On World Refugee Day, we pay tribute to faces of resilience – mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and children, who fled horrific circumstances as refugees, but who continue to strive every day to rebuild their lives with dignity.
As the number of people displaced by conflict climbs to historic highs, it’s easy to lose sight of the faces behind the statistics. But recently, there’s been a sea change in how the world is managing this crisis – by putting people first, and making it possible for refugees to work or go to school and become self-reliant as an integral part of their host country’s development story.
World Refugee Day happens once year, but the issues it is designed to highlight are a daily concern for Lebanon. As the country which hosts the world’s largest number of refugees per capita, Lebanon holds some important lessons. Lebanon almost doubled the size of its national public education system in five years in response to the ongoing refugee crisis, something no country has ever done before. The large increases in primary education seen particularly in African countries in the last decade and a half rarely accounted for more than a 50 percent increase in the total public school population as they were focused on the first six years of school; Lebanon has increased its overall public school population by almost 100 percent.
March 15, 2017. She looked at me curiously, sipping on her juice box. Her pink sweater in contrast to her anemic pallor. If it had not been for the drip in her right arm, she could be any five year old child. Except she was not. She was a refugee, one of the more than 650,000 Syrians that Jordan has been hosting since the start of the war. Exactly six years ago, the civil war in Syria had started a couple of miles away. Six years later the war continued. It was all this girl had seen in her lifetime.
Our continued belief in the enormous resourcefulness, resilience and sheer drive of young Arab women has yet again been reconfirmed.
Today, we celebrate the International Day for Monuments and Sites. This year, the day focuses on Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Tourism, which underlines the important linkage between culture and cities: Culture, identity, and a people-centered approach are central to building the urban future we want and ensuring sustainable urban development.
In relation to the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda this day also presents a unique opportunity to celebrate the long-standing partnership between the World Bank and UNESCO in the area of culture and sustainable development.
The recently-launched UNESCO Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development titled Culture: Urban Future has brought to the forefront of the global discussion the critical role that culture should play in achieving sustainable urbanization, especially over the coming years when one billion people are expected to move to cities by 2030. Culture does not necessarily come in the list of Top 10 issues for sustainable urban development, but it is.
Culture is an essential component of the safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable urban settlements everybody wants to live in. Culture should be at the core of new approaches for people-centered cities, quality urban environments and integrated policy-making.
Specifically, culture contributes to urban development in four aspects. All of them linked to poverty eradication and shared prosperity in a sustainable manner:
Over the past six years, at least half of Syria’s 30,000 physicians—perhaps more, no one knows for sure—have fled the country. Like other Syrian refugees, they have gone wherever they can: Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Europe, and, in much smaller numbers, Canada and the United States.
Born in Tunisia, Selma Turki left her native country for France when she was two. She returned to Tunisia for high school and to pass her Baccalaureate. She studied architecture for two years at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts before moving to Canada to pursue her studies in computer science. She also accomplished leadership and management education at Henley Business School (UK) and Berkeley (US).
Riad Hartani was born and raised in Algiers. He graduated as an engineer from Ecole Polytechnique with highest honors and went on to obtain Engineering and Master degrees in France, both with highest distinctions. At the age of 25, he was awarded a Doctorate in Artificial Intelligence with highest honors and best thesis distinction, from the University of Paris. Subsequently he pursued his work as a post-Doctoral fellow in Machine Learning and Computational Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley.
It’s been six years since the citizens of the Middle East and North Africa came into the streets to demonstrate against, among other pressing issues, economic injustice and lack of government transparency. A wave of hope and optimism swept across the region and new governments were ushered in around the region, with leaders, standing on the shoulders of the “Arab Spring” promising a new era of accountability, openness, political freedom and economic opportunity.
Born in Tunisia, Rym Baouendi left at the age of 18. After passing her Tunisian baccalaureate exam, she attended the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon (France) where she obtained a Master in civil engineering and urban planning as well as a degree in architecture from the Lyon School of Architecture. She later obtained a Master in building engineering from Concordia University in Montreal (Canada).
- Sustainable Communities
- Profiles of the Diaspora
- Migration and Remittances
- Middle East and North Africa
- Yemen, Republic of
- West Bank and Gaza
- United Arab Emirates
- Syrian Arab Republic
- Saudi Arabia
- Iran, Islamic Republic of
- Egypt, Arab Republic of