Our Fellows

Interviews with our Fellows:

Anila Noor

Anila Noor

Q1. Who are you?

My name is Anila Noor, and I am a refugee-activist and researcher. As an advisor, policy influencer for inclusion, diversity and social justice, ecosystem builder, I recently became a member of the European Commission Expert Group. My interest lies in deploying research, advocacy and policy debate towards analysing and streamlining complex social processes that can provide concrete solutions towards achieving social justice. I’m currently leading the discussion about Receiving Refugees in Urban Settings: Narratives and meaningful participation.

Q2. What was your motivation to apply for the FFVT fellowship? Why Germany?

When I saw the advertisement for this FFVT fellowship, the words “Networking and Knowledge Transfer” fascinated me the most as I was keen learn more about the following questions: “Whose knowledge is counted, valued and whose voices are heard? How can we track the barriers remaining in today’s forced migration policy debate and advocate for change? How to address significant power imbalances in representation in policy, practice and academia?” I want to contribute to a process of creating new, academic knowledge from a refugee’s perspective as it will bring much needed insights into academia. The intellectual environment and stimulating critical debates found at BICC will allow me to process my experiences and grow intellectually.

Germany has higher standards for its education system and greater focus on development, research, and innovation. I applied at BICC as I knew that BICC has many refugee-related projects, and its team members hold an understanding of social justice and working on empirical studies. I like it that BICC’s academic, practice-oriented programmes put an emphasis on participatory methods.

Q3. What do you expect from the fellowship?

I want to advance my experience, as FFVT aims “to focus and connect scientific debates” and sets changing accent topics in the course of the project. I want to learn how to design and analysis “whose power and whose voice count, marginalisation and exclusion. And how to construct these questions? And which theories, methods, approaches can help me to do such analysis?

Q4. What is the focus of your work, and what is innovative about it? / What are your planned outcomes and activities for the fellowship period? And how do they relate to your FFVT hosting institution/ the FFVT cooperation project?

As a human rights advocate and someone who has always aspired to be an academic, I have always wanted to raise awareness of the often-overlooked voices of women refugees and, more generally, migrant communities. The divining force to apply to FFVT has its origins in my personal experiences as a refugee at the AZC (Dutch reception camp for refugees). FFVT project is a nexus of my commitment to bridging academia, activism and policy. My prior involvement with several NGOs engaged in education and empowerment for and with refugees, many of which directly address problems refugee women face, adds to my motivation to become a researcher in Forced Migration Studies. I am taking this as an opportunity to question blind spots—to use a magnifying glass on sources to clearly see (often hidden) inequalities and imbalances. Lastly, I have long hoped to do a PhD, and this project would enable me to take the first steps in fulfilling my intellectual dream.

Find more about Anila on Youtube.

Dr Seth Christopher Yaw Appiah

 Dr Seth Christopher Yaw Appiah

Q1. Who are you?

My name is Dr Seth Christopher Yaw Appiah from Kumasi, Ghana. I am currently a Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Social Work at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana and a visiting lecturer at PAULESI-University of Ibadan Nigeria (PAULESI). I had training for my PhD in Medical Research International Health from the Ludwig-Maximilian Universität München (LMU) and Reproductive Health Sciences from the PAULESI, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. My research expertise comprises medical sociology-HIV and infectious diseases, gender, migration health, human rights and social protection and adolescent sexual reproductive health.

Q2. What was your motivation to apply for the FFVT fellowship? Why Germany?

I have been motivated to apply to the FFVT when I considered the particular focus on the human rights dimension to refugee and forced migration studies at the CHREN. I was further motivated by the observation that the objectives of the FFVT align with my career ambition of enhancing my research collaboration, internationalisation and facilitating trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural knowledge co-creation, acquisition and sharing. Germany remains my number one country of international travel partly because I pursued my training for my PhD here, Germany has diverse academic domains, specific experts. I also believe that all my host professors have been—and continue to be—exceptional, including the current host Professor Dr Petra Bendel, who has made me miss home to a lesser degree.

Q3. What do you expect from the fellowship?

In this fellowship, I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with other members of the team coming from an interdisciplinary background of sociology, public/international health, infectious diseases, migrant and refugee health, gender and human rights. I look forward to learning so much in a field I am relatively new to—the study of camps and refugees—and to building long-lasting research collaborations, partnerships with prospects for joint grant applications, and potentially the co-supervision of doctoral students on thematic issues of refugees, migrants, gender, health and human rights in the near future.

Q4. What is the focus of your work, and what is innovative about it? / What are your planned outcomes and activities for the fellowship period? And how do they relate to your FFVT hosting institution/ the FFVT cooperation project?

My current proposed study seeks to examine access to vaccines among one refugee camp in Ghana—the Krisan refugee community—and the levels of vaccine hesitancy, myths and associated intention to accept. Within the fellowship period, I am designing the study tools, networking to engage potential researchers and scientists with similar interests to collaborate on this proposed study.

Dr Ayar Ata

Dr Ayar Ata

Q1. Who are you?

My name is Ayar Ata, and I am a freelance postdoctoral researcher and linguist. I am an active member of the Sustainability Research Group at London South Bank, a member of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) and served as ExCom member 2018-2020. Now, I am serving as an IASFM-Working Group member in the United Kingdom and a member of the editorial board of the Displaced Voices Journal. My book entitled I am Kurdish Londoner will be published by Palgrave hopefully soon. This book is based on my Ph.D. thesis which also includes a section on reflexivity and about my own first-hand refugee experience. I have used autoethnography to be an active voice in my research, and my contribution to the field of forced migration also includes the preparation and translation of " Your Rights in Research" for all forced migrants which is now available in different languages on IASFM’s website.

Q2. What was your motivation to apply for the FFVT fellowship? Why Germany?

My motivations for working with FFVT are twofold: First, I would like to contribute from my wide-ranging academic study and work experience with migrant and refugee groups in London. Second, I wanted to come out of London to evaluate my own London-centric view on integration and multiculturalism; and I see Germany, especially since 2015, as a major and respectful new centre for refugee reception and integration in Europe. Therefore, conducting a comparative study between London and some German cities would be beneficial for me as a researcher, for London and my host institution. I am very grateful for the warm welcome and professional support given to me by the fantastic FFVT-FAU/CHREN team.

Q3. What do you expect from the fellowship?

I believe in creating opportunities for the best results at the end of my fellowship. I want to listen more, challenge my assumptions, learn new ways of doing research within a complex and multifaceted project, and I need new contacts from FAU students. I am very excited

Q4. What is the focus of your work, and what is innovative about it? / What are your planned outcomes and activities for the fellowship period? And how do they relate to your FFVT hosting institution/ the FFVT cooperation project?

I would like my work to continue in three different stages: 1. Information gathering, networking, reading policy papers and key literature on refugee integration in Germany. 2. Commuting between Erlangen and Nuremberg in November / mid-December and doing five to eight deep interviews with members of refugee/migrant communities, host communities, municipality officers, NGOs, activists, and continue writing my observation notes. In January 2022, I am planning to go to two other cities, including Berlin, for two / three weeks, adding five to eight more interviews to my conversation list. In February, I plan to consolidate and write my first draft report/working paper for the FFVT team, my target date being 15 February 2022. As a result of successful networking within the CHREN-FFVT team, I will also be working and supporting Pro Asyl in documenting the most recent harsh treatment of asylum seekers at the Belarus and Polish borders.

Asresahegn Birhanu Gelaw

Asresahegn Birhanu Gelaw

Q1. Who are you?

My name is Asresahegn Birhanu Gelaw. I am a PhD candidate at Addis Ababa University and Lecturer at Debre Markos University.

Q2. What was your motivation to apply for the FFVT fellowship? Why Germany?

I was highly motivated to apply for the FFVT fellowship with BICC, as the Centre’s work on refugees and migration is closely linked to my studies in Ethiopia on the integration of refugees. FFVT will allow me to expand my network in forced migration studies with its affiliated organisations not only in Germany, a country that has hosted millions of refugees and migrants, but all over the world.

Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to write journal articles and policy papers and participate in events organised by BICC.

Q3: What do you expect from the fellowship?

I expect my fellowship at BICC will provide me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge, skill and experiences in research. BICC’s resources such as its library are helpful to complete my studies on refugees and migration in Ethiopia. I am looking forward to participating in seminars and academic and policy-related discussions among researchers in the FFVT project, policymakers and other stakeholders to advance my insights and my research. In discussions and seminars, I will be happy to share my experiences related to refugees and migration particularly in Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Q4. What is the focus of your work, and what is innovative about it? / What are your planned outcomes and activities for the fellowship period? And how do they relate to your FFVT hosting institution/ the FFVT cooperation project?

During my stay at BICC, I will focus on writing on the integration of refugees and conflicting relation with the host community in Ethiopia with the goal to publish this in international journals. In addition, I will write a policy paper on the national Comprehensive Refugee Response Strategy in Ethiopia. If time allows, I will participate in organising an event focusing on the current situation in Ethiopia. All activities are directly related to the FFVT project and BICC as they focus on disseminating knowledge and creating opportunities for research networking related to refugees and migration.