Duke, UNC Scholars to Hold Public Forum on Refugee Crisis Sept. 14

Mix of faculty and students to speak at free event

Refugees face Hungarian security officials. Photo by Aladár Madarász, Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Science
Refugees face Hungarian security officials. Photo by Aladár Madarász, Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Science

Seven scholars and experts from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will hold a public forum on the refugee crisis in Europe on Monday, Sept. 14, at Duke University.

“Truck 71: Europe and the Refugee Crisis” takes place from 5-6 p.m. in Room 240 of the John Hope Franklin Center. The event, which will include faculty and students, is free and open to the public. 

“Millions of Arabs and Africans are escaping murderous regimes and unlivable conditions in search of freedom and safety,” said miriam cooke, a Duke professor of Asian & Middle Eastern studies who conducted research this summer at a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, that's overcrowded with Syrian refugees. “The mass migration of people from the Global South to Europe has created an unprecedented crisis that EU ministers will address on Monday.” 

European Union interior ministers will hold a special meeting on Sept. 14 to discuss how to respond to Europe’s migrant crisis. 

Speakers at the Duke forum will include:

-- cooke, who will speak about the political context of the Syrian conflict. 

-- Robin Kirk, faculty co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Duke Human Rights Center, will speak on the relationship of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol to the current crisis. 

-- Niklaus Steiner, director of the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC-Chapel Hill, will elaborate on Europe’s struggle to protect refugees. 

-- Dilshad al-Gaaf, research adviser for conflict and disaster prevention at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, will speak about his research on the topic. 

-- Geoffrey Mock, editor of Duke Today news who works with Amnesty International USA on Middle East issues, will talk about building grassroots support and action for Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S. 

-- Duke undergraduate Sama Naqeeb will discuss her work with Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

-- UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate student Peter Cooke will address his experience working with Syrian refugees in France. 

"It’s vital for students, faculty and the broader community to understand and recognize the multiple precarious conditions of refugees today,” said Erdağ Göknar, director of the Duke Middle East Studies Center. “In addition to obvious human suffering, refugees signify the breakdown of states, the collapse of social welfare networks and an indictment of U.S. and European foreign policy in the Middle East.

“They are visceral reminders of all that we, in our soft and hard power engagements with the Middle East, are doing wrong."

The Duke Middle East Studies Center and ISLAMiCommentary (a public scholarship project of the Duke Islamic Studies Center) are co-sponsoring the forum.