An Interview with William Carter, Sudan Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council

The war in Sudan that began in April 2023 has led to a reckoning among humanitarian aid organizations. As international organizations have struggled to alleviate the diverse, complex crises facing people across the country, locally led initiatives and mutual aid...

“We Don’t Have the Luxury to Stop”—An Interview with Syrian Civil Society Activist Oula Ramadan

Observers often summarize the past ten years in Syria in numbers: more than 500,000 killed, 100,000 disappeared, half the population of 22 million displaced, hundreds of billions of dollars of property destroyed and 90 percent of the population currently living in poverty. These shocking figures lay bare the horror caused primarily by President Bashar al-Asad’s brutal crushing of dissent, as well as the international community’s failure to uphold its responsibility to protect civilians.

Syrian Refugees Navigate Turkey’s Shifting Health Care Terrain

Registered Syrian refugees in Turkey are allowed to access free state health care. But the language barrier, registration difficulties and prejudice led to the emergence of informal clinics run by refugee doctors. Although the government has opened Migrant Health Centers to ease access and replace informal clinics, unregistered refugees continue to face challenges. Nihal Kayali interviewed doctors, patients and clinic staff to find out how Syrians strategically navigate Turkey’s shifting health care terrain. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”

NGO Governance and Syrian Refugee “Subjects” in Jordan

The typical image of the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is one of suffering. Journalistic account after account introduces spectacular stories of devastation and loss. While perhaps dramatized, these tales are not false. Syrian refugee camps have forced hundreds of thousands of strangers to live together in austere, unequal and artificially constructed communities, which are subject to new national laws. To live in the camps is indeed to endure or have endured some form of suffering—but also to be part of a collective of survivors.

Egypt’s Popular Committees

During the 18-day uprising of 2011, police disappeared from the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities at the same time that the state emptied the prisons of thousands of convicts. Neighborhood watch brigades, typically led by young men, sprang up to fill the security void as reports of criminal violence mounted. Face to face, or via Facebook, these “popular committees” quickly organized themselves and spread beyond urban centers, driven by the imperative of community defense. In the words of one committee founder: “Committees were everywhere in villages and cities.


On a crisp November day in 1984, I first stepped into the small apartment on Ramallah's main street that housed the offices of what was then known as Law in the Service of Man (a somewhat ungainly translation of the more universal al-qanoun min ajal al-insan — Law in the Service of the Human Being). The receptionist, who doubled as administrative assistant, sat in an entrance space immediately off a small glassed-in veranda. The dining room served as meeting room-cum-library. Two small bedrooms offered working space for researchers.

The Importance of Self-Reliance

Shortly before Eritrea's declaration of independence from Ethiopia in May 1993, members of the Eritrean security forces arrived on the doorstep of the Regional Center for Human Rights and Development (RCHRD) in downtown Asmara, the capital. The center's director knew precisely why they had come — to shut down Eritrea's first postwar NGO.

The Transformation of Islamist NGOs in Palestine

"It's over for this generation of Islamic activists. We tried and failed, but time is on our side. We must plant the seeds for an Islamic future in the next generation through social change. We must alter the mindset and mentality of people through an Islamic value system. We do this through example and education. We do it quietly and with persistence." [1]

Problems of Dependency

On January 7, 2000, Lisa Hajjar spoke with Abdallahi An-Na'im, a lawyer from Sudan and a prominent human rights scholar and activist. He is professor of law at Emory University. Transcription was provided by Zachary Kidd and funded by the Morehouse College sociology department.

Can you highlight some of the factors that contributed to the development of a human rights movement in the Arab world?

From the Editor (Spring 2000)

On a drab Beirut side street is a modest restaurant famed for its delicious cuisine. A favorite haunt of top PLO officials, journalists and various political hangers-on in years past, the restaurant still enjoys a thriving business, serving local residents, shopkeepers and a large and growing entourage of professionals working on projects under the auspices of a wide variety of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

New North African Immigration to Spain

In June 1998 the Spanish government began constructing several 12-foot high fences to halt African immigrants from illegally entering Europe by way of Spain’s North African enclave territory in Melilla. Running along the ten-kilometer border separating Morocco from Melilla, these fences were scheduled for completion by January 1999. They are to be patrolled by members of the Spanish civil guard and monitored by the latest in surveillance technology: cameras, sensors and armed guards stationed in lookout towers. These rigorous new border controls are required by the European Union’s adoption of stricter measures to regulate the inflow of individuals from non-EU nations.

Economic Restructuring in the Middle East

The effect of economic restructuring on women was the focus of a two-day workshop at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies in 1998, entitled “Women and Economic Restructuring in the Middle East: Gender, Jobs and Activist Organizations.” Participants [1] agreed that restructuring both helps and hurts women, depending on specific economic, social and political conditions in individual countries, as well as prevalent ideologies regarding gender and class. Women of the Middle East-North Africa region constitute only a small part of the salaried labor force, attend school for fewer years than males and have a far higher rate of illiteracy.

Mission: Democracy

Incumbent national leaders invite foreign election monitors only when it is in their interest to do so. Rarely is significant financial assistance “conditional” on holding elections, although it does improve a regime’s image abroad to do so. For governments being observed, the trick is to orchestrate the process enough to win, but not enough to arouse observers’ suspicions.

The NGO Phenomenon in the Arab World

Ghanem Bibi is co-founder and coordinator of the Arab Resource Collective based in Nicosia. ARC generates Arabic-language resources for use in community health and childhood development projects, and serves as a networking resource for Arab NGOs. Julie Peteet spoke with him in August 1994, shortly after an Arab NGO preparatory meeting in Lebanon for the March 1995 UN Social Summit in Copenhagen. Joe Stork spoke with him further in early November 1994.

What was the range of organizations attending the regional preparatory meeting?


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