This presentation was given by Dima Al-Hamadmad at the Refugee Hosts International Conference and examined the many narratives regarding the Syrian conflict and subsequent displacement of refugees from Syria, and the impact of this narrative on refugee rights and an increasingly hostile environment. 

Objective enough to tell the truth

by Dima Al-Hamadmad, Researcher, Refugee Hosts

Objectivity means telling the truth, and describing events and contexts without previous bias, and regardless what others say. However, this is not the case in the claimed objectivity adopted in many narratives that describe the Syrian context or tell refugees’ stories. There is always a part that is vague, shaded, gray, a part that avoids the truth and the real stories.

When one describes what has been happening in Syria as a “civil war” or with a vague description like “conflict” or “crisis”, without referring to the actual perpetrator, s/he takes displacement out of its true context. Thus, this out-of-context displacement turns  refugees into a mere emergency humanitarian case; people who fled a random war and cross-fire, and who deserve international compassion. Those who decide to be “neutral” or actually “gray”, are ignoring that there is a cause behind this displacement, perpetrators, a whole regime against people chanting for freedom. As long as those narrators remain gray and don’t refer to the cause of refugees’ suffering, they ignore the refugees’ rights to justice and accountability,

Moreover, when one says it is just a “war”, the normal local response, in the first place,  would be empathy; however, when this claimed war reaches an “end”, the normal response again would be that refugees now should go back home, as it is “stable” and “safe” again, and there is no reason that they should stay in the hosting countries. Gradually, through this narrative, the refugee-hosts relationship will deteriorate, and the environment will be suitable for hostilities and racism to flourish.


If you found this piece of interest please visit the recommended reading list below:

Reflections from the Field Series

Representations of Displacement Series

Adams, H. (2018) Syrian and Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon and the Emergent Realities of Return

Berg, M. and Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Hospitality and Hostility towards Migrants: Global Perspectives—An Introduction

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Disrupting humanitarian narratives?

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Reflections from the Field: Introduction to the Series

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) The Poetics of Undisclosed Care

Itani, B. (2019) The importance of identity – reflections from fieldwork in Hamra, Beirut

Stonebridge, L. (2018) Undoing the Meaning of the World: Creation and Decreation in Contemporary Refugee Studies

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s