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Pulitzer Center Update September 23, 2013

This Week: Syria's Catastrophe


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Image by Alisa Roth. Turkey, 2013.

At least 1.5 million people have fled the conflict in Syria. Most have taken refuge in Jordan...

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Syrian refugees crossing into northern Iraq near Dohuk, Iraq, August 21, 2013. Image by Lynsey Addario/VII. Iraq, 2013.


The civil war in Syria is now manufacturing refugees on an industrial scale. As Pulitzer Center grantees Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth write in their cover story for The New York Review of Books:

"By last September, the number of those fleeing abroad had grown tenfold, to more than 300,000, a figure that doubled again over the following three months. In March of this year, it reached one million. At the beginning of September, more than two million Syrians had left the country, while the average pace had reached five thousand people a day. The UN projects there will be 3.5 million refugees by the end of the year."

Not to mention another 4 million Syrians who have fled their neighborhoods and villages but remain inside the country. "Overall, nearly one third of the country's population have been forced to abandon their homes," Hugh and Alisa write. The fall-out from this catastrophe will likely shape the politics of the Middle East for generations, and in their deeply researched story on Syria's refugees, Hugh and Alissa make an important contribution to our understanding of this crisis.


Last week, we told you about two Pulitzer Center projects that shed new light on some of the scientific findings concerning climate change. This week, the groundbreaking reporting continued in The Seattle Times, with two new segments in the newspaper's multi-part series on ocean acidification plus a special report on PBS NewsHour. Grantees Craig Welch and Steve Ringman tell the story of a Washington State oyster farm that was forced to relocate to Hawaii to escape the corrosive waters of the Pacific Northwest. They also report on growing threats to Alaska's crab industry.

Meanwhile, Justin Catanoso, director of the journalism program at our Campus Consortium partner Wake Forest University, writes about the impact of warming temperatures in the Peruvian Andes. Justin spent time with a group of scientists who are tracking the upslope migration of tropical plant species threatened by the warming climate. But are they moving quickly enough?

Justin, whose story ran on National Geographic's website, says that some "Andean tree species are shifting roughly 8 to 12 vertical feet (2.5 to 3.5 meters) a year on average—the arboreal equivalent of a dash. Yet for those trees to remain in equilibrium with their preferred temperatures, they need to migrate more than 20 vertical feet a year." The losers in this race against climate change face extinction.


"The Abominable Crime," grantee Micah Fink's feature-length documentary on homophobia in Jamaica, made its Washington debut last week on the opening night of the first Pulitzer Center Film Festival—an undertaking that we hope will become an annual event.

We had a full house for the screening, and we were particularly delighted to share the evening with Maurice Tomlinson, the Jamaican attorney and human rights activist whose personal story is so eloquently portrayed in Micah's film. For those in the Washington area, the film festival continues through Thursday at the West End Cinema on 23rd and M Streets. See the full program and schedule.





war and conflict reporting


War and Conflict

War and Conflict
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Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees