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Contributors or competitors? Complexity and variability of refugees’ economic ‘impacts’ within a Kenyan host community
Drawing upon in-depth qualitative research with refugees and host populations in Kenya, this article offers a diverging viewpoint towards refugees’ economic impacts within a hosting area and sheds light on the complexity and variability of such impacts perceived by different members of a host community. Due to the unprecedented numbers of refugees worldwide, assessing the impacts of hosting refugees is currently a ‘hot topic’ in the international community. However, the primary complication for studies that attempt to measure economic impacts are the complex patterns of economic interactions that refugees have with host communities. This means that refugees’ economic impacts may be viewed, experienced and distributed unequally amongst the members of receiving society. Through a case-study in Nairobi’s outskirts, this article demonstrates different patterns of engagement between refugees and the local population in the context of a labour market, and reveals contrasting views towards refugees’ economic impacts within the host community.
Immigration law prescribes a range of statuses into one of which individuals must try to fit to be allowed entry. This range establishes a hierarchy from highly advantageous forms of permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom to ones to which few rights accrue, which create dependency or are precarious. Against the backdrop of this hierarchy, I make two claims: that women are disadvantaged by immigration law’s distribution of migration statuses; and, that this disadvantage is the result of rules which indirectly discriminate against women, discrimination which may be unlawful under Article 14 ECHR. As it is well-established that indirect discrimination may be revealed by statistical information, I rely on data from over 10 years to demonstrate that certain migration opportunities are distributed differently to women and men. This distribution is then subjected to scrutiny, potential ‘justifications’ for it, including those premised on sexed/gendered stereotypes, being analysed and refuted. Finally, an understanding of women’s disadvantageous and discriminatory treatment in relation to the family and labour migration routes considered, is combined with a broader consideration of gendered patterns of migration and the statuses that such patterns produce, to found the normative claim that immigration law as whole disadvantages
Education is one of the most important aspects of our lives – vital to our development, our understanding and our personal and professional fulfilment throughout life. In times of crisis, however, millions of displaced young people miss out on months or years of education, and this is damaging to them and their families, as well as to their societies, both in the short and long term. This issue of FMR includes 29 articles on Education, and two ‘general’ articles.
In this research brief Alexander Betts reports on his recent mission to learn about Colombia’s response to the recent Venezuelan influx, and to share experiences and best practices based upon his research relating to the socio-economic integration of refugees and migrants elsewhere. During the mission, he visited La Guajira and Norte de Santander along the border, spent time in Bogotá, and spoke to a wide variety of people, including national and local government, NGOs and international organisations, business and the private sector, and Venezuelan migrants and their representative organisations. The international community’s predominant response to the Venezuelan migration crisis remains focused on humanitarian relief. This is important, for two populations: a) the over 50,000 ‘pendular’ migrants who go back and forth across the border every day in order to access food and basic services; b) those who seek residency in Colombia or another country, and require immediate support in terms of food, shelter, and medical access. However, Betts states, for the over 1.2 million migrants who have settled in Colombia, a longer-term vision is needed, which must be based on seeing Venezuelan migration as a development opportunity that can benefit both migrants and citizens. The crisis represents a particular opportunity to support the regional development of the historically neglected border zones.
The literature on migrants’ religious movements generally see them as backward and conservative movements that are resistant to change. On the contrary, this paper shows that transnational religious movements are shaped by interactions between origin and destination places’ political, legal and social structures, and may take different pathways across time and place. Analysing the development of the Alevi diaspora movement in Germany and the recent efforts to establish the World Alevi Union, the article argues that both the (old and new) states and the (old and new) societies they live in, as well as broader paradigm changes and their agency have a direct influence on the ways migrants’ daily life practices alter in time.
Subversive Humanitarianism and Its Challenges: Notes on the Political Ambiguities of Civil Refugee Support
Chapter in ‘Refugee Protection and Civil Society in Europe’. About the book: This volume analyses civil society as an important factor in the European refugee regime. Based on empirical research, the chapters explore different aspects, structures and forms of civil society engagement during and after 2015. Various institutional, collective and individual activities are examined in order to better understand the related processes of refugees’ movements, reception and integration. Several chapters also explore the historical development of the relationship between a range of actors involved in solidarity movements and care relationships with refugees across different member states. Through the combined analysis of macro-level state and European policies, meso-level organization's activities and micro-level individual behaviour, Refugee Protection and Civil Society in Europe presents a comprehensive exploration of the refugee regime in motion, and will be of interest to scholars and students researching migration, social movements, European institutions and social work.
In this piece, I consider the relationship between denationalisation and discrimination. Denationalisation, the involuntary removal of citizenship or nationality by the state, has a dark history, reflected in the Nazi use of the power. Yet before 1945, many liberal democratic states also practiced citizenship-stripping, in ways informed by considerations of gender, race, national origin, and mode of citizenship acquisition. As denationalisation is currently making a revival across a range of liberal democratic states as a way of responding to ‘home grown’ terrorists, a question emerges: Do recent denationalisation provisions manage to break free of this discriminatory past? Here, I use a discussion of denationalisation’s history and examination of the U.K. as the basis for a critical assessment of the power’s contemporary incarnations. I find that contemporary denationalisation power is still a powerful tracer of groups within the polity who, despite holding formal citizenship, are viewed as foreign.
This introduction sounds a call for ethnomusicologies of radio. Radio remains amongst the most widespread electronic mediums on earth. The tensions that accompanied its development continue to populate our present media landscapes, and many of these same tensions animate ethnomusicological endeavour. Here, we develop two central arguments. First, histories of radio and ethnomusicology are bound up together: that ethnomusicology is radiophonic and radio is ethnomusicological. Second, that radio is a vector of modernity that means different things in different times and places. Through these multiplicities, radio is less a thing or an apparatus than it is an ethnographic site. We begin by listening to the modernities that radio makes audible, before turning to the kinds of citizenship that are constructed through radio broadcasting. We close by sketching the disciplinary formations, theoretical concerns and ethnographic orientations that ethnomusicologies of radio might entail; and by introducing the articles that sound out these ideas and comprise this special issue.
While the literature on boundary making has mainly documented variations in boundary work between groups and institutional contexts, scholars have paid less attention to boundary work in the context of unexpected dislocation of a group to a new context. This article examines how Syrian refugees in Belgium deal with a sudden loss of social status, by analysing how they draw symbolic boundaries among themselves, established immigrants and native Belgians. Drawing on 26 in-depth interviews with 39 Syrian refugees as well as on-going participant observation, we describe how our respondents use ‘comparative strategies of self’ to position themselves as dignified and worthy individuals. We present two types of moral, and two types of cultural boundary work our interlocutors engaged in. They stressed their moral worthiness by, first, distancing themselves from the bad behaviour of ‘uneducated’ refugees in reception centres, and from established immigrants in materially deprived urban neighbourhoods. Second, especially male interlocutors displayed a strong work ethic highlighting how they renegotiated their masculine worthiness in response to their loss of status and their refugee condition. In addition, they demonstrated their cultural qualities by articulating, first, their personal competences and aesthetic refinement as individuals, and, second, by highlighting the general level of education, wealth and cultural achievements of Syrian people as a whole. In sum, these four boundary-making strategies served to legitimise their presence and strengthen their position vis-à-vis other social groups such as their compatriots, established immigrants and native Belgians. In line with previous studies by Sherman (2005) and Purser (2009), we find that these moral and cultural boundaries are significant in reasserting disadvantaged individuals’ sense of dignity, whilst working against the emergence of solidarity between wider groups of immigrants in similar socio-structural positions.
While citizenship scholars have documented the increasing moralisation of immigration and integration policies, relatively few have explored how immigrants themselves make sense of their (partial) membership of European welfare states. Drawing on semi-structured interviews and participant observation with Syrian refugees, this article documents how they interpret and act upon the partial and limited citizenship status they are given in Belgium. We focus on one dimension of their experiences: their stigmatic dependency upon the Belgian welfare state. While their accounts can be partly understood as reproducing neoliberal discourses, we argue that they are also a strategic reaction against the dependency that is inadvertently created by European welfare states. From our respondents’ perspectives, their social rights thus appear not so much as entitlements to be claimed, but as a continuation of the humanitarian logic of the (unreciprocated) gift.
Instability in the Middle East has become increasingly marked since the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 and escalating refugee flows and internally displaced populations continue to invoke global humanitarian and political concern. Although neighbouring countries have predominantly assumed responsibility for those displaced in the region, movements of desperate people into Europe has further heightened awareness of the regional crisis. While there is international awareness through press coverage and all-pervasive social media forums, for those interested in accessing more critical and comprehensive sources for Middle Eastern refugees there is a wealth of material available. This article provides an overview to a selection of these, much of which are Open Access. As Subject Consultant for Forced Migration at the Bodleian Social Science Library at the University of Oxford, Sarah Rhodes is fortunate to work with one of the world’s best collections on population displacement. This collection, formerly housed at the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), was created in the mid-1980s and consequently also charts some of the earlier conflicts within the region. The library catalogue, Search Oxford Libraries Online (SOLO), can be searched, and in some cases full-text documents from the unpublished document collection can be accessed as a link through the Forced Migration Online Digital Library.
Refugees and (Other) Migrants: Will the Global Compacts Ensure Safe Flight and Onward Mobility for Refugees?
The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants is a unanimous United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution which was adopted by Heads of State and Government on 19 September 2016. It contains common provisions on both refugees and migrants, as well as sections dealing with these categories separately. The Declaration repeatedly reaffirms commitments to the human rights of refugees and migrants, confirms the centrality of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and emphasizes the importance of a humanitarian approach to both migrants and refugees. As it states in paragraph 5: The New York Declaration set up the process to create the two Global Compacts, with different processes and assumptions underpinning the Global Compact on...
Uganda gives refugees the right to work and freedom of movement through its self-reliance model. The model has been widely praised as one of the most progressive refugee policies in the world. New research by Alexander Betts, Imane Chaara, Naohiko Omata, and Olivier Sterck explores what difference the self-reliance model makes in practice. Which aspects work, under what conditions, and for whom? In order to answer these questions, they compare outcomes for refugees and host community members in Uganda and Kenya, neighbouring countries with contrasting refugee policy frameworks. They identify four major advantages to Uganda’s regulatory framework: greater mobility, lower transaction costs for economic activity, higher incomes, and more sustainable sources of employment. Nevertheless, there are some limitations to Uganda’s assistance model, notably in relation to the viability of its land allocation model in rural settlements, the inadequacy of access to education in the settlements, and the ineffectiveness of urban assistance. Overall, the research offers a strong endorsement of the value of allowing refugees the right to work and freedom of movement, but calls for a more nuanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of refugee assistance in Uganda. The research on which this brief is based is published in longer form as 'Refugee Economies in Uganda: What Difference Does the Self-Reliance Model Make?'
Uganda gives refugees the right to work and freedom of movement through its self-reliance model. The model has been widely praised as one of the most progressive refugee policies in the world. New research by Alexander Betts, Imane Chaara, Naohiko Omata, and Olivier Sterck explores what difference the self-reliance model makes in practice. Which aspects work, under what conditions, and for whom? In order to answer these questions, they compare outcomes for refugees and host community members in Uganda and Kenya, neighbouring countries with contrasting refugee policy frameworks. They identify four major advantages to Uganda’s regulatory framework: greater mobility, lower transaction costs for economic activity, higher incomes, and more sustainable sources of employment. Nevertheless, there are some limitations to Uganda’s assistance model, notably in relation to the viability of its land allocation model in rural settlements, the inadequacy of access to education in the settlements, and the ineffectiveness of urban assistance. Overall, the research offers a strong endorsement of the value of allowing refugees the right to work and freedom of movement, but calls for a more nuanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of refugee assistance in Uganda.
This paper uses the example of Central Americans from the Northern Triangle living in the United States as an illustration of the decisions of refugees to forego formal asylum in favour of irregular status. The question at the centre of this paper is: how might we understand the decisions of refugees to opt out of formal asylum systems? I argue that, for many refugees, ‘informal asylum’ outside of state recognition is preferable to entering the formal asylum system. In particular, I suggest that when the restrictiveness of the asylum system is high and the conditions of life outside the state are manageable, a refugee may strategically opt out of the formal asylum system, realising a kind of informal asylum instead. I use the situation of immigrants from the Northern Triangle living in the United States to illustrate this argument, highlighting the case for viewing Central Americans as presumptive refugees, the factors that deter recourse to formal asylum, and the features that make undocumented life in the United States possible. This paper does not offer conclusive evidence for the salience of various factors in immigrants’ decisions to forego formal asylum; it does, however, provide a framework through which to challenge existing assumptions about the desirability of the state’s offer of asylum and the nature of undocumented residence in the state, ultimately illustrating the plausibility of the notion of ‘informal asylum’.
Introduction: The Global Compact on Refugees (Refugee Compact) addresses one of the most significant gaps in the international refugee regime. Since the creation of the modern refugee system, there has been a disjuncture between a strongly institutionalized norm of ‘asylum’ and a weakly institutionalized norm of ‘responsibility sharing’. While States’ obligations towards refugees who are within their territory or jurisdiction are relatively clearly defined, States’ obligations to support refugees who are on the territory of another State are much weaker. Consequently, while law has shaped asylum, politics has defined responsibility sharing. This has long led to a major power asymmetry within the refugee system in which geography and proximity to crisis de facto define State responsibility. Distant donor countries’ commitments to provide money or resettlement have been viewed as largely discretionary. Historically, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has therefore needed to rely upon ad hoc conferences or discretionary, often earmarked, and usually annual commitments to elicit responsibility sharing. In displacement crises in which donor and resettlement commitments have been low, protection and access to solutions have inevitably been limited.
Across low- and middle-income countries, protection and assistance is provided to refugees by United Nations organisations in collaboration with a network of NGO implementing partners (IPs). Whether in camps or urban areas, the dominant humanitarian model remains premised upon a provider/beneficiary relationship: international organisations are the protectors and refugees are the protected. In parallel to this model, however, is a largely neglected story: refugees themselves frequently mobilise to create community-based organisations or informal networks as alternative providers of social protection. They mobilise to provide sources of assistance to other refugees in areas as diverse as education, health, livelihoods, finance, and housing. Sometimes they create registered organisations, other times they mobilise through networks. They usually do so despite a lack of access to external funding or recognition. Sometimes, these informal sources of social protection may even be regarded by refugee recipients as more important than formal sources of assistance. Using a mixed methods approach based on ethnographic research and survey methods, we have examined four contrasting cases of refugee-led social protection in Kenya (Nairobi and Kakuma) and Uganda (Kampala and Nakivale). In our research, we explore what constrains and enables affected communities to be active providers of social protection. In this brief, we outline some of our findings and their implications for policy and practice. [PDF file 2.9MB]
Negotiating place, culture and new Dutch identities: Inclusion, exclusion and belonging in a grassroots refugee integration organisation in Utrecht, the Netherlands
Charles Taylor in his work on interculturalism points out that in order to redefine nations that embrace diversity, we need a story. This paper aims to offer a particular story of refugee integration in the Netherlands through the example of De Voorkamer, a grassroots initiative located in Lombok, one of the most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods in the city of Utrecht. The initiative aims to enhance the integration of refugees and asylum seekers in ways that counter ‘bureaucratic processes of integration’. In light of growing Islamophobia, the rise of right-wing populism and increasingly restrictive immigration politics across Europe, stories of inclusion, integration and belonging in cultural diversity are needed to a growing extent. An intercultural narrative may present new perspectives, filling a gap in both theories and practices of refugee integration. After a detailed outline of the research methodology, a short description of the research context and the construction of a theoretical framework, three chapters present the analytical body of the research. The first discusses how De Voorkamer has become ‘a special kind of place’. It examines particular notions of belonging, considering practices of home-making and intercultural co-creation. Guided by De Voorkamer’s practices and self-identifications, the second chapter explores discourses of multiculturalism and interculturalism, analysing the binary of ‘local’ and ‘newcomer’ through terminologies of sameness and difference. Finally, the third chapter looks at different levels of engagement among locals and newcomers, investigating to what extent instances of inclusion and exclusion inform feelings of belonging. Ultimately, this research aims to demonstrate whether and how De Voorkamer – in the words of Charles Taylor – fosters integration, combats stereotypes and encourages exchange, and thereby offers insights into what successful refugee integration, in the Netherlands and beyond, might entail.
This working paper reports on a workshop organised by the Food Studies Centre at SOAS, University of London and the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. The workshop aimed to explore and debate how and why humanitarian and development nutrition came to be dominated by medical science. Current interventions tend to treat it as a decontextualized, biological problem amenable to the technical administration of nutrients. The main approaches to addressing malnutrition now include the provision of specialised food products, new agricultural technologies, and the promotion of behaviour change in feeding and hygiene practices. They are promoted as part of Public Private Partnerships. Social nutrition, in contrast, takes a more holistic approach by examining its social, political and economic causes, and was prominent in the 1930s and again in the 1980s and 1990s but has been in decline since. Social approaches to nutrition have been critical of contemporary practices because they focus on nutrition itself as the object of policy rather than its wider social and political causes, they prevent more flexible and people-centred approaches, and because new nutrition and agricultural technologies promote the interests of business rather than the malnourished. These issues were the subject of discussion at the workshop.