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International Health

The Syrian Refugee Crisis

Working to find better solutions for refugees

Department faculty and students have been working on the frontlines and behind the scenes in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The Department’s efforts have been spearheaded by faculty from the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, including Drs. Shannon Doocy, Court Robinson, Gilbert Burnham, Bill Weiss and Paul Spiegel. Our students are also actively involved. Many of them, including PhD candidate Emily Lyles and recent Master’s graduates Ruba Sahab and Stacy Christopher, have been based in the region to support ongoing refugee aid projects.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Searching for Solutions.
September 21, 2015

Events at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

In September 2016, the School is hosting a seminar, The Syrian Conflict and its Effect on the Future of Humanitarian Action featuring Dr. Paul Spiegel, Professor of International Health and the newly appointed Director of the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response. The seminar will focuses on the consequences and evolving context of the Syrian conflict, how the humanitarian system is no longer fit for purpose and the accelerated change needed in humanitarian preparedness and response. More information and the live webcast are available here.

The School hosted a symposium in September 2015 that brought together leading experts on the refugee crises. Speakers at the symposium, The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Searching for Solutions, included Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration. Featured speaker Associate Professor Court Robinson presented on how global support needs to be better coordinated and better funded in a presentation entitled, Global Crises Need Global Solutions. Doctoral student Emily Lyles, MSPH '15, spoke about her experiences working on refugee projects in Lebanon and faculty member Dr. Adam Kushner discussed refugee needs for surgical care. More information about the event is available here

Refugee camp
A little girl stands in front of a wall made from a UNHCR aid bag. Photo by Prof. Gilbert Burnham

Recent and ongoing projects addressing the Syrian refugee crisis

Assessing Needs and Estimating and Monitoring Displaced Populations in Syria

Working in collaboration with the NGO International Orthodox Christian Charities, faculty are conducting a series of needs assessment of populations in Syria affected by the conflict. Because of the limited data available in Syria, these assessments are a valuable source of information that can contribute to an improved understanding of the impacts of the crisis and unmet humanitarian needs. The first assessment was conducted in 2014 and the second assessment in 2016.

Assessing the Feasibility of Cash-based Humanitarian Response in Syria

In partnership with Global Communities and the Cash-based Response Thematic Working Group, JHSPH and International Advisory Products and Systems conducted a feasibility assessment for cash transfers in Northern Syria.  To date the cash-based response in Syria has been limited and this study aims to provide insights to inform scale-up of cash programming in Northern Syria.

Measuring the Impact of Food Assistance in Syria

Non communicable Disease Guidelines and mHealth for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

JHSPH is working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sana mHealth group and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment guidelines and an mHealth tool for non-communicable disease diagnosis and management in Lebanon. The guidelines and mHealth application can be adapted by IOM and other agencies for use with displaced populations and in future emergencies. Read more about the project on the R2HC blog (Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises):  An mHealth Approach to Non-Communicable Diseases for Refugees in Lebanon.

Syrian Refugee Health Access Survey in Jordan and Lebanon

With support of WHO and UNHCR, JHSPH and partners undertook national surveys of Syrian refugees in Jordan (2014) and Lebanon (2015) to better understand access to health care, characterize health service utilization patterns and inform the health sector response. 

Further Reading: Health status and health needs of older refugees from Syria in Lebanon by Jonathan Strong, Christopher Varady, Najla Chahda, Shannon Doocy, and Gilbert Burnham.In Conflict and Health. 2015; 9: 12.

On the air and in the news

Journalists trying to better understand the situation continue to seek the expertise of our faculty and staff. And our faculty have made time to share their knowledge and experience with the public in the hope that it will raise awareness and encourage evidence-based and appropriate responses to the crises.

WYPR’s Midday with Dan Rodricks: Associate Professor Courtland Robinson discusses the response to Europe's refugee crisis. 

What can Europe learn from the Indochina refugee crisis?  On Germany’s international broadcasting channel, Deutsche Welle, Dr. Robinson discusses how the international community dealt with a similar crisis in Indochina, and the lessons to be drawn from the past. 

Assessing Syria’s needs. Q&A with Associate Professor Shannon Doocy. She talks to Global Health Now about findings from one of the many she leads in the region. Her paper, The Humanitarian Situation in Syria: A Snapshot in the Third Year of the Crisis, was published earlier this year in PLOS Currents: Disasters.

Surgeon discusses Afghan hospital bombing and the dangers of working in a war zone. Faculty Associate Dr. Adam Kushner is founder of Surgeons Overseas. He speaks with Greg Rienzi from JHU's The HUB.