South-South humanitarianism in contexts of forced displacement
Researcher(s): Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh
Dates: 2012 - present
Donors: Oxford University John Fell Fund (2012-2013); UNHCR Policy Development and Evaluation Services (2012); Oxford Department of International Development (2012)
European and North-American led humanitarian responses to contexts of forced displacement are increasingly being paralleled and at times overtly challenged by an ever-expanding array of “alternative” models of humanitarian intervention. However, while extensive research has been conducted on South-South development programmes (i.e. Chinese development funding in sub-Saharan Africa), and “alternatives to development” (i.e. post-development studies), there remains a need to comparatively examine South-South humanitarian partnerships.
This project critically explores the various histories, modes of operation and implications of diverse “alternative” models of humanitarian action; such critical analysis is particularly important given increasing governmental and UN interest in Southern-led humanitarianism for a variety of financial and political reasons.
This research project builds upon extensive fieldwork conducted between 2001 and 2009 in Southern states including Algeria, Cuba, South Africa and Syria which have provided different forms of humanitarian assistance to Middle Eastern and North African refugee populations. It also draws upon insights from a parallel project regarding Faith Based Humanitarianism in Contexts of Forced Migration, highlighting the wide range of initiatives which have been developed by diverse secular and faith-based Southern state and non-state actors around the world.
Through an explicitly comparative framework, the project aims to answer the following questions:
- What is the history of different models of state and non-state South-South humanitarianism?
- Given the heterogeneity which exists between and amongst Northern and Southern state and non-state actors, what, if any, are the similarities and differences which exist between Northern-led and Southern-led humanitarian initiatives?
- What are the motivations underpinning diverse Southern state, civil-society, collective and individual responses to contexts of displacement?
- How are South-South humanitarian programmes and projects experienced and assessed by different members of Southern displaced populations?
- Do diverse South-South humanitarian initiatives complement and/or challenge Northern-led humanitarianism?
- What is the relationship between South-South humanitarianism and the “international” humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality?
The project identifies and examines diverse models of humanitarian responses designed and implemented by Southern state and non-state actors through a combination of innovative primary fieldwork in the Middle East and Europe (2012-2013), a detailed 'mapping' exercise of diverse South-South humanitarian initiatives, international workshops, and a range of publications which will engage with academics, practitioners, policy-makers and displaced populations around the world.
On 6 October 2012, a workshop on South-South Humanitarianism in Contexts of Forced Displacement took place at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford, kindly supported by the Oxford Department of International Development’s Outreach Fund (QEH, University of Oxford), by the RSC and by the Policy Development and Evaluation Service of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The podcast of the Opening Lecture delivered by Simone Haysom (Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute) is available to download here: Download the podcast, and the Workshop Report is available to download here. A Concept Paper addressing the key questions underpinning and emerging from the workshop will be available to download from this page in early 2013. A selection of the papers presented at the workshop will in turn be published as part of the RSC Working Paper Series and in a peer-reviewed journal Special Issue or edited collection.
A monograph is currently in preparation for publication in 2014 which draws on critical theories and insights from intersectional analysis to examine the experiences and implications of refugee youth's participation in South-South higher education programmes designed to maximise 'self-sufficiency' in their refugee camp homes. In so doing, it considers the broader implications of such South-South progammes vis-a-vis 'alternative' conceptualisations of development and humanitarianism alike. In particular, South-South educational systems which provide medical training to refugee youth will be critically examined through a comparative, multi-sited and inter-disciplinary framework, examining the extent to which refugee's identities, conditions in their contexts of origin, and a range of structural factors influence their experiences of returning to their refugee camps following graduation.
Pacitto, J. 'South-South humanitarianism in contexts of forced migration', RSC Workshop Report, Refugee Studies Centre, October 2012
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development: Views from Cuba, North Africa and the Middle East. (forthcoming, Routledge)
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. ‘Paradoxes of Sahrawi Refugees’ Educational Migration: Promoting self-sufficiency or renewing dependency?’ Comparative Education, 47(4):433-447, November 2011.
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (Ed) Guest Editor of Special Issue on “Faith Based Humanitarianism in Contexts of Forced Displacement,” Journal of Refugee Studies, 24(3), September 2011.
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. ‘Introduction: Faith-Based Humanitarianism in Contexts of Forced Displacement.’ Journal of Refugee Studies, 24(3):429-439, September 2011.
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. ‘Education, Migration and Internationalism: Situating Muslim Middle Eastern and North African students in Cuba’, The Journal of North African Studies, 15(2): 137-155, June 2010.
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E, 'Representing Sahrawi Refugees’ ‘Educational Displacement’ to Cuba: Self-sufficient Agents or Manipulated Victims in Conflict?' Journal of Refugee Studies, 22(3): 323-350, September 2009.
Contemporary humanitarian action and the role of Southern actors: key trends and debates
Simone Haysom (Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute)
This podcast of the opening lecture of the Workshop on South-South Humanitarianism in Contexts of Forced Migration was recorded on Saturday 6 October 2012 at the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford.
Workshop report: South-South humanitarianism in contexts of forced migration