Recreating Home : Integrating The Displaced Into Their New Communities Essay

Recreating Home : Integrating The Displaced Into Their New Communities Essay

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Recreating Home: Integrating the Displaced into Their New Communities
Personal Statement

Until mid-2015 - with nearly 1.61 million Afghan refugees - my home country was host to the largest refugee population in the world. Between 2005 and 2010 - after a devastating earthquake in the country’s north, military operations against the Taliban in the north-east, and severe flooding that impacted one-fifth of the nation’s land area - it became home to approximately six million internally displaced people (IDPs) as well. Thus, while the “refugee crisis” might have become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, growing up in Pakistan, it was nothing less than an everyday reality.

The first wave of Afghan migration into my home country began in the 1980s, when nearly three million people fled Afghanistan after the advent of the Soviet-Afghan war. The majority of them entered Pakistan with little to no personal resources, and were largely dependent on local governments and the international community for assistance. In fact, some of the people still are, and nearly three decades later, still remain in refugee camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As Pakistan continued receiving large influxes of refugees well into the late 1990s, this became the migration that defined my childhood. The first real wave of migrants into Pakistan, however, actually came a few decades earlier, in what the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recognises as the largest mass migration in modern history: the Partition of India. Driven away from India as a result of religious and political persecution, the movement to Pakistan, which uprooted my maternal grandparents and separated half of my living family from the other, thus became the migration that defined...


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...necessary to move and explore new environments regularly, as well as a zeal to do so.

While my family’s experience with displacement might have sparked an initial interest in the topic, it is an interest that has steadily grown - and evolved - with me over the years. The Watson fellowship would allow me to continue building on this passion, and enable me to singularly focus on the issue for the course of the Watson year. Moreover, I hope that my Watson experience will allow me to develop a more thorough understanding of the displaced experience and, in doing so, equip me with the proper tools to formulate responsible and appropriate policies to address it in the future. Ultimately, then, while the Watson will only be a year long journey, I fully intend on it being one that impacts the larger course of my life, even decades down the line.

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