April 25, 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. 41

Recent Publications and New Research

New Book: Ibrahim, Yasmin, and Anita Howarth (2018). Calais and its Border Politics: From Control to Demolition. Routledge.

This book encapsulates the border politics of Calais as an entry port through the refugee settlements known as the ‘Jungle’. By deconstructing how the jungle is a constant threat to the civilisation and sanity of Calais, the book traces the story of the jungle, both its revival and destruction as a recurrent narrative through the context of border politics. The book approaches Calais historically and through the key concept of the camp or the ‘jungle’, a metaphor that becomes crucial to the inhuman approach to the settlement and in the justifications to destroy it continuously. The demolition and rebuilding of Calais also emphasises the denigration of humanity in the border sites. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Calais-and-its-Border-Politics-From-Control-to-Demolition/Ibrahim-Howarth/p/book/9781138049161

Demurtas, Pietro, et al. (2018). In Search of Protection: Unaccompanied Minors in Italy

This paper examines the issue of unaccompanied minors arriving in Italy and how Italy has responded to their need for protection. It starts with a statistical overview of unaccompanied minors in Italy between 2014 and 2017. Second, it addresses why unaccompanied minors leave their countries of origin and how they transit to Italy and elsewhere. This section highlights the role of families in the decision to migrate and the migration process. The third section covers Italian reception policies and policymaking challenges, with a particular focus on implementation of Italy’s System for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Section 4, offers a psychosocial analysis of the phenomenon of unaccompanied child migration. It describes strategies to build the competencies, sense of agency, and resilience of unaccompanied minors. The final section details the demands and requirements of acting in the “best interests” of unaccompanied minors. Available at: http://cmsny.org/publications/2018smsc-cse-uam/

Dinas, E., & Fouka, V. (2018). Family history and attitudes toward outgroups: Evidence from the Syrian refugee crisis

This piece explores how analogous thinking about family history affects outgroup bias. It provides evidence from Greece, a country that serves as an entry port to Europe for a large number of refugees, and whose native population partly consists of descendants of ethnic Greeks that were forcibly relocated from Turkey in the early 20th century. Combining historical and survey data with an experimental manipulation, it shows that mentioning the parallels between past and present forced displacement leads to substantial increases in monetary donations and attitudinal measures of sympathy for refugees among respondents with forcibly displaced ancestors. This effect is also found among Greeks without a family history of forced migration, but only in places with a large historical concentration of Greek refugees from Turkey, where this historical experience is salient. Overall, the findings suggest that harnessing past experience can be an effective way of increasing empathy and reducing outgroup discrimination. Available at:


Schwerdtle, P., Bowen, K., & McMichael, C. (2018). The health impacts of climate-related migration. BMC medicine16(1), 1.

This paper examines the links between climate change, migration, and health, considering diverse migration responses, including immobility, forced displacement and planned migration, as well as the associated health risks and opportunities in different contexts. Using case studies, the paper illustrates strategies to reduce the health risks associated with climate change-related migration. While there is an increasing body of research examining the climate change–migration nexus, a dual approach is now required. This approach must include debate and further research regarding the health consequences and responses associated with climate migration as well as immediate strengthening of health systems to make them both climate resilient and migrant inclusive. Available at:


Reports, working papers and briefs

Issue paper: When People flee: Rule of Law and forced migration, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative Issue Paper by Paula Rudnicka and Elizabeth Ferris

This issue paper explores the complex relationship between the rule of law and forced migration. It highlights the ways in which rule of law development can strengthen—and potentially transform—the response to the global displacement crisis. The paper begins by examining what the rule of law is and why it is important in the context of forced migration. It subsequently identifies four broad rule of law approaches to forced migration that can be applied in countries of origin, transit, and destination: building just legal systems, promoting good governance, strengthening accountability mechanisms, and ensuring empowered protection. Each approach maps concrete entry points for rule of law programming and includes a series of case studies illustrating a wide range of rule of law interventions in the context of displacement. The paper ends with a set of recommendations aimed at shaping a holistic, people-centered, and gender-sensitive rule of law response to forced migration. Available at:


Thematic series: UnSettlement: Urban displacement in the 21st century: City of challenge and opportunity Employment and livelihoods for internally displaced people in Maiduguri, Borno State (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and Norwegian Refugee Council)

This thematic series explores the scale, nature and dynamics of internal displacement in towns and cities across the world. In this report, as IDPs who continue to settle in Maiduguri, Nigeria, their access to employment is a key issue for stakeholders in the region. Given job opportunities, they are able to integrate into the socioeconomic framework of their new homes, reduce their dependency on government and humanitarian aid, and contribute to the local economy. This case study examines that process and considers the opportunities and challenges displaced men and women encounter in securing employment. The goal was to understand how IDPs achieve durable solutions through economic integration in an urban centre during an active crisis, and how the private sector, government and the international community can support them in doing so. Available at: http://www.internal-displacement.org/assets/publications/2018/20180209-idmc-nigeria-case-study.pdf

Report: “Death would have been better”: Europe continues to fail refugees and migrants in Libya by Izza Leghtas, Refugee international

This Refugees International report describes the harrowing experiences of people detained in Libya’s notoriously abusive immigration detention system where they are exposed to appalling conditions and grave human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and physical and sexual abuse. The report is based on February 2018 interviews conducted with asylum seekers and refugees who had been evacuated by UNHCR from detention centers in Libya to Niamey, Niger, where these men, women, and children await resettlement to a third country. The report shows that as the EU mobilizes considerable resources and efforts to stop the migration route through Libya, asylum seekers, refugees and migrants continue to face horrendous abuses in Libya – and for those who attempt it, an even deadlier sea crossing to Italy. Available at: https://www.refugeesinternational.org/s/2018-Libya-Report-PDF.pdf

News reports and blog reports

Rush to house record number of Venezuelan refugees as rainy season looms in Brazil’s north by Karla Mendes

Brazilian authorities and aid groups are rushing to help tens of thousands of Venezuelans find shelter before the start of the rainy season in Brazil’s Roraima state this month, reports Reuters. The federal government announced on Wednesday that it would build five additional shelters in Boa Vista, the state capital, and another in the border town of Pacaraima. Meanwhile, a UNHCR-supported information centre opened in Boa Visa on Friday to inform new arrivals about how to apply for refugee status, direct them to shelters and help them access health services. Available at: http://news.trust.org//item/20180420155230-hj3ta/ 

Canadians see welcoming refugees as our top international contribution, survey finds by Francesca Fionda

The 2018 Canada’s World Survey, conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, is an update to a survey they first conducted in 2008. It measures how Canadian attitudes have shifted and looks at issues that have emerged over the past decade. Despite major world events Canadians’ opinions have remained mostly consistent. A majority of Canadians continue to see Canada as an international role model with 86 per cent of respondents saying the country can have a positive impact on world affairs, both in 2008 and in 2018. 25% of respondents think the most important contribution the country can make to the world is accepting immigrants and multiculturalism, a shift from ten years ago when peacekeeping topped the list. Consequently, the survey estimates that two million adult Canadians were involved directly in the sponsorship of refugees, with another seven million who knew someone who did. In addition, a majority of those surveyed believe Canada should either increase the number of refugees accepted over the next two years or continue to accept the same number. 21% said we should increase the number and 41% said we should stay the same, while 30% believe the number of refugees accepted should be reduced. More available at:


Supporting the future of Syria and the region – Brussels conference, 24-25/04/2018

The EU and UN will chair the second conference on ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’, which is taking place in Brussels on 24-25 April. The conference aims to mobilise humanitarian aid to Syrians inside the country and in the neighbouring countries, close the funding gap for Syrians and securing new pledges of humanitarian funding for Syrians. It also focuses on dialogue with NGOs from Syria and the region. More than 200 NGOs are participating and providing recommendations. Ahead of the conference, UNHCR issued a warning that its cash-assistance programme for 200,000 vulnerable refugee families in the region will come to stop in May unless additional resources are found to plug a US$270 million funding shortfall – part of a wider US$4.1 billion funding gap in the UN-led response plan for Syrian refugees in 2018. Last year’s Brussels conference generated pledges of $6 billion. Officials told Reuters that they hope to surpass that figure at this year’s conference, which is also being seen as an opportunity to revive efforts to find a political solution to the seven-year conflict. More at:


and https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/brussels-ii-syria-conference-must-not-fall-short-enar

How swimming lessons change the lives of refugee children, By Philip Oltermann

The experience of crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe in overcrowded, flimsy boats is traumatic for many refugee children, particularly those who don’t know how to swim. Günter Schütte is a German swimming instructor who specializes in helping refugees overcome their fear of water. He also views swimming as a tool for integration. More at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ng-interactive/2018/apr/21/great-lengths

Tensions growing on the islands by Tania Georgiopoulou

At least 20 people were hospitalized after a group of Afghan asylum-seekers who had been holding a sit-in demonstration in the main square of Mytilene, capital of the Greek island of Lesvos, were attacked, reportedly by local members of a far-right group. The asylum-seekers had been protesting squalid living conditions and overcrowding at the island’s Moria camp and calling for their asylum claims to be processed on the mainland, since last Tuesday. Skirmishes between the two groups reportedly lasted throughout Sunday night until riot police dispersed the crowd early Monday morning and transported the asylum-seekers back to Moria. In a related development, the new head of the Greek Asylum Service, Markos Karavias, has reportedly signed an agreement that maintains the restriction on refugees and migrants arriving to the Greek islands from travelling on to the mainland. A court ruling last week had overturned a previous restriction on movement. More available at:


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