Unit plan for ages 15-18 in History: Population Displacement in the Commonwealth of Independent States

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Once stateless, these young Crimean Tatars have now returned to Oktyabrskoe in southern Ukraine, where they are attending a national school.   © UNHCR/A.Hollmann

UNIT OBJECTIVES

Knowledge

  • To learn aspects of the political history and geography of the former Soviet Union.
  • To understand the political forces which led to the formation of new states in the CIS.
  • To understand the political and ethnic tensions which give rise to discrimination and persecution, and therefore provoke refugee outflows.

Skills

  • To be able to analyse the reasons for complex historical and political phenomena.
  • To practise skills in the reading and interpretation of maps.
  • To seek to envisage solutions to seemingly intractable political and ethnic problems.

Values

  • To impart a sense of the folly and waste of inter-ethnic hatred.
  • To foster a feeling of empathy and solidarity with the victims of persecution and civil war.

LESSON 1: Where do people go when they are forced to move?

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

The location of the CIS states, and the direction of the flow of human displacements.

Under the guidance of the teacher, students draw arrows on the map of Activity Sheet: The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to show the directions of human displacements.

Background information for teachers concerning the CIS, its refugees and displaced people, is provided in the Teacher's Resource Sheet.

RESOURCES

Uzbek asylum seekers fleeing a crackdown in Andijan, Uzbekistan in May 2005, intially sheltered at Barash camp on the banks of a river marking the border with neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.   © UNHCR/C.Zaccagnini

Activity Sheet: The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

Teacher's Resource Sheet: "Displaced people in the former Soviet states" in UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees 1995: In Search of Solutions (Oxford, OUP, 1995), p. 24-25

Suggested readings for the teacher:

LESSONS 2 and 3: Migration within the CIS

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES
A brief history of population displacement in the former Soviet Union.

Link to previous lesson: In lesson 1, the students would have noted that the movement of people, in certain situations, occurs in both directions, eg. people fled from Armenia to Azerbaijan, as well as from Azerbaijan to Armenia. In this double lesson, the students will read about how the multi-ethnic composition of the CIS states came about, and the tensions between the ethnic groups that contributed to the mass migrations.

Development: Students read the article "Population displacement in the former Soviet Union" and answer the accompanying questions, including filling in a table that shows who were the people forcibly moved, where they were forced to migrate, and where the current generation of each group are now moving, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

RESOURCES

Kyrgyzstan's First Lady, Professor Mairam Akaeva, handing out passports to Tajik refugees in a ceremony in April.   © UNHCR

Bohdan Nahaylo, "Population displacement in the former Soviet Union", Refugees, no. 98, 1994, p. 3-8

LESSON 4: Multi-ethnicity

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES
The multi-ethnicity of the CIS states.

Discussion: The "Minorities Map" Pie is a set of pie charts that show clearly how multi-ethnic are the CIS states. Students are asked to consider the history of how these distributions came about, what tensions have evolved between the various groups of people, and how could UNHCR and other UN organisations help in reducing these tensions.

RESOURCES

Kyrgyzstan's First Lady, Professor Mairam Akaeva, handing out passports to Tajik refugees in a ceremony in April.  © UNHCR Bishkek

"Minorities Map" from CIS Conference on refugees and migrants (Geneva, UNHCR/IOM/OSCE, 1996)

Suggested readings for the teacher: "In legal limbo: asylum seekers and statelessness" - "Displacement in the Commonwealth of Independent States", UNHCR publication for CIS Conference, May 1996

Jan Cienski, "Chilly reception for refugees in Russia", Refugees, no. 98, 1994

LESSONS 5 and 6: Case study - Tajikistan

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

The civil war in Tajikistan, the repatriation of Tajiks and the role of UNHCR in the repatriation and protection of the returnees.

Link to previous lesson: At the end of the previous lesson, students would have learnt that certain minority groups are present in several countries.

Introduction: In this lesson, students will concentrate on one particular CIS country, Tajikistan. Teacher provides a brief introduction about the people of this country and about the civil war that broke out only months after the country gained its independence. Background information on Tajikistan is provided in the Teachers' Resource Sheet: Restoring stability in Tajikistan.

Video: Students watch the video and take part in a class discussion based on its contents.

RESOURCES

Teachers' Resource Sheet 2: Restoring stability in Tajikistan, in UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees 1995: In Search of Solutions (Oxford, OUP, 1995), p. 77-78

Video: Tajikistan: Mission Accomplished (Geneva, UNHCR, 1995)

The video is available free from the UNHCR Public Affairs Unit, Case Postale 2500 CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt, Suisse.

Rupert Colville, "Rebuilding Socialism", Refugees No.98, 1994 p.26-30.