Presentation on theme: "From Baghdad to Beirut: Iraqi Refugees’ Voices for Equity in Transit"— Presentation transcript:
1From Baghdad to Beirut: Iraqi Refugees’ Voices for Equity in Transit Jihad Makhoul, Lena Torossian,Dima Dandachi and Yara QutteinaAmerican University of Beirut, Lebanon
2Study Aims To explore Iraqi refugees’ Experiences and living conditionsCoping mechanisms
3Background60,000 Iraqis uprooted every month, 95% still in the Middle EastQuantitative dataVoices not heardNo Iraqi campsUNHCR 2007
4What should we know about Lebanon to help us understand the study?
5LebanonPost civil war economic decline, Beirut divided along religious sectarian lines [eastern, southern]1951 Geneva Convention on protection of refugees declaration [not signed]Not ready to host more refugeesInadequate resourcesNo domestic laws dealing with refugees & asylum seekersUNHCR:refugee status determinationseeks solutions to resettlement papers
7Research Approach Qualitative Approach: Participants: Informal interviews with welfare agencies38 in-depth interviews, 5 focus groups, observationsConducted in colloquial Lebanese ArabicThematic analysis: transcribed verbatim, coded, transferred onto spreadsheets, recurring themes..Participants:Representatives of agencies serving Iraqi refugeesIraqi families and children [months-12 years in Leb]eastern and southern suburbs of Beirut
8What aspects of the findings are presented today?
9Findings.. Trail Life in Beirut Social Support Social Conditions PaperworkEmotional turmoilSocial Support
10Trail: from Baghdad to Beirut Legally Baghdad Plane Eastern Suburbs of BeirutIllegally Baghdad Syria Southern suburbs Beirut
11Life in Beirut:Small unhealthy apartments, expensive rent, multiple moves“I swear to God, this is not the first apartment that we reside in. This is the fourth or fifth apartment, because we are many. The landlord doesn’t accept large families, he puts them out” (An Iraqi mother)Exploitation, Stigmatization, Discrimination“There are no good jobs, I worked in many jobs but they didn’t treat me well, they didn’t give me good money, they didn’t give me. I mean I worked in a job close by for 13 days and they didn’t give me money… I mean that dessert shop and he didn’t give me anything” (An 18 year old Iraqi woman)Suffering exacerbated by persecution“I am scared they would arrest us one day, I mean I am afraid that one day we will go on an outing, and then the police would arrest us and then make us go back to Iraq” (A father of six)pics
13Paperwork 1. UNHCR paper: 2. Residency papers: Not recognized by the StateImportant for settlementHumiliatingDoes not ensure human rights in Lebanon2. Residency papers:Expensive work permitRequire a Lebanese guarantorL
14Way Out 3. Resettlement papers: False hope, delays, frustration and ambiguitySlack global processUnclear immigration policiesContribute to family disintegration“I have been here for 12 years, how is it still being studied? 20 years to study a file?! This is ridiculous, I mean 70 staff in the agency need 20 years to study a file, if each one of them took a letter, the file would be completed in one week!” (A father who spend 12 years in Lebanon)“Once I went to ask about my file, and she told me to forget! I have a difficult psychological condition and she tells me to forget!” (A 42 year old father)
15Psychosocial Well-being Anxiety, depression, hopelessness, suicidal attempts“I am a diabetic; honestly this is due to all the work. I have a depression now. My son and I used to consult with the physician in ReStart. I would become very angry at them. I would become angry at the smallest thing and because I feel that I am the reason behind the file delay because I said the truth; I told them I was a military … Apparently the paperwork of a military is delayed… I never held a weapon in my life… I was calligrapher in the army” (60 year old head of household)Husband: “One day I woke up at 1:30 am and found that she had opened the curtains and had swollen all the pills.”Wife: “I woke up and poisoned myself, I took out the pills and swallowed them all… This life- I don’t want it!”Husband: “So if I didn’t wake up and I didn’t see her, if I didn’t do something about it, she would have been gone.”
19IRAQI REFUGEES PSYCHOSOCIAL WELL-BEING FOREIGN POLICIES / MIGRATION POLICIESUNHCR PaperworkIRAQI REFUGEES PSYCHOSOCIAL WELL-BEINGINFORMAL SOCIAL SUPPORTPROXIMITYSUBURB CHARACTERISTICSLEBANESE POLITICAL SITUATIONLawsSectarianismSOCIAL ACTIVITIESNGOsRELIEF ITEMSSOCIAL SUPPORT / WELL-BEING FRAMEWORKSTAFF INTERACTION
20What needs to be done to improve the well-being of the Iraqi refugees while in transit countries?
21Implications… NGOs: State: Use participatory research to evaluate servicesTrain staff on interpersonal communication skillsOffer rent assistanceFacilitate creation of meeting spacesIncrease social events/gatheringsState:Integrate State services with NGO servicesDifferentiate between war affected Iraqi refugees and illegal immigrantsEnd detention and persecution of Iraqi refugeesAllow temporary work permits
22“Where is the respectful aid “Where is the respectful aid? The coupon has nothing to do with it, I don’t want the coupon. I want a house, give me a house to live in, give me residency and I would work and earn a living for my children, I would live my happiness, I would live free!”(45 year old father of 4)
23Thanks to.. Iraqi refugee families and youth Non-governmental agencies IDRC, Ford FoundationMembers of the Arab Families Working GroupMs Cristel Baasiri, Ms Fadia Shoucair, Ms Samia KallasWork in progress-comments