The case of women scientists living as refugees

The Institute of International Education (IIE), a non-profit organization based in New York City that supports international researchers, estimates that thousands of displaced scientists from Syria, Iraq and Yemen are now living as refugees elsewhere. The IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) offers fellowships and is one of a small number of sources of support for refugee scientists’ efforts to keep their research going, as reported by Nature 598, 527; 2021. Another is the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA), a London-based charity that helps academics to continue their work at one of 124 partner universities and institutions in the United Kingdom, or in other safe locations. The EU-funded InSPIREurope project creates a Europe-wide alliance to make sure researchers receive the support they need, with the participation of 9 European institutions and a budget of 1.492.321,25 euros for 3 years until 31 August 2022.

Unsurprisingly, female refugee scientists can face extra challenges — including gendered, cultural and socio-political barriers to academia (see R. Ibesh et al. Int. J. Educ. Res. Open 2, 100027; 2021). At CARA, for example, there is a 6:1 ratio of men to women among programme participants.

Of unchanged actuality are the testimonies of two Syrian Faculty members, Hanadi Ibrahim and Oula Abu-Amsha, of their difficulties to migrate and find their appropriate place in the Western World as refugee scientists at the Sharing Knowledge Conference 2019. The videos can be watched following the links below.

Video presentation of Hanadi:

Video presentation of Oula:

Video debate:


From the left: Oula Abu-Amsha (Jesuit Worldwide Learning, Switzerland), Hanadi Ibrahim (Simon Fraser University, Canada and member of the Refugee Scholars Network, Syria) and Vincent Chetail (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva) at the Sharing Knowledge Foundation Conference, June 2019 (SKF 2019): (
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