IIE-SRF’s recently announced partnership with Finland’s Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) is the beginning of a trans-Atlantic cooperation that will better serve scholars from Iraq and Syria displaced from their homes by war and violence. To mark this unique partnership, IIE interviewed CIMO’s Director General, Samu Seitsalo and CIMO’s Head of Unit, Higher Education Cooperation, Maija Airas about their mission, the importance of supporting higher education in emergencies, and what attracted them to the IIE-SRF model.
The conflict in Syria has become the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis. The numbers are staggering:
- Over 300,000 killed
- close to 4.5 million refugees
- more than 9 million internally displaced peoples
Combined, that’s over half of Syria’s pre-war population.
Daniela Kaisth, Vice President for External Affairs and IIE Initiatives, and I were honored to represent the Institute at a celebration in Berlin for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD.
The crisis in Syria has created an academic emergency, with the break-down of higher education within the country and major obstacles facing Syrians who are studying or teaching outside of Syria. This week’s violent attacks on the University of Aleppo have underscored the need for urgent action to save the students and scholars who will be needed to rebuild their country. IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund has been helping scholars from Syria to enable them to continue their work at safe haven universities around the world. Today, we joined with the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) and the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR) to issue a joint statement condeming the attacks on the University of Aleppo.
On Friday night here in NYC, I attended the first Gala dinner of a group called Jusoor. Arabic for “bridges,” Jusoor aims to build a more peaceful and prosperous Syria by connecting the 20 million people in Syria with the 20 million people in the Syrian diaspora throughout the world. Like IIE, their focus is education.