Lasell Communications Professor Visits Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Lasell Communications Professor Visits Syrian Refugees in Jordan

July 10, 2014

It is a tragedy that has taken a backseat to other disasters in the mainstream media. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have flooded Jordan since 2011, escaping violence and economic hardship in their home country, and continue to live in crisis.

Refugee camps of an enormous scale were developed, including the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. But many of these displaced Syrians are now living in urban areas as well, trying to eke out a living.

This summer, Lasell Communications Professor Dana Janbek made her third trip to her native Jordan, to discover how the refugees are faring and understand the struggles they face.

"Families have been separated and their lives uprooted by the events. Many refugees are clearly in shock over their current lives and living conditions, many are depressed, and the trauma has even caused some to forget how to talk," said Janbek, who returned from her two week trip at the end of June.

Janbek, working with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from California State University-Northridge, Worcester State University, and Northeastern University, interviewed refugees about their access to communication technologies, their communication habits, their knowledge of current services available to them, how they stay in touch with family and friends back home and how they stay informed about the events in Syria.

Almost three million refugees currently populate camps and urban areas in Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East. Most tell of horrific experiences that forced them to flee their homes and in many cases family members, Janbek says.

"While thankful for being safe, the Syrian refugees have fled violence back home only to face a new set of challenges in their new environment. This unprecedented scale of migration has also put a lot of pressure on the host countries and communities. It is a very difficult situation for all parties involved," said Janbek.

Janbek and her colleague from California State University- Northridge plan to present their findings at the National Communication Association Conference this November in Chicago. They are also currently completing another study that will be a meta-analysis of all the communication studies done already on Syrian refugees in Jordan. They hope that this meta-analysis will help inform government and non-profit organizations policy decisions.

Janbek hopes to be able to secure funding for a follow up trip this coming winter.