How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp

16 Feb

How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp

The headline for this NYT article is sure to be a HREC attention-grabber.

It focuses on Kilis, a camp for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Compared to many other camps, and certainly compared to the picture of refugee camps that lingers in many imaginations, Kilis is a model facility. What is it doing differently? A few explanations are suggested. One that stands out is this:

“Kilis is not run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Rather, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, asked the U.N.H.C.R. for its camp guidelines — minimum distance between tents, and so on — and then designed its own. It staffed the camps with Turkish government employees, allowing in few NGOs and giving those only supporting roles.”

The article also give some attention to the problems of running ‘nice’ facilities. From a political (in the ‘politicians who want successful careers’ sense) point of view, being ‘too nice’ to refugees is dangerous ground.

Still, reading this on the same day as an article about a break-out from one of Australia’s offshore detention centres – Australia having adopted the policy of advertising how poorly it will treat any ‘asylum seekers’ – I’m pretty sure I know which country is going to come out of this looking good. In places like Kilis, Turkey is setting itself up in the international community as a progressive, humane leader in refugee management.



Liberia students all fail university admission exam

26 Aug

Liberia students all fail university admission exam

I don’t have any substantive commentary to add to this headline: it is so bizarre as to be worth a repost, and it allows me to actually mention education (for once), but beyond that, I really have no idea what to make of this. Usually I’d associate absolute numbers like this with the sort of brazenly doctored statistics of authoritarianism – zero crime, perfect literacy, entire electorates, etc. – but I can’t see why anyone would contrive this. If anything, this seems a moment ripe for a little less transparency: surely someone could have bribed or flattered their way to a passing grade?


Shameless self-promotion: The press arrives at Nauru

18 Jul

Shameless self-promotion: ‘The press arrives at Nauru’

Publication is the last desperate refuge of the underemployed.

There are the beginnings of a decent little debate in the comments section. Would love to hear from more people, either in the comments section of the article, or here.


Shameless self-promotion: ‘History is repeating itself at Guantánamo Bay’

3 Jul

Shameless self-promotion: ‘History is repeating itself at Guantánamo Bay’

This is even more shameless than the last piece of self-promotion. I scribbled out the first draft of this piece. The final version is a vastly improved thing thanks to co-contributor and real writer Garry Pierre-Pierre. Reading his revised draft was a sharp reminder of just how much power and feeling can be packed into very few words.


Shameless self-promotion: ‘Indefinite Detention shouldn’t be Definitive’

23 May

Shameless self-promotion: ‘Indefinite Detention Shouldn’t be Definitive’

I done wrote something. Then someone done published it.

It was Australia’s treatment of refugees that first got me interested in/concerned about Guantánamo. Now it’s going back the other way: the more I learn about Guantánamo, the more I’m concerned that Australia is borrowing its methods.