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The RSC Director discusses the economic benefits of refugees on the BBC World Service
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.
‘Occupied Enclave’: Policing and the underbelly of humanitarian governance in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya
This article transports discussions on the geographies of occupation to the refugee camp and infers that rethinking militarised policing in camps as a form of occupation brings into sharper relief the everyday violence of humanitarian governance. While most research on the administration of camps has focused on the biopolitical control of humanitarian agencies and NGOs that register, sustain, and manage refugee lives in exile, far less is known about the role of the police and paramilitary. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, this article provides an alternative reading of the militarised spatialities of the camp, in which Kenya's (post)colonial disposition for state violence has merged indistinguishably with the contemporary securitisation of refugees, and the humanitarian need for unobstructed management of aid operations. This article proposes that these converging trajectories have transformed the refugee camp into a zone under military-style occupation: an ‘occupied enclave’. In this tightly controlled space, Kenyan police act as enforcers of humanitarian violence that is inflicted on a civilian population of refugees with precarious life chances and limited freedom of movement. This is analysed through four domains of occupation – architecture, bureaucracy, physical force and material extraction – that work in conjunction to produce violent spatial effects of immobility, exclusion, and exception. Revisiting the camp through this lens bridges the gap between the literatures on humanitarian governance and military occupation and reiterates the continuing importance of enclave spaces for governing mobile and unwanted populations.
Labourers, migrants, refugees: managing belonging, bodies and mobility in (post)colonial Kenya and Tanzania
This article examines the ways in which both colonial and postcolonial migration regimes in Kenya and Tanzania have reproduced forms of differential governance toward the mobilities of particular African bodies. While there has been a growing interest in the institutional discrimination and “othering” of migrants in or in transit to Europe, comparable dynamics in the global South have received less scholarly attention. The article traces the enduring governmental differentiation, racialization, and management of labor migrants and refugees in Kenya and Tanzania. It argues that analyses of contemporary policies of migration management are incomplete without a structured appreciation of the historical trajectories of migration control, which are inseparably linked to notions of coloniality and related constructions of (un)profitable African bodies. It concludes by recognizing the limits of controlling Africans on the move and points toward the inevitable emergence of social conditions in which conviviality and potentiality prevail.
Community policing has been a popular paradigm for local anti-crime activities in Africa since the 1990s and spread rapidly across the continent. Humanitarian agencies have increasingly embraced versions of the framework to administer refugee camps and ostensibly foster security, protection and peaceful co-existence among residents. This article demonstrates that the deployment of community policing in Kakuma camp in north-western Kenya has been far more contested. Aid organisations and Kenyan authorities have competed in determining the orientation and implementation of community policing at a time when the government was intensifying both securitisation of refugees and counter-terrorism measures. Kakuma‘s Community Peace and Protection Teams (CPPTs) were therefore torn between humanitarian conceptions of localised refugee protection and more illiberal forms of security work which bound them closer to the Kenyan state. The permanent negotiation between these parallel ‘technologies of government' was reflected in contestations over uniforms, trainings and everyday practices. Powerful institutions attempted to script refugee conduct and thus discipline the camp's pluralistic social networks and forms of counter-organisation embedded in a ‘deep community’. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the article illustrates that governing refugees through community policing blurs the lines between humanitarian protection, domesticating local systems of governance, and expanding the security state.
‘Madmen, Womanisers, and Thieves’: Moral disorder and the cultural text of refugee encampment in Kenya
Kenya's refugee camps have evoked spectacular imaginaries of terrorism and humanitarian crisis. Drawing on everyday discourses and shared knowledges among camp administrators, this article reveals that these geopolitical narratives are underwritten locally by more generalized concerns about the imagined ‘otherness’ and moral degeneracy of the displaced. Refugees are thus portrayed as criminals and crooks, sexually deviant and idle, as well as ‘mad’ and uncivilized. Together, these tropes constitute a cultural text of encampment that reproduces postcolonial imaginings of difference and engrains the notion that ‘refugeeness’ equates to a state of ‘moral disorder’. The article is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya's Turkana county. It argues that the discursive production of refugees as immoral subjects not only has practical effects for the actions of government officials and aid workers but rekindles a binary colonial mapping of the world into ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ spaces. These social imaginaries and banal discourses illustrate that the camp has not just a political but also an imaginative geography. Kakuma camp is hereby doubly excluded: from the modernity that humanitarianism ostensibly embodies and from the imagined moral community of Kenya.
Under what circumstances does human development facilitate or constrain emigration? Moreover, under what conditions is migration a driver for rather than an obstacle for development? Empirical evidence identifying the drivers of the two-way relationship between migration and development is still rather mixed, in part also because of conceptual and methodological shortcomings of the methods generally applied to this subject matter, which often cannot handle the complex links and interactions between migration and development. This paper engages with the opportunities and challenges of investigating the migration–development nexus using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) as a methodological approach to explore the complex configurational two-way relationship between migration and development processes. We hereby address a methodological gap in the scientific literature investigating the migration-development nexus and propose QCA as a method for enriching the empirical base and expanding our knowledge and understanding of this complex relationship.
On the 11th March 2021 Advocate General Hogan of the CJEU delivered his Opinion (Opinion Procedure 1/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:198) on the European Parliament’s request for an advisory opinion on the accession of the EU to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. To prepare the reader concerned by the EU’s attempt to assume just a small selection of the legal obligations the Istanbul Convention imposes on its parties, the Advocate General cautions that: “While that [the Istanbul] convention seeks to advance the noble and desirable goal of combating violence against women and children, the question of whether the conclusion of that particular convention would be compatible with the EU Treaties presents complex legal questions of some novelty which must naturally be examined from a legal perspective in a detached and dispassionate manner.” (para 2) In this blog, I present my initial thoughts on the Advocate General’s Opinion and the implications that a CJEU judgment along the same lines could have for women in Europe. Detached and dispassionate I am not.
The Global Compact on Refugees and the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum: The Ripples of Responsibility-Sharing
Chapter 11 in ‘The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum in light of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees’, edited by S Carrera and A Gedes. What does ‘fair and equitable responsibility- and burden-sharing’ look like today, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a global recession and an ongoing climate crisis? One could argue that it has not yet manifested as envisioned in the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) (UN, 2018) and is certainly not what the New Pact on Migration and Asylum appears to be.
Exiled within: Between citizenship and the struggle for return for internal Palestinian refugees in Israel
The internal Palestinian refugees represent an intriguing paradox of a people who have suffered displacement and dispossession but are today citizens of the colonial state that was built on their ruins. While there are well-established studies of the (external) Palestinian refugees’ impasse, the internal Palestinian refugees, defined as present absentees, have historically been omitted from these debates. In this paper, I challenge the preconceived assumption that citizenship is the most durable solution to cease the displacement and rectify the dispossession of refugees, demonstrating that, for internal Palestinian refugees, these processes continue to be a part of their ‘lived experience’ despite the legal status afforded to them in Israel. By applying theories and practices of citizenship and re-reading the history of Palestine and Israel since 1948, I argue that the provision of citizenship has served to maintain this population in a state of absentia. To illustrate this, I analyse two policies that continue to target the Palestinian community in general and the internal Palestinian refugees specifically: the present absentee land ownership law and the compulsory state education system. While the former ensured their displacement and dispossession from their lands, the latter has systematically targeted their history and identity. Finally, I study how the internal Palestinian refugees have also resisted these policies at the grassroots level by organising commemoration activities and marches to their destroyed villages, mounting a (symbolic) movement for the right of return to re-create spaces of legitimacy and subjectivity. I demonstrate that, ultimately, these acts of citizenship contestation are also employed to actively re-connect and communicate their struggle with the wider Palestinian diaspora – countering their absence by asserting their presence.
Forced Migration Review issue 66 includes three features. In the main feature, on Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), authors debate initiatives and challenges in this field, and advocate for strengthened collaboration and new ways of thinking. The Data and displacement feature examines recent advances in gathering and using data. Finally, the Missing migrants feature explores initiatives to improve data gathering and sharing, identification of remains, and assistance for families left behind.
Forced Migration Review issue 64 has two main feature themes, one on ‘Climate crisis and local communities’ and one on ‘Trafficking and smuggling’. It also has a short collection of articles presenting early reflections on COVID-19 in the context of displacement. The feature on climate crisis focuses on the impact of climate change on local communities, their coping strategies, lessons arising, and broader questions of access, rights and justice. The feature on trafficking and smuggling explores some of the current challenges, misconceptions, insights and innovations in these fields. Finally, the articles on COVID-19 offer preliminary reflections on the pandemic, focusing on the role of refugee-led organisations and the need for data to inform responses.
Chapter in Symbolic Objects in Contentious Politics (eds. Abrams, B. and Gardner, P.R.)