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1998 Mellon-MIT Grantees

Brett Ballard

MIT/DUSP - "The Role of Land Allocation in Refugee Movement"

Nan Buzard

Harvard/JFK - "Practical Options for NGO Coordination: The Role of Information Collection and Sharing in the 1994 Great Lakes Crisis"

Rima Habasch

Boston University - "The Evolving Relationship Between the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and the Palestinian Authority"

Karen Jacobsen

Regis College and Fletcher School - "Security in Refugee Populated Areas"

Sarah Kenyon Lischer

MIT/Political Science - "Political and Military Mobilization among Refugees"

Laura Roper and
Winifred Fitzgerald

Oxfam America and Harvard Center for Population and Development - "Documenting Strategies for Incorporating Conflict Resolution, Reconciliation, and Peace-Building into Humanitarian Assistance in Complex Emergencies"

Marc Sommers

Boston University/African Studies Center - "Emergency Education for Children"

Robin Jayne Stancavage

MIT/Political Science - "Improving Refugee Statistics"


Brett Ballard
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Summer 1998 and Summer 1999
The Role of Land Allocation in Refugee Movement

NGO Partner: Consortium Laos - World Learning, Save the Children/US, and World Education

The successful repatriation of upland tribal refugee groups to Laos depends on the availability of viable economic opportunities for community members. For the Hmong of Ban Phathao in Vang Vieng District, this means households that have traditionally practiced shifting cultivation must adopt new farming methods centered around irrigated wet-rice cultivation. Such a transition requires that institutions of communal governance be modified, or created anew, in order to promote and sustain cooperative behavior under different socio-economic circumstances.

This research project examines the roles that informal institutions of traditional village governance and formal institutions of the State play in allocating newly irrigable land within Ban Phathao and in coordinating the management of the new irrigation system among Ban Phathao and five other communities in the same command area. The lessons learned from this research have important policy implications for refugee resettlement efforts elsewhere in Laos as well as other countries.


Nan Buzard
June-September 1998
Practical Options for NGO Coordination: The Role of Information Collection and Sharing in the 1994 Great Lakes Crisis

NGO Partner: International Rescue Committee

Agencies must be encouraged to coordinate and recognize their mutual impact upon one another. To that end, this paper provides a descriptive and critical analysis of the collection and coordination of information regarding situational issues and refugee needs among the NGO communities working in the Ngara and Kibondo regions of western Tanzania from 1994 through the summer of 1998. Methodologies consisted of a literature review, a reading of situation reports and internal memos, and interviews with field and headquarter staff in the refugee camps in Tanzania, Nairobi, New York and Geneva.

The paper examines how information sharing affects the efficacy of refugee services and offers suggestions for increased sharing through improved meetings and better-coordinated refugee services. Meetings would be improved by greater clarity of purpose, transparent management, and more effective minute taking and minute distribution. With respect to the coordination of services, the paper recommends increased awareness of the extent to which services are interrelated.


Rima Habasch
Boston University
Summer 1998
The Evolving Relationship Between the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and the Palestinian Authority

NGO Partner: Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees

Since its establishment in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has developed authoritarian traits. This is particularly reflected in its relation with the NGO sector. As a result, the relation between the PA and the NGO sector is generally non-cooperative and/or hostile. An exception to this is the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC), which has maintained a cooperative relationship with the PA. The UPMRC chose to maintain a cooperative relationship with the PA in order to promote its vision of health care delivery and to effect change in national health policy. To achieve this end, the UPRMC pursued a strategy of gradual extension of cooperation. As an initial step it established a network to harmonize NGO activities and to create a unified position towards the PA.

In this achievement the UPMRC has been aided by its historic role in the community, its continuous grass-roots support, and by its clear vision and strategy to achieve an equitable health care system. After consolidating its position in the sector of health NGOs, the UPMRC established a policy dialogue project through its affiliated institute, the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute (HDIP). Through the policy dialogue project, a forum has been created that for the first time brought together health NGOs and the PA's Ministry of Health. The policy dialogue resulted in increased cooperation and coordination in several health sectors, thus leading to the adoption of some of the UPMRC's health policies.


Karen Jacobsen
Regis College and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Summer 1998
Security in Refugee Populated Areas

NGO Partner: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

My grant enabled me to research and write a paper, "A 'Security-First' Approach to Physical Protection in Refugee Camps," which was issued as the fourth in the Rosemarie Rogers Working Paper Series of the Mellon-MIT Inter-University Program on NGOs and Forced Migration. This paper begins with an analysis of security and safety problems in camps and refugee hosting areas, and then outlines some ideas about a "security first" strategy, including the political feasibility of a camp security force in the current international context, and how such a force would be composed, monitored and controlled. The paper was disseminated to a number of people in UNHCR (my partner agency), and from there it received even wider distribution, through Jeff Crisp with whom I worked at UNHCR.

One outcome of this Mellon-funded research is a workshop on "Security in Refugee Populated Areas" that will be held at MIT in October 1999. The workshop will be attended by about 25 experts on security and refugees from a variety of NGOs and international organizations, as well as the US government and academia.


Sarah Kenyon Lischer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science
Summer 1998
Political and Military Mobilization among Refugees

NGO Partner: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

This research examines the conditions under which refugees and exiles become involved in political violence. During the summer of 1998, I conducted fieldwork in Croatia and Geneva. From interviews with NGOs, refugees, Croatian officials, and UNHCR staff, I completed a case study of a group of renegade Bosnian Muslim refugees who became refugees twice during the war in former Yugoslavia. The first exodus ended when the exiles, in alliance with Serb forces, formed a military force to retake their hometown, Velika Kladusa. The Bosnian Army pushed the refugees out of their hometown again, but the exiles were unable to mobilize militarily the second time. In explaining the different outcomes of each exodus, I developed preliminary hypotheses about the causes of political violence involving refugees.

In the Bosnian case study, I focused on mechanisms that allow refugee involvement in violence. Those mechanisms include mixed populations (refugees and militants); refugee influxes perceived by the receiving state as threatening; manipulation of refugees by leaders; forced conscription; and voluntary mobilization. From the Bosnian case I found that external political conditions, especially support from the receiving state, significantly determined the ability of refugees to mobilize.

In addition to presentation at the Mellon-MIT colloquium, I have presented my research at the International Studies Association (New England) conference (November 1998) and the University of Massachusetts conference on dispute resolution (October 1998). The research has also contributed to my dissertation proposal.

Laura Roper and Winifred Fitzgerald
Oxfam America and the Harvard Center for Population and Development
Summer 1998
Documenting Strategies for Incorporating Conflict Resolution, Reconciliation, and Peace-Building into Humanitarian Assistance in Complex Emergencies

NGO Partner: Oxfam America and Oxfam Quebec

Laura Roper of Oxfam America, Oxfam Quebec, and Winifred Fitzgerald from the Harvard Center for Population and Development collaborated on research in Rwanda to help Oxfam Quebec identify strategies for incorporating reconciliation strategies into all its programming in complex emergencies and their aftermath. After extensive interviews with peer agency staff, journalists, public officials, Oxfam Quebec staff, local NGOs, and community members, the participating Oxfam offices reached several important conclusions. These include: 1) Reconciliation is a term that has many meanings and carries significant emotional and political overtones in a context where there have been ethnically-based killings and reprisals. Many Rwandans found it ill-advised and even offensive that a foreign funding agency should consider positioning itself as promoting reconciliation in such charged circumstances. 2) Good development interventions that meet community needs, bring people together on the basis of shared interests, are sensitive to local circumstances and experience, and create room for participation and dialogue can often play a more effective role in promoting reconciliation than activities identified under that rubric.

The initial results from this study were intriguing enough that Oxfam Quebec wanted to continue its investigations. It has since become part of the Collaborative for Development Action's project on Local Capacities for Peace, a multi-agency effort to identify and test mechanisms to insure that aid organizations' interventions are constructive and do not inadvertently exacerbate conflicts.


Marc Sommers
African Studies Center, Boston University
Summer 1998
Emergency Education for Children

NGO Partner: The Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children

This research began with the premise that educating children during emergency situations is a widely recognized but rarely addressed need. Field inquiry on this issue not only confirmed this but also found that the first line of emergency educators during humanitarian crises are usually not international education experts but members of forced migrant communities. The implications of this finding are significant, because much of the emergency education literature, and the design of many emergency education programs, highlight the input from and direction by outside expertise.

This issue is examined in depth in the final report, which is entitled "Educating Children During Emergencies: A View from the Field." It features findings arising from the application of standard anthropological methods to field research in Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania and internally displaced communities in Colombia in 1998. Additional findings were drawn from anthropological field research in Sierra Leone and Sierra Leonean refugee camps in 1997 and Rwandan refugee camps in Tanzania in 1994. Contextual interviews were also carried out with emergency education experts and humanitarian emergency donors in Washington, Brussels, Geneva, New York, and Nairobi.

The report describes the origins of refugee and displaced community schools and contrasts them with the United Nations-generated "school kits" that have been implemented in some emergency settings. It also considers why more boys than girls receive formal education during emergencies, and examines a number of constraints to emergency education. The report concludes with a series of recommendations aimed at bridging gaps between emergency educators in forced migrant and international humanitarian communities. "Educating Children During Emergencies" was the featured discussion paper for a major emergency education conference at the World Bank in March, 1999 and has been solicited for publication by an education journal. It will also soon be available on the Global Information Networks in Education (GINIE) website.


Robin Jayne Stancavage
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science
Summer 1998
Improving Refugee Statistics

NGO Partner: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

During this 3 month internship in Geneva, I worked under the direction of Bela Hovy, Chief Statistician at UNHCR. I assisted with publication of Refugees and Others of Concern to UNHCR: 1997 Statistical Overiew; researched and created two historical databases on European asylum recognition rates and global refugee populations, and researched and answered internal and external queries. I also participated in updating UNHCR's mailing list for the Statistical Overview, reorganized binders of country-level documentation for creation of the databases, and created "information sheets" that translate key words pertaining to refugees from the original languages into English, in order to make the data more accessible to UNHCR staff and other researchers.

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