Brainwashing and radicalisation don’t explain why young people join violent causes

By Jason Hart

(This blog was oringially posted at – The Conversation)

On the morning of September 24 2014, 15-year-old Yusra Hussien left for school near her home in Easton, Bristol. She then disappeared. News reports surfaced a few days later that Yusra and a 17-year-old friend from London had reached Istanbul, fueling speculation that the two young women were heading for Syria to join Islamic State.

Terms such as “brainwashing” and “radicalisation” were repeatedly and casually invoked to explain Yusra and her friend’s actions. Understandable enough; how else to explain the uncharacteristic folly of a model student who was described by her teachers as “calm and collected”?

The problem is, it’s just not that simple.

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Jordan has become the West’s warehouse for Iraqi refugees

(This blog is a repost – originally posted at THE CONVERSATION)

By Jason Hart

Swamped as we are with media outrage and political rhetoric about asylum seekers “invading” Europe, we tend to forget that the vast majority of displaced people find refuge in countries far beyond EU borders. The numbers are huge, and the burden upon typically impoverished nations can be immense – far beyond any scenario that impassioned advocates of enhanced “border control” in the UK have so far conjured up.

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The Ebola epidemic and small-scale mining in Kono District, Sierra Leone

By Roy Maconachie

Since the formal declaration of peace in 2002, Sierra Leone has travelled far in overcoming the devastating impacts of a decade of civil war during the 1990s. In recent years, the country has experienced dramatic economic growth on the back of an extractive industry-led development trajectory. Continue reading