Letter from the Director, Dr. Jennifer Leaning

Dear colleagues, In the two years since our last report, the major issues that drive our work have become more prominent and more exiguous. As of 2017, one of every 113 people on earth is either an asylum seeker, refugee, or internally displaced. The calamitous wars in Syria and Yemen, the ferocity of the Myanmar regime against its Rohingya citizens, extreme environmental volatility brought about by climate change, increasing political…

Study Estimates Prolonged Increase in Puerto Rican Death Rate After Hurricane Maria

worker with car embedded in dirt

According to an interdisciplinary study released today online at the New England Journal of Medicine, the mortality rate in Puerto Rico may have risen by 62% [95 % Confidence Interval (CI), 11% to 114%] in 2017, after Hurricane Maria. The numbers from this collaboration between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Carlos Albizu University in Puerto Rico, to which the…

Roma Rights and the Next Generation: Alone and Together

By Susan Lloyd McGarry This spring semester Harvard FXB has sponsored or convened three events that brought students and Roma scholars together and suggested some possible future directions in the struggle for Roma rights and in Harvard FXB’s Roma research.. Alone Together: Strength and Solidarity Between the Roma and African American Communities—Harvard FXB’s Sixth Annual International Roma Day Event On April 4, a few days before International Roma Day on…

Do You Know Where You Are Going? (the 2016 eviction from the Calais Jungle)

a reprise from the migrant diaries: Calais, France—Friday October 21, 2016 The eviction is definitely happening Monday. Refugees and volunteers have a meeting this afternoon at the Khyber Restaurant and Annie, one of the long-term volunteers, goes through the facts: The eviction will start on Monday at 8 am. People will be asked to go to a warehouse and queue in one of four lines: vulnerables, unaccompanied children, families, or…

International Moves Can Provide Pathway to Rational, Just and Inclusive Migration Policy, Says Bhabha

picture of Jackie Bhabha talking

Harvard FXB research director Jacqueline Bhabha recently gave the Rethinking Open Society lecture at the Central European University in Budapest earlier this spring. Below is the first paragraph from CEU’s coverage of her talk: “It is hard to think of a time when public engagement with migration policy globally has been as evident or as polarized as it is now,” said Harvard Professor Jaqueline Bhabha, as she opened her Rethinking…

The Question is the Answer: Who Created Flamenco?

Family gathered around guitarist

A personal and political story by Victoria Eugenia Ríos-Terheun My mother, originally from the Bay Area and an American, and my father, a Flamenco guitarist and Gitano (Spanish Romani), moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Morón de la Frontera, Spain to the San Francisco Bay Area shortly before I was born in 1979. They came with my older brother and sister in pursuit of opportunities for my dad’s…

March 20th marks the second anniversary of the first bilateral “migration management” agreement of the European migration crisis. The agreement was forged between the European Union (EU) and Turkey to stem the flow of refugee and migrant arrivals in Europe. Turkey promised to halt the daily departures of thousands fleeing their homes and heading to the EU; in exchange the Union agreed to increase the resettlement of Syrian refugees stranded…

There is No Ceasefire and People Continue to be Killed in East Ghouta

By Jennifer Leaning Following the meeting of the UN Security Council and the unanimous passage of a ceasefire resolution on February 24, in East Ghouta, at least 344 people have been wounded and 71 have been killed every day – totaling 4,829 wounded and 1,005 dead*. Still trapped in E. Ghouta are an estimated 400,000 people. Under pressure from the Russian and Syrian governments, the language of the ceasefire resolution…

Stop the Killing of Civilians in Syria

Attacks on Medical Facilities Are One Aspect of the Crisis for Civilians, FXB Graphic, based on data from Physicians for Human Rights report and webpage, “Anatomy of a Crisis, A Map of Attacks on Health Care in Syria” By Jennifer Leaning On February 24, 2018, the UN Security Council unanimously approved SCR 2401, calling for an immediate stop to the attacks on civilian populations in Syria and a 30-day ceasefire…

A call for action to protect civilians and health care in East Ghouta

Eastern Ghouta Under Siege Since 2013 © UNHCR/Assadullah Amin 2017 photo Death and suffering in Eastern Ghouta, Syria: a call for action to protect civilians and health care from FXB Director Jennifer Leaning, members of the Lancet Commission on Syria, and others engaged in this issue. Since Feb 4, 2018, Syrian forces with Russian support have bombarded Eastern Ghouta, an enclave out of government control near Damascus. This military action…

Roma Slavery is Historical Trauma

The twentieth of February marks the commemoration of five centuries of Roma slavery in Romania, a period which has reverberating impacts even today. Abolished in 1855/6, this episode of massive group trauma is virtually absent from public memory. For whom, then, should this commemoration hold significance? Nationally we continue to experience the fracturing social fault lines of trauma as historically marginalized groups fight for liberation. Globally, the acknowledgment of Roma…

Harvard FXB Responds to White Paper on Data Protection Framework for India

In 2017, the Government of India constituted a special committee of experts chaired by Retired Supreme Court Justice Shri B. N. Srikrishna to study “various issues relating to data protection in India and make specific suggestions on principles to be considered for data protection in India and suggest a draft Data Protection Bill. The objective is to ‘ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure…

An Icy Wind Blows

from the migrant diaries: Calais, France—Autumn 2017 Sunday November 12, 2017* The light is going and there is an icy wind blowing as we walk up the canal to the bleak grassy corner. Brother Johannes told us yesterday this is where the young Oromo hang out and they are here now. [Ed.–The Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.] Some 20 to 30 young…

The Heart of The Matter: Banning Corporal Punishment of Children at Home

‘How can it be that hard to make a law that parents cannot hit their kids? By Johanna von Bahr This question comes from Julia, 13 years, whom I met during a workshop on children’s rights in Stockholm, Sweden. She lives in the country that was the first in the world to prohibit all corporal punishment of children, in the year 1979. Julia’s question is very interesting as it seeks…

A Return to the Beginning: Latest HHR Journal Issue

UNAIDS: #Noexcuse march against gender-based violence. The march coincides with International Men’s Day on November 19. Cape Town City centre, South Africa. Photo: UNAIDS/Dwayne Senior The December 2017 issue of the Health and Human Rights Journal has two special sections: Romani People and the Right to Health, and HIV and Human Rights. Speaking at the launch of the issue at the FXB Center on December 13, executive editor Carmel Williams…

Chilling New Report by FXB’s Sergio Aguayo Cites Greater Death Toll in Allende Massacre

Ginger Thompson, ProPublica A disturbing report released today by researchers at the prestigious Colegio de Mexico provides new details about a 2011 massacre in Allende, a quiet Mexican ranching town less than an hour’s drive from the United States, and suggests that many more people were killed in the incident than estimated by Mexican authorities. The report’s authors also repeatedly cite an investigation of the incident by ProPublica and National…

Psychology holds key to getting people out before disaster strikes

Mass evacuations in response to natural disasters like Hurricane Maria are a logistical challenge, but also face psychological barriers to residents being willing and able to leave. EPA Elizabeth Newnham, Curtin University; Rex Pui-kin Lam, University of Hong Kong, and Satchit Balsari, Harvard University Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense. Recent hurricanes, floods, bushfires and earthquakes have highlighted the significant potential for mass trauma. Yet we know relatively…

the migrant diaries: Mexico 2017-3

It Looks Just Like Haiti by Lynne Jones Tijuana, Mexico* Monday May 1, 2017 Toy making this morning. This is my favourite parent-and-baby group session because everyone always gets completely engaged. And today we have four fathers! At the beginning the infants are rioting around as usual and I am trying to sort out the box of rubbish I bring to demonstrate that your kitchen is full of toys: old…

Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster Class With HarvardX

FXB Director Dr. Jennifer Leaning will be leading a class on Humanitarian response to conflict and disaster. The class will be offered by edX in conjunction with HarvardX and co-taught by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Michael VanRooyen. This course from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and HarvardX seeks to prepare learners to recognize and analyze emerging challenges in the humanitarian field. The course explores the ethical and professional principles that guide humanitarian response…

Protecting Health Care in Armed Conflict: Harvard FXB at UNGA 72

On Friday, September 22, 2017, members of Harvard FXB’s Burden of War Project team, including FXB director and co-chair of the Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria, Dr. Jennifer Leaning, participated in the high-level side event, Protecting Health Care in Armed Conflict at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. The Permanent Missions of Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria…

Jennifer Leaning on Climate Change and Migration

FXB director Dr. Jennifer Leaning has long been concerned about climate change from a humanitarian and human rights perspective, particularly as it affects forced migration.  She will deliver the keynote for an upcoming symposium on Climate Change, Migration, and Health on Thursday, September 28 (free, but registration necessary). Sponsored by the Harvard Global Health Institute,  the symposium explores the grave consequences for global health that climate-induced migration poses in the…

Spotlight on the Harvard FXB Field Education Internship Program

The Harvard FXB Field Education Internship Program is a university-wide program established in 2014 at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. The FXB Field Education Internship Program engages Harvard students in global community service and bridges connections between academia and practice in a university-wide effort. The program provides an opportunity for Harvard students to expand their knowledge of and…

Remembering Heather Adams

Harvard FXB acknowledges today as the one year anniversary of the passing of Heather Adams. We continue to think of her as a guide in all aspects of our development of a research and policy program on disability with dedicated faculty and staff. Her vision continues to inspire our work. Below is a post written by Jennifer Leaning and Jacqueline Bhabha last year upon Heather’s passing: Heather Adams: Remembering a Visionary…

Jennifer Leaning Interviewed by Weatherhead Center on the “Burden of War” in Syria

Our colleague Michelle Nicholasen at Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, interviewed Harvard FXB Director Jennifer Leaning about her experience as co-chair of The Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria and  the “Burden of War” on the Syrian people: Q: At the highest level, what is the nature of the Lancet team’s work? A: We are looking at what I have coined the “burden of war” on civilian populations. We are unpacking the notion of “burden” to…

the migrant diaries: Mexico 2017-2

‘I Did Not Choose to Be Here’ by Lynne Jones Tijuana, Mexico* Thursday May 5, 2017 The problem with making any plans to work with migrant children is that they migrate. Amparo, one of my hosts, had also asked me to do a camera/storytelling workshop with a group of Haitian children living in a shelter here in Tijuana. But four days ago she discovered they that they have all gone…

Sheri Fink on Torture and the CIA for the New York Times

Sheri Fink, Harvard FXB Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent for the New York Times, has a new piece out on the brutality of some C.I.A. interrogation tactics from the testimony of the men who designed and implemented them. Read her story, co-written with James Risen, here now: http://nyti.ms/2sonIeH   You can find a reflection and follow-up by Sheri on this story here. And for more from Sheri, go here.

Video: The Weaponization of Health Care in Syria

The Lancet-American University of Beirut (AUB) Commission on Syria, which FXB director Dr. Jennifer Leaning co-chairs, published its first health policy paper, “Health workers and the weaponisation of health care in Syria: a preliminary inquiry” by Fouad M. Fouad, Annie Sparrow, Ahmad Tarakji, Mohamad Alameddine, Fadi El-Jardali, Adam P. Coutts, Nour El Arnaout, Lama Bou Karroum, Mohammed Jawad, Sophie Roborgh, Aula Abbara, Fadi Alhalabi, Ibrahim AlMasri, and Samer Jabbour. This video…

Reclaiming Roma Adolescence in Harvard Educational Review

The Summer 2017 issue of the Harvard Educational Review (HER) includes “Reclaiming Adolescence: A Roma Youth Perspective,”  a paper about the FXB Roma Program research in Serbia in partnership with the Center for Interactive Pedagogy. Jacqueline Bhabha, Arlan Fuller, Margarete Matache, Jelena Vranjesevic, Miriam Chernoff, Boris Spasic, and Jelena Ivanis coauthored it.  Most of the abstract and a few sentences from the opening paragraph appear below:  In this article, the…

Dear Gadje (non-Romani) Scholars…

By Margareta Matache [This is the third of a three-part blog series, “The White Norm in Gypsy and Romani Studies,” about the racialization and othering of Romani people against a white norm in standard Gypsy and Romani studies. The first segment explored the contribution of Gypsy studies to the perception of the Roma as inferior to their white European counterparts. The second segment showed how the legacy of such thinking…

the migrant diaries: Mexico 2017-1

Refugees at the beginning of the Via Crucis

‘Don’t Hate Migrants’ by Lynne Jones Chiapas, Mexico: Ciudad Hidalgo on the border of Guatemala and Mexico* Sunday April 9, 2017 When I asked the tall woman with the tiny baby why she left El Salvador, she answered in five words: Because they killed my husband. The tiny baby is 27 days old. She holds him close against her chest with a cloth pulled over to protect him from the…

Albina du Boisrouvray Receives France’s Highest Honor: Transforming Tragedy into Humanitarian Action

by Harvard FXB Staff On March 14, 2017, Albina du Boisrouvray was awarded the honor of Officier de la Légion d’honneur, France’s highest order of merit, in a ceremony at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, France. Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, presided over the ceremony attended by close friends and family, including Bernard Kouchner, the founder of Médecins sans Frontières, with whom she worked for…

Reclaiming Roma Identity: Fifth Annual Roma Conference at Harvard

Guest Post by John Anusavice April 9 and 10 marked Harvard FXB’s fifth annual Roma conference, “Culture Beyond Borders: The Roma Contribution.” This year the event opened in the evening with a one-woman play,  “I Declare at My Own Risk,” written and acted by Alina Şerban, an alumna of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a Roma artist who grew up in Romania. Her performance delved into the struggles…

Loving Children by Leaving Them: The Sri Lankan Mother’s Dilemma

By Elizabeth H. Shlala One of the primary reasons that Sri Lankan women migrate is motherhood. 1.2 million Sri Lankans work abroad; 300,000 of them migrate as domestic workers to Saudi Arabia alone. In 2012 86% of all female migrant workers went abroad to be domestic workers or “housemaids.” 97% of Sri Lankan domestic workers migrated to the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,  Saudi Arabia,…

Preventing Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Child Migrants in Greece

By Susan Lloyd McGarry From Australia to Venezuela, from Azerbajian to Vietnam, and many places in between, more than 60 news outlets and websites in at least 15 countries and 10 languages have published information about the recent Harvard FXB report Emergency Within An Emergency: The Growing Epidemic of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Children in Greece. Excerpts and links from some of that coverage is below. Our greatest…

The Harvard FXB Center Celebrates Child Protection Certificate Recipients

By Krista Oehlke On Tuesday, May 2 at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights celebrated and honored its Child Protection Certificate recipients in an award ceremony. The celebration marked a milestone at the Center. Now in its third year, the program has grown exponentially and across disciplines. This spring, 20 graduate students from across the University – from the…

Aadhar and Child Protection in India: Access for the Poorest Remains Elusive

Cute Indian schoolgirls seated at desks

By Elizabeth Donger and Ayesha Mehrotra Every afternoon Meera walks around her neighborhood in Digha, a slum area on the banks of the Ganges in India’s Bihar State, knocking on the empty doorframes. A community protection volunteer with the nonprofit Aangan Trust, she targets families that she knows do not have Aadhaar cards, the national biometric ID card. She explains to parents that Aadhaar is essential for their children’s future,…

Human Health in a Changing Climate

FXB director Dr, Jennifer Leaning has long been concerned about climate change from a humanitarian and human rights perspective, particularly as it affects forced migration. She addresses this topic in two recent videos. First, for the  Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE), she talks about the evolution of her understanding of climate change, including the impact of her work with refugees from Darfur. Go to the HUCE profile of…

New Report: Emergency Within an Emergency, Exploitation of Migrant Children in Greece

For Immediate Release Monday, April 17, 2017 Boston Emergency within an Emergency: The Growing Epidemic of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Children in Greece Much public attention and heartache have been focused on the severe impact of the refugee and migration crisis on children. Images of toddlers drowned and washed up ashore, babies rescued from terrifying journeys, teenagers camping in bitter cold have been widely disseminated. An equally grave…

Does Power Listen to Truth in the Case of the Romani People?

By Margareta Matache, Jacqueline Bhabha, and Andrzej Mirga On March 14, in Fogarasi and Others v. Romania, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) condemned Romanian police officers for their inhuman treatment of a Romani family. According to this highly respected international human rights court, the EU member state’s conduct, as enacted by its law enforcement agents, constituted a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention, which provides that…

Enforce International Law in Syria

By Jennifer Leigh and Jennifer Leaning The United States can hesitate no longer to enforce international humanitarian law in the Syrian war.  The clear-cut use of chemical weapons against civilian populations in northern Syria on Tuesday April 4th violates long-established legal doctrine against the use of these indiscriminate and brutal weapons in war and has inflicted death on scores of civilian women and children.  The Syrian government attack in Khan…

President of India Honors FXB Fellow*

Dr. Satchit Balsari received a prestigious 2016 Dr B.C. Roy National Award from Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, at a ceremony in New Delhi on March 28, 2017. He was honored for outstanding services in the field of sociomedical relief. Dr. Balsari has long had an affiliation with the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, currently as a Research Fellow. He is also an alumnus of…

Realizing Roma Rights: Press Release

For Immediate Release, Boston MA, March 29, 2017 Today Harvard FXB research director Jacqueline Bhabha and instructor and director of the Roma Program Margareta Matache announce the release of Realizing Roma Rights, a volume they have edited with Andrzej Mirga, Chair of the Roma Education Fund. The book, published by University of Pennsylvania Press, investigates anti-Roma racism and documents a growing Roma-led political movement engaged in building a more inclusive and…

Stories from Aleppo: Medical Workers under Siege

By Marge Dwyer The stories told by health workers from Syria were heartbreaking. They spoke of making desperate attempts to save people injured in a chemical attack on a hospital… of struggling to save people’s eyesight after they were hit in the face by shrapnel and rocks… of delivering babies, only to have them die later because they needed crucial medicines that were not available because of war conditions. These…

Dr. Jumana Odeh Honored with 2017 World of Children Award

Congratulations to FXB fellow, Dr. Jumana Odeh, for her selection as one of four 2017 World of Children awardees. The award recognizes her for her long-standing work at the Palestinian Happy Child Centre in Ramallah with children who have developmental and learning disabilities or neurological disorders. This award is particularly prestigious as it is the alumni award–given to former awardees for their substantial further contributions. Dr. Odeh had previously been…

The Weaponization of Healthcare: From the Lancet/AUB Commission on Syria

On March 14, the Lancet-American University of Beirut (AUB) Commission on Syria, which FXB director Dr. Jennifer Leaning co-chairs, published its first health policy paper, “Health workers and the weaponisation of health care in Syria: a preliminary inquiry” by Fouad M. Fouad, Annie Sparrow, Ahmad Tarakji, Mohamad Alameddine, Fadi El-Jardali, Adam P. Coutts, Nour El Arnaout, Lama Bou Karroum, Mohammed Jawad, Sophie Roborgh, Aula Abbara, Fadi Alhalabi, Ibrahim AlMasri, and…

April 9 & 10 Culture Beyond Borders: The Roma Contribution

The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights will host the Fifth Annual Roma Conference, Culture Beyond Borders: The Roma Contribution, at Harvard University to mark International Roma Day. The event will bring together academic, literary, artistic, and student communities to explore the contributions of the Roma community to global culture, arts, and material production. The Harvard FXB Center has organized an event on International Roma Day for the past four years. Previous…

In the News: “What Is Best About Ourselves: We Welcome Others and Grow Together” FXB on U.S. Immigration Policy

The January 27 executive order restricting travel, immigration, and refugee entry to the United States signaled major policy changes in those areas. Despite the recent stay of the immigration order upheld by the 9th District Court of Appeals, litigation is likely to continue and the attitudes implicit in these orders are likely to reappear in policy. FXB’s director Jennifer Leaning and director of research Jacqueline Bhabha have recorded a podcast…

Why the Australia-US Deal? Unwanted, Stranded Refugees

Men standing on top of building with signs adking for help

By Alexandra Lancaster Undocumented migrants who embark on the perilous journey by sea to Australia in search of asylum are taken to detention centers offshore on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on the Republic of Nauru (an impoverished island-country in the Pacific). There they are processed and there they stay. Australia is one of the few countries that allow people to be detained indefinitely. There are approximately 1200…

In the News: No Correlation Between Refugees and Terrorists, Facebook Live

Brief Background In a Facebook Live event (click here to go to the webcast of 45 minutes) at Harvard Kennedy School on February 3, Professor Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB’s director of research, discussed refugees and the January 27 US executive order on immigration with Matt Cadwallader. The order (full text here) covers several points, among them: a 90-day ban on all travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia,…

In the News: FXB and the US Immigration Executive Order

Late afternoon Friday, January 27, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order changing US policies and procedures regarding immigration and refugees. The situation is in flux. On February 3 in Seattle, federal judge James Robart, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, issued a nationwide stay, temporarily stopping enforcement of the order and ordering airlines to allow affected passengers to fly into the United States. Since the…