Title: In commemoration of Ahmed Karadawi's 23th death anniversary 1945-1995 By Tarig Misbah Yousif
Author: Tarig Misbah Yousif
Date: 11-19-2018, 10:14 PM
10:14 PM November, 19 2018
Tarig Misbah Yousif-
Born in Bara -an oasis town in western Sudan- Ahmed Abdulwadood Karadawi was a prominent Sudanese scholar- a pioneer and a towering figure in the field of modern day 'refugee studies'. He died in November 1995 (aged 50) while on a visit to Sudan to mourn the death of his brother Altaj Karadwi. Ahmed's ubiquitous influence was felt by all those who witnessed the dire refugee crisis in eastern Sudan back in the 1980s. In this article, we look back on his life by highlighting some of his major intellectual contributions which helped shape what has become known today as the 'Global Refugee Regime'.
Ahmed Karadawi was among the students who went to Khortagut Secondary School in North Kordofan which had a tradition of taking in only the brightest. He joined the University of Khartoum and obtained his degree in political science.
He was appointed as an Assistant Commissioner for refugees where he worked with the former Commissioner for refugees Dr Abdelrahman Ahmad Albashair (as well as other Sudanese Commissioners). At a very early stage, he seemed to have spotted ' the absence of research on refugee-related issues' as 'the Achilles' heel' of the global system of assistance to refugees. Since then, he had dedicated huge time and effort in order to fill this lacuna in the global refugee regime.
In 1983, he published his insighful article 'Constraints on assistance to refugees: Some observations from the Sudan'. Dissecting the structure of the international aid to refugees with the view of exposing the defect of the international assistance regime was one of Ahmed's major concerns. Shortly after he obtained his Master degree from the University of Reading in 1977 under the supervision of professor Peter Wood Wood, he made momentous contributions to the 1979 Arusha Conference on the African refugee problem, which came up with some significantly important recommendations. The UN General Assembly endorsed the recommendations of that conference and directed UNHCR to use the broader refugee definition enshrined in the 1969 OAU Convention. The following year Ahmed had another intellectual undertaking at the 1980 International Conference on Refugees in the Sudan (often referred to as the Khartoum Conference) which was convened in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The Khartoum Conference was seen by many commentators as ‘ground-breaking’ due to its colossal paradigm shift in assistance to refugees in Sudan. After years of refugee relief-oriented assistance in Sudan, donors were persuaded to support 'refugee-affected areas' and to face up to the challenge of linking relief to development (Relief-Development Continuum). Following the Khartoum Conference, UNHCR had to promptly send an Inter-Agency Mission to the Sudan to assess the needs both in refugee camps and in Sudanese towns and villages in the proximity of refugee camps. One of the most significant achievements of the Khartoum Conference was that it paved the way to ICARA 1 (International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa) and ICARA 2, both held in Geneva in 1981 and 1984 consecutively. Thus, the two ICARAs which benefited many refugee-affected countries in Africa had their genesis in the famous Khartoum conference. As a follow up to ICARA, the Khartoum Seminar on Refugees (11-14 September 1982) was organised jointly by the Sudanese Office of the Commissioner for Refugees, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Ford Foundation. All these conferences and seminars made a big difference by taking on board the perspectives of both refugees and their host.
Ahmed’s work included numerous articles which addressed significantly important refugee issues (ranging from refugee protection to the problems of urban refugees.). Not to mention his tireless advocacy for a genuine refugee participation in all decision making process.
Events unfolded in northern France, Macedonia and Hungary in 2015 gave another stark reminder of the desperate need for a fairer alternative to the Euro-centric refugee protection regime. Indeed, what is occurring in the heartland of Europe is tantamount to sounding the death knell of the global refugee regime in Europe, the very birthplace of what has become known as 'human rights'. This was among Ahmed's predictions when he pointed out that developing countries would follow the example set by some western countries rejecting refugees at their frontiers.
However, it was Ahmed’s watershed meeting with Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond*, the author of (Imposing Aid) in which she addressed the adverse effects of humanitarian aid on refugees and their host communities. The two 'like-minded' intellectuals focused on bringing about something unique and substantial to be used as a springboard to presenting an ‘alternative’ to the global refugee protection and assistance to refugees. Co-founded by Dr Harrell-Bond and Ahmed in 1982, the Oxford-based Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) now speaks for itself. The main mission of the specialised academic centre for refugee studies is to offer the opportunity for top quality independent research which would be employed to critically evaluate the global refugee protection and assistance regime programmes.
It is a pity that a man of vision such as Ahmed did not get the honour, tribute and the respect he deserved in his home country Sudan-apart from a low key memorial which was organized by some of his friends in Sudan-. Despite his well-acknowledged achievements and the pride he gave to his fellow Sudanese, he suffered from the current repressive regime which came to power over a barrel of a gun back in 1989. The regime wreaked havoc in the Sudanese civil service through its notorious policy of summary dismissal of opponents 'in the public interest'. As a result, Ahmed had to leave Sudan and to join the Sudanese Diaspora.
Tarig Misbah Yousif (PHD) is a freelance researcher in the field of forced migration and human displacement. He worked for many years with the Sudanese Commission for refugees in refugee camps in east Sudan. He designed and taught a course on refugee studies, the first of its kind to be taught in Ireland. He also worked as a consultant with UNFPA. He currently works for on a Syrian refugee resettlement project in Ireland. Email address: [email protected]
* Barbara Harrell-Bond met Ahmed in the office of the Commission for refugees in Khartoum in April 1982.
Some of Ahmed's works:-
Karadawi, A. Ahmed (1977): Political refugees in Africa. A case study from Sudan. MPHILThesis,Universityof Reading, UK.
Karadawi, A Ahmed (1980). Urban refugees in Sudan. Democratic Republic of the Sudan, Office of the Commissioner for Refugees, 1980.
Karadawi, A Ahmed (1983). Constraints on assistance to refugees: Some observations from the Sudan. World development 11, pp 537-547.
Title: Re: In commemoration of Ahmed Karadawi's 23th death anniversary 1945-1995 By Ta
Author: طه داوود
Date: 11-21-2018, 10:43 AM
A rich and well-worded report on this brilliant Sudanese figure, Ahmed Karadawi.
I really appreciated your efforts on putting highlights on the great humanitarian contributions of the late Karadawi.
You produced an excellent article on refugee issue, the issue of the day.
Thank you once more Tariq.
A college mate at Khartoum University