Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

CISR envisions a world where people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster.

We help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange, and direct services such as:

Mine Risk Education
Peer Support
Management Training
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Although landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) impact people living in post-conflict communities, many civilians are not knowledgeable about the types of explosive remnants of war (ERW) that threaten their daily lives. Landmine museums that display landmines and UXO that are no longer dangerous can be enlightening for visitors. Post-conflict communities in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia have established at least 13 museums featuring landmines and ERW.

Aki Ra’s dog, Boom-boom, takes a nap on a display of disarmed anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and unexploded aerial bombs at the Cambodian Landmine Museum and Relief Facility. Photo courtesy of Cameron Macauley.

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reportagebygettyimages:

'They move one meter by one meter, on their knees. They do this for 10 hours a day, every day, with incredible dedication and effort.' - Marco Di Lauro, Photographer, on clearing landmines in Iraq.

In Iraq, as violence continues to flare, the legacy of old conflicts still remains in the form of buried landmines. The work of clearing the mines is painstaking and dangerous, but is of great importance in the protection of local civilians. Landmines stay active and continue to maim and kill long after wars have ended.

See Di Lauro discuss his work documenting landmines in Iraq for ICRC.

Landmine survivor in Mozambique - Photo J-J. Bernard 

This week in Mozambique, CISR looks forward to celebrating mine action achievements and examining the challenges ahead. 

#Commit2Complete

AEPD hopes that after this training course each department will strengthen a commitment on the enforcement of Vietnam national law on disabilities.

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CISR raises peer-support awareness in USCRI panel on Syrian refugee crisis 

On Friday, May 23, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley participated in a concluding panel for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)’s annual National Network Conference. The panel, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., featured presentations from three experts on Syrian refugees: Macauley; Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Senior Advisor for Government Relations and External Affairs Jana Mason; and National Geographic journalist and activist Aziz Abu Sarah (also a director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University). USCRI president Lavinia Limon facilitated the panel, which consisted of presentations and a 20-minute Q&A. Before introducing the panelists, Limon spoke of her visit to a camp in Jordan, stating, “I came away absolutely incensed at the terrible things these people had gone through and incensed at the national response. We’re living through a period where horror is happening … all while we’re at a conference.”

As the initial speaker, Mason provided an in-depth overview of the refugee situation in Syria to date. According to Mason, there are currently 2.8 million registered Syrian refugees, and UNHCR is prepared for 4 million before the end of the year. There is no end in sight to the conflict, and thus no foreseeable drop in refugee flow. In addition to these registered numbers, there are 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), totaling more than 9 million persons of concern. As a result, Syrian refugees and IDPs are UNHCR’s largest population of concern globally. UNHCR relief agencies and partners are forced to do vulnerability assessments when providing services. “You can only imagine how difficult it is making a vulnerability assessment when everybody is vulnerable,” Mason lamented. She also iterated several times that “this is a children’s refugee crisis.” Mason concluded, “we need development assistance now—not waiting until the crisis is over. These [host] countries need support in order to ensure that they do not close their borders to future refugees.”

In follow-up to Mason’s overview of the refugee crisis, Macauley provided an examination of psychological trauma in these refugees and how “refugees enter these camps with traumatic experiences, and then these camps provided additional layers of trauma.” When entering the camps, refugees may have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses not currently being treated. Once there, refugees may not have access to services, or even if they do, “every aspect of socialization has been affected.” From Macauley’s research, he reports that many refugees do not feel safe even after reaching camps. The Syrian conflict has specifically seen an unparalleled amount and level of sexual violence, which Macauley explains that both sides use as a weapon. He then discusses the cultural barriers impeding healing and notes that “in a society where victims of violence are further victimized, women are forced to bury their experiences.” In order to help, Macauley has facilitated trainings on providing peer support in other countries, and CISR hopes to implement this in Iraq.

The last speaker, Abu Sarah, presented the results of an article he wrote for National Geographic: “Five Things I Learned in Syrian Refugees.” Abu Sarah covered five revelations:

  1.  Many refugees are not counted.
  2.  The host countries are in crisis.
  3. Children’s education is neglected.
  4. Many Syrian refugees are still in Syria.
  5. Refugee camps are like a prison.

Abu Sarah expounded upon each point and provided anecdotes from his experiences traveling to multiple camps and conducting interviews. In his presentation, he urged the conference audience to “listen to the stories, because sometimes the numbers can be overwhelming. When it gets that way, really go back and listen to the stories, because everybody has one, and it reminds us that these are more than numbers—they’re people.”

Lastly, the session featured a Q&A panel. Several questions for Macauley focused on the role and balance of psychological support, based on the tumultuous conditions. In response, Macauley emphasized the importance of peer support, which could be carried wherever peer mentors traveled, thus hopefully resulting in a larger impact. 

Sami Noble
James Madison University Class of 2015
Master of Public Administration
Intern at Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
Are you passionate about mine action or explosive remnants of war? If so, it is time to start writing articles for Issue 18.3 of The Journal of ERW and Mine Action (to be published fall 2014). The submission deadline is 1 July 2014.
 
This issue will focus on program managementimprovised explosive devices, and the Pacific Islands. We are also looking for case studies, research and development articles, and sumbissions documenting work in the field.
 
For full details on how to submit articles, please download this PDF, or visit http://www.jmu.edu/cisr/journal/cfps.shtml.
 
Please send articles to CISReditor@gmail.com.

Week 2 of SMC 2014: Administrators and Participants Absorb History and Culture of Tajikistan

Today begins the second week of the regional Senior Managers’ Course in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. After a very successful first week, course administrators and participants had a great weekend enjoying the Ethno-Jazz Festival in Dushanbe, featuring artists from around the region who specialize in modern interpretations of ethnic instruments. We also took a trip to the Museum of Antiquities on Saturday to learn about the long and rich history of the Tajik people. Sunday morning, CISR Associate Director Dr. Suzanne Fiederlein and I walked down the main Rudaki Avenue with three participants and through the beautiful rose garden in the city’s center to see the statues of famous historical figures scattered around the area.

Also on Sunday, JMU College of Business professor Fernando Pargas visited the Ismaili Centre with a group of participants. One of five in the world, His Majesty the Agha Khan built the Dushanbe Ismaili Centre as a place of study, worship and community building for the Ismaili Shia population of Central Asia as well as anyone else who wishes to use its facilities.  

Sunday night topped off with the end of the Ethno-Jazz Festival held at the Serena Hotel—the same hotel hosting SMC course participants and administrators. It was nice to get a free show!

This week will be busy and exciting! Today, we will cover topics in gender and mine action, and hear from several groups of participants as they present on their organization and the challenges facing mine action in their communities.

Tomorrow, the Tajikistan National Mine Action Centre and CISR will host a Donor Forum with main mine action donors and implementing partners in Tajikistan. From the donors, we will hear their perspectives on potential projects and organizations to which they donate. Implementing partners will speak about their point of view regarding actionable ways to deliver on donor expectations.

Following the forum in the morning, other implementing partners will discuss their perspectives on the transition to national ownership. Tajikistan is in the process of nationalization, and the current trend in mine action is one toward the nationalization of programs.

SMC will take a field trip Wednesday to the Afghan border to visit the Swiss Demining Foundation’s worksites there. We will also meet with Tajikistan’s first all-female demining team, who work with Norwegian People’s Aid.

Although this week got off to a rainy start with a cloudy morning today, we look forward to the exciting week ahead!

~ Paige Ober, CISR program assistant