An AUB professor is challenging xenophobia against Syrians with facts – by Mariam Nabbout
In a bid to counter the current negative perceptions on the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, Dr. Nasser Yassin, Director of Research at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, and professor of policy and planning at the faculty of Health Sciences (American University of Beirut), decided to launch a powerful series on Twitter.
Titled « fact of the day, » the thread aims to create a more nuanced debate on the issue by challenging false perceptions with facts and evidence.
Speaking to Stepfeed, Dr. Yassin, explains that the influx of over 1 million (registered) Syrian refugees into Lebanon as war continues to rage in their country, has led many to view the population as a burden on an already fractured infrastructure and society.
However, this view is not based on any evidence and has created an unbalanced rhetoric on the issue that is often strengthened by false media narratives and failing governmental policies.
This is why Dr. Yassin believes that this skewed rhetoric must be countered by another that is purely based on academic research.
The « fact of the day » series is part of the #AUB4refugees initiative:The need to revert narratives from « refugees as burden » to « refugees as assets »
“The narrative constructed around the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and elsewhere is mostly negative and portrays refugees as a burden on societies. You’ll often hear people say things like ‘they’re taking all our jobs, or they’re using up all our resources,’ but these statements are often generalizations and are rarely based on facts, » he says.
Dr. Yassin stresses that while there always is a type of burden that comes with any refugee crisis, especially when it comes to the increased pressure on social services and infrastructure in poorer countries like Lebanon, there are also positive aspects that are often ignored.
Through his research, he not only focuses on challenging the current views on the crisis but also works on developing solutions and policies that aim to help in alleviating its effects.
« A refugee only becomes a burden when they are left without education and without an opportunity to contribute to their host countries, » he says, adding that the major concern today is the large numbers of young refugees in Lebanon who are not attending school.
The facts Dr. Yassin shares on Twitter are eye-opening and aim to slowly change the way that many view the refugee crisis in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world.
Here are a few of them:
Refugees can be major contributors to a host country’s economy
The majority long to return to their countries once war ends
Most often do not benefit from even the most basic of services
Financial aid has been received by several host countries including Lebanon