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Understanding the Syrian Refugee Crisis

UNACTO Human Rights Panel 2015 – Understanding the Syrian Refugee Crisis

UNACTO hosted a special panel discussion about the Syrian Refugee Crisis at Victoria College in the University for Human Rights Day on 10 December 2015.

Proceeds from this event were donated to the UNAC Syrian Refugee Crisis Fund.


Bayan Khatib

Bayan Khatib’s passion for human rights began with her translation of the memoir of a political prisoner called Just Five Minutes: Nine Years in the Prisons of Syria. Bayan went on to write Iraq: the Untold Tales, which unveils a side of America’s war in Iraq you won’t read about anywhere else. She is also the author of many short stories and articles.

Bayan continues her advocacy for human rights in Syria through her work with various organizations across North America. As part of the steering committee of Lifeline Syria (, Bayan works to engage Canadians in doing their part to help with the Syrian refugee crisis.

Currently, Bayan is the Communications Manager at a non-profit organization, Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM-Canada) which coordinates medical relief missions and projects in conflict zones.

Bayan graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English and Professional Writing and Communications and also has a Masters in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory from McMaster University.

For the past five years, Bayan has had numerous media appearances, and participated as a speaker on the Syrian crisis at many local and international events.

Malaz Sebai Anne Demirjian

Malaz Sebai works as a project manager for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, managing environmental stewardship projects with senior leaders in the business and municipal sectors. Mr. Sebai holds an MBA with a specialization in nonprofit management and has spent the last 10 years advising numerous nonprofit organizations.

Malaz has been active in supporting the Syrian humanitarian, medical, and refugee crises over the past four years with various US, Canadian, Turkish and Syrian organizations. Malaz currently serves as a Steering Committee Member of Lifeline Syria and Advisory Board Member to UOSSM-Canada, where he provides senior leadership in support of both humanitarian aid abroad and refugee resettlement locally, to benefit the Syrian population.

Anne Demirjian

Anne Demirjian was the 2014-2015 Director of Political Affairs & Mediation Group at the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). She was responsible for the peace building and state building portfolio that included: political reform, constitutional review, state formation (federal/state), conflict prevention and local reconciliation. From 2004-2013 she headed the UNDP’s Democratic Governance portfolio in the Middle East & Eastern European countries. At UNDP-Iraq, Libya and Somalia she was responsible for good governance, human rights, institutional development, capacity building, local governance and civil society development programmes.

Anne also has 20 years of senior management experience with the Federal Government of Canada. For the United Nations and the World Bank she worked in Somalia, Eastern Europe, Caucasus & Central Asia, Haiti, Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria. Holds MSc, from University du Quebec a Montreal and B.A. from York University.

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