Saturday, March 12, 2016

BOOK - My Brother's Keeper - Refugees and Migrants - Syria and beyond

Today, regarding Syria and beyond, human rights and refugee needs suddenly have not been at the center of foreign policy decision-making. James N. Purcell, Jr., challenges the wisdom and heart of such a change. 

From his earliest years, Jim Purcell's life has connected with people often overlooked. From his parents' lives as Christians serving the poor in Appalachia and migrant workers in Florida, USA, Jim saw needs and the results of caring people reducing suffering. Personal as well as professional influences encouraged and helped him as he set up the U.S. refugee program of the 1980s.

It is a pleasure to announce this title, My Brother's Keeper, for the book about refugee help around the world that Jim Purcell has worked on during recent years. What began as a personal process to confirm memories of a significant and challenging time grew into a commitment to share, in writing, the record. It shows how civilized people respond to crises affecting "brothers and sisters" around the world - men, women, and children at risk due to persecution and/or war, from Indochina, Somalia, and other places.

However, today's failures regarding Syrian refugees and beyond show that human rights and refugee needs suddenly have not been at the center of foreign policy decision-making. Jim challenges the wisdom and heart of such a change. Even when late in doing so, the world's civilized people have always stood up for the persecuted, the defenseless--"the least of these."  

There is no more descriptive phrase about human rights than "my brother's keeper." The meaning translates in any language to say that every person has a human connection to every other, and this connection makes us mindful of our human responsibilities to each other.

My Brother's Keeper - Refugees and Migrants: A Test of Civilization
James N. Purcell, Jr. 

The publication date will be posted when known.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

E-BOOK The Perils of Unresolved Humanitarian Problems - 2002 monograph

The Kindle e-book by Jim Purcell is now online.  
Preface excerpt below.


Focus: The Middle East

James N. Purcell, Jr. 

Copyright (c) 2002; 2015 (Sept.)

" (See e-book online to Read inside)


Wednesday, September 16, 2015



Jim Purcell gave permission for me to write this brief post today. I am responsible for the opinions I express.

One of the many key protocols of crises--in Southeast Asia, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, USSR and South Asia--was safe regional asylum for refugees that made it from points of danger.


News today indicates that there has been no American or international planning for the Syrian refugee crisis. This fact stands in dark, glaring contrast to the enlightened global planning early in the Refugee Decade of the 1980s. Today, refugee help and problem-solving happen in the worst way. Panic, fear, and frustration drive flight and the ad hoc attempts by governments pressured to help. The ad hoc attempts now include punitive or military reaction. Where is evidence of foresight and consideration of unanticipated consequences? The effects of such confusion will rebound for generations. The U.S. could lead, but follows the same European approach--indecision. At home, some congressional leaders are proposing that the U.S. take as many as we can, thinking that when all is better those helped will return home, which would be unlikely.

Such reactions without thought for rational planning completely ignore the first solutions needed: seek to save and protect refugees; then, arrange for safe asylum in their home region.

As photos above and below clearly show, one country in the region, with similar cultural and religious traditions, is Saudi Arabia, ready to provide asylum. The tents are air conditioned and clothing and other support are on stand-by. Many of the tents are being used to house refugees now, from Syria. Why are not regional asylum options being used first? There was no preparation to steer refugees to temporary help close at hand. 

What is needed, in my view, is public outcry for revival and adaptation of protocols and methods already proven to work. They were not easy to find or implement; yet, they avoided the mass confusion that continues, five years on, regarding Syrian refugees.

Reaction without rational planning completely ignores the first solutions once a refugee crisis erupts: seek to protect human life and arrange safe asylum in the home region. For Syrian refugees, this would include preparations made by regional countries like Saudi Arabia. Jordan has been involved in asylum almost since the beginning of this crisis.

Jean P. Purcell

The writer is a co-editor for Jim Purcell's book, Hope of the Phoenix: how three presidents saved millions of refugee lives in a conflicted world.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Published - Kindle eBook from Jim Purcell

Published - October 2015

A re-release of Jim Purcell's Furman University speech monograph. His book is another writing, now in book agent hands. 

The Perils of Unresolved Humanitarian Problems

by Jim Purcell

Kindle eBook re-release of 2002 speech. 

Preface updated to reflect Syria refugee crisis.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Break the Official Silence about Not Doing Enough for Syrian Refugees


The power of the printed word and photos about Syrian refugees graphically remind me of "the refugee decade" in which I was centrally involved. It covered Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the USSR from the mid-1970s into much of the 1980s. 

Since those times, refugee numbers have grown beyond imagining. In recent years, Washington Post pages have focused on Syria, an on-going producer of refugees. The Post's opinion articles have included impassioned calls for heightened public awareness and international response to the dire and increasing needs of Syrian refugees. More than ever, Syrian citizens and their neighbors in the region feel overwhelmed by dangers, needs, and the rising numbers. 

In a recent (April 19, 2015) opinion column, Who Cares about Syria, Valerie Amos, then U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, reported on "ordinary Syrians who are suffering...bombed out of their homes, tortured, abused and denied food, water and health care."

Ms. Amos championed the cause of Syrian citizens that were promised protection by their government only to be abandoned to an imperiled and uncertain fate. She has visited Syrian refugees numerous times in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, countries where they have received asylum.

"During every visit," she wrote, "I was asked the same thing: Why has the world abandoned us? Why does nobody care?"

These question are directed, wrote Valerie Amos, "at our leaders, perhaps particularly at the permanent members of the Security Council," where the U.S. is a member.

One view expressed by Ms. Amos is that "narrow national interests are overriding broader global responsibilities, despite the efforts of the U.N. secretary general’s three special envoys to chart a way out of the crisis."

The Syrian government continues to speak about citizen protection while ignoring pleas to "stop targeting civilians and discontinue the use of so-called 'barrel bombs'," according to Amos's reporting. 

The UN cites the fact of the world now feeling overwhelmed by global refugee crises in numbers never experienced before. That's according to Antonio Guterres, the deeply concerned UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

More than a year before Ms. Amos's commentary in the Washington Post, "Unattended Misery: Americans Remain Strikingly Detached from the Humanitarian Crisis in Syria" (December 6, 2013) raised another alarm. Written by revered former U.S. ambassador and foreign service officer, Morton Abramowitz, the article also appeared in West Hawaii Today with the same dateline and headlined Syrian Misery Goes Unheeded

Ambassador Abramowitz wrote that "...our public and government have been complacent in the face of massive human suffering. Recall Rwanda and Cambodia*. More recently the U.S. public has watched passively for well over two years the continuing destruction of a highly developed state: Syria." (*Note: Both disasters received public demands for action.) In my view, nothing changed over the next year and up to now. 

Many nations, including the U.S., face new humanitarian challenges of seemingly impossible proportions. We have risen to such challenges in the past. We have shown that dedicated people in government, foreign service and civilian life can achieve dramatic turnarounds. In spite of the current difficulties, both Morton Abramowitz and Valerie Amos have praised the work under very trying circumstances of the humanitarian organizations in Syria and the region. 

As an avowed humanitarian nation, the U.S. government and the American public need to ask and answer: Will the U.S. lead again as in the refugee decade, rising to do far more than we thought possible on humanitarian fronts? Will we put in place bold policies and strategies as we did in the past when faced with equally, though different, global humanitarian challenges?  

The executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government need to break the silence on humanitarian action regarding Syrian refugees. Along with domestic and international partner organizations, the U.S., UN and others need to "put ordinary people at the heart of decision-making," as Ms. Amos calls for in her commentary. To do would require leadership by which humanitarian actions, such as "no fly zones," are woven into the fabric of government policies and responses at home. 

You might also like to read: 
Fred Hiatt, "The Defense of Inaction," The Washington Post, April 19, 2015

For this article, Mr. Purcell drew on the epilogue draft of his book manuscript. 

Jim Purcell lives outside Washington, DC.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

BRIEF FLASH on Book Progress

  • Book agent queries on-going.
  • Hope of the Phoenix Foreword by U.S. policy leader
  • Short e-books on current Middle East-Europe crisis and U.S. past humanitarian work being adapted for early printing.
  • Hope of the Phoenix book proposal has been underway for a few weeks of writing, editing, and review by an experienced proposal guide. Update: Proposal complete. 
  • When a fresh overview of the book is finished, the marketing section will have final touches added. Complete.
  • Current refugee and aid worker crises,lagging supplies and continuing danger for citizens of Syria and beyond, in Middle East, continue to demand attention and answers soon. --Blog editor. 7/15