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  • Refugee Economies in Kenya

    20 February 2018

    This report from the Refugee Economies Programme compares socio-economic outcomes for refugees and the surrounding host communities. Kenya hosts nearly half a million refugees and limits refugees’ right to work and freedom of movement. This new research is based on 4366 survey responses and covers both Nairobi and the Kakuma refugee camp. The report compares and tries to explain refugee and host outcomes in three areas: livelihoods, living standards, and subjective well-being. In Kakuma camp, refugees are better off than the surrounding host population. For example, even though they have comparable employment levels, working refugees’ self-reported median income is almost three times higher than for the local Turkana. Despite the gap, the Turkana hosts benefit immensely from the refugee presence. In Nairobi, although refugees are better off than they would be in camps, they are worse off than the local host population across almost all metrics. Four sets of factors seem to explain these gaps between refugees and hosts: regulation (how you are governed), networks (who you know), capital (what you have), and identity (who you are).

  • Latin America and the Caribbean

    28 February 2018

    The region of Latin America and the Caribbean has long demonstrated hospitality towards those fleeing conflict and persecution within the region and from further afield. Faced with newer causes of displacement, such as the violence of organised criminal gangs and the adverse effects of climate change, Latin American and Caribbean countries are continuing to expand and adapt their protection laws and mechanisms in order to address these and other situations of displacement and to meet the differing needs of affected populations. This issue contains 31 articles on Latin America and the Caribbean, plus five ‘general’ articles on other topics.

  • Syrians in displacement

    28 February 2018

    With 2018 marking the 7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict, this issue of FMR explores new insights and continuing challenges relating to the displacement of millions of Syrians both internally and in neighbouring countries. What we learn from responses to this large-scale, multi-faceted displacement is also relevant to other situations of displacement beyond as well as within the Middle East. FMR 57 contains 27 articles on ‘Syrians in displacement’, plus six ‘general’ articles on other topics.

  • A slightly better shelter?

    6 March 2018

    On January 26, 2017, the IKEA refugee shelter was declared the worldwide Design of the Year in a unanimous decision. When I interviewed one of the jurors about the process I was told that they’d chosen the “obvious winner”: the IKEA shelter was high profile, it had featured widely in the media, it was a positive story with a clear social purpose, and it offered a practical solution to the so-called “refugee crisis,” one of the most significant issues of the previous twelve months. The London Design Museum has been awarding the “Design of the Year” for a decade now, celebrating examples that “promote or deliver change, enable access, extend design practice, or capture the spirit of the year” (Beazley 2017). The IKEA refugee shelter seemed to match all of these aims, claiming to be modular, sustainable, long lasting, recyclable, easily assembled, affordable, and scalable. It was installed on the Greek islands to shelter newly arrived refugees in 2015, and it came with the backing of the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency, who purchased 15,000 units for distribution around the world.

  • Panacea for the refugee crisis? Rethinking the promotion of ‘self-reliance’ for refugees

    9 May 2018

    This article provides a critical examination of the current extensive promotion of ‘self-reliance’ for refugees. The existing scholarship largely ignores the unsuccessful historical record of international assistance to foster refugees’ self-reliance and fails to discuss its problematic linkages to neoliberalism and the notion of ‘dependency’. The article reveals that the current conceptualisation and practice of self-reliance are largely shaped by the priorities of international donors that aim to create cost-effective exit strategies from long-term refugee populations. The authors argue that where uncritically interpreted and applied, the promotion of self-reliance can result in unintended and undesirable consequences for refugees’ well-being and protection.

  • Questioning the value of ‘refugee’ status and its primary vanguard: the case of Eritreans in Uganda

    31 May 2018

    This paper asks what, for refugees and displaced communities, is the perceived ‘value’ of refugee status in assisting them to access protection and any longer term solutions? Through empirical research with Eritreans in Kampala and Asmara, it explores the taken-for-granted portrayal of refugee status as a necessary – or the best suited – gatekeeper to protection and enduring solutions. In doing so it reframes a frequent anxiety in forced migration studies, which centres on the question of whether there is something unique about refugees beyond their legal status which makes them a clear object of study? This research somewhat flips that question, instead asking in what ways displaced individuals perceive that being assigned refugee status would make them different, and what do they understand would follow from this in terms of securities and solutions? The amended focus allows us to explore the role and value of refugee status not through its intended functions but via a grounded, granular analysis of people’s attitudes and responses to it. Throughout these discussions, what ‘value’ might mean was intentionally kept open, to ensure that people’s subjective attribution of qualities to this status could find full expression.

  • European attempts to govern African youths by raising awareness of the risks of migration: ethnography of an encounter

    11 June 2018

    Contemporary EU governance of migration outside its territorial borders aims to control mobility through policing measures, but also to shape the subjectivities of potential migrants so that they ‘discipline themselves’ to fit European immigration priorities. This is illustrated by the organisation by intergovernmental and non-governmental agencies, in several African countries, of ‘information’ campaigns and participatory activities to convince youths to stay rather than emigrate. Through an ethnographic account of my encounter with the leaders of a youth group involved in participatory activities in Dakar (Senegal), this article explores the assumption that youths can be governed in this way. I argue that awareness-raising initiatives had little hold over the thoughts of local youths, and were reappropriated by the association leaders I met. This was largely due to ‘discontinuities’ between agencies’ and local youths’ perceptions of migration and development, as well as NGOs’ past and present work with youth group leaders. Theoretically, these conclusions add to research emphasising the force of human mobility over EU policing measures, whilst also highlighting the agentive role of local dynamics.

  • Three stories about living without migration in Dakar: coming to terms with the contradictions of the moral economy

    11 June 2018

    This article focuses on life without migration in Dakar. In a context of scarcity of opportunities and the emergence of emigrants as new models of success, many who remain are seen as unsuccessful and are under a personal or social expectation to emigrate. This paper examines the unfolding of everyday life without migration. Through ethnographic description, it points to the coexistence in the capital city of changes and continuities in the moral economy, the scarcity of income-generating opportunities for men, and women's growing financial contribution. This article suggests that, for those of an age to support their families, these transformations often mean living with contradictions. To overcome these tensions, inventive strategies of ‘demonstration’ and ‘concealment’ are deployed to fit in with the moral economy. However, living without migration in Dakar is often easier when an alternative moral economy is adhered to.

  • “But if Locals are Poorer than you, How would you Justify Additional Help?”: Rethinking the Purpose of Sensitive Interview Questions

    30 July 2018

    Abstract: Drawing upon interviews with Eritrean refugees in Uganda in late 2016, this article documents their responses to the question of how to justify support to refugees in contexts where similar assistance is not provided to nationals. It thus aims to add the perspective of displaced persons to a debate largely populated by the words of host communities, governments and humanitarian organisations, and various pro-immigration lobby groups. Given the sensitivity of this question, however, this article also provides an extensive justification as to why this angle of enquiry was pursued. To do so, it argues that asking potentially “difficult” questions during certain interviews can help pluralise how we represent “refugees’ voices”, convey the multi-facetedness of an individual’s identity and agency, including that of the researcher, and signal a move away from methodologies that inadvertently victimise.

  • Self-Reliance in Kalobeyei? Socio-Economic Outcomes for Refugees in North-West Kenya

    16 August 2018

    This report from the Refugee Economies Programme compares the socio-economic situation of South Sudanese recent arrivals (post-2015) living in the new Kalobeyei settlement (set up under a ‘self-reliance model’) to the situation of recent arrivals living in the old Kakuma camp (under an ‘aid model’). It examines three central questions: How can we measure self-reliance for new arrivals in both contexts? To what extent is self-reliance greater in the new Kalobeyei settlement compared with Kakuma camp? And how can self-reliance be enhanced in such a difficult environment? In addition to outlining a methodologically innovative study, the report also proposes policy recommendations.