January 12, 2018: RRN Research Digest

The RRN Research Digest provides a synopsis of recent research on refugee and forced migration issues from entities associated with the RRN and others.

You can download the digest in PDF format here: RRN Research Digest No. 29

Recent Publications and New Research

New Book: Saunders, Natasha (2017), International Political Theory and the Refugee Problem. Routledge.

The book explores the questions raised about how to address ‘the refugee problem’ if we recognise that there may not be just one ‘problem’, and that not all actors involved with the refugee regime conceive of their work as addressing the same ‘problem’. It argues that the international refugee regime is best understood as developed to ‘solve’ the refugee (as) problem, rather than refugees’ problems. The book strives to reframe ‘the refugee problem’ from the perspective of the refugee, rather than the state, and investigates the extent to which doing so can open up creative space for rethinking the more traditional solutions to the refugee (as) problem. Cases of refugee protest in Europe, and the burgeoning Sanctuary Movement in the UK, are examined as two sub-state and popular movements which could constitute such creative solutions to a reframed problem. available at:


Blitz, B.K.; d’Angelo, A.; Kofman, E.; Montagna, N. Health Challenges in Refugee Reception: Dateline Europe 2016 (2017). International of Environmental Research and Public Health 14, 1484.

This article considers the physical and mental health of asylum–seekers in transit and analyses how the closure of borders has engendered health risks for populations in recognised reception centres in Sicily and in Greece. Data gathered by means of a survey administered in Greece (300) and in Sicily (400), and complemented by in-depth interviews with migrants (45) and key informants (50) including representatives of government offices, humanitarian and relief agencies, NGOs and activist organisations, are presented to offer an analysis of the reception systems in the two frontline states. A key finding is that, given such disparity, the criteria used by the UNHCR to grade health services reception do not address the substantive issue that prevent refugees from accessing health services, even when provided on site. Health provision is not as recorded in UNHCR reporting but rather there are critical gaps between provision, awareness, and access for refugees in reception systems in Sicily and in Greece. Available online: 


Stojanov, R., Kelman, I., Ullah, A. K. M., Duží, B., Procházka, D., & Blahůtová, K. K. (2016). Local Expert Perceptions of Migration as a Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh. Sustainability8(12), 1223.

This paper examines local expert perceptions of migration as a climate change adaptation strategy for Bangladeshis. Seventeen in-depth interviews were conducted with local experts in Bangladesh and Assam (India) on environmental change and migration to understand the perspectives of those with formal education and expert-related jobs who come from the areas being directly affected by Bangladeshi migration. Findings show that local experts consider that migration is used and will be used for climate change adaptation in Bangladesh, but migration is not solely for climate change adaptation, instead interweaving with all other factors influencing migration-related decisions. 


 FMR thematic listings

Each thematic listing included in the link below provides a selection of FMR articles (and full issues) focusing on a specific topic. You will find for each article: the title, year of publication, the author(s), some introductory sentences, and links to where you can access the full article online. Most of the articles are available in English, Arabic, French and Spanish. Articles are generally available online in pdf and html formats; more recent ones are also available in audio/mp3 format. Available at:


Reports, Working Papers and Briefs

 From Syria to Spain: Syrian Migration to Europe via the Western Mediterranean route between 2015 and 2017

This report was produced by REACH Initiative in the framework of the Mixed Migration Platform (MMP) which is a joint-NGO initiative providing quality mixed migration-related information for policy, programming and advocacy work, as well as critical information for people on the move. Though the Western Mediterranean route is now being considered as a new entry point into Europe, the evidence base for such claims remains limited. Little is known about the Syrians who migrate to Spain in particular. This report seeks to increase understanding of the routes Syrians have taken to Spain between 2015 and 2017, why they chose these routes, and why they choose Spain as their entry point to Europe. Available at:


Left behind: How the world is failing women and girls on refugee family reunion

The report analyses refugee family reunion and reunification from a women’s rights perspective, and examines the implications for women and girls of the failure amongst governments to share responsibility in refugee-hosting and to provide safe and legal routes for refugee family reunion. Co-published with the Melissa Network in Greece, it highlights how refugee women activists are playing a key role in assisting, protecting and empowering refugee women and girls, and asks what might governments in Europe, and further afield, do differently to better assist and protect women fleeing violence and persecution. Available at: http://insights.careinternational.org.uk/publications/left-behind-how-the-world-is-failing-women-and-girls-on-refugee-family-reunion

IOM Regional Migration Report – West and Central Africa: April – June 2017

The IOM has established Flow Monitoring Points (FMP) as part of its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) in areas of significant migratory transit in West and Central Africa, Libya and Italy. Two tools are used as part of the FMP methodology: 1) the Flow Monitoring Registry (FMR) collects data at the group level in order to provide a better understanding of intra and inter-regional migration patterns and trends; 2) the Flow Monitoring Survey (FMS) collects individual data on a sample of migrants on their journey. Both tools are implemented in various locations across the Central Mediterranean Route (CMR). The narrative and map on this page provides details on data collection activities for the period April—June 2017. The full report is available at:


News Reports and Blogs

Year in Review: The Refugee Crisis in 2017 by Charlotte Alfred

This report looks back at the most significant developments that relate to refugees in 2017. Among the highlights are the rise of populist and nativist politics in Europe and the U.S. where Politicians focused instead on closing migration routes and stepping up migrant returns. Similarly, the number of people displaced continued to rise, albeit more slowly than in earlier years of the Syrian war. The rapid exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar and ongoing mass displacement of South Sudanese exposed once again the need for more resources and new thinking in response to crises. Available at:


Must-Read Stories on Refugees From 2017, by Charlotte Alfred, Daniel Howden, Kim Bode

Another review report collects the best stories on refugees from 2017, as selected by refugee and migration experts and the readers and editors of Refugees Deeply. Available at: https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2017/12/26/must-read-stories-on-refugees-from-2017?utm_campaign=fa41f6405c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_04&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Refugees+Deeply&utm_term=0_8b056c90e2-fa41f6405c-117431569

Egypt: The Escape Portal by Muhammad al-Kashef

Since mid-2013, as a result of the political crisis in Egypt, asylum seekers and refugees remain subject to numerous abuses and attacks. Egypt does not operate detention facilities specifically for migrants. Rather the country’s prisons, police stations and military camps have been used to detain migrants and refugees. This report reflects on the condition of the arbitrary detention of refugees in Egyptian prisons. Available at:  https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2017/12/egypt-escape

Rising in the Middle East: Forced Labor from Africa By Laura Secorun Palet

This piece highlights the widespread new pattern of labor exploitation of thousands of African migrant workers in the Persian Gulf States. A recent report by a Ugandan parliamentary committee revealed that, in 2017, at least 35 Ugandans killed themselves in the United Arab Emirates, mostly as a result of unpaid wages and abuse. Available at:  http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/rising-in-the-middle-east-forced-labor-from-africa/82554#.WlMxTiP8Bhg.twitter

Digital and social media

Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration: Middle East Edition

This glossary serves as a guideline for journalists and other actors writing about migration across the Middle East. Globally the migration debate has become increasingly negative. Our words matter more than ever. Use this glossary to make sure that your words are not discriminatory or inflammatory, that your reporting is accurate, and that you are considering the full range of diverse issues inherent in the migration debate. Noting that terminology is dynamic, particularly within the highly politicised topic of migration, this glossary is seen as ‘living’, and will be periodically updated. Available at: http://www.ilo.org/beirut/projects/fairway/WCMS_552778/lang–en/index.htm

The Good Postman (documentary)

In a Bulgarian border village, the postman runs for mayor with a plan to combat depopulation by offering homes to Syrian refugees. The movie screened during the International documentary film festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2017. Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkoZIyRNAoI

Webinar: A Catholic Response to Exclusionary Nationalism

On December 12, 2017, the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) hosted a webinar devoted to a discussion of Catholic teaching on migrants, refugees, and newcomers. Donald Kerwin, CMS’s Executive Director, discussed the Biblical touchstones of Catholic teaching on migrant and refugees, key principals that guide the Church’s analysis of this timeless issue, recent developments in US immigration policy and refugee protection, and how the Catholic community views and can respond to them. The presentation drew on CMS’s scholarship and research. Watch the full webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y2qy-1U98I

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