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Honoring the Legacy of Barbara Harrell-Bond

By USCRI March 23, 2021

My interview with Angelina of Hope Restoration South Sudan was inspired by the work of Barbara Harrell-Bond, a pioneer in refugee rights and an original critic of the work of the United Nations. Barbara’s work with refugees began with the arrival of Hungarian refugees in the United States in the 1950s, and continued with her anthropological studies at Oxford in the 1960s. After her studies, she was given the opportunity to travel along the West African coast, and later went to Algeria where she found refugees running their own camps without outside intervention. There, she saw how each refugee
had a meaningful role in the operation of the camp, and how organized and efficient the camp was. That was when Barbara realized the need for the humanitarian system to recognize the role of refugees in managing their own lives, and not to view them only as victims. This experience inspired her to focus her academic and advocacy work on a refugee-centered critique of humanitarianism.

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