The Refugee Hosts team worked closely with a network of researchers based in the Middle East throughout all stages of the project. Local researchers worked on field research in diverse neighbourhoods and communities responding to displacement from Syria.


Hanaa Dahdal

Hanaa Dahdal is a Syrian researcher who graduated with a degree in Education and Psychology from Damascus University in 2012. Hanaa has worked with NGOs as a trainer and outreach officer. Hanaa has a wealth of experience in the humanitarian section, having worked in particular with refugees, and on projects and initiatives that focus on awareness-raising and psychological support and life-skill development for mothers and children. Beyond her work and research interests, Hanaa enjoys cooking and swimming.

Reem El Khatib

Reem El Khatib is a Palestinian-Lebanese refugee currently living in Lebanon. She recently received her B.A in Psychology from the American University of Beirut. She was a volunteer and then coordinator on the AUB-Kayany connect project, which was led by Professor Tony Hoffman at AUB. The program offered psychosocial activities to Syrian refugee children residing in the Bekaa valley camps, Lebanon. While assisting Professor Hoffman, Reem also helped run activities at an elementary school and at the Malala school in Saadnayel, Bekaa. Here, among other activities, she directed classes that focused on self-expression, theater and puppetry.  Reem is interested in studying resilience in refugees, as well as, the psychological effects of forced migration. Reem is hoping to specialise in refugee protection and war related trauma in the long run.

Leonie Harsch

Leonie Harsch is a local researcher for the Refugee Hosts project. In 2018, she completed a year of fieldwork on local community responses to displacement in Lebanon for Refugee Hosts. During this time she also worked with an NGO in Beirut, and undertook primary research for Refugee Hosts’ project partner, the JLI Hub on Refugees and Forced Migration, as part of a JLI-UNHCR action research project designed to help inform the Global Refugee Compact. In Lebanon, she has also conducted policy research for the UN’s regional commission. Leonie’s research focuses on the underlying narratives of responses to displacement and migration, particularly with regards to refugees from Syria in Lebanon and Europe. She holds an MSc in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a BA in International Literatures and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Tuebingen.

Bayan Itani: 

Bayan Itani is a Lebanese writer and researcher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University (2009) and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the American University of Beirut (2015). Bayan has had several experiences working with refugees around Lebanon, particularly after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. These include monitoring protection work, overseeing surveying procedures, and conducting communication activities. Bayan’s hobbies are reading and writing; she writes socially themed Arabic short stories for children to fulfil this passion.

Mohammad Abu Iyad

Mohammad is a Palestinian refugee from Baddawi camp in North Lebanon, where he has previously worked for UNRWA and a number of local NGOs and CBOs. Mohammad writes short stories, including pieces which have recently appeared in an edited collection published in Germany.


Rahmeh Abu Shweimeh

Rahmeh Abu Shweimeh is a pharmacy graduate, an entrepreneur, a social activist, a US department of State alumna, Open Hands Initiative fellow and AMENDS delegate. She was also recently chosen as a member of the first Women Leaders Network in Jordan. Rahmeh has also spoken at a number of national and international events such as Women’s International Day and Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. She aspires to lead positive change in her country and beyond.

Shatha El Nakib

Shatha El Nakib earned her Masters in Public Health from Columbia University with a specialisation in Epidemiology and a certificate in Humanitarian Assistance. Currently, she is a project officer in the Population Council, where she leads the organization’s activities in Jordan and the monitoring and evaluation component of the USAID-funded project “Expanding the Role of the Private Sector in Addressing Family Planning Needs of Young People in Egypt”. Before joining the Population Council, Shatha worked with UNICEF Middle East and North African regional office in Jordan, with the Child Survival and Development unit. Her work was in the area of public health response to emergencies.

Sura Al-Mahasis

Sura AlMahasis is a Doctor of Pharmacy graduate (2017) from Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST). Currently, she works for the University of Jordan as a Clinical Pharmacy Preceptor. She also worked as a research assistant in the School of Pharmacy at JUST, conducting research projects concerned with multiple disease states in Jordan. She is a US Department of State International Exchange alumna, member of the 2018 Class of Women Deliver Young Leaders Program, and a volunteer for the Jordanian Society for Human Development in Jerash; where she was introduced to the Syrian refugees in her community for the first time.

She is interested in cultures, volunteering and traveling. She also likes to read and write and sometimes she publishes her writings on different social media platforms. As a clinical pharmacist, Sura hopes to specialize in infectious diseases and critical care.

Rania Al-Saheb

Rania Al-Saheb is a Palestinian who lives in Jordan. She is local researcher for the Refugee Hosts project, conducting field work in Irbid. She holds a Bachelors degree in English Literature, and has worked as an English teacher in Dubai. Rania has had several experiences working with Syrian refugees and other NGOs in Irbid as a volunteer. She is interested in women and children’s issues and believes that every human being should have better life.


Paladia Ziss

Paladia Ziss holds a BSc in Human Sciences from University College London and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford. Before joining Refugee Hosts, she worked in development and humanitarian projects in Germany and Turkey in the area of protection and integration of refugees. She also did research on gender equality, transnational activism and statelessness in Palestine and the UK. Currently, she is based in Frankfurt and working as a freelance researcher and development consultant in gender and forced migration.

Leonie Harsch

Leonie Harsch has conducted field research for the Refugee Hosts project in Lebanon and is currently continuing this work in Germany. For more information, please see her bio in the Lebanon section above.


Iman Azzi

Iman Azzi is a Lebanese-American researcher based in London. She earned a BSc from Georgetown University and an MA from the American University of Beirut and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Education, UCL, where she studies how Arab youth are enacting, reproducing, re-contextualising and challenging notions of citizenship through their engagement with formal international education programming. At UCL, Iman is also a member of the education subcommittee of the Refuge in a Moving World network, which most recently coordinated a project with women refugees and migrants living in London to exchange ideas and experiences related to migration and belonging. These discussions culminated in an exhibit called We Are Movers.  Previously, she has worked as a journalist, teacher, and education consultant.