Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

ARDD Holds Commemoration and Documentary Screening for Refugee Rights Activist Prof. Barbara Harrell-Bond


Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal, ARDD in collaboration with Dr. Oroub El Abed on Monday, October 22, 2018, held a commemoration for the late Professor Barbara Harrell-Bond (BHB), the founder of the discipline of Forced Migration and the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, the world's first institution for the study of refugees.

On behalf of HRH Prince Hassan, Dr. Mohammad Abu Hammour, secretary general of the Arab Thought Forum, said that it is significant to dedicate time to someone who devoted their lives to serve humanity like Barbara, in contrast to those who devoted their lives to the destruction of humanity and causing refugee crises.

If the capital that was spent on war in the Arab world was redirected, Dr. Abu Hammour added, all the Arab countries’ debts would be repaid, and the needs of refugees would be fulfilled.

The event witnessed the screening of the documentary film “Barbara Harrell-Bond: A Life Not Ordinary”, by producer Dr. Katarzyna Grabaska, a friend and long-time colleague of Barbara.

ARDD CEO Samar Muhareb said in her opening speech that ARDD is one of many refugee rights institutions that found support and direction in Barbara and her life-long career of activism in refugee rights and asylum seekers’ legal aid.

Barbara, “who remembered the story of every refugee she ever met, and defended their rights fiercely”, has had a significant contribution in the introduction and advancement of the “thorny discipline of forced migration and refugees”, Muhareb added.

Dr. Katarzyna Grabaska said that it is important to celebrate the life of a person who dedicated herself to refugees as she introduced her film, and recounted her story of how she met and worked with Barbara. Dr. Grabaska noted that Prince Hassan was a friend of Barbara’s, for which “she held a special place in her heart”, and recounted that Barbara had a special connection to Jordan.

Dr. Oroub El Abed, also a friend and colleague of Barbara’s who works with refugees, said that “I was able to do everything I did because of her [Barbra’s] mentorship and supervision”. El Abed pointed out that Barbara and her work highlight the importance of differentiating between the “humanitarian industry”, as Barbara refers to it, and the actual practice of working with refugees.

Many friends, colleagues and admirers of Barbara and refugee activists gave their own testimonies at the event, and recounted the great contribution the professor had in the field of refugee legal aid and protection, and highlighted the need to continue and build on Barbara’s vision.