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2004 Mellon-MIT Grantees

Jessica Walker-Keleher Harvard University & Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy-- "Exploring Peace Education in the Mano River Sub-Region of West Africa"
Sarah Titus Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy -- "Can Refugee Camps Improve the Status of Women?"
Dr. Theresa Stichick Betancourt Boston University, Boston Medical Center-- "Peace or Peril? Life Trajectories of War-Affected Chechen IDP Youth Served by an Emergency Education Intervention"
Daniel Esser MIT & London School of Economics -- "The Making of Urban Communities for Peace: Analyzing Prevalence and Politics of Current Approaches in Freetown, Sierra Leone"
Belete Bizuneh MIT -- "Media Reconstruction in Afghanistan: Observing Information Needs, Capacity, and Delivery in Transition"
Dr. Annie Sparrow Harvard School of Public Health -- "A Review and Follow-up of Children and Unaccompanied Minors held in mandatory detention in Australian Immigration Centre 2001-2004"
Stephen Offutt Boston University -- "The Relevance of Network Theory and the Importance of Agency to Refugee Communities"
Susan Banki Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy -- "Local Actors, Social Factors: Determinants of Intermediate Destination of Karen Refugees in Thailand"
Edith Roset-Bahmanyar Harvard School of Public Health -- "Assessment of the Reproductive Health Status of Afghan Refugees in Mashad, Khorassan Province, Iran"


Jessica Walker-Keleher 
Harvard University, Graduate School of Education and Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
June 12-August 15, 2004
Exploring Peace Education in the Mano River Sub-Region of West Africa

NGO Partners: UNHCR and International Rescue Committee 

Peace education has been articulated as an academic concept since the 1960s. It is currently considered a component of quality basic education by several international bodies and is frequently seen as being pragmatic, both about and for peace. But peace education is a controversial concept and scholars continue to debate its content.

This proposed study has three aims: (1) To capture the varied experiences of refugees, IDPs, and returnees around the implementation of a UNHCR peace education program in countries in the Mano River sub-region of West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), (2) To gather “lessons learned” and deepen our understanding of the broad impact of this life skills education program, and (3) To contribute to the current international initiative to develop a set of minimum standards for education in emergencies.

Sarah Titus
Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
June 3-August 31, 2004
Can Refugee Camps Improve the Status of Women?

NGO Partner: CORD (Christian Outreach Relief and Development)

This project is a 10-week internship with a UK-based NGO, CORD (Christian Outreach Relief and Development) that works as an implementing partner for UNHCR in Western Province, Zambia. The primary focus of the internship will be conducting exploratory research into women’s experiences in the refugee camps - Mayukwayukwa and Nangewshi – that have been home to Angolan refugees fleeing civil war in their country. The research will examine whether or not the access to resources in refugee camps improves the women’s ability to support themselves and raises their status within society. The project will use qualitative interviews with refugee women inside the camps and those who self-settled in the region to collect data about their experiences, as well as consulting NGO and UNHCR staff as to their observations. The women will be questioned as to their access to and use of resources in five areas identified as possessing the potential to enable women to increase control over and improve their lives: education and training, aid (for trade), micro credit loans/income generating projects, employment and volunteer opportunities with NGOs, and health care and family planning. The research is intended to increase the understanding of women’s use of programs and resources provided in refugee camps and the real impact it has on improving their lives.

Dr. Theresa Stichick Betancourt
Boston University, Boston Medical Center
November, 2004-April, 2006
Peace or Peril? Life Trajectories of War-Affected Chechen IDP Youth Served by an Emergency Education Intervention

NGO Partner: International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The study is a follow up of data collection begun in 2000 in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to identify and describe risk and protective factors influencing the successful psychosocial adjustment and attitudes about peace and conflict among adolescents displaced by the war in Chechnya. This wave of data collection will involve a follow-up survey of the original N=184 adolescents and a comparison group of 135 adolescents served by enriched programs via the IRC emergency education program in Ingushetia and Chechnya. One index caregiver will also be interviewed for each adolescent. Additionally, the follow-up design will add a series of 20 individual, open-ended interviews with adolescents identified to be at the upper and lower ends of functioning according to the baseline data. This study seeks to examine the influence of psychosocial risk and protective factors such as life opportunities (i.e. non-formal and formal education) and social support on key developmental outcomes such as mental health adjustment and attitudes about peace and conflict in a cohort of adolescents displaced by the war in Chechnya. These analyses will provide a foundation for developing policies and programs to better assist war-affected children, their families and communities.

Daniel Esser
MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning and LSE, Development Studies Institute
October 16 – November 30, 2004
The Making of Urban Communities for Peace: Analyzing Prevalence and Politics of Current Approaches in Freetown, Sierra Leone

NGO Partners: CARE and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), UNOCHA

The theoretical literature increasingly acknowledges a lack of empirical knowledge concerning the role of cities in peace building. I will conduct a field trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to investigate the relevance, prevalence and politics of city-level initiatives targeting the reintegration of returning Sierra Leonean refugees and IDPs in the context of the inter-agency 2004-2007 UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the World Bank-funded peace-building and development strategy (Sierra Leone National Social Action Project 2003-2008). The study asks to what extent the city of Freetown appears as a distinct space of agency in both planning and praxis. It seeks to understand whether and under which conditions effective city-level initiatives are emerging, and who the agents of such initiatives are. The results will help evaluate the effectiveness of recent efforts to reintegrate returned refugees and IDPs in Freetown. The study will also scrutinize the viability of city-level approaches to conflict transformation in post-war settings in developing countries more generally and identify potential areas for improvement. This research is part of a larger comparative project theorizing and testing the relevance of urban approaches to peacebuilding in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

Belete Bizuneh
Boston University
June 1-September 14, 2004
Warfare, Displacement and Pastoral Survival Strategies along the Borana Borderland (Southern Ethiopia), 1940s to the Present

NGO Partners: Oxfam America, Care Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s southernmost border district of Borana has experienced recurrent environmental and political shocks since the early 1940s. Among these shocks are drought and famine, outbreak of epizootics and low scale intensive warfare that pitted the different pastoralists of the region against each other and against agents and institutions of the three neighboring states: Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

A major outcome of these environmental and political shocks has been the death of thousands of people and the destruction of livestock, the primary wealth of the pastoralists of the region. Furthermore these shocks were responsible for the displacement of a large group of people within the district as well as across the international border into northern Kenya and southern Somalia. Having lost their livestock, many of these individuals have found it difficult to re-enter the pastoral economy thereby deepening the crisis of livelihood in the region.

This project seeks to understand the ways in which current patterns of crisis in livelihood at regional and household level have deeper trajectories that provide the context for repeated displacement of people in the region. It asks why this border has been susceptible to both environmental and political shocks. In particular it investigates the contest over the use of pastoral resources (pasture, water, and salt licks), which are the critical resources around which conflicts centered. It also analyzes the central roles played by the states of the region in creating the environment for such contest through the imposition of different ecological, economic and administrative policies. Furthermore, it examines the multiple livelihood strategies deployed by pastoralists to deal with difficulties created by displacement. The project will document and analyze these issues using hitherto little used Ethiopian national and district administrative and security documents as well as oral sources.

Dr. Annie Sparrow
Harvard School of Public Health
July-August 2004
A Review and Follow-up of Children and Unaccompanied Minors held in mandatory detention in Australian Immigration Centre 2001-2004

NGO Partners: Alliance of Health Professionals concerned about the Health of Asylum Seekers and their Children, Tearfund

In recent years hundreds of children and their families seeking asylum in Australian have been incarcerated indefinitely in Detention Centres in Australian and on Nauru. Previous investigation into the health and welfare of children in detention in has revealed tens of children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unaccompanied minors (UAMs) in particular displayed a high incidence of depression, self-mutilation, and suicide attempts. Many children and families are now released, but hold only Temporary Protection Visas (TPV’s), and thus are highly likely to be forcibly sent back to the countries of origin – namely Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan as a result of the recent overthrow of the oppressive regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the ongoing conflict and insecurity.

A follow –up study of these children, in order to ascertain the incidence of PTSD to review the health and education resources accessible to families with TPVs. and to assess the provision made to foster readiness for return to country of origin. Additionally, an inquiry into whether fostering of UAMs in culturally appropriate families is a feasible alternative to holding UAMs in detention

A clinical review of children located will be performed: assessment of physical health, developmental staging using standardised Griffiths criteria, and modified DSM-III criteria for PTSD. These qualitative and quantitative data will be analysed using descriptive statistics. An assessment of the facilities currently available to children inside detention, particularly with regards to education facilities, is desirable but will depend upon access. Research will be performed in South Australia, where the largest population of migrants reside as a result of proximity to the largest detention centre.

This work will go towards policy-making to a model for a legislative and regulatory framework for a more flexible detention regime; and the review of visa privileges to encourage the accordance of the same access to resources for those holding Temporary Protection Visas as those holding permanent visas. Additionally, given the new emphasis on forced return, the establishment of guidelines for foster readiness to return to country of origin.

Stephen Offutt
Boston University, Department of Sociology
June 29-August 5, 2004
The Relevance of Network Theory and the Importance of Agency to Refugee Communities

The Central American civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s created hundreds of thousands of refugees. Refugee resettlement programs provided space for these people to live, but most did not address the severely torn social fabric of these communities. Thus, social institutions have continued to disintegrate, while crime and violence are now part of everyday life. The most effective, and often only, entities to address these concerns have been local churches, many of which are evangelical.

This study will examine the impact of evangelical social networks and agency on poverty in former refugee communities. I will observe the ties (especially weak ties) that exist both within and beyond the community, uncover their characteristics, examine the kinds of goods that travel across them, and assess the origin and attributes of the agency that dynamizes these networks.

Susan Banki
Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
September-December, 2004
Local Actors, Social Factors: Determinants of Intermediate Destination of Karen Refugees in Thailand

NGO Partner: Maryknoll

When refugees flee across borders seeking protection, they generally reside in one of three intermediate destinations – refugee camps, rural areas, or cities – before the conflict that caused their flight is resolved. This project studies one of Burma’s ethnic groups seeking refuge in Thailand: the ethnic Karen refugees. Through interviews with Thai government officials, NGO employees, members of the host community, and Karen refugees, I will seek to explain why the ethnic Karen are split between rural areas and refugee camps, as contrasted to Burma’s other ethnic groups, who possess different settlement patterns in Thailand. The research additionally examines the consequences of both destinations. Therefore, the main research questions are: 1) What are the determinants of Karen refugee destination in the intermediate term? 2) For the Karen refugees, how does settlement in a rural area offer different opportunities, challenges, and obstacles than settlement in a camp? I hypothesize that, in Thailand, local actors influenced by social factors primarily determine refugee destination in the intermediate term. Ethnic similarity between members of a host community and refugee populations increases the likelihood that refugees will be able to move away from camps. Furthermore, in the case of the Karen, those who reside in rural settlements possess greater access to economic opportunities, cultural connections, social services, and freedom of movement than those in camps.

Edith Roset-Bahmanyar
Harvard School of Public Health
June-September, 2004
Assessment of the Reproductive Health Status of Afghan Refugees in Mashad, Khorassan Province, Iran

NGO Partners: National Council for Arts and Culture, The Gambia and Search for Common Ground, Sierra Leone

The Mellon Fellowship I was awarded gives me the opportunity to do an internship at the Center for Disease Control in the Refugee Branch in Atlanta.
The objective of the Internship is to write a study protocol to assess the reproductive health status of Afghan refugee in Mashhad, Iran. I will be supervised during the internship to work on the methodology and to review the survey instrument with existing standardized questionnaires developed by the Center of Disease Control. Afghan refugees in Iran were granted the right to settle freely on the territory. Thus the sampling process needs to be well prepared in order to be representative of this particular sub-group of the population.

The goal of this study is to assess how the massive influx of women coming from a country with a much lower socio-economic and education level than the one of the host country did actually adapt to and was integrated into a well functioning health system. Mashhad is a wealthy pilgrim city in the Khorassan Province, in the Northeast of Iran. Estimate reports that some 10% of the 1.9 million Afghan Refugees are living in the suburbs of this city. The Iranian government said that Afghan refugees must have free access to health care. However, some barriers may still prevent Afghan women from seeking care and receiving good care during pregnancy and delivery. This study will illustrate the constraints and limitations of the Iranian model of hosting refugees, and may help in understanding refugees’ vulnerability in a host country where they are not always welcome.

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