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  • Local Politics and the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Exploring Responses in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan

    24 November 2017

    In order to explain responses to Syrian refugees, it is important to understand politics within the major host countries. This involves looking beyond the capital cities to examine variation in responses at the local level. Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan followed a similar trajectory as the crisis evolved. Each began the crisis in 2011 with a history of relative openness to Syrians, then increased restrictions especially around October 2014 with the growing threat of ISIS, before agreeing major bilateral deals with the European Union in early 2016. These common trajectories, however, mask significant sub-national variation. To explore this we examine three local contexts in each of the main countries: Gaziantep, Adana, and Izmir in Turkey; Sahab, Zarqa, and Mafraq in Jordan; and predominantly Christian, Shia, and Sunni areas in Lebanon. In each country, some governorates and municipalities have adopted relatively more inclusive or restrictive policies towards Syrian refugees. The main sets of factors that appear to mediate this relate to identity and interests, but also to the personalities of individual heads of municipal authorities. The report argues that political analysis – across all levels of governance – matters for refugee protection. There is a need to enhance the capacity for political analysis within humanitarian organisations.

  • Thrive or survive? Explaining variation in economic outcomes for refugees

    28 November 2017

    In the context of protracted refugee situations, there has been a revival in concern among policymakers to transcend the so-called humanitarian-development divide and create greater opportunities for self-reliance. Yet, these discussions too often neglect an analytical focus on refugees’ own economic lives, and their own interactions with markets.Despite a growing literature on the economic lives of refugees, much of that work has lacked theory or data. The work that has been quantitative has generally focused on the economic impact of refugees on host countries rather than explaining variation in economic outcomes for refugees. In order to explain variation in economic outcomes for refugees, this paper asks three questions about the economic lives of refugees: 1) what makes the economic lives of refugees distinctive from other populations; 2) what explains variation in refugees’ income levels; and 3) what role does entrepreneurship play in shaping refugees’ economic outcomes?In order to answer these questions, the paper draws upon extensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted in Uganda by the Humanitarian Innovation Project at Oxford University. The quantitative data set is based on a survey of 2,213 refugees in three types of contexts: urban (Kampala), protracted camps (Nakivale and Kyangwali settlements), and emergency camps (Rwamwanja). It supplements this with qualitative research from other parts of Africa and the Middle East. The economic lives of refugees are argued to be distinctive not because refugees are any different qua human beings but because they often occupy a distinctive institutional space. Following new institutional economics, the paper argues that “refugee economies” represent a distinctive analytical space insofar as refugees face different formal and informal institutional barriers and distortions in their economic lives compared to nationals or other migrants.

  • Follow-Up Study on the Role of UNIDO’s Training on the Economic Reintegration of Repatriated Refugees in Liberia

    29 November 2017

    Drawing on recent follow-up research, this report presents the main findings on the employment and job situation of former beneficiaries of UNIDO’s training programmes aiming to promote the economic reintegration of Liberian returnees.

  • Solidarity at work? The prevalence of emergency-driven solidarity in the administrative governance of the Common European Asylum System

    18 December 2017

    Policymakers conceptualize the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) as a ‘common area of protection and solidarity’. And yet, the absence of solidarity and fair-sharing in the administrative governance of the policy is glaringly salient. Against this backdrop, this article explores Article 80 TFEU, establishing the principle of ‘solidarity and fair-sharing of responsibility’. This analysis reveals it to be a principle that is structural to the EU asylum policy, dictates a certain ‘quality’ in the co-operation of the different actors, and affects the goal of the policy. To do this, after outlining the initial implementation design of the asylum policy, I examine ‘shifts’ in its administration modes, focusing on developments in responsibility-assignation, practical cooperation and EU funding. The analysis covers developments prompted by the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’, such as the emergency intra-EU relocation schemes, the emergence of new funding lines and the enhancement in the operational role of EU agencies. This article argues that, despite the rhetoric surrounding the solidarity principle, rather than being structurally embedded in the system’s administration modes, it remains emergency-driven. In this sense, the implementation design fails both to attain ‘fair sharing’, as well as to respond to what are essentially structural, rather than exceptional needs.

  • A Fair Share: Refugees and Responsibility-Sharing

    21 December 2017

    Responsibility-sharing relates to the distribution of costs and benefits between states for addressing a particular global challenge. The global refugee regime has historically had relatively weak norms relating to responsibility-sharing. In the aftermath of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in the Middle East and Europe, there have been renewed calls to create effective mechanisms for responsibility-sharing. But how should such institutional mechanisms be designed? The report’s central argument is that under current political conditions responsibility-sharing is unlikely to be achieved through the creation of a single legal mechanism or centralised allocation system. Rather, it requires a range of complementary mechanisms – analytical, political, and operational –to overcome the collective action failure that has historically beset the refugee system. This project studies states’ and non-state actors’ assistance to refugees. It offers a method of measuring the extent of responsibility-sharing and discusses different possible models of sharing responsibility. A short policy brief is also available.

  • Sticky technologies: Plumpy’nut®, emergency feeding and the viscosity of humanitarian design

    10 January 2018

    Inspired by de Laet and Mol’s classic article on the Zimbabwean Bush Pump and Peter Redfield’s revival of fluidity as a central characteristic of humanitarian design, this paper argues that many humanitarian technologies are characterized not so much by fluidity as by stickiness. Sticky technologies lie somewhere between fluid technologies and Latourian immutable mobiles: They work precisely because they are mobile and not overly adaptable, yet they retain some flexibility by reaching out to shape and be shaped by their users. The concept is introduced through a detailed study of Plumpy’nut®, a peanut paste for therapeutic feeding that is materially sticky – much firmer than a fluid, yet still mutable – as well as conceptually sticky. ‘Stickiness’ can have wide utility for thinking through technology and humanitarianism.

  • How friends become foes: exploring the role of documents in shaping UNHCR’s behaviour

    10 January 2018

    In issuing and circulating a litany of documents, organisations produce statements with important textual and material qualities and affects. While a discursive analysis focuses on the former, interrogating how language is used, this paper propounds the need to explore the physicality of these objects too and adopts several heuristic devices to do so. First, it outlines how the issuance of certain documents within the refugee regime suppresses within a ‘black box’ the supporting and competing narratives that resulted in their genesis. Second, and relatedly, it considers why particular announcements are capable of catalysing responses that outlive their authors’ finite intentions. Tracing the genealogy of these documents is thus argued to be critical for explaining the persistent and yet unpredictable influence of ideas, interests and pressures on institutional conduct, even long after their proponents have changed tack. By illustrating why greater attention should be paid to the ways that material objects can come to shape organisational behaviour, in this case legal texts, this article complements existing theoretical frameworks used to explain UNHCR’s conduct. This helps explain how, when and why non-legally binding declarations nonetheless came to bind UNHCR’s actions as it attempted to cancel the status of Eritrean refugees in 2002.

  • School, sexuality and problematic girlhoods: reframing ‘empowerment’ discourse

    10 January 2018

    This paper draws on ethnographic research with teenage schoolgirls in Tanzania to explore the impact of education on their experiences of sexual agency and empowerment. School-based education is frequently presented within international development as a route for empowering girls to exercise agency over their sexuality; yet school itself often constitutes a space in which the same restrictive gendered and sexual norms that exist outside the classroom are reproduced or go unchallenged by those working with girls. Despite the constraints to their agency from both outside and within school, girls themselves do resist the narratives of girlhood and sexuality imposed upon them. Recognising how these dynamics challenge our understanding of sexual empowerment is key to finding ways to support girls in navigating repressive norms beyond the classroom.

  • Policies and labels for negotiating rights protection for the environmentally displaced in Ghana: the Dagara farmer in perspective

    23 January 2018

    This paper discusses the issue of rights within the context of contemporary policies and the extent to which they address the challenges confronting environmentally displaced people in Ghana. It also explores the role of labels in the drive toward affording appropriate rights protection for the environmentally displaced. The discussions are an offshoot from two extant studies conducted through interviews and focus group sessions. The objective of the first study was to assess the level of preparedness of government to offer appropriate rights protection to environmentally displaced persons. The second study investigated how migrants, especially those affected by changing environmental condition are able to gain access and negotiate their rights in all the different places they go to. From the studies, it was found that there are no clear policies in Ghana meant to afford rights protection to environmentally displaced people and that the rights of such migrants keep shifting with both time and location. People migrating from areas of environmental scarcity lack the capacity to negotiate for ‘better’ rights due to weak leadership and the fear of losing courtesies extended to them by the host communities. It concludes that there are ample opportunities within the policy and social environments for supporting and promoting appropriate rights protection for environmentally displaced people. It recommends a shift in the national policy drive toward a rights-based protection with clear blue prints for targeting and addressing the needs of environmentally displaced in Ghana.

  • Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State

    1 February 2018

    The dispossession and forced migration of nearly 50 per cent of Syria’s population has produced the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. This new book places the current displacement within the context of the widespread migrations that have indelibly marked the region throughout the last 150 years. Syria itself has harboured millions from its neighbouring lands, and Syrian society has been shaped by these diasporas. Dawn Chatty explores how modern Syria came to be a refuge state, focusing first on the major forced migrations into Syria of Circassians, Armenians, Kurds, Palestinians, and Iraqis. Drawing heavily on individual narratives and stories of integration, adaptation, and compromise, she shows that a local cosmopolitanism came to be seen as intrinsic to Syrian society. She examines the current outflow of people from Syria to neighbouring states as individuals and families seek survival with dignity, arguing that though the future remains uncertain, the resilience and strength of Syrian society both displaced internally within Syria and externally across borders bodes well for successful return and reintegration. If there is any hope to be found in the Syrian civil war, it is in this history.