Aiding Activism? Humanitarianism’s Impacts on Mobilized Syrian Refugees in Jordan

in Middle East Law and Governance
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A common narrative of the Syrian conflict suggests that it began with a grassroots uprising and devolved into a violent war between armed actors, leaving civilians to become victims or warriors. A more careful consideration of developments in and around Syria uncovers evidence of continued unarmed mobilization among civilians. Indeed, refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan are deeply engaged in humanitarian, developmental, and political endeavors. In this study, qualitative research and a unique survey together demonstrate that Syrians in Jordan have engaged in abundant activism on behalf of the Syrian cause. Still, the overwhelming militarism and humanitarianism that have characterized the Syrian crisis have had their impacts: activist organization is constricted and configured by security imperatives and, paradoxically, by the aid regime assisting civilians in the conflict. In turn, activism has evolved from grassroots mobilization to a formal and aid-based response to a humanitarian crisis.

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    Eligible participants were 18 years or older, of Syrian origin living or working in Amman Governorate, had not previously engaged in the survey, and had engaged in activism on behalf of the Syrian cause since coming to Jordan

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    Education (proportions presented with 95% confidence intervals)

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    Place of origin of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan (Dec. 2016 figures from unhcr) and of activist refugees in Amman Governorate

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    Form of activism that participants have been engaged in most recently

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    In red, the activism that participants have engaged in since coming to Jordan. In blue, the form of activism they have been engaged in most recently

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