Happy New Year everyone! I returned from Lebanon a week ago to conduct interviews with my classmate Laila Matar to work on our Policy Analysis Exercise together. I will write more about my trip to Lebanon in a separate post, but for now, for those interested in applying to Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and its capstone project, I’ll direct you do a post Laila and I wrote for the HKS admissions blog.

For a little over two weeks, Laila and I ran around Beirut, Bekka Valley, Saida, and elsewhere trying to meet and interview as many people as possible, ranging from Ministers, politicians, activists, journalists, UNHCR staff, Syrian refugees, Palestinian refugees, Palestinian refugees from Syria, a Catholic priest, Iraqi security forces, and more.  The more we learned, the less we knew. Syrian refugees were pouring into Lebanon’s porous borders with no coordinated national policy to properly serve and absorb the refugees while securing existing Lebanese communities.  The Syrian refugee crisis — not only in Lebanon, but Turkey, Iraq, and other neighboring countries — is one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time, and unfortunately, the end is nowhere near.

at exhibition in Beirut of drawings by Syrian refugee children

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drawing by Syrian refugee child of war

Drawing of crying mother by her daughter

Drawing of crying mother by her daughter

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I gave my camera to a few Syrian kids at the exhibition, and they took over a hundred photos of themselves, each other, and their art work. These are a few of them

I gave my camera to a few Syrian kids at the exhibition, and they took over a hundred photos of themselves, each other, and their art work. These are a few of them

Syrian refugee kids

Syrian refugee kids

Inside a makeshift home of Syrian refugees in the Bekka Valley

Inside a makeshift home of Syrian refugees in the Bekka Valley

Poster of Syrian Refugee Relief Project on the American University of Beirut campus

Poster of Syrian Refugee Relief Project on the American University of Beirut campus

"unofficial" Syrian refugee camp site in the Bekka Valley

“unofficial” Syrian refugee camp site in the Bekka Valley

"unofficial" Syrian refugee camp managed by the UNHCR

“unofficial” Syrian refugee camp managed by the UNHCR

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Inside Shatila Refugee Camp

Inside Shatila Refugee Camp