April 11, 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. 39

Recent Publications and New Research

New book: Molloy, Michael J., Peter Duschinsky, Kurt F. Jensen, and Robert J. Shalka (2017). Running on Empty: Canada and the Indochinese Refugees, 1975-1980. McGill-Queen’s Press

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos fell to communist forces in April 1975, creating a flood of refugees. This book focuses on the work of Canadian public servants in Southeast Asia and Canada to meet an unprecedented commitment to resettle tens of thousands of these refugees before the end of 1980.As the title indicates, by the end of 1980, after intense efforts selecting refugees from lonely Southeast Asian camps on tiny islands and in the depths of steaming jungles, welcoming them at reception centres in Montreal and Edmonton, matching them with sponsors and communities and sending them to small towns and big cities across Canada, public servants were exhausted, they were “running on empty.” The goal of this book is to record this great endeavour in the words of those who made it happen. For more information visit: http://refugeeresearch.net/new-publication-running-empty-canada-indochinese-refugees-1975-1980/

Pia Zambelli, (2018) “Paradigm Shift: Towards a New Model for Refugee Status Determination in Canada”, UBC law review

The alternative RSD model proposed in this article highlights the following: 1) a shift from a quasi-judicial decision making body towards a wholly-judicial one, similar to the Tax Court of Canada; 2) expansion of the protection grounds to include humanitarian considerations and other non-Convention related risks; 3) establishment of a system of reasonable timelines and 4) a new error correction mechanism that abolishes the Federal Court leave requirement and allows for a written appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal as of right. Available for purchase for $5 at: http://ubclawreview.ca/issues/vol-51-no-1-january-2018/pia-zambelli-paradigm-shift-towards-a-new-model-for-refugee-status-determination-in-canada/   

Crawley, H., & Skleparis, D. (2018). Refugees, migrants, neither, both: categorical fetishism and the politics of bounding in Europe’s ‘migration crisis’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(1), 48-64.

The use of the categories ‘refugee’ and ‘migrant’ has been used to justify policies of exclusion and containment. Drawing on interviews with 215 people who crossed the Mediterranean to Greece in 2015, this paper challenges this ‘categorical fetishism’, arguing that the dominant categories fail to capture adequately the complex relationship between political, social and economic drivers of migration or their shifting significance for individuals over time and space. It argues that those concerned about the use of categories to marginalise and exclude should explicitly engage with the politics of bounding, that is to say, the process by which categories are constructed, the purpose they serve and their consequences, in order to denaturalise their use as a mechanism to distinguish, divide and discriminate. Available at:


Sleiman, J., & Menon, M. (2018). The Changing of Arabic Terminology in Times of War and Displacement.

This paper traces the development and changes of the Arabic language through the journey of a Palestinian family as they find refuge in a variety of countries. Through different online resources and first-hand accounts from family members, this paper sheds light on the tribulations that the family has faced, and how these conflicts have influenced the way they speak Arabic to this day. Although the general Arabic spoken within the family is the same, there are underlying differences in the pronunciation of words. The specific goal of this paper is to show the impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the way this family speaks Arabic today in America. Available at: http://www.mythilimenon.com/s/SleimanMenon-WECOL-Final.pdf

Reports, working papers and briefs

Country detention report: Immigration Detention in Ireland: Will Better Detention Mean More Detention?, Global detention project

Ireland does not emphasize detention in its migration and asylum policies, nor does it face the same migratory pressures as some of its EU partners. Nevertheless, because the country fails to separate its few immigration detainees, who are placed in prisons, from people in criminal procedures, the country has faced significant international criticism. Officials have long-standing plans to open a dedicated immigration detention facility, but while such a move may bring the country into compliance with some international norms, it may also lead to more people being detained. The full report is available at:


Working paper: Locked Up in a Liberal State: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Parliamentary Debates on the Detention of Asylum-Seeking Children in the United Kingdom, by Naomi C. Whitbourn 

This paper analyses the rhetoric used within UK parliamentary debates on the detention of asylum-seeking children. Their detention exposes a paradox: this practice is a human rights violation, yet the UK claims to be a liberal democracy. The paper asks, why do these practices of detention persist and how do politicians justify this? Through analysing parliamentary debates since 1997, the paper ultimately argues that politicians have sought to disguise this human rights violation using a political rhetoric, which also acts to appease a series of competing interests and actors. The paper is available at: http://carfms.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CARFMS-WPS-No12-Naomi-C-Whitbourn.pdf

Rights in exile policy paper: Movement Restricted: Congolese refugees in Angola, by the International refugee rights initiative (IRRI)

The rights in exile series brings together publications that focus on key issues on refugee policy and refugee rights. Between March and July 2017, close to 35,000 Congolese refugees fled atrocities in the Kasai region and sought safety in Angola. While the Angolan government has offered many safety alternatives from militia and army attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), its treatment of those who have fled is troubling. Based on interviews with 45 Congolese refugees in Lunda Norte province in Angola, the report describes how unregistered refugees in Angola are living with serious restrictions on their freedom of movement, the ongoing threat of premature return and the risk of harassment, corruption and arbitrary detention. Available at:


News reports and blog posts

Dozens killed in apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria, rescue workers say, by Louisa Loveluck and Erin Cunningham

Over the past month, more than 130,000 Syrians have left Eastern Ghouta through evacuation deals between rebels and government forces. But nearly 150,000 people remain in Douma, where OCHA says the situation is severe and food is in short supply. Since Friday, attacks on Douma have intensified, with scores of people reportedly killed. On Sunday, dozens of people there apparently suffocated after a suspected chemical attack. The spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “particularly alarmed by allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations in Douma”. Available at:


Israel’s African migrants in limbo after Netanyahu reversal, By Tia Goldenberg

Netanyahu’s decision to cancel an agreement with UNHCR to resettle 16,000 Eritreans and Sudanese to Western countries and allow thousands of others to remain in the country has left the fate of the country’s 39,000 asylum-seekers in limbo once again. Some of those affected protested outside the Prime Minister’s office in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. UNHCR said that the deal, which had been negotiated “over an extended period”, represented a “win-win” for both Israel and the asylum-seekers. Available at:


Secret world: The women in the UK who cannot report sexual abuse, by Megha Mohan

Having fled sexual abuse in their home countries, many asylum-seeking women are highly vulnerable to more abuse and exploitation after they reach the UK. Fear of deportation means they rarely report it, but the #MeToo movement has led some women to start sharing their stories. The BBC met Grace, a West African woman who fled an abusive marriage to London where poverty and the lack of a legal status made her vulnerable to more abuse. Marchu Girma of London-based NGO, Women for Refugee Women, told the BBC that even women who have applied for asylum are often unsure of their rights and may avoid approaching the police. Available at:


Viktor Orbán: re-election of Hungary’s anti-immigrant leader is major challenge for EU by Jennifer Rankin 

Viktor Orbán has won a third consecutive term as Hungary’s Prime Minister. Orbán ran a campaign largely focused on the threat posed by migration. Under his leadership, Hungary has built a fence along the southern border to keep out foreigners. Likeminded politicians elsewhere in Europe, notably in neighbouring Austria and in the German state of Bavaria, have endorsed Orbán’s approach on migration. available at:


Digital and social media

Toolkit for Optimizing Cash-based Interventions for Protection from Gender-based Violence

This toolkit assists practitioners in collecting the requisite situational protection information on risks for affected populations with an age, gender, and diversity (AGD) lens, identifying community-based or self-protection mechanisms, informing tailored and protective cash-based interventions, and preparing a monitoring system that is based on identified protection risks. More available at:


Photo essay: After Afrin: No Safe Haven Scenes from a week with civilians displaced by the battle for the Syrian-Kurdish enclave by Afshin Ismaeli

The UN estimates that 137,000 people fled a military operation to claim the city of Afrin and the surrounding area last month. In late March, photojournalist Afshin Ismaeli spent a week with some of the displaced families sleeping rough or in half-destroyed houses in Tel Rifaat and nearby villages. In this photo essay for IRIN, its clear that while they may have escaped the fighting, they are now faced with new dangers including hunger, sickness and the improvised explosive devices that litter the buildings where they are sheltering. Available at: http://www.irinnews.org/photo-feature/2018/04/03/after-afrin-no-safe-haven 

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