August 15, 2019: 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. 70

Recent Publications and New Research

Galli, Chiara (2019). Humanitarian capital: how lawyers help immigrants use suffering to claim membership in the nation-state. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1-18. This paper explores how humanitarianism operates within the nation-state, asking: what strategies do lawyers employ to help undocumented immigrants access membership rights in the United States though humanitarian policies? The author identifies three concurrent evaluations that lawyers undertake to determine legalisation strategies. First, attorneys carry out an assessment of threat of deportation because not all undocumented immigrants are equally at risk. Second, they determine eligibility by matching migrants’ complex lived experiences to narrow, formal eligibility criteria, which often exclude individuals arbitrarily. Third, attorneys determine whether each case is ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ (more/less likely to acquire status) by identifying instances of migrant suffering to transform them into what I call ‘humanitarian capital’, a symbolic resource legible to adjudicators in the immigration bureaucracy who grant legal status on the basis of compassion to limited numbers of exceptional cases. More information available at:

Also a previous version is open access and is available at:

Gill, N., & Good, A. (Eds.). (2019). Asylum Determination in Europe: Ethnographic Perspectives. Springer. Drawing on new research material from ten European countries, this book brings together a range of detailed accounts of the legal and bureaucratic processes by which asylum claims are decided. The book includes a legal overview of European asylum determination procedures, followed by sections on the diverse actors involved, the means by which they communicate, and the ways in which they make life and death decisions on a daily basis. The contributors employ a variety of disciplinary perspectives – sociological, anthropological, geographical and linguistic – but are united in their use of an ethnographic methodological approach. The book captures the confusion, improvisation, inconsistency, complexity and emotional turmoil inherent to the process of claiming asylum in Europe. Available at:

Shannon Doocy, et al (2019). Venezuelan Migration and the Border Health Crisis in Colombia and Brazil, Journal on Migration and Human Security. Venezuela’s economic crisis has triggered mass migration. An assessment mission to Cúcuta, in the Colombian border state of North Santander, was undertaken from July 26 to August 1, 2018, and to Bôa Vista and Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, Brazil, between August 24 and 28, 2018. Surveillance data demonstrate increases in infectious diseases, as well as adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes, among Venezuelans in North Santander and Roraima. In Colombia, primary healthcare is not available to Venezuelans, and provision of emergency care is perceived as unsustainable given current funding mechanisms. In Brazil, primary care is available to Venezuelans, but the healthcare system is under severe strain to meet the increased demand for care and is facing unprecedented shortages in medications and supplies. There is an urgent need to expand the humanitarian health response in Colombia and Brazil, both to ensure health among Venezuelans and to protect public health in border areas. Available at:

Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho and Cabeiri Debergh Robinson (2018). Special Issue: Forced migration in/of Asia, Journal of Refugee Studies. This special issue focuses on displacement in Asia. Each article looks at a specific case of human forced displacement happening in Asia, as the links forged by those displaced from or within Asia to places outside of Asia. The articles in this special issue illustrate how specific and comparative examination of Asian forced migration can productively inform wider conceptualization of forced-migration research and refugee studies. For instance, Peterson’s article examines the history of practices of banishment, exile and deportation in China and among Chinese overseas migrants. McConnachie’s article argues, from the case of Chin refugees in Mizoram, India, that, while refugee reception is often analysed through the framework of national and international law and policy, such legal and political instruments are undermined or reinforced through local perceptions of belonging that are accorded different symbolic values over time. McNevin and Missbach’s article considers how the action of Acehnese fishermen who rescued boatloads of stranded Rohingya refugees imposed new imperatives on the Indonesian state and humanitarian organizations to extend protection to refugees once the Rohingya reached shore. The issue is accessible in full along with an interactive map at:

Report, Policy Briefs and Working papers

Welcome Home: Welcoming refugee claimants and precarious migrants to the city of Toronto, FCJ Refugee Centre with support from Maytree, June 12, 2019.The report examines challenges faced by refugee claimants and precarious migrants in accessing shelter in Toronto in three distinct phases of the settlement process: The first 24 to 48 hours after arrival; Time spent in the city of Toronto’s shelter system; and Transitioning to the private rental market. For each phase, the report offers recommendations that the city of Toronto can implement to ensure access to adequate housing, while including suggestions for other levels of government and the community sector where appropriate. Available at:

Policy Brief: Fleeing Violence in Central America: Time to Implement Canada’s Resettlement Policies, By Rachel Kiddell-Monroe and Celine de Richoufftz, Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID), McGill University – Global Governance Lab (February 2019). Each year, thousands of people flee violence and conflict ravaging countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. However, North American countries are rolling back the international political and moral commitments designed to protect people fleeing violence and persecution. By developing an urgent policy of resettlement for Central American refugees in Canada, by supporting the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) states in their efforts to build more fair and more efficient immigration systems and by addressing the structural causes of displacements, Canada can alleviate the suffering of thousands of people. Available at:

Report: Tackling violence against aid workers, House of Commons International Development Committee: Fourteenth Report of Session 2017–19 (July 23, 2019). This short report is based on two oral evidence sessions aimed at exploring the dangers faced by humanitarian workers in conflict-affected settings and the UK Government’s policies and actions in this area. The areas explored in evidence covered: (a) the scale of the threats and challenges that humanitarian workers face in fragile and conflict-affected states; (b) the impact of threats of violence on the delivery of humanitarian assistance; (c) the management of safety and security risks in hostile and insecure settings; (d) the role the UK government plays in supporting aid worker safety and security; and (e) the protections afforded by international humanitarian law in theory and in practice. Available at:

News reports and blog posts

Discussion Series: Decolonizing Forced Migration Research, Part of the ESPMI Network’s Knowledge Cluster Project on Methodological Challenges in Forced Migration Research.  What is the contribution of decolonial debates to the study of forced migration? How do these debates inform our methodological approach? What do we understand by decolonial research methods on forced migration? This debate is inspired by the discussion of decolonising the university more broadly, but also some recent calls to humanising refugee research. Responses are available at:

UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar exposes military business ties, calls for targeted sanctions and arms embargoes, Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), (5 August 2019). The U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urged the international community on Monday to sever ties with Myanmar’s military and the vast web of companies it controls and relies on. The Mission said the revenues the military earns from domestic and foreign business deals substantially enhances its ability to carry out gross violations of human rights with impunity. The report, for the first time, establishes in detail the degree to which Myanmar’s military has used its own businesses, foreign companies and arms deals to support brutal operations against ethnic groups that constitute serious crimes under international law, bypassing civilian oversight and evading accountability. Available at:

Digital and social media

Asylum Recognition Rates in the EU/EFTA by Country, 2008-2017, Migration Policy Institute. Use this interactive map to view asylum recognition rates in individual European Union Member States and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) by country of origin and year, from 2008 through 2017. Darker colors indicate a higher recognition rate in the country and year shown. The rate represents the share of first-instance positive asylum decisions relative to all decisions made in the selected country. The data tool also shows the total number of decisions as well as the type of protection status granted. Available at:

Presentations: International Metropolis Conference Media, The Promise of Migration Inclusion, Economic Growth and Global Cooperation (June 24 to 28, 2019). These presentations reflect the content that was delivered on the Promise of Migration: A Canadian Perspective special event on June 24th, 2019. Available at:

<< Back