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You are here: Home Research Resources Expert Guides Sahrawi and Afghan Children and Adolescents Aims and Organisation of the Research

Aims and Organisation of the Research

The project on Sahrawi and Afghan refugee youth (SARC) (2002-2005) is part of a larger research programme funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which aims to document and understand the experiences of youth in situations of prolonged conflict and forced migration. The SARC study emerged from a previous research effort carried out between 1999 and 2001 among young Palestinian refugees in households located in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In both projects, the research teams were multidisciplinary, drawing in anthropologists, educators, health care professionals, psychologists, economists and sociologists. There was also an effort to adapt participatory research methods in each of the research sites in order to engage children, as much as possible, at various stages of the research process.

This Lessons Learned Report owes much to the sessions and conversations that took place in Platres, Cyprus, at the Dissemination Workshop (May 2005) for the Mellon-funded research on refugee youth in the Middle East and North Africa. The workshop brought together the various research teams involved in the Palestinian, Sahrawi, and Afghan studies, as well as other academics and practitioners who work with youth. The report points to some of the emerging findings and parallels across the studies, as well as to the broader lessons learned about research with refugee youth, the methods used to study them, and the challenges of linking academic knowledge with policy and practice. As a separate Lessons Learned Report is available for the Palestinian study

The Lessons Learned Report for the Palestinian study, entitled “Children and Adolescents in Palestinian Households: Living with the Effects of Prolonged Conflict and Forced Migration” is available online at Also see Chatty and Lewando Hundt (2005).

, emphasis here is put on the Sahrawi and Afghan components of the research.


Aims of the Study

The broad aims of the study were:

  • 1) To investigate the direct and indirect effects of forced migration on children and adolescents in the Middle East/North Africa region with particular emphasis on:

    • a) the strategies of coping of children and youth in refugee households.

    • b) the effects of forced migration on these households and families.

    • c) the social context of the direct and indirect effects of conflict.

    • d) the attitudes to and incidence of violence within and outside households.

  • 2) To develop a multidisciplinary approach in research on children and households affected by forced migration that can be used in both a theoretical and an applied context.

  • 3) To develop, in cooperation with local practitioners, programme managers and policy makers, participatory research methods relevant to situations of forced migration which focus on children, adolescents and their care-givers.

  • 4) To generate concepts regarding children and households affected by forced migration that are culturally and socially sensitive to local contexts and which can be successfully applied to policy, practice, and programme development.

  • 5) To identify coping structures, strategies and mechanisms from which lessons may be learned and disseminated to researchers, practitioners and policy makers concerned with children and adolescents in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere.

  • 6) To make specific recommendations for policy makers and practitioners that improve the delivery of services designed with the participation of refugee children and their caregivers; and to disseminate these recommendations broadly at the appropriate venues and consultations.

Organisation of the Study

Dawn Chatty, Deputy Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, was Principle Investigator for the Sahrawi and Afghan project, as well as for the previous Palestinian study. Gillian Lewando Hundt of the University of Warwick was Co-Investigator of the Palestinian study. Gina Crivello was the Research Assistant on the Sahrawi and Afghan project.

The research among Sahrawi youth was carried out in the refugee camps located near Tindouf, Algeria. Interviews were conducted in the four main districts (wilaya) of El Ayoun, Smara, Dakhla, and Auserd, as well as in the 27th of February camp. The fieldwork was led by Randa Farah a Palestinian anthropologist based at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

The research among Afghan youth was carried out in Tehran and Mashad, Iran, and was led by Homa Hoodfar, an anthropologist of Iranian origin based at Concordia University in Canada.

A complementary study was added to the original project design examining the way food mediates the construction of social identities among youth in refugee contexts. In the Sahrawi case, the fieldwork was carried out by Nicola Cozza, while Alessandro Monsutti carried out a parallel study among Afghans in Iran. Jeya Henry of Oxford Brookes University contributed to the design of the food-intake questionnaires and the theoretical framework for studying food ways among refugee populations.

Box 1: SARC Research Teams
Children and Adolescents in Sahrawi and Afghan Refugee Households: Living with the Effects of Prolonged Armed Conflict and Forced Migration
  • Project Data
  • Funder: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Duration: 2002-2005
  • Principle Investigator
  • Dawn Chatty, Refugee Studies Centre,
  • University of Oxford
  • Research Assistant
  • Gina Crivello, Refugee Studies Centre,
  • University of Oxford
  • Sahrawi Team
  • Randa Farah - Team Leader, University of Western Ontario
  • Radhi-Saghaiar Bachir - Local Research Coordinator
  • Fatimetou Salem - Research Assistant
  • Abdati Breica Ibrahim - Research Assistant
  • Mohamed el Mokhtar Bouh - Research Assistant
  • Mohammed Ali - Research Assistant
  • Noueha - Research Assistant
  • Fatima Mohammed Salem - Research Assistant
  • Nicola Cozza - Food and Identity Researcher
  • Afghan Team
  • Homa Hoodfar - Team Leader, Concordia University
  • Sarah Kamal - Local Research Coordinator
  • Fouzieh Sharifi - Research Assistant
  • Zohreh Hosseini - Research Assistant
  • Shocria Rezabaksh - Research Assistant
  • Malakeh Batour - Research Assistant
  • Massoumeh Ahmadi - Research Assistant
  • Alessandro Monsutti - Food and Identity Researcher
  • Institutional Partners
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • HAMI Association
  • The Arab Resource Collective (ARC)
Last updated Sep 23, 2011