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Refugee draws from experience to inspire her PhD at Kent

Basma Taysir El Doukhi, a Palestinian Stateless refugee who was living in the Rashidieh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, is looking forward to sharing knowledge and insights of her lived and professional experiences within her PhD studies at the University of Kent (@UniKent).

Having joined the University’s Global Challenges Doctoral Centre (GCDC) in September as a fully-funded PhD student, Basma is keen to shift the narrative in refugee studies and help other refugees across the world by contributing research in the field and ultimately building better humanitarian connections.

Basma’s PhD thesis will focus on localising in humanitarian action by studying the impact of refugee and community-based organisations and humanitarian response and support, migration and refugees’ crises and contributions of displaced people. She will be supervised by Dr Sweta Rajan Rankin at Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and Dr Tom Parkinson at Kent’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education.

Alongside her studies, Basma is currently working part time with a refugee charity in Kent as Senior Outreach & Community Officer, providing expertise and community support for asylum seekers. Before joining Kent she studied a Master’s degree in Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University in 2019-20 after gaining a Chevening Scholarship. Prior to this she volunteered with local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) within her own community in Lebanon, leading to work with international NGOs and in 2014 she joined the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Basma hopes that she can inspire and challenge ideas around migration and displacement, raising awareness amongst Kent colleagues and students of the real issues faced by refugees and displaced people today.

Basma said:

‘I am delighted to join Kent and bring the voice of refugees to academia, creating a link between those in refugee camps, professionals in the field and the higher education sector. From working in conflict zones and having an active role in humanitarian action, I am well placed to engage those in academia who haven’t had direct experience in interacting with refugees and visiting refugee camps.

‘I am a role model for my community – especially women and girls who want to access education and build careers. I am eager to make a valuable contribution on behalf of refugees across the world as I personally understand their needs. This is only the beginning as the more refugees who become involved, the more we can change the narrative and take informed action. I hope that from publishing research based around migration we will develop more funding opportunities in the field for displaced people and organisations to take the lead on more localised humanitarian and development actions and social change.’

Dr Beth Breeze, Director of the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre (GCDC), said:

‘We are so pleased to welcome Basma to the University of Kent. She has already contributed significantly with her humanitarian efforts and built more recognition of refugees’ needs in her career so far, and I am sure her expertise will bridge a much-needed gap between lived experience and academia.’

Basma will also be associated with the University’s Signature Research Theme on Migration and Movement.

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