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MPI report argues that current system fails to meet contemporary challenges
Refugee camps are among the most prevalent institutional responses to global displacement. Despite a quasi consensus among scholars, activists, and humanitarians that camps are undesirable, and should only ever be temporary, little work has charted the political project and practices of camp abolition that challenge their spatial unfreedom. Rather than life-supporting spatial technologies of care that unwittingly signal political failures of inclusion, camps form part of a calculated system of “carceral humanitarianism”. This article draws on experiences from Kenya where aid interventions have shaped politics, social dynamics and economic life since the 1990s. Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei settlement serve as empirical windows to explore the limits of institutional decampment and reform policies, while demonstrating that more radical, abolitionist struggles are enacted through everyday mobilisation and acts of fugitivity among refugees themselves. Advancing critical studies of humanitarianism and forced migration, this article contends that only abolishing camps and their carceral logics helps to build more viable, safe, and humane futures for people on the move.
This report provides an overview of the work of the Refugee Economies Programme during the last five years. Its aim is to offer accessible summaries of the Programme’s publications and other activities. It highlights the ways in which the Programme has collaborated with other organisations in order to ensure its research has impact. And – above all – it thanks all of the many contributors to this research during that period, including the 290 research assistants who worked with the Programme in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, without whom all the work would not have been possible.
Migration and social transformation through the lens of locality: a multi-sited study of experiences of neighbourhood transformation
Starting from Castles’ argument that contemporary international migration is part of ‘step-change’ transformations brought about by neoliberal globalisation, this article analyses the local impacts of global transformations by undertaking a comparative analysis of the myriad ways migration shapes three urban localities in South Korea, Turkey and Australia. The article explores how migrants and non-migrants in each locality make meaning about social transformation from everyday material and social changes around them. Urban social change is examined as engaging processes and actors across multiple scales to illuminate the often obscured entanglements of government (dis)investment in infrastructure, national migrant incorporation policies, and migration histories. The article argues that analysing local responses to migration through this lens provides insights into the complex nexus of social transformation, place and global mobility.
Palestinian refugees in the Middle East have been displaced for more than 70 years and they are living in an increasingly precarious situation with limited prospect of a political solution to their plight. The system set up to support them by the international community is failing to address their growing needs and has become unsustainable, nor does it provide them with much needed durable solutions. As a blueprint for providing a fairer and more effective response for all refugees the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) adopted in December 2018 provides an important framework in which to rethink the refugee response for Palestinian refugees. This working paper argues that the GCR is equally relevant to Palestinian refugees and its application could help address the many gaps in protection and assistance provided to them. It provides an analysis of the most relevant provisions of the GCR that could help address the many challenges faced by Palestinian refugees and calls on relevant stakeholders to engage in developing a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework for them under the GCR.
Rethinking solutions for Palestinian refugees: A much-needed paradigm shift and an opportunity towards its realization
The authors believe that the current state of affairs with respect to the Palestinian refugee question requires a fundamental rupture with the political approaches so far pursued amounting to a fundamental paradigm shift. This would hinge on a necessary liberation of the debate from the political stalemate, a more purposeful involvement of the UN, supported by a multi-stakeholder process (hinging first and foremost on the refugees themselves), a greater emphasis on international law and related obligations towards the rights of the refugees, and, finally, a move away from the ‘politics of suffering’ that has held many refugees hostage over the decades. The authors suggest that the 2016 New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants provides a new opportunity to reengage the UN with respect to solutions for Palestinian refugees, for firmly placing this within an international law framework, and for pursuing solutions for Palestinian refugees more holistically. Guided by the Declaration, they propose the elements of a Comprehensive Response Framework for Palestinian Refugees as well as the route towards its development.
This article advances debates in camp geographies and forced migration studies by centring the methodological import of emotions and affect in research on refugee camps. Camps are often spatial expressions of compassion, fear, care, suspicion, but also incubate hope, solidarity, and feelings of belonging among encamped communities. Researchers are never insulated from these complex emotions and affects. While qualitative, ethnographic, experiential, or otherwise sensory methods continue to be widely used in this field of study, the emotional entanglements that arise from the embodied encounters between researchers, residents, and camp spaces are not yet well understood. The article argues that it is methodologically pertinent to not simply incorporate such affectual intensities into existing readings of the camp as an exceptional space, but to understand people’s differentially experienced feelings as actively shaping the camp’s geography. It illustrates this argument by engaging with feelings of suspicion that pervaded my long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Ultimately, the article urges scholars to explore camps beyond their known capacities for controlling mobility and motion as spaces that are also imbued with feelings and sensibilities.
The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law is a comprehensive, critical work, which analyses the state of research across the refugee law regime as a whole. Drawing together leading and emerging scholars, the Handbook provides both doctrinal and theoretical analyses of international refugee law and practice. It critiques existing law from a variety of normative positions, with several chapters identifying foundational flaws that open up space for radical rethinking. Many authors work directly in the field, and their contributions demonstrate how scholarship and practice can mutually inform each other. Contributions assess a wide range of international legal instruments relevant to refugee protection, including from international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international migration law, the law of the sea, and international and transnational criminal law. Geographically, contributors examine regional and domestic laws and practices from around the world, with 10 chapters focused on specific regions. This Handbook provides an account, as well as a critique, of the status quo, and in so doing it sets the agenda for future academic research in international refugee law.
Refugees and other forced migrants are one of the great contemporary challenges the world is confronting. Throughout the world people leave their home countries to escape war, natural disasters, and cultural and political oppression. Unfortunately, even today, the international community struggles to provide an adequate response to this vast population in need. This Very Short Introduction covers a broad range of issues around the causes and impact of the contemporary refugee crisis for both receiving states and societies, for global order, and for refugees and other forced migrants themselves. Gil Loescher discusses the identity of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons and how they differ from other forced migrants. He also investigates the long history of the refugee phenomenon and how refugees became a central concern of the international community during the twentieth and twenty first centuries, as well as considering the responses provided by governments and international aid organisations to refugee needs. Loescher concludes by focussing on the necessity of these bodies to understand the realities of the contemporary refugee situation in order to best respond to its current and future challenges.
The Dollo Ado refugee camps, located close to the Ethiopian-Somali border, have been a major focus for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)'s attempts to build livelihoods for refugees and the host community. The context presents an analytical puzzle: despite the importance of cross-border activity to refugees’ socioeconomic lives, such transnational activity has been institutionally invisible to and hindered by the international agencies seeking to assist them. The article explores how and why refugees’ cross-border activities have been systematically ignored by international institutions. As a theoretical starting point, it draws upon the post-development literature, and notably the work of James Ferguson, which explores how international institutions frequently misunderstand the agency and strategies of their subject populations. However, contra Ferguson's predominantly Foucauldian methodological and epistemologically approach, the article adopts a mixed methods approach, and emphasises the agency of aid workers, bureaucratic politics, and political economy in its account of the disjuncture between international institutions’ state-centric livelihoods programmes and refugees’ own cross-border economic strategies.
Uganda’s self-reliance policy for refugees has been recognized as among the most progressive refugee policies in the world. In contrast to many refugee-hosting countries, it allows refugees the right to work and freedom of movement. It has been widely praised as a model for other countries to emulate. However, there has been little research on the politics that underlie Uganda’s approach. Why has Uganda maintained these policies despite hosting more refugees than any country in Africa? Based on archival research and elite interviews, this article provides a political history of Uganda’s self-reliance policies from independence to the present. It unveils significant continuity in both the policies and the underlying politics. Refugee policy has been used by Ugandan leaders to strengthen patronage and assert political authority within strategically important refugee-hosting hinterlands. International donors have abetted domestic illiberalism in order to sustain a liberal internationalist success story. The politics of patronage and refugee policy have worked hand-in-hand. Patronage has, in the Ugandan case, been integral to the functioning of the international refugee system. Rather than being an inevitably ‘African’ phenomenon or the unavoidable legacy of colonialism, patronage politics has been enabled by, and essential to, liberal internationalism.
We live in an age of displacement. Refugee numbers are increasing due to a proliferation of fragile states, and this problem will be exacerbated by climate change and the impact of COVID-19. And yet, rising populist nationalism has undermined the political willingness of rich countries to accept migrants and asylum seekers. Given these contradictory trends, how can we create sustainable refugee policies that enable displaced people to live in safety and dignity, while operating at scale? The Wealth of Refugees draws upon a decade of original qualitative and quantitative research to offer practical solutions. Focusing on refugees in camps and cities in Africa, it identifies approaches that can be effective in improving the welfare of refugees, increasing social cohesion between refugees and host communities, and reducing the need for onward migration. The book argues that the key lies in unlocking the potential contributions of refugees themselves. Refugees bring skills, talents, and aspirations and can be a benefit rather than a burden to receiving societies. Realizing this potential relies upon moving beyond a purely humanitarian focus to fully include refugees in host-country economies, build economic opportunities in refugee-hosting regions, and navigate the ambiguous politics of refugee protection.
Collective memory carries the past into the present. This book traces the influence of collective memory in international relations (IR). It locates the origins of a country's memory within the international environment and inquires how memory guides states through time in world politics. Collective memory, as such, not only shapes countries and their international interactions, but the international sphere also plays an essential role in how countries approach the past. Through in-depth examinations of both domestic and international landscapes in empirical cases, the book explores four ways in which collective memory can manifest in IR: as a country's political strategy; as its public identity; as its international state behaviour; and finally, as a source for its national values. A comparative case study of (West) Germany and Austria illustrates how significantly differing interpretations of the Nazi legacy impacted their respective international policies over time. Taken together, this book investigates whether collective memory influences global outcomes and how and why it matters for IR.
Community policing has become a popular way of promoting local ownership of security in refugee camps in Kenya and more widely, but it can also fall victim to its ambivalent position at the intersection of refugee communities and state policing.