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Discussion to explore refugee crisis through health care, human rights

Emory Report | Feb. 2, 2016

A discussion entitled "Refugee Crisis, Human Rights, and Medicine" will be Friday, Feb. 5, at 1 p.m. in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library.

The conversation is part of English and French professor Valérie Loichot's University Course titled "Discourse of Disaster." It is one of the open sessions of this University Course, which focuses on representations of disaster, ways of understanding disaster, and practical responses to such events.

Emory cardiology fellow Heval Mohamed Kelli and Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naïm, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, will discuss human rights and the practice of medicine in relation to the current refugee crisis affecting the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the world.

Loichot says, "I was finalizing the program for my "Discourse of Disaster" course against the backdrop of devastating news of the crisis of hundreds of refugees drowning each week in the Eastern Atlantic and in the so-called 'Mediterranean Graveyard' to escape war and hardship in the Middle East and North Africa to reach the shores of Europe. I decided that this had to be a crucial part of my University Course."

The event on Friday will begin with a presentation by Drs. Kelli and An-Na'im.

Kelli is a Syrian refugee. His talk will describe the struggle of immigrants and refugees to receive quality health care and obtain higher education.

"I will also discuss the importance of education as a solution to integrate refugees into their new homes and improve their lives and communities," he says, adding he will use his story on how "my academic progress positively impacted and benefited the Kurdish and Syrian community in Georgia. 

"I will use examples of my work with Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, Emory cardiologist, in the Clarkston Community Health Center to provide quality and free medical care for uninsured people and immigrants in Clarkston area," he says, noting that he also helped co-found a mentorship organization, U-Beyond.

An-Na'im will discuss ideas expressed in his essay entitled "From the Neocolonial 'Transitional' to Indigenous Formations of Justice."

The presentations will be followed by a Q&A from the students from Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Laney Graduate School, Rollins School of Public Health and Candler School of Theology, says Loichot. She notes that the students' interests are as varied as public health, disaster relief, physics, music, literature, psychology and meditation therapy.

This event is hosted by the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence and is free and open to the public as well as the University community. University Courses are designed to bring together undergraduate, graduate and professional students to approach a topic from a variety of disciplines.

"There will be two additional sessions open to the public this semester, including one on the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, and another on the role of music in post-disaster situations. The students in class are also organizing a series of public film screenings around disaster fiction film and documentaries," Loichot says.