The Many Faces of Arab Refugeehood

Syrian refugees across the Middle East and Europe face a wide variety of life conditions, stresses, and constraints, though much of what the public around the world hears about them is exaggerated and politically motivated. Four American, Arab and Italian scholars who research refugee conditions in Lebanon, Jordan, and Europe presented their findings during a roundtable seminar at the American University of Beirut’s New York City office recently. The research presented by scholars from AUB and the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies (BCARS) included field studies on family and gender dynamics, employment, access to healthcare, and tensions with local communities.

In Lebanon alone, “there are 1.5 million refugees with at least a quarter of them living in poverty,” according to Dr. Rim Saab, Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at AUB, who conducted a survey of Syrian refugees and their Lebanese host communities in the north of the country. Her research found that 90% of Lebanese surveyed fear that Syrian refugees in the country threaten their livelihoods. Economic competition, her study found, was a major source of tension between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees, for two reasons: refugees were thought to benefit disproportionately from humanitarian aid and also were seen as taking away jobs from Lebanese day laborers.

Read a full summary of the discussion here. Watch the entire discussion here.

Video Highlights of the Discussion

Participants

  • ​Rim Saab, Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at AUB

  • Sawsan Abdulrahim, Associate Professor and Chair at AUB's Department of Health Promotion and Community Health

  • Denis J. Sullivan, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Northeastern University and the Director of BCARS

  • Alice Verticelli, BCARS Scholar Advisory Board Member and Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Northeastern University