The project has documented and analysed the significant role that ‘overlapping displacements’ (see Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2016 and Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Qasmiyeh, 2017) play in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Local communities responding to displacement in all three countries are also responding to long-standing and historic processes of displacement and exile, arising both from internal displacement, but also from the international displacement of Palestinians, Kurds, Iraqis and Syrians.

Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds share the camp, the same-different camp, the camp of a camp. They have all come to re-originate the beginning with their own hands and feet.

Writing the Camp, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh

The overlapping nature of these displacements is often overlooked in formal humanitarian responses, preventing a more joined-up and sustainable response. For example, formal humanitarian assistance for Syrians may exclude other displaced communities, despite them sharing space in camps and urban areas. By contrast, local community responses can be less exclusionary, providing examples that shed a light on both the unintended consequences of humanitarian intervention, and the complex interactions that take place locally between diverse communities of displaced people.

Our project has frequently encountered examples of the more informal nature of local response, which the project Principal Investigator has described as the ‘poetics of undisclosed care‘ that emerges in contexts of overlapping displacement. Other examples that arise include camp-based and refugee-led responses to Covid-19, which has seen Palestinian refugees supporting the Syrian refugees they live alongside, highlighting how overlapping communities come together to respond to the overlapping crises of displacement and a pandemic.

In Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, many refugees who participated in the project have drawn on their own experience of having hosted refugees in the past (i.e., Syrians hosting refugees from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq before being displaced themselves). Similarly, host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are often also made up of communities who have been and/or are refugees themselves (i.e., Palestinians living in Lebanon, and hosting Syrians in their locality). These experiences play an important role in shaping both local community motivations to host refugees, as well as different groups of refugees’ expectations relating to support.

These findings are significant for policy makers and practitioners working with displacement-affected communities and help increase our understanding of the historical experiences that inform responses to displacement in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

They also shed a light on refugee-host dynamics: rather than presenting refugee-host relations as a binary of ‘aid recipient’ versus ‘citizen provider of assistance’, this project demonstrates that in the context of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, the lines between refugee and host are frequently blurred. Host communities may themselves be composed of individuals who have a personal or familial history of being displaced themselves, and simultaneously, refugees are seen to provide material assistance to ‘established’ hosts experiencing poverty. Improving our understanding of these dynamics will help to prevent potential exclusions in humanitarian support and assistance, focusing on the shared needs that displacement-affected communities experience rather than treating ‘refugees’ and ‘hosts’ as clearly distinguishable for the purposes of humanitarian support and assistance.

We will be updating this page with more resources and findings in due course.