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Academics trapped in Syria and Iraq: what is the best way to help?

By Matthew Reisz

The Scholar Rescue Fund in New York has called further attention to the plight of academics trapped in Syria and Iraq – and what can be done to help them.

“We know that academics are specifically targeted by the so-called Islamic State,” said assistant director James King, “both because of their presumed secular outlook and also because they were employees of state institutions, and the state is the enemy in both Syria and Iraq. Individuals have been beheaded for refusing to comply with the changed curriculum.”

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Elsewhere in Science: Syrian scholars, management blunders, and more

By Knvul Sheikh

“The 5-year-old Syrian civil war has displaced 4.8 million people, including some 2000 scholars,” Knvul Sheikh wrote on Monday. A number of these “exiled researchers gathered to tell their stories and highlight the urgent need for support at a symposium in New York City on 29 April put on by the nonprofit Institute of International Education (IIE). According to IIE, fewer than 10% of the displaced scholars have resumed their academic careers. Most are still refugees in neighboring countries, where they encounter resentment and bureaucratic obstacles to finding jobs.” Read the full piece for more on their stories.

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Organizations Step Up to Help Scholars Fleeing War, Threats

By Karin Zeitvogel

The Washington Diplomat highlights the important work of an IIE-SRF fellow from Syria, the historic work of IIE in finding safe haven for threatened scholars worldwide, and the acute current need to support them now.

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Scholars describe exodus from Syria

By Knvul Sheikh

Science Magazine describes the conditions the drove Syrian scholars from their homes. IIE-SRF's 2016 Forum brought them together.

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The Power of Hope

By Stephen Schmidt

The University of Missouri profiles an IIE-SRF scholar from Syria specializing in endocrinology currently hosted at the university. 

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Institute of International Education Announces $1 Million Donation in Honor of Former DE Attorney General, Beau Biden

At a ceremony today in Wilmington, Delaware, the chairman of the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF), Mark Angelson, announced a $1 million gift in honor of Beau Biden, the former Attorney General of Delaware who passed away in May of 2015.

The endowment, made possible through an anonymous donation, will enable IIE-SRF to rescue one scholar in danger each year in perpetuity, as part of the organization’s work to ensure that there will always be a place where persecuted academics can find safe haven.

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New Research Voices publishes new issue featuring IIE-SRF scholars

New Research Voices (NRV) is a community platform for researchers to share their work, opinions, and ideas with other researchers from around the globe. NRV’s second journal issue, Syrian Academics in Exile, features contributors who have left Syria behind to pursue academic freedom in safe haven countries. 

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Syria's loss of students to rebuild future

By Bill Hicks

The BBC reports on the Syrian higher education emergency.
"An entire generation of Syrians has had its education truncated, and the country's once flourishing academic community has been scattered or driven underground. The scale of the problem, according to the president of the Institute of International Education (IIE), Allan Goodman, is 'unprecedented' in the near 100-year history of his New-York based organisation. More than a quarter of young people were going into higher education. Five years later, around 2,000 academics and hundreds of thousands of students are living in the refugee camps of Turkey and Jordan. Many more are lost among the millions of internally displaced Syrians."

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Syrian academics stymied

By Naomi Lubick

Chemical and Engineering News looks at the obstacles facing students in Syria who are trying to continue their education and the scholars who would educate them. 

"'It’s very hard to know on a day-to-day basis what is happening,' says James R. King of the Institute of International Education in New York City. 'Exams are being conducted; students are being taught. No doubt there are students and faculty working very hard and who are at times in great danger for continuing their work.' He continues, 'For example, we hear from agricultural faculty about all the difficulties of doing research—perhaps their fieldwork was in eastern Syria,' which is now too dangerous to visit."

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Committee attempts to find home for Syrian scholars

By Eli Binder

"Over the past year, the Brown University Response Committee to Host Displaced Scholars and Students has brought one scholar and accepted one master’s student displaced by the crisis in Syria. The committee is working with partners to identify more students and scholars from Syria and possibly others from war-torn nations like Iraq and Yemen who could be brought to Brown.

“There are more displaced academics now than at any point in human history,” said James King, a senior research and program officer at the IIE SRF. It is very important for universities around the world to “step up and say that ‘we’re ready to support our colleagues in this difficult time,’” he said. King applauded Brown’s role in this effort, saying “Brown has been a leader in terms of its response to the Syria higher education emergency.”

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