion and Praise

This book was completely well worth the read. I would certainly recommend it to others studying or working within international development but also to those that are not familiar with the reality of international development. The book is easy to read and provides a unique perspective on the use of small grants instead of focusing on large loans which many of the large international development organizations have used in the past and which continue to fail. As an international development student, this book was refreshing in terms of presenting another platform that could potentially be a better solution to providing funds to developing communities directly so that the power is in the hands of small businesses or those that are new entrepreneurs are trying to improve their livelihoods (Lentfer & Cothran, 2017, p.12).

 

Reference List

Bulow, J., & Rogoff, K. (2005). Grants versus Loans for Development Banks. IDEAS Working

Paper Series from RePEc, IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc, 2005.

Lentfer, J., & Cothran, T. (2017). Smart risks: how small grants are helping to solve some of the worlds biggest problems. Bourton on Dunsmore, UK: Practical Action Publishing Ltd.

The Medicine of Peace: Indigenous Youth Decolonizing Healing and Resisting Violence

Title: The Medicine of Peace: Indigenous Youth Decolonizing Healing and Resisting Violence

Writer: Jessica Quinn

 

Jeffrey Paul Ansloos’ (2017) book The Medicine of Peace: Indigenous Youth Decolonizing Healing and Resisting Violence provides a unique theoretical framework of critical-Indigenous peace psychology as an alternative to mainstream Western psychologies. In his debut novel, Ansloos sets out to answer several challenging questions around Indigenous psychology, including how critical-Indigenous psychology nonviolently resist colonial oppression of Indigenous youth identity, and how can this non-violent approach address the revitalization of this identity? Ansloos successfully addresses these critical questions and more by exploring the history of colonial violence and how it presents itself today in the lives of Indigenous youth, how to envision a critical-Indigenous peace psychology, and how this theoretical framework can be utilized to move forward on Indigenous youth healing and resistance.

Ansloos, J.P. (2017). The Medicine of Peace: Indigenous Youth Decolonizing Healing and Resisting Violence. Winnipeg, MB: Fernwood Publishing.

In the initial chapters, the author argues that the currently observed patterns of violence among Indigenous youth are a product of colonial and intergenerational violence and trauma, and that the current methods of Western psychological and systemic intervention continue to perpetuate such harms against Indigenous youth. In further chapters, Ansloos recommends a critical-Indigenous discourse that will unsettle and decolonize the status quo of Indigenous inferiority to change the outcomes of such failed colonial interventions (p. 51). In his final chapters, Ansloos offers an analysis of the ritualization and reinvigoration of cultural pride and integrity among Indigenous youth as a stepping stone towards developing an Indigenous peace psychology for youth, including an in-depth analysis of the utility of the sacred medicine wheel teachings on which to build an Indigenous peace psychology (p. 92-95). Ansloos concludes with recommendations for further action in order to transform his theoretical framework into action for the benefit of Indigenous youth.

Ansloos explicitly names the framework from which his position is based in the introduction of his book, as it forms the foundation of his entire theoretical argument towards an Indigenous peace psychology and ensuing qualitative analysis. Ansloos takes a non-violent critical-Indigenous approach; he explains its formation over several chapters and then goes forward to explain why it is significant, and why it is useful in answering his core questions. Ansloos develops this theoretical framework with backing from such thinkers as Michel Foucault on discourse (p. 43), Franz Fanon on racialized and colonized identities (p. 46), Alasdair MacIntyre on communitarianism and ethics (p. 67) and Catherine Bell on ritualization (p. 72). By establishing his theoretical basis in the previously established and validated writings of both historical and modern philosophers, Ansloos preemptively validates his theoretical position and forms a sound argument on this foundation.

Ansloos’ inquiry is a unique critical analysis of traditional social sciences and psychology as perpetrators of colonial oppression and violence towards Indigenous peoples. In deconstructing the hegemonic violence of such systems as the juvenile justice systems through theory, Ansloos provides an Indigenous voice in the social sciences, which Indigenous voices have been intentionally excluded and erased from. While the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in such realms as the justice system and those with mental health concerns is well explored in academia, Ansloos goes beyond simple explanations of violence being inherent to “[Indigenous peoples’] nature” (p. 22) and instead suggests that “the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in prison [not] be viewed as a statistical oddity, especially in isolation from colonial history” (p. 105). Ansloos also provides realistic, albeit theoretical, solutions to the difficult challenges of decolonization, resistance and healing in his final chapter, a challenging and largely neglected task, which could readily translate to practical and policy solutions.

The photo, taken in 2008, of Graffiti from Feone Sem Crise, placed in Avenida Itaberaba, Sao Paulo.

As an Indigenous person, a youth worker, an educator and a psychologist, Ansloos is close to the issues explored in his book. His position in the field of the book’s focus, however, does not present a significant or disabling bias as it enables him to delve deeper into the issues explored than a non-Indigenous person or someone without the level of expertise that he holds. Due to his experiences in youth work, education and psychology, as well as contact with the social sciences in general, Ansloos is rightfully critical of these fields and their perpetuation of colonial mentalities. Ansloos also acknowledges his deficits in expertise as needed, though not disqualifying him from being an expert in this field, which he fills with knowledge from other scholarly and cultural sources. In his exploration of the medicine wheel, Ansloos offers that was “acculturated and formed primarily in Western culture, especially Western academia,” (p. 85), and thus comes to cultural understandings through his engagement with Elders and those within Indigenous cultures.

Ansloos’ arguments are well-supported by the experiences of Elders and the work of academics. Throughout his book, Ansloos draws in a variety of scholars, theorists and practitioners, and he intertwines these thoughts into logical and clear arguments. Considering the plethora of psychological and social sciences-based theories, knowledge and analysis, Ansloos makes clear and concise arguments and connections between his ideas, fitting all of this into an easily digestible format and length for readers new to the subject. Ansloos also ties in personal experiences at the beginning of each chapter in a manner that compels readers to feel his emotions as he walks through the chapter. This forges a personal relationship between the reader and the material, and is especially important for non-Indigenous readers or those who have not experienced racism or colonialism directly.

Despite the well-supported arguments and emotional connections supplied by Ansloos, the work is mostly theoretical; in acknowledging this, Ansloos calls the current work “‘fuel for the flame’s of developing diverse Indigenous psychologies” (p. 107). Ansloos overcomes this limitation by providing the aforementioned practical and policy solutions to stimulate decolonization and healing. Also, while well-researched, it can sometimes be challenging to decipher which ideas belong to Ansloos and which are those of the Elders, scholars and frameworks he references. Ansloos provides clear analyses in the latter chapters of his book, but his message can at times be muddled in the heavily theoretical chapters.

Overall, Ansloos has provided a sound and practical solution to the neocolonial practices of psychology and social sciences that reproduce colonial hegemony, especially among marginalized Indigenous youth. Ansloos acknowledges his privilege and bias throughout the book, most notably being raised in a predominantly Western-influenced household (p. 85), and actively works to avoid taking a pan-Indigenous approach so as to not homogenize or erroneously speak for any Indigenous groups on Turtle Island. At the conclusion of each chapter, Ansloos provides references for further reading and makes accessible related materials and authors. Ansloos’ book would be useful for educators and students in the social sciences and psychology to challenge and decolonize their ways of thought, especially going forward to potentially work with Indigenous youth. Those currently working with (especially marginalized and vulnerable) Indigenous youth would also benefit from reading Ansloos work, as would anyone with an interest in critical perspectives on colonialism and oppression of Indigenous peoples.

Sudan’s Joint Assessment Mission

Title: Sudan’s Joint Assessment Mission

Writer: Shania Beste

 

Problem: Aid Effectiveness

There has been a rise in concern on the effectiveness of development assistance and how aid is allocated to countries in need since the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005. An issue that lies here is that the Official Development Assistance provided to countries in crisis can sometimes harm rather than help (Booth, 2012).

An Example: Sudan’s Joint Assessment Mission

The colonial and post-independence governments did not provide South Sudan with basic public institutions and the war between the two states of Sudan had destroyed what little there was. Whatever new government was to be established would need to build the public service from scratch.  As primary school enrolment was the lowest in the world, teachers were paid $92 dollars a year with only 6% of them being qualified. Health wise Sudan was not prospering as 45% of the children were malnourished with one in four children dying before the age of five.

Photo taken in Zam Zam Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in North Darfur, Sudan, in 2003.

South Sudan hardly had any links to the outside would as there was just a broken down railway from Wau to North Sudan, barges along the Nile towards the north and a broken down gravel road that travels from Nimule to Uganda and then to Mombasa (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

After 20 plus years of war between Sudan and South Sudan, the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army and the National Congress Party came together to develop a framework for sustained peace, development and poverty eradication.  The framework, later named the Joint Assessment Mission had the goal to be a six year $16 billion-dollar program to consolidate peace and to facilitate development (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

The Joint Assessment Mission program planned to allocate $8 billion dollars towards health, education, roads etc. 23% of the total budget was to be allocated towards capacity building and institutional development, and towards governance and the rule of law (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

Sudan was expected to have substantial oil revenues, as it was estimated that aid donors would need to contribute a little bit less than half of the total. The program aimed to revamp the public service, to have rural markets in 86 counties, 30,000 primary classrooms with teachers to teach in those classrooms, 4,000 new wells and water systems to serve 3.2 million people and 2,800 new doctors and nurses (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

A 2010 evaluation reported that, “At current rates, it seems highly unlikely that the Multi-Donor Trust Fund target of 44 schools will be met. In contrast, by the end of 2009, the Basic Services Fund had succeeded in completing 34 schools.  Another 12 schools are expected to be completed by June 2010, bring the total to 46.”  They managed to reach a total of 46 schools as opposed to the promised number of 3,750 schools (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

The Joint Assessment Mission had decided to allocate $750 million for national infrastructure in South Sudan with an additional $150 million for local roads, which was part of the Roads Master Plan to be completed by the end of 2006 and implemented by 2011.  But in 2010 it was reported that, “…although one of Dr. John Garang’s priorities was the building of trunk roads, many donors preferred, initially at least, to fund more media-friendly projects.”  The Roads Master Plan was completed in 2012 instead and the only international link was the 67 kilometre tarmac between Juba and the Uganda border at Nimule (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

That same evaluation estimated that between 2005 and 2009 donors had spent nearly $3 billion dollars, which was on target for the Joint Assessment total of $4 billion dollars by 2011.  But issue behind that amount being spent is to figure out what the money actually bought (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

The Joint Assessment Mission failed for a number of reasons. It did not meet the goals that it set out to achieve, the money donated by donors could not be tracked down to see what it was actually used for and because attention was taken away from certain developmental issues in Sudan and put towards other issues (Sudan Tribune, N.D).

The Solution: Country Ownership

Photo of Paleki Ayang, Executive Director of the South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network, addresses the Security Council open debate on “The role of women in conflict prevention and resolution in Africa”, 28 March 2016

Country ownership is the full and effective participation of a country’s population through legislative bodies, civil society, both the private and local sectors, and regional and national government, in conceptualizing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating development policies, programs and processes. What country ownership aims to do is to have an effective use of development assistance which results in communities experiencing change that they believe is good, that they have a voice and are committed to sustainability.  Country ownership works in the way that at the simplest level at the heart of it there is the participation of both citizens and the government in development efforts, which allows for better targeting of resources, strengthened accountability among various stakeholders and finally increased sustainability and success. Empowering and supporting effective states and their citizens to take responsibility for their own developing, using local systems and local resources to help countries become less dependent on other countries is a key factor to “smart development” (InterAction, 2013).

The CMIC: Aid Effectiveness and Country Ownership

The Community Mobilization in Crisis Project lends a few elements from the concept of country ownership, where it seeks to have the citizens of countries in crisis to take responsibility for developing, use of local systems and local resources to help countries in crisis to become less dependent on external help for development.  As well, when it comes to aid effectiveness, aid programs must decide on how they choose to provide aid, whether it be by doing all the work for those in need or by teaching them how to sustain themselves.  The Community Mobilization in Crisis aims to further mobilizers’ skills in mobilization and group abilities.  Another main goal of the Community Mobilization in Crisis Project is to deliver community interventions by providing training in the skills and tools that help communities to identify their own needs and priorities, to use available resources and to become agents of their own community-based solutions.

References

Booth, David. (2012) Aid effectiveness: bringing country ownership (and politics)

back in, Conflict, Security & Development, 12:5, 537-558

How to Fail Failed States: A Sudan Study in Getting it Wrong – Twice. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30,

2017, from http://www.sudantribune.com/

Policy Brief [PDF]. (2013, January). InterAction: A United Voice for Global Change.  Retrieved

August 21, 2017, from

https://www.interaction.org/files/FABB%202013_Sec06_PolicyBrief_CountryOwnership.pdf

Policy Brief [PDF]. (2013, January). InterAction: A United Voice for Global Change.  Retrieved

August 21, 2017, from

https://www.interaction.org/files/FABB%202013_Sec06_PolicyBrief_CountryOwnership.pdf

The Dynamic of Trust in Refugee-Host Relations

By: Allison McDonald

16 November 2017

Professor Christopher Kyriakides’ Webinar, “The Dynamic of Trust in Refugee-Host Relations”

Held on Saturday 28 October 2017, 10:00-11:00am

I have had a really keen interest in Canada’s asylum-claim determination process and refugee integration since I worked for the Immigration and Refugee Board for a co-op work term. Professor Christopher Kyriakides, Canada Research Chair and Executive Committee Member at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University held a lecture, “The Dynamic of Trust in Refugee-Host Relations”, hosted by Al-Qazzaz Foundation for Education and Development, which naturally grabbed my attention right away. This was the kind of firsthand information from an expert that I have yearned for to further develop my ideas and broaden my knowledge about Canada’s refugee affairs.

Professor Kyriakides talked about refugee-host relations in the sphere of the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Some of the key themes he talked about were what he calls ‘existential transactions of worth’, ‘resettlement knowledge assets’, and the role of ‘trust formation’ in determining ‘resettlement success’. I want to talk about these themes as they made sense to me and ultimately highlight the importance of recognizing people who have been given refugee status as ‘persons of self-rescue’ and persons with past, present and future narratives that extend beyond the confines of ‘refugee’.

People that seek asylum and receive refugee status identify as ‘persons of self-rescue’. Being a refugee, to them, is in defiance of conflict, of having their humanity taken away, and of being subject to human rights abuses. However, a refugee is also a label that can take away individual personhood and follow a media-defined narrative extremely limiting to the realization of ‘existential transactions of worth’. Professor Kyriakides gives this quote, spoken by a person with refugee status: “I try to think like a refugee but I don’t know how.” Let’s break this down. Someone who is granted eligibility for refuge is a person who had a life prior to conflict with a desire to move their personhood beyond a label, beyond a definition, and beyond a certain narrative. All of those who have refugee status are people with authority, autonomy, and eligibility. Their self-determination must have full recognition. When this understanding of a refugee is fully realized by the host, ‘existential transactions of worth’ can be realized.

Photo taken in 1978, in a refugee camp on Koh Paed, Thailand. Coping with Disaster: Vietnamese Refugees in Thailand

Recognition is central in the ‘trust formation’ of the refugee-host relationship. Sponsors need to be able to establish an identity as the ‘we of trusted contact’. This means recognizing a person with refugee status as a person with past, present and future beyond ‘refugee’. If a sponsor can recognize a refugee as a person of self-rescue and as a person with deliberative authority, the sponsor thus acknowledges their worth and self-determination. This is the best way to establish trust.

Social media is an incredible tool in ‘trust formation’.  The refugee-host relationship can start before personal contact is made. Sponsors can put into practice ‘existential transactions of worth’ by establishing virtual contact and asking the refugee or refugee family their preferences for a multitude of elements (apartment, furniture, food, other amenities) that will create and shape their life in Canada. According to Professor Kyriakides, sponsors who were able to better establish trusted contact saw more success in resettlement. Hosts must recognize the autonomy of those receiving sponsorship and establish trust and contact through ‘existential transactions of worth.’ The life of a human being does not begin with refuge and, thus, their lives should not be defined by a policy, definition or single narrative.

Note: all phrases and terms in quotations are direct quotations from Dr. Kyriakides and *are used with his permission*.

L’encampement des réfugiés syriens au Moyen-Orient 

Titre : Conférence du 19 octobre 2017 intitulée « L’encampement des réfugiés syriens au Moyen-Orient » présenté par M. Mustafa El Miri

Auteur: Sophie Dahdouh

 

Dans cette conférence, M. El Miri a présenté des réflexions sur les catégories et la généalogie des migrations au Moyen-Orient. Comme il le stipule, le problème des réfugiés à l’échelle internationale préoccupe la « classe politique » européenne depuis un certain temps. Si la persécution de la population syrienne par le régime bassiste dirigé par le président Bachar El Assad engendra une condamnation internationale intense, malgré les interventions américaine et européenne dans cette guerre civile, notamment par la fourniture d’armes et l’incitation des Syriens à se rebeller contre le régime syrien, cela n’a pas suscité ou provoqué une ouverture des frontières considérable, telle que décrite de manière exagérée par les médias, aux réfugiés syriens.

Les pays « occidentaux » refusent ces derniers au moyen des activités sémantiques qu’ils entreprennent. Il y a cette idée d’ « indésirables » qui surgit implicitement ou explicitement dans les débats publics. Pensons à la notion de « crise de migrants » (et non pas de réfugiés) qui est une manière détournée, comme le souligne M. El Miri, de ne pas reconnaître le droit international. L’unité européenne se construit, d’après lui, par l’exclusion de ces derniers dont l’arrivée soulève la question de « remplacement » des sociétés d’accueil et celle de la souveraineté des États perçue comme étant menacée. L’idée de « dangerosité construite », la crainte que les terroristes soient infiltrés parmi les réfugiés syriens, devient ainsi centrale dans les débats.

Comme le stipule M. El Miri, ces derniers se sont principalement dirigés vers des zones du Moyen-Orient telles que la Turquie, la Jordanie et le Liban, leur arrivée « massive » en Europe étant en fin de compte un « mythe » dans les faits. Toutefois, la fermeture des frontières de ces pays se produit en raison de la pression démographique et la crainte de l’importation du conflit, ce qui ne freine pas pour autant l’industrie du passage illégal.

 

A view of the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, where nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees are living, 27 March 2017, by United Nations

On assiste alors à « l’encampement » des réfugiés dans des déserts tels qu’en Jordanie ou dans des endroits isolés à la marge de la société d’accueil, ce qui les pousse à une instabilité permanente. Non seulement les politiques de logement sont inexistantes mais, de plus, ils n’ont souvent pas le droit de travailler sur place, une situation qui augmente leur vulnérabilité et leur dépendance envers l’agence du Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) qui soutient des conceptions des politiques sociales défendant le principe du « traitement individualisé ». Le déclassement économique de ces derniers s’en suit donc, les réfugiés syriens étant confrontés à la baisse de la rémunération due à leur arrivée massive. Or, malgré le fait que leur figure ou leur image est associée à la marginalité et à la délinquance, ils tentent de renverser les préjugés et les stigmates à leur endroit en s’insérant sur le marché du travail pour se construire socialement et ne plus dépendre de l’aide internationale, la route migratoire clandestine vers l’Europe n’étant pas leur choix premier.

Enfin, ce dont nous rappelle M. El Miri est que la crise syrienne n’est point une crise interne mais une crise internationale, une « crise mondialisée » comme il le stipule. L’accueil des réfugiés est avant tout un « problème social ». La dimension « nationale » de cette notion de « capacité d’accueil », souvent invoquée par les démocraties occidentales, est bien politique, l’ouverture politique de ces pays étant ce qui pose réellement problème et explique la non application du statut de « réfugiés » pour les Syriens en accentuant leur vulnérabilité.

 

How welcome are refugees in Spain?

Title: How welcome are refugees in Spain?

Author: Madeline Sykes

 

Photo taken by Madeline Sykes. Madrid’s city hall, Palacio de Cibeles, still displaying the Refugees Welcome sign in March 2017.

When it appeared on the façade of Madrid’s Palacio de Cibeles in September 2015, the now-famous Refugees Welcome sign was a bold statement. Its authors, the left-wing municipal party Ahora Madrid,[1] knew that the sentiments behind the phrase were shared by many residents calling the city council to offer aid to asylum seekers in the city. It was, however, an optimistic statement –based on the lack of political action following it, some might even call it an empty promise.

Shortly after the sign went up, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy bowed to domestic and international pressure, announcing that Spain would participate in the EU’s new quota system for refugee redistribution. Under it, Spain would take in 15 888 refugees from Greece and Italy and 1449 from states bordering Syria by 2017. Six months after the introduction of the quota system, only 18 had arrived in Spain. [2]  By September 7, 2017, that number had risen to only 1980.[3] If the welcome mat has already been rolled out, why has the Spanish government been so slow to open the door?

The answer is complex, but two factors appear to be key in explaining the sluggish pace of refugee resettlement. The first is the absence of a government for most of 2016. Following the inconclusive results of the 2015 general election, no party was able to secure the majority of support needed to form the government. As a result, Spain was kept under the watch of a caretaker government through 10 months of interparty negotiations and a second, also inconclusive, election. Ultimately, Rajoy managed to get the votes needed to secure his investiture as Prime Minister in October 2016.[4] The second, more worrisome factor is the lack of political will on the part of the central government. Many in Rajoy’s cabinet consider Spain’s most pressing –and only – concern to be the country’s deficit levels well in excess of the EU’s targets and its 17.1% unemployment rate as of July 2017.[5] In their minds, the state simply cannot afford to take on so many refugees. Of course, Spain has also not been immune to the fearmongering that has affected much of Europe; the Sectorial Undersecretary of Rajoy’s Partido Popular, Javier Maroto, said in an interview in 2015 that, “. . . [A]mong the Syrians who enter there are many jihadists. They are people who one day put a bomb in any of our cities . . .”.[6] Regardless of whether the government has been unable, unwilling, or simply afraid to act, they are unlikely to make their quotas all the same.

 

Photo taken by Madeline Sykes. Scenes from an #InauguramosUnaCiudad protest in Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid

In spite of bureaucratic inertia, many in Spain are mobilizing to do what they can to help refugees. Several grassroots organizations have formed in Spain in response to the refugee crisis, including Madrid for Refugees, a charity formed largely by expatriates eager to help the asylum seekers in their adopted country. Their volunteers act as a support network for refugees, helping them to secure housing and jobs as well as holding drives to collect such essentials as clothing and household supplies for them.[7] Some of the fundraisers they hold allow the refugees they help to promote their skill set; a migrant from the Gambia identified only as G.B. gives boxing lessons in the Parque del Buen Retiro.[8] A Syrian named Khaled and other “chefugees” cook dishes from their homelands at fundraising banquets held in local restaurants.[9] They also maintain an informational campaign about the plight of Europe’s asylum seekers both over social media and through events like the “Stepping Stones” exhibition displaying photos of the migrant influx in Lesbos.[10] Through such activities, Madrid for Refugees hopes not only to raise funds for its own activities but to inform and mobilize others on these issues.

Photo taken by Madeline Sykes

Apparently, such campaigns are having some success. Several protests have taken place in the streets of Spain’s major cities calling for local and regional governments, in addition to the central government, to live up to Spain’s commitments under the quota system.  Among them was the #InauguramosUnaCiudad (We inaugurate a city) campaign by Amnesty International. Taking place on March 4, 2017, the initiative saw simultaneous demonstrations in cities across the country in which participants rallied around the phrase “Yo acojo” (I welcome).[11] The demonstrations may not have pushed the central government into action, but they did result in 68 municipal governments creating 2741 new spaces in refugee reception centres. In spite of the economic and political grievances that strain and divide the electorate, a large portion of the Spanish population is willing to welcome refugees into their communities and will likely continue to demand that their government make good on the claim still emblazoned on Palacio de Cibeles.

[1] https://elpais.com/elpais/2015/09/08/inenglish/1441698721_057242.html

[2] https://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/04/05/actualidad/1459880210_430218.html

[3] https://www.es.amnesty.org/en-que-estamos/campanas/yoacojo/?L=%2525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252Fetc%2525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252Fpasswd

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/spain-to-get-government-after-10-month-political-impasse-mariano-rajoy

[5] http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=une_rt_m&lang=en

[6] http://www.elmundo.es/espana/2015/09/11/55f2afa0e2704e85618b4583.html

[7] http://madridforrefugees.org/en/the-organisation/

[8] http://www.elmundo.es/madrid/2016/10/16/57fd1d03ca474100598b45a4.html

[9] http://www.lasprovincias.es/sociedad/201611/24/fogones-fronteras-20161124004839-v.html

[10] https://medium.com/@Madrid4Refugees/stepping-stones-photo-exhibition-brings-lesbos-to-madrid-ab14d2c40d44

[11] https://www.es.amnesty.org/en-que-estamos/campanas/yoacojo/?L=%2525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252Fetc%2525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252Fpasswd