Incoming: Haji Yazdeen Haji from Sinjar, Northern Iraq

Haji Yazdeen Haji is a doctoral student carrying out research on hybrid material flow cost accounting with life cycle impact assessment and cost analysis. The aim of this PhD project is to assess the economic and environmental performances for selected wood industries in the Landes de Gascogne, a protected area of pine forest, wetland and oceanic coastline, located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France.

Haji Yazdeen arrived to Bordeaux in November 2019 within the framework of the PAUSE program* and is now carrying out research for a period of 3 years at the host Institutes ISM (Institute of Molecular Sciences) and I2M (Institute of Mechanics and Engineering).

Mr Yazdeen is originally from Sinjar in Northern Iraq where he held the position of deputy dean at the Technical Institute of Shingal. Following the 2014 Genocide of Yazidis committed by ISIS, he, his wife and their five children lived for six years in a refugee camp in Northern Iraq.

How did the application procedure go to the PAUSE program?

I found out about the PAUSE program (French national program for the urgent aid and reception of scientists in exile) from a friend in Paris. In March 2018 I applied from Iraq and was able to submit my file for the University of Bordeaux during the summer of 2019. Just a few months later, I arrived to Bordeaux along with my wife and children.

Describe your arrival to Bordeaux

Since day one, I have been warmly welcomed and guided by my PhD supervisors from the Institutes ISM and I2M. My family and I received great assistance in finding initial and long-term accommodation, organizing the integration of my children within the French education system, dealing with the considerable obligatory paperwork, and most importantly, making us feel part of a close-knit and supportive community. All this throughout the ongoing COVID pandemic!

Once registered at the University of Bordeaux, the Welcome Center for International Researchers provided strong support with the various steps for residency, while the administrative and financial team of the ISM also accompanied me for organizational issues.

Throughout this entire integration process, my family and I have received invaluable help and guidance from a number of volunteers from solidarity-based associations as well as from the governing body of the University of Bordeaux. I am very thankful to all those who have helped us along the way.

What are your objectives for this thesis and what work have you accomplished so far?

My thesis aims to assess the economic and environmental performance of four selected wood industries in the Landes de Gascogne. During my first year, I worked on the development scope of my thesis. Now in my second year, I am starting to write the actual context of the thesis.

What are your impressions of the University of Bordeaux, the people, the city? 

The University of Bordeaux is a very welcoming and cooperative institution, proposing many resources (e.g. programs, teams) to facilitate the arrival, integration and work of international researchers. I find the French people to be friendly and kind and although communication in French is not yet possible for me, I hope to find time in the future to master this rich language.

The city of Bordeaux is beautiful and it is not surprising that the region is considered one of the most important tourist destinations in France. I appreciate the mild, maritime climate, and am looking forward to heading out to the coast and discovering the famous sand dunes, the “Dune de Pilat” and the lake of Lacanau.

It is particularly interesting that between regions, there are major differences in terms of historic sites and traditions. However, no matter where, the wealth of French culture - the food, art and architecture – remains apparent.

My hometown, Sinjar, also boasts magnificent cultural and historical sites. Unfortunately, the Yazidi people cannot enjoy a safe and peaceful life as we do here in France. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference it makes to feel welcomed and supported here in our daily lives. It is a dream (that will hopefully one day come true), that I manage, with the help of my French community, to bring over other members of my family from Iraq, here to the security of France.

The Support Unit of the University of Bordeaux

Since early 2019, the University of Bordeaux has implemented a Support Unit that facilitates the admission of scientists who are experiencing an emergency situation. The aim is to welcome them for a sufficient period and thus ensure the continuity of their research and their integration within our city.

Within the PAUSE program, a personalized support process has been developed for the laureates and includes mentoring and guidance for:

  • Language skills (French, scientific English)
  • Useful scientific skills for professional development within the academic sector
  • Useful skills for professional development outside the academic sector (e.g. transversal skills that may be used within the private sector)

For more information about this Support Unit, please contact the International Office.

The PAUSE program

Announced in October 2016 by the French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, the PAUSE program was officially launched in January 2017 by an agreement between the Ministry for Education and Research, Collège de France and The Chancellery of Parisian Universities. The national program brings together major institutions from the higher education and research community (CPU, CDEFI, CNRS, INSERM, INRAE, INRIA, CNOUS, AUF), the French Interior Ministry, the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. After an evaluation process, it provides stimulus funding to French higher education establishments and research organizations who commit to the recruitment of scientists at risk and to supporting their professional and personal integration.

Updated on 22/02/2021