Two scientists who fled Yemen and Syria are joined by Stephen Wordworth, executive director of the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA), to discuss how best to support displaced researchers.

Hassoni Alodaini hoped to complete a PhD when war broke out in his native Yemen in 2015.

But as research funding dried up as a result of the hostilities, Alodaini fled to Egypt. His arrival there marked the start of a three-year journey to reach the Netherlands, much of it on foot, via Greece, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, the Czech Republic, and Germany.

In the fourth episode of a seven-part podcast series about freedom and safety in science, Alodani describes how it feels to have his research disrupted by war, and his hopes of finishing his doctorate. “I feel that I waste all the effort that I have done in the past. I feel that I begin from new,” he says.

Syrian researcher Fares el Hasan also sought sanctuary in the Netherlands. He recounts dodging snipers during his daily journey to the University of Aleppo, prompting his decision to flee after ISIS seized control of the village where his parents lived, in 2013. After completing a Masters’ Degree at Wageningen University on an Erasmus Mundus fellowship, he now works in a support role at the University of Utrecht. “I like my work, but I was looking to do a PhD and becoming a professor or assistant professor. I’m not sure if this is feasible or not,” he says.

Finally, Stephen Wordsworth, executive director of the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA), a UK based charity, describes how the organisation’s fellowship programme seeks to place academics who are seeking refuge at its partner universities and research institutes.

“They’re not just coming to be supported,” he says of the academics CARA has helped over the years. “They are bringing their own experience and knowledge, sharing that while they’re here. And that can then be the basis of lasting partnerships.”

The first six episodes in this seven-part series conclude with a follow-up sponsored slot from the International Science Council about how it is exploring freedom, responsibility and safety in science.