Cara calls for urgent support for Syrian academics

The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (Cara) has called for urgent support to be given to Syrian academics and students caught up in the country’s civil war.

Universities are being used as detention centres, while staff and students have faced targeted attacks, Cara has said.

Stephen Wordsworth, executive director, said: “With bloody violence raging across Syria, academics are once again being targeted. We must act now to help them.”

Three academics from the University of Aleppo were murdered late last year for criticising the Assad regime, while there have been four more assassinations in Homs, the council says.

Meanwhile in the UK, Syrian students and academics are stranded, unable to return to their home country, and have dwindling funds and expiring visas, Cara said.

One academic who spoke to Cara had been harassed by supporters of the Assad regime based in the UK, the council said.

Cara’s appeal aims to:

- provide practical and financial support to Syrian academics and their dependents

- find hosting opportunities for them in UK universities and scientific institutions

- raise awareness of the plight of Syrian academics

- lobby the UK government to provide sanctuary for Syrian academics

The council praised UK universities that had provided bursaries and scholarships to stranded Syrian students.

Anne Lonsdale, chair of Cara, urged people to donate to the campaign.

“We need to support those at risk, to ensure they survive to carry out a vital role in the future rebuilding of Syria, in which the universities will plan an essential part,” she said.

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