All posts by mmillard

April 8, 2021: 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. 105

RRN Webinar Series:

Localizing Knowledge Production: 

Shifting power in forced migration studies

In collaboration with the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN)
April 20, 2021 | 10:00 EST

Register here

Drawing on the results of a review of forced displacement research centres based in the global South and interviews with the directors of these centres, this webinar encourages a shift from focusing on research partnerships to an approach that supports the localization of knowledge production in refugee and forced migration studies. The speakers invite us to consider an approach that changes the structures of knowledge production through tackling issues such as funding management of Global South-led research, transfer of power to researchers in the South, a recognition of the diverse forms of knowledge and knowledge production, and an appreciation for the diverse understandings of success and impact across contexts.

Guest speakers:

James Milner, Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University and Director of LERRN: The Local Engagement Refugee Research Network.

Richa Shivakoti, Senior Research Associate at the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration.

Amanda Coffie, Research Fellow at the Legon Center for International Affairs and Diplomacy, University of Ghana.

Roula El-Rifai, Senior Program Specialist with the Democratic and Inclusive Governance Division at Canada’s International Development Research Centre – IDRC.

Recent Publications and New Research

Sanctuary cities in Canada: practices, needs and policies, Building Migrant Resilience in Cities (BMRC), York University, April 6, 2021. This project aimed to better understand the formal practices and informal approaches associated with ‘sanctuary city’ and ‘access without fear’ policies across Canada.  It explored the approaches taken by several cities to address the needs of residents living without immigration status or with precarious status. Because immigrant-serving organizations engage directly with these populations, the research explored how these organizations assessed city efforts and their needs and preferences for municipal policy changes to better support these residents.

Francesca Esposito et. al. (2021). “Yes, But Somebody Has to Help Them, somehow:” Looking at the Italian Detention Field through the Eyes of Professional Nonstate Actors. International Migration Review. Although migration-related detention has increased worldwide, little is known about life inside detention centers for undocumented migrants. Building on 34 months of fieldwork, this article examines Rome’s detention center, including the lived experiences of center staff and the external civil-society actors working in and with the center. It discusses the emotional, ethical, and political challenges these professional actors face in their everyday work and relationships with detainees. It sheds light on life in detention and the intersections between humanitarian and security logics in this setting. In doing so, the authors problematize the idea that “humanizing detention” can be a solution for change.

Didier Ruedin (ed.) (2021). Decision-Making under Uncertainty: African Migrants in the Spotlight“, Social Inclusions (open access journal), Volume 9, Issue 1 (2021). This thematic issue examines decision-making questions under limited (and contradictory) information, focusing on migration decisions. Migrants are far from a homogenous population, but they commonly use narratives as heuristics. The authors observe much agency among migrants to pursue migration plans, with migration decisions best understood as chains of multiple decisions rather than simple push-pull or two-step models.

Silverman, S. J., & Kaytaz, E. S. (2020). Examining the ‘National Risk Assessment for Detention process: an intersectional analysis of detaining ‘dangerousness’ in CanadaJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1-17. This article concerns the NRAD, a 2-page ‘risk analysis’ PDF used by CBSA to sort arrested immigrants into medium- or high-risk categories. CBSA officers use it precisely to determine whether to incarcerate someone in a provincial prison or at an immigration holding centre. Like many algorithmic tools, the NRAD appears scientific and objective, but it is affixing a sticky label of dangerousness to racialized immigrants that is very difficult to dislodge. The authors argue that the NRAD creates and further embeds ‘hybrid knowledges of risk’ about immigrants, criminality, race and gender. Importantly, these pieces of knowledge did not arrive out of the blue; rather, the NRAD and its logics are nested in an arc of penalisation contingent upon the 1994 shooting of ViVi Leimonis in a midtown Toronto cafe that locals may remember. The NRAD thus links immigration, gender, racialisation, dangerousness, and crime. The NRAD normalizes incarceration for certain non-citizens, reflecting and reinforcing negative, racialized, and gendered ideas about riskiness.

Reports, Policy Briefs and Blogposts

Calgary Refugee Resettlement: January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), Released: February 2021. This report captures the numbers and composition of the refugees who arrived in Calgary during 2020. The document also includes the executive summary of Calgary’s COVID-19 response for the vulnerable newcomer population.

One Year Later: Unmasking COVID-19, by Grace Barakat & Brenda Spotton-Visano, Islamic Relief Canada & York University, March 17, 2021.  Islamic Relief Canada, in partnership with York University, has released a new research report. This report reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated economic inequalities in Canada. Marginalized groups, especially BIPOC, women and low-income people, have experienced the highest percentages of illness contraction, job losses and economic hardships. The research indicates that the long-term effects on these vulnerable groups will include: an increase in poverty; SME closures; household debt and mortgage defaults; precarious housing, evictions and food insecurity; and unemployment in specific industries experiencing shutdowns. 

Leaving Place, Restoring Home Enhancing The Evidence Base On Planned Relocation Cases In The Context Of Hazards, Disasters, And Climate Change, By Erica Bower & Sanjula Weerasinghe, Kaldore centre, March 2021. This report, undertaken according to the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) 2019-2022 Strategy and Workplan, seeks to enhance the evidence base on planned relocation cases undertaken within countries. It provides: (1) a global dataset of 308 cases of planned relocation identified from English-language peer-reviewed scholarly articles and grey literature; and (2) an analysis of characteristics across 34 of the identified cases. These two related outputs serve as a foundation for future efforts to augment knowledge and data on planned relocation and promote approaches to policy and practice that mitigate risk and protect people from harm.

Popp, Karoline (2021) No more Morias?’ Origins, challenges and prospects of the hot spots on the Greek islands” SVR-Policy Brief, Berlin. This new policy brief by the Expert Council on Integration and Migration explores the factors underlying the situation in the hotspots. In addition to the effects of the EU-Turkey Statement, the policy brief examines the shortcomings of the Greek administrative system and the European context, particularly the lack of responsibility-sharing on asylum among EU member states. The analysis identifies several structural causes for the situation in the hotspots. To address these, national and European actors need to create additional capacities, accelerate asylum procedures and systematically relieve the hotspots through relocations to mainland Greece and other EU countries. The EU should consider these lessons learned in its negotiations on the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, including on the use of border procedures in the future. On 12 April 2021, a webinar on the theme of “No more Morias? Past and future of the hotspot approach at Europe’s border”, will be held to discuss the policy brief’s key findings and their implications.

Kordel, S. & Membretti, A. (Eds.) (2020): Classification of MATILDE regions. Spatial Specificities and Third Country Nationals Distribution, MATILDE Deliverable 2.1. This report provides an overview of the immigration processes in European rural and mountain areas, i.e., labour, forced, student, family and amenity/lifestyle migration. For this purpose, the report presents a literature review of migration studies from various social sciences disciplines. It further reveals the prevailing immigration processes, including a diachronic perspective and the framework for the description of MATILDE regions based on socio-economic, socio-demographic and territorial indicators. Finally, MATILDE regions in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom are portrayed in terms of immigration of Third-Country Nationals and spatial characteristics. In conclusion, patterns of immigration of TCNs to MATILDE countries and regions are classified in light of broader structural transformations.

Baglioni, S., Caputo, M.L., Laine, J. & Membretti, A. (Eds.) (2021): The impact of social and economic policies on migrants in Europe, MATILDE Deliverable 3.1 and 4.1. This document presents the impact assessments of a range of policies on Third Country Nationals’ interaction with the social and economic structure of the remote and rural areas in the MATILDE countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and in the United Kingdom. Each report includes a systematic gathering of information on existing policies that have a direct/indirect impact on migrants’ interaction with the social-economic structure of remote and rural areas. A meta-analysis/literature review on the existing literature/research has been carried out for each country. Each report includes an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the policies and services explored through semi-structured interviews. Finally, the conclusions also provide an inventory of good practices.

A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian racism across Canada one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, by Justin Kong, Jessica Ip, Celia Huang & Kennes Lin, Chinese Canadian National Council – Toronto Chapter, March 23, 2021. From March 10th, 2020 to February 28th, 2021, 1150 cases of racist attacks from across Canada were reportedNee on their web platforms with 835 cases reported on, and 315 cases reported to Data analysis was conducted using data up to December 31st, 2020. 40% and 44% of racist attacks and incidents were reported from Ontario and British Columbia, respectively. Individuals who reported an incident in Chinese were much more likely to report suffering from emotional distress (34% more likely) and experiencing physical assault (100% more likely) than those who reported an incident in English. Learn more by reading the full report.

Digital and Social Media

RRN webinar recording: Emerging BHER Scholars: Establishing a Refugee Research Agenda in Dadaab. March 31, 2021. The speakers in this webinar addressed the importance of ongoing research in and on Dadaab. The overarching theme was the barriers to inclusivity in education in the Dadaab refugee camp, and was addressed by Dadaab scholars with specific reference to their research in progress.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade Event: “Still We Rise”. This online cultural event took place on March 25th, 2021 as part of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, included musical and spoken word input from a diverse range of people. It also included a live 20-minute discussion with a Q&A with a prominent personality related to the theme, “Ending slavery’s legacy of racism: a global imperative for justice.” The event was co-organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications, UNESCO and UNFPA. Musicians included Peter Gabriel, Yo-Yo Ma and Angélique Kidjo. Canadian participants included The Hon. Jean Augustine and Webster.

Pathways to Prosperity 2021 Virtual Workshop Series, April 13-27 Schedule. In January 2021, the new Pathways to Prosperity Virtual Workshop Series was launched. The series includes up to two virtual workshops a week over several months on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 – 2:15 PM EST. The P2P 2021 Workshop Series runs until April 27, 2021. T The information is updated regularly.

March 25, 2021: 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. 104

Emerging BHER Scholars: Establishing a Refugee Research Agenda in the Dadaab Refugee Camp

Building upon Appadurai’s argument that “Research is a specialized name for a generalized capacity to make disciplined inquiries into those things we need to know, but do not know yet…. [and that research] is the capacity to systematically increase the horizons of one’s current knowledge, in relation to some task, goal, or aspiration” (Appadurai, 2013), the four speakers address the importance of ongoing research in and on Dadaab. Barriers to inclusivity in education in the Dadaab refugee camps is the overall topic of this panel and is addressed by Dadaab scholars with specific reference to their research in progress.

Appadurai, Arjun (2013) The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition.

Register in advance for this meeting:

Recent Publications and New Research

Melnyk, G., & Parker, C. (Eds.). (2021). Finding Refuge in Canada: Narratives of Dislocation. AU Press.  [Open access]. This book is available as a free resource at It gathers the voices of refugees who have come to Canada and encountered varying kinds of reception. Their stories confront dominant public discourse about Canada as a benevolent country and move the reader beyond sensationalized headlines that often focus only on numbers and statistics.  

Mental health and psychosocial support, data and displacement, missing migrants. Forced Migration Review 66 (FMR), March 2021[Open access]. FMR 66 includes three features. In the Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) feature, authors debate initiatives and challenges, advocating 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. 

Molly Fee. 2021. Lives stalled: the costs of waiting for refugee resettlement. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Online first. Available [Open access] working paper here. This paper examines the context of waiting for Iranian religious minorities who must first travel to Vienna, Austria to apply for resettlement to the U.S. Drawing on theories of waiting, the author demonstrates how uncertainty and the passage of time shape refugees’ experience in transit contexts. While in Vienna, refugees endure months of compulsory idle waiting, free from persecution yet unable to begin the long-term process of settling in a new country. The author argues that the duration of stay and life conditions in transit can have significant consequences for refugees. Even when waiting is temporary and remedied by eventual resettlement, time spent in transit carries material, emotional, and physical costs.

Mole, R. C. (Ed.). (2021). Queer Migration and Asylum in Europe. UCL Press [Open access]. This book brings together scholars from politics, sociology, urban studies, anthropology and law to analyse how and why queer individuals migrate to or seek asylum in Europe, as well as the legal, social and political frameworks they are forced to navigate to feel at home or to regularise their status in the destination societies. The subjects covered include LGBTQ Latino migrants’ relationship with queer and diasporic spaces in London; diasporic consciousness of queer Polish, Russian and Brazilian migrants in Berlin; the role of the Council of Europe in shaping legal and policy frameworks relating to queer migration and asylum; the challenges facing bisexual asylum seekers; queer asylum and homonationalism in the Netherlands; and the role of space, faith and LGBTQ organisations in Germany, Italy, the UK and France in supporting queer asylum seekers.

Mwanri, L., & Mude, W. (2021). Alcohol, other drugs use and mental health among African migrant youths in South Australia. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1534 [Open access]. The paper reports perspectives about alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and mental health among African migrant and refugee youths in South Australia. African migrant and refugee youths revealed challenging stressors, including cultural, socioeconomic, living conditions, and pre- and post-migration factors that contribute to mental health problems and the use of AOD in their new country. The findings highlight the need to understand these social and cultural contexts to improve mental health services and help reduce the use of AOD, which, when problematic, can influence the health and integration experiences of these populations.

Lea-Maria Löbel & Jannes Jacobsen  (2021) Waiting for kin: A longitudinal study of family reunification and refugee mental health in Germany. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [Open access].  Reunification in hosting communities is difficult, as governments limit institutional family reunifications and the individual journey of kin is dangerous and often illegal. For refugees, having family abroad, especially in danger, is mentally distressing. Additionally, reuniting with family members can be a source of support in the new environment. This paper investigates the association between family reunifications and refugee mental health in a random sample of refugees in Germany (N = 6610), the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees 2016–2018.

Reports, policy briefs and Blogposts

Select US Immigration and Refugee Policy Resources.  CMS Research. March 11, 2021. Over the last five years, the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) has produced and published a series of reports, articles, and special collections of papers – primarily in its Journal on Migration and Human Security (JMHS) – that are devoted to reform of US immigration and refugee protection policies. CMS would like to make these resources broadly available as the Biden administration, Congress, states, and localities consider ways to reform the nation’s immigration, refugee, and integration laws and policies. CMS has also built a webpage that tracks Biden-era immigration and refugee protection developments. 

Leveraging networks to overcome displacement: Urban internally displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Caitlin Katsiaficas, Carolien Jacobs & Martin Wagner (2021). TRAFIG policy brief no. 2. Based on empirical research in Bukavu, eastern DRC, this policy brief explores how left largely on their own, IDPs are proactively seeking their own solutions, including tapping into their networks to unlock opportunities. It also highlights the need for policies and practices that support urban IDPs by helping them nurture and leverage their networks. It suggests some ways in which humanitarian and development actors might do so.

Doing No Harm in Lebanon: The Need for an Aid Paradigm Shift by Sahar Atrache. Refugees International. March 4, 2021. This report details the current state of crisis in Lebanon that has pushed hundreds of thousands into misery. The report calls for a new and innovative aid approach that could help the country get on the right course while protecting the most vulnerable among Lebanese and refugees from the dire consequences of the humanitarian and health crisis.

Settlement Sector and Technology Task Group Preliminary Report (2020). The Settlement Sector and Technology Task Group (coordinated by AMSSA, reporting to IRCC’s National Settlement and Integration Council (NSIC). February 2, 2021. This report focuses on the future of how the immigrant and refugee-serving sector delivers services to newcomers and communities. The Task Group’s work includes looking at infrastructure, privacy issues (e.g., advice and protocols on how to safeguard information), professional development for staff, including digital literacy and addressing the digital divide among newcomers and our communities.

Latest Asylum Trends – 2020 Overview, European Asylum Support Office (EASO), February 18, 2021. The visualisation included in this report provides an overview of the key indicators regarding international protection in the EU+ in the past 25 months. The size of the different circles in the countries of origin is proportional to the volume of applications lodged in EU+ countries; the colour of the circle reflects the recognition rate at first instance (blue – high, red – low). The shade of the country reflects the stock of pending cases at the end of the selected year. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel.

Biden on immigration: The first six weeks, by Susan F Martin, Cambridge Blog, March 16, 2021. Professor Susan Martin discusses Biden’s immigration policy in the first 6 weeks in light of her book “A Nation of Immigrants – 2nd edition” which has just been released.

Opinion: No amount of detention is safe for a child. Here are better solutions for migrant kids by Rachel Pearson. The Washington Post. March 4, 2021. The author, a pediatrician and humanities researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, shares alternative solutions.

Digital and social media

Watch: Climate Change and Forced Displacement: During this panel discussion hosted by the World Refugee and Migration Council, experts engaged in a north-south dialogue to address managed retreat, the role of local community adaptation in the absence of national action, refugee designation for climate causes, and the multifaceted characteristics of climate displacement.

Watch: International Women’s Day: To celebrate International Women’s Day, the co-founders the Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL) met on March 10 to talk about one year of refugee women-led achievements. 

March 4, 2021: 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. 103

Learn more and Register here

Recent Publications and New Research

Abdelaaty, L. (2021). Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees, Oxford University Press. What explains state responses to the refugees they receive?  This book identifies two puzzling patterns: states open their borders to some refugee groups while blocking others (discrimination), and several countries have given the UN control of asylum procedures on their territory (delegation). The book develops a two-part theoretical framework in which policymakers in refugee-receiving countries weigh international and domestic concerns to explain these patterns. The book then substantiates this argument with a three-stage research design, which combines statistical analysis of asylum admissions worldwide, country case studies of Egypt and Turkey, and content analysis of parliamentary proceedings in Kenya. Learn more here. (not open access, but may use promo code ASFLYQ6 to save 30%)

Roßkopf, R., & Heilmann, K. (eds.) (2021). International Social Work and Forced Migration: Developments in African, Arab and European Countries, Verlag Barbara Budric. This book focuses on Social Work with refugees in African, Middle East and European countries. Published as a follow-up to the ‘International Social Work Week’ in Würzburg/Germany with professionals and experts from all over the globe, this book intends to share insights into country-specific developments, challenges and potentials of Social Work in forced migration contexts. The objectives are to map Social Work in this field of action across several countries, to bring into sharper focus an International Social Work in forced migration contexts and help connect Social Work scholars and experts around the globe. Learn more here and read some selections here.

Averhed, Y. (2020). The breathing space or impact of temporary protection on integration from the perspective of refugees. School of Advanced Study, University of London.  In July 2016, the Swedish government adopted temporary legislative changes to the asylum regulation in force, significantly limiting the possibility of being granted a permanent residence permit. The government presented the temporary law as an incentive for the immigrants to focus on employment, leading to permanent residence. This study explores the impact of temporary protection on labour market integration and social inclusion from refugees’ and subsidiary protection holders’ perspectives. The data was collected through focus groups and in-depth face-to-face interviews with both temporary and permanent protection holders. The main conclusion is that temporary residence hinders the labour market integration of refugees and subsidiary protection holders from a long-term perspective, potentially leading to higher levels of social exclusion. Read here.

BMRC Research Digest: Assessment of the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Gatineau: The role of the local context and resources (March 1, 2021), Building Migrant Resilience in the City (BMRC), York University. Since 2019, this study documents the resettlement of Syrian refugees and the factors that fostered or hindered their resilience and, therefore, their integration by taking into account the context of Gatineau, a medium-sized city located next to a larger city, Ottawa, where English predominates. The factors considered are the human resources that accompanied refugees (professionals, sponsors, civil society) and the policies and services they had access to. This digest examines their role in the resettlement trajectories related to housing, francization, employment, socialization and long-term settlement. Download the DigestDownload the digest here.

Reports, policy briefs and Blogposts

How President Biden Can Make His Commitment to Refugees a Reality, by Susan Martin, February 19, 2021, Center for Migration Studies. In an Executive Order signed on February 3, 2021, President Joe Biden promised a thorough review of the US refugee admissions program and the Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) under which Afghans and Iraqis, endangered by their association with the US government, are admitted. He also announced that the United States would resettle 125,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022 and consult with Congress to increase this year’s admissions quota as a down payment. These promises offer hope to thousands of refugees who have been awaiting resettlement, often for years and still more often in precarious settings. However, fulfilling this promise will not come easily. The new administration has limited time to rebuild a program that the Trump administration sought to destroy. Read more here.

Too much, too little water: Addressing climate risks, no-analog threats and migration in Peru by Jonas Bergmann et al. (January, 2021), Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Policy Brief Series Issue 1 – Vol. 6. Based on a systematic review of the literature and expert interviews, this policy brief assesses available scientific evidence on the nexus between climate risks and migration in Peru. It discusses the necessity to understand climate migration patterns and improve planning and policies in the short term to the mid-term, given several “no-analog threats” – that is, those with unprecedented, large impacts – that could occur towards the end of the century. Recent policy developments in the country, such as the National Plan of Action on Climate Migration and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), can break new ground in addressing these challenges. Download the issue

Canadian Council for Refugees (2021). Your right in research: An information sheet for people taking part in forced migration research. Taking part in research projects may give respondents a chance to be heard, but it can also be inconvenient, cost time or money, and make respondents feel physically or emotionally uncomfortable. This information sheet explains key terms and outlines the rights of individuals who participate in forced migration research; it is available in eight languages. All documents (Guidelines, Executive Summary, and Rights in Research documents) are available on the CCR website here.

What Comes Next Now that Colombia Has Taken a Historic Step on Migration? By Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan and Diego Chaves-González. (February 2021) Migration Policy Institute. Colombian President Iván Duque’s announcement that all Venezuelans in Colombia will receive a ten-year protection status represents a bold, first-of-its-kind move in Latin America. It is “the most important humanitarian gesture” in the region in decades, as one UN official termed it. Read more here.

Digital and social media

RRN webinar recording: Ethics of Witnessing: Method as Intervention in Forced Migration Studies, Guest speaker: Professor Nergis Canefe. This webinar focuses on capitalizing the scholar’s responsibility as a witness, maximizing the potential and benefits for institutional and social change, and tracing and teaching an ethics of witnessing in its most adequate and resonant forms. Professor Canefe (PhD & SJD) is a Turkish-Canadian scholar of public international law, comparative politics, forced migration studies and critical human rights. This presentation is of particular interest to emerging scholars and teachers of research and its potential impact.  Watch recording here.

Pathways to Prosperity, The Future of Immigration and Re-settlement in Canada. 2021 Virtual Workshop Series – March Schedule. The series includes up to two virtual workshops a week over the course of several months on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 – 2:15 PM (EST). The complete workshop series schedule is available here [please use Google Chrome to avoid technical issues].

February 18, 2021: 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. 102


Learn more and register here

Recent Publications and New Research

Krause, U. (2021). Colonial roots of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its effects on the global refugee regime, Journal of International Relations and Development. This article complements Postcolonial and Ignorance Studies and uses online archival research to explore debates among state delegations about the Convention’s refugee definition and ‘colonial clause’ at the founding conference (2–25 July 1951). It illuminates delegations’ strategic production of knowledge and especially ignorance—meaning the construction of issues as irrelevant—leading to the prioritization of ‘the West’ over ‘the Rest’. Colonial and imperial states generally dominated debates while colonized ones were excluded, and thus silenced. Despite broad support for the universal refugee definition, several powerful delegations demanded its limitation to Europe and therewith strategically subordinated and ignored the ‘Other’ refugees and regions in pursuit of geopolitical interests. They thus made the colonial ‘Others’ irrelevant in the creation of ‘international’ refugee law. The author argues that these debates rendered the Convention’s founding ‘colonial-ignorant’, with lasting effects on the regime’s functioning. Read in full here.

Abdelaaty, L. (2021). The relationship between human rights and refugee protection: An empirical analysis. International Journal of Human Rights. What is the relationship between a government’s respect for the rights of its citizens and that government’s regard for refugee rights? On the one hand, we may expect that a country with high human rights standards will also offer a higher quality of asylum. For example, domestic laws that protect citizens’ rights may be extended to refugees. On the other hand, there are reasons to theorize that a country with high human rights standards may offer a lower quality of asylum. For instance, governments may claim that protecting citizens’ well-being necessitates the rejection of refugees. The author analyses a global dataset drawn from reports by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to explore these questions. The data reveals that the relationship between citizens’ rights and refugee rights is modified by economic conditions and the size of the refugee population. Moreover, some domestic rights (i.e., freedom of movement, labor rights) may increase protections for refugees, while others (i.e., the rule of law) may decrease them. Learn more here and read a full-text version of the accepted manuscript on ResearchGate here.

Hawkins, M. M., Schmitt, M. E., Adebayo, C. T., Weitzel, J., Olukotun, O., Christensen, A. M., Ruiz, A.M., Gilman, K., Quigley, K., Dressel, A., & Mkandawire-Valhmu, L. (2021). Promoting the health of refugee women: A scoping literature review incorporating the social ecological model. International journal for equity in health, 20(1), 1-10. There is a lack of comprehensive synthesis regarding how factors interact to influence the health of refugee women. The authors conducted a thematic analysis of the literature to elucidate how providers can work with refugee women to prevent adverse health outcomes and intervene at multiple levels to improve their health outcomes after resettlement. They reviewed peer-reviewed literature from 2009 to 2019 from Google Scholar, JSTOR, Global Health, PubMed, CINAHL, Sociological Abstracts, and Social Service Abstracts. Amongst the findings was that refugee women are vulnerable to violence during migration and typically have high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. There were also concerns of secondary victimization by providers after resettlement. Read the open access article here.

Kikulwe, D., Massing, C., Ghadi, N., Giesbrecht, C. J., & Halabuza, D. (2021). From independence to dependence: Experiences of Syrian refugees. International Migration. This paper focuses on the qualitative findings from a mixed‐methods study of male and female Syrian refugees’ educational and employment experiences who settled in Regina, Canada. Canada admitted over 40,000 Syrian refugees who settled in 350 communities across Canada, including many smaller, non‐traditional refugee‐receiving centres. This influx necessitated the expeditious development of additional services as well as a re‐allocation of local resources. The findings demonstrated that as participants moved through each of the successive phases of migration, they perceived a shift from independence to government dependence. While back home, participants had identities as “hard workers”, they found that their experiences and credentials from their home countries were devalued and that learning English was a prerequisite for employment. Read the open access article here

Kirandeep, K. (2021). Special Issue – In Their Own Voices: Making Visible Lives of Refugee Women In Kuala Lumpur. Displaced Voices: Volume 1 Issue 2. Working in collaboration with Kiran Kaur, Amin Kamrani, the Living Refugee Archive and contributors, this special issue is a collection of papers written by and with refugee women based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a foreword from Professor Nergis Canefe based at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, Canada. The final contribution is visual rather than written and aims to highlight the spaces, actions and voices of refugee communities without emphasizing a victimhood narrative or imagery. All contributors to this project were participants in a doctoral participatory action research (PAR) project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In this issue, the authors explore what inclusive publishing might look like and rather than speak for refugee communities, instead, they speak together. This issue of Displaced Voices (ISSN: 2633-2396) can be read in conjunction with Amin Kamrani’s 20/20 Virtual Exhibition of photographs taken during the 2020 pandemic. Access the volume here.

Reports, policy briefs and Blogposts

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2020). International Migration 2020 Highlights. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) published its 2020 revision of International Migration Highlights, presenting key facts and messages regarding international migration globally and policies promoting safe and orderly migration. The latest data shows that 281 million people (3.6 percent of the world’s population) are living outside their country of origin. In 2020, almost 50 percent of all international migrants and about half of all forcibly displaced persons, were women and girls. Read full report here.

Why do we need further research on internal displacement? by David Cantor, Refugee Law Initiative, February 3, 2021. In this new blog post the author argues that recent reviews of the research literature on internal displacement identify many central themes around which significant gaps in our knowledge exist. In other words, the lack of research on IDPs does not indicate that we know this topic too well already – in fact, quite the contrary. Read more here.

The Central African Republic in Crisis: Critical Measures to Address Humanitarian and Security Needs by Alexandra Lamarche, February 4, 2021, Refugees International. This brief outlines critical steps that the Central African government, the United Nations, aid agencies, and international donor governments must take to address the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation to protect the country’s civilian population from further tragedy. Read full brief here.

Digital and social media

Meet Gary is a website,, created by a team of refugee lawyers and researchers to help guide refugee claimants through the Canadian Refugee Board process. With the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario, it is now available in French, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi and Chinese.

UNHCR Virtual Conference: 70 Years Protecting People Forced to Flee. The virtual academic conference took place on January 18, 19, 21, and 27 to mark the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. On January 21st, LERRN hosted two North American panels. These panels considered North American perspectives on the “who, what, and how” of realizing protection and solutions, both within North American and through North American engagement in the global refugee regime. You can now access the summaries and view the recordings of the panels here: 

Panel 1: Realizing protection and solutions within North America

Panel 1 Full Recording   |   Panel 1 Summary

Panel 2: North America within the global refugee regime

Panel 2 Full Recording   |   Panel 2 Summary

February 4, 2021: 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. 101


This webinar will focus on capitalizing the scholar’s responsibility as a witness, maximizing its potential and benefits for institutional and social change, and tracing and teaching an ethics of witnessing in its most adequate and resonant forms. Overall, if we are to defend a theory of ethics that is focused on the scholar’s role in enhancing human dignity and rights against all odds, we must start with providing a road map for our students. The webinar will provide select case studies and examples of engaged research in dealing with humanitarian crises, rights abuses and in general situations of gross human vulnerabilities as they pertain to the specific context of forced migration. It will also showcase some of the publicly accessible methods and models of knowledge mobilization and sharing. 

Guest speaker: Professor Nergis Canefe (PhD & SJD) is a Turkish-Canadian scholar of public international law, comparative politics, forced migration studies and critical human rights.

Register here

Recent Publications and New Research

Foroutan, Y. (2020). Ethnic or Religious Identities?: Multicultural Analysis in Australia from Socio-Demographic Perspective, Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 7 (1): 1-19. Focusing on the data of ethnic and religious identities in a multiethnic and multicultural context, this paper provides research-based evidence to explain whether and how significantly such data could be reliable from a social and demographic perspective. The explanation is based on population census that also provides unique nation-wide data sources on ‘religious affiliation’. The field of this study is the multiethnic and multicultural context of Australia that holds a large variety of ethnic, religious and cultural groups from throughout the world. According to the findings, this paper argues that if ethnic migrants belonging to the same category of religious affiliation are considered a single group without taking their ethnic origins into account, this will lead to insufficient, incomplete, and misleading knowledge. Read more.

Beyond 2020: Renewing Canada’s Commitment to immigration, Metropolis eBooks – Volumes 1 & 2. Selected presentations from the 22nd Metropolis Canada Conference. The articles in Volume I deal with the nuts and bolts of integration and settlement questions, drawing on the insights of research and practice in the field from several forward-looking studies and pilot projects. Volume II looks at the role of media and digital technologies and takes a broader national and international policy perspective. Download Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Garcia, S., & Barclay, K. (2020). Adapting Research Methodologies in The Covid-19 Pandemic, Resources for researchers 2nd edition, Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center. This document is the second edition of a compilation of resources addressed to junior researchers whose social research projects have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It includes insights from academics and junior researchers on the opportunities and challenges involved in conducting social research in the context of COVID-19. The document has three parts. The first section offers an overview of qualitative, semi-qualitative and quantitative methodologies and methods that may provide feasible research design and data collection alternatives. The second part contains insights from researchers gathered through interviews with PhD candidates, researchers, and supervisors; finally, it lists a selection of online discussions and resources on how this adaptation is taking or may be taking place in the near future. Access here.  

Averhed, Y. (2020). The breathing space or impact of temporary protection on integration from the perspective of refugees. School of Advanced Study, University of London.  In July 2016, the Swedish government adopted temporary legislative changes to the asylum regulation in force, significantly limiting the possibility of being granted a permanent residence permit. The government presented the temporary law as an incentive for the immigrants to focus on employment, leading to permanent residence. This study exploits the impact of temporary protection on labour market integration and social inclusion from the perspective of refugees and subsidiary protection holders. Applying the ground research methods, the data was collected via focus group and in-depth face-to-face interviews with both temporary and permanent protection holders. The main conclusion is that temporary residence hinders the labour market integration of refugees and subsidiary protection holders, potentially leading to higher levels of social exclusion. Read here.

BRMC Research Digest – Winter 2021: Newcomers’ perceptions and experiences of their reception, Avenues of reflection on the Photovoice method, Building Migrant Resilience in Cities (BMRC), January 11, 2021. For a research project aiming to explore newcomers’ perceptions and experiences of their reception in two Montreal districts, the research team used the Photovoice method. The questions guiding this research were: What spaces are perceived as welcoming or less welcoming by newcomers? According to immigrants, what characterizes a welcoming district? This document proposes avenues of reflection on the advantages and challenges of this method in the search for answers to these questions. Read here.

Reports, policy briefs and Blogposts

From Displacement to Development: How Colombia Can Transform Venezuelan Displacement into Shared Growth, By Martha Guerrero Ble, Izza Leghtas, Daphne Panayotatos, & Jimmy Graham, Refugees International and Center for Global Development, October 28, 2020. This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative, a three-year program of work led by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Refugees International and funded by the IKEA Foundation and the Western Union Foundation. The initiative aims to expand labor market access for refugees and forced migrants, by identifying their barriers to economic inclusion and providing recommendations to host governments, donors, and the private sector  to overcome them. The primary focus is on refugees and forced migrants in Colombia, Peru, Kenya, and Ethiopia, with other work taking place at the global level. Read here.

At the Starting Gate: The Incoming Biden Administration’s Immigration Plans, by Doris Meissner & Michelle Mittelstadt, Migration Policy Institute, November 9, 2020. This policy brief outlines some of the incoming administration’s top immigration priorities and examines challenges and opportunities ahead. Drawing on existing and forthcoming policy ideas from MPI’s Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy initiative, the brief sketches several proposals that could begin to shape a U.S. immigration system that advances the national interest going forward. View or download full report here.

Starting Early to Address Migration-Related Trauma by Caitlin Katsiaficas, Refugee REACH Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, January 14, 2021. There is a growing understanding among researchers and practitioners of the effects of trauma on young children. However, there is a critical gap in attention to and services for young refugees and immigrant children. This blog highlights the importance of taking a whole-family approach to trauma and ramping up services for immigrant parents and their children through early childhood services and cross-sectoral collaboration, citing examples in the United States and Canada. Read here.

The pandemic is no excuse to shut the door on refugee resettlement, by Evan Jones & Nadjeeba Wazefadost, The New humanitarian, January 25, 2021. Many refugees have lost access to their livelihoods and have been pushed to the brink of destitution. Some have even been forced to return to the country they fled through deportation, or due to a lack of options in their host country. By and large, resettlement and other migration pathways have become increasingly limited during the pandemic. The authors explain why countries should be expanding, not reducing, refugee numbers in 2021. Read here.

Digital and social media

Temporary by Kaldor Centre. This project is a rich storytelling hub revealing the experiences of refugees in Australia who are under temporary protection. It explores – in long-form stories, podcasts, art and photography – the lives of people who came to Australia seeking refuge, and the laws that entangle them in an endless uncertainty. Their journeys come to life in powerful stories, vividly illustrated by refugee artists and photographers. Their voices rise from an eight-episode podcast series, co-produced with UNSW Centre for Ideas and Guardian Australia, with a soundtrack created by an award-winning composer currently seeking asylum. Start with the full stories, or with the podcasts

January 21, 2021: RRN Research Digest – 100th Issue

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. 100

A note from RRN Founder, Professor Susan McGrath

Launched in 2008, the Refugee Research Network (RRN) has been a global network of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers that strives to have a wide-ranging and progressive impact on refugee research and policy in Canada and globally. We have continued to try to support the mobilization of new and existing refugee research knowledge to make it more accessible. In May 2017, we created the Refugee Research Digest to circulate up-to-date refugee research and related activities albeit in English only. This is our 100th edition!

As most academic endeavours, we have relied heavily on the expertise of staff and students. I want to recognize the valuable contributions of Michele Millard, the Coordinator of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, and students William Payne, Dina Taha and Irina Osminin.

Please continue to send us your research so that we can continue to share it. If you haven’t yet, please complete the 3-min survey as your feedback is instrumental in improving the digest.

Much thanks,

Susan McGrath C.M. Centre for Refugee Studies, York University

Recent Publications and New Research

Special Issue: Shuayb, M., & Crul, M. (2020). Refugee Children, Status, and Educational Attainment: A Comparative Lens: Special Issue Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees. While covering different geographic areas and educational systems, the findings from the articles in this special issue highlight common challenges to refugees in crisis. In both the Global North and South, policies remain hostile to refugees, pushing them further into the margins. At best, they are seen as providers of skilled labour for  the  aging  European  communities  or  a   burden  surviving  on  the host community’s generosity  and  thus  should  be  grateful  for  whatever  they  receive.  Yet, the marginalization, exploitation, and  discrimination  that refugees  experience  is  part  of  a  structural  system  plagued by  racism,  discrimination,  and  injustice  in  both  the  Global  North and South. These structural inequalities led the authors to adopt a wider lens in the study of refugees beyond the emergency and humanitarian scope to a justice -oriented approach. Access the special issue here.

Martin, S., & Bergmann, J. (2020). (Im)mobility in the age of COVID-19. International Migration Review. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global human mobility dynamics. This IMR Dispatch examines the historical, bidirectional links between pandemics and mobility and provides an early analysis of how they unfolded during the first nine months of the COVID-19 emergency. Results show, first, that international travel restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus are not a panacea in and of themselves. Second, the analysis demonstrates that the pandemic, government responses, and resulting economic impacts can lead to at-risk populations’ involuntary immobility. Similarly, stay-at-home measures have posed dire challenges for those who lack options to work from home, and migrants living in precarious, crowded circumstances. Moreover, the global economic contraction has increased involuntary immobility by reducing labour demand and people’s resources to move. Third, the authors show that people’s attempts to protect themselves from the virus can shift patterns of mobility, such as increases in cross-border return migration and urban-to-rural movements. Read here.  

Easton-Calabria, E. & Skran, C. (Eds) (2020) Special Issue: Rethinking Refugee Self-Reliance. Journal of Refugee Studies, 33(1). This special issue on Rethinking Refugee Self-Reliance brings together a collection of 13 articles (11 academic and 2 field reports) critically examining the potential for, past precedents, and current state of refugee self-reliance, including novel tools to measure it and research presenting self-reliance as defined by refugees themselves. Read more.

Glorius et al. (2020): Is Social Contact With the Resident Population a Prerequisite of Well-Being and Place Attachment? The Case of Refugees in Rural Regions of Germany. Frontiers in Sociology (Section Migration and Society), 1-13. This paper addresses the quality and quantity of social contact between refugees and resident populations as a prerequisite for integration and long-term migration-development effects from a social, geographical perspective. Drawing from survey data and qualitative interviews with residents and refugees, it examines expectations, perceptions and experiences of everyday encounters and social relationships in neighborhoods in small rural towns and villages. The results support arguments from research literature for faster social inclusion in rural areas due to greater nearness, and obstacles toward the integration of foreigners due to higher homogeneity of rural neighborhoods and only a few experiences of positive everyday contact with foreigners among rural residents. Nevertheless, more in-depth research is needed to consider the interrelations of both structural contexts and complex and changing needs for personal development in the future, also from an intergenerational perspective. Read more.

Weidinger, T. & Kordel, S. (2020): Access to and Exclusion from Housing over Time: Refugees’ Experiences in Rural Areas. International Migration, 1-18. Taking the example of recognized refugees in rural Germany and following the housing pathways approach, the paper addresses the complex interplay of individual and family-related residential preferences over time and structural factors regarding access to housing and associated settlement and integration. Results are from a long-term empirical study that encompassed both refugees’ and local actors’ views. Mechanisms and practices of exclusion that prevent refugees from accessing appropriate private housing are related to the negotiation of residential preferences about where and how to live, as well as to structural aspects such as the pattern of local housing markets, accessibility of infrastructures, or the unwillingness of landlords to let to refugees. The paper concludes to highlight the role of place in housing trajectories and the significance of social resources within refugees’ practices and local intermediaries’ strategies to overcome exclusion and access to rural housing.  Read more

Report, Policy Briefs and Working Papers

Carlaw, J. (2021). Unity in Diversity? Neoconservative Multiculturalism and the Conservative Party of Canada John Carlaw Working Paper No. 2021/1, Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement. This paper outlines characteristics and realities of neoconservative multiculturalism, including references to the conservative time in office and dynamics since their defeat in the 2015 election. These characteristics include 1) pragmatically adapting themselves to common sense notions of multiculturalism and immigration in Canada while also seeking to shift the politics of multiculturalism in Canada rightward by 2) seeking to empty it of anti-racist content and bind its remnants to a neoconservative worldview and 3) engaging in practices and discourses of exclusion, including a) engaging in clash of civilizations and Islamophobic discourses and policies, b) re-ethnicizing Canadian citizenship, c) targeting asylum seekers and 4) bolstering and collaborating with anti-multicultural civil society voices and actors. Read the working paper.

Cone, D. (2020). Critical Advice for President-elect Biden: A Comprehensive Approach for Displaced Women and Girls, Refugees International. This report outlines a pragmatic agenda for the incoming Biden administration to dramatically improve the lives of displaced women and girls while re-establishing desperately needed U.S. leadership and credibility on these issues. Read the report.

Panayotatos, D. (2020). Blocked at Every Pass: How Greece’s Policy of Exclusion Harms Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Refugees International. Greek authorities have denied or undercut access to asylum for those seeking safety. The report lays out a framework for how Greece—with the support of the EU—can reverse course and fulfill its international commitments to asylum seekers and refugees. Read the report.

News reports and blog posts

‘The asylum process broke my dream … now I have a new one.’ The refugee entrepreneurs by Michelle Richey (December 3, 2020) The Conversation. As the world struggles amid pandemic uncertainty, there may be no other group better suited at finding ways to cope than refugees. Restrictions on movement, working, and property ownership inhibit refugees’ freedom globally, pushing many into poverty. Nevertheless, against this oppressive backdrop, refugees show tremendous ingenuity, creating businesses and livelihoods from whatever is available to them. This news report outlines inspirational refugee initiatives in entrepreneurship. The refugee community has shown that entrepreneurship is not exclusively the domain of people with extensive networks – it also can help people build new networks. It is not only for those with abundant self-confidence and opportunities – it can also be for those who wish to build self-confidence to change their lives. Seen in this light, refugee entrepreneurs and communities are trailblazing paths out of uncertainty and can provide tremendous insight and inspiration at this unique and challenging time. Read here.

Journeys of hope: what will migration routes into Europe look like in 2021? By Lorenzo Tondo (January 14, 2021) The Guardian. As a new year begins, so do the journeys of tens of thousands more people seeking a new life overseas. The Guardian has spoken to experts, charity workers, and NGOs about the challenges and risks they face on the main migration routes into Europe. This news report summarizes the previous use of prevalent refugee routes to seek asylum while also outlining predictions for future use. Read here.

Digital and social media

LERRN Virtual Conference: 70 Years Protecting People Forced to Flee – North American Panels. January 21, 2021 at 12:30 PM-4:15 PM.  Two panels will consider North American perspectives on the “who, what, and how” of realizing protection and solutions, both within North American and through North American engagement in the global refugee regime. Register for both panels here. This panel is part of the virtual academic conference, “70 years protecting people forced to flee”, taking place on 18, 19, 21, and 27 January to mark the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. For more information, click here.

Video recording: Stakeholder Meeting on Refugee Resettlement in the United States. This stakeholder meeting brought together migration researchers and representatives of U.S. voluntary resettlement agencies to consider the role of migration research in informing programs serving refugees and migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on bringing global learning to those on the ground working with refugees. The discussion at the meeting was framed by the results of a scientific workshop, “Forced Migration Research: From Theory to Practice in Promoting Migrant Well-Being,” organized in May 2019 by the Committee on Population (CPOP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine with dedicated support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Watch here.

Video: A Refugee’s Resettlement Journey to Canada. IRCC produced an animated video to provide refugees resettling to Canada with an overview of what to expect, including services and supports provided to help them get settled in Canada. Watch here. It is also available in different languages.

December 11, 2020: 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. 99

Recent Publications and New Research

Forced Migration Review – FMR 65: Recognising refugees, November 2020. FMR issue 65’s main feature on Recognising refugees explores shortcomings, challenges and innovations (and their consequences for refugees/asylum seekers) in refugee status determination processes worldwide. A second feature offers reflections on lessons and good practice emerging from the 2018–20 GP20 Plan of Action for IDPs. Read here.

Jutvik, K., & Robinson, D. (2020). Permanent or temporary settlement? A study on the short-term effects of residence status on refugees’ labour market participation. Comparative Migration Studies, 8(1), 1-19.  Using a sudden policy change as a natural experiment combined with detailed Swedish registry data, the authors examine the effect permanent residency on three measures of labour market inclusion in the short-term. The findings are twofold. On the one hand, we find that temporary residents that are subject to a relatively less-inclusive situation have higher incomes and less unemployment. However, at the same time, they are less likely to spend time in education than are those with permanent residency. Read here.

New Book: Okafor, O. C. (2020). Refugee Law after 9/11: Sanctuary and Security in Canada and the United States. UBC Press. Refugee Law after 9/11 undertakes a systematic examination of available legal, policy, and empirical evidence to reveal a great irony: refugee rights were already so whittled down in both countries before 9/11 that there was relatively little room for negative change after the attacks. It also shows that the Canadian refugee law regime reacted to 9/11 in much the same way as its US counterpart, and these similar reactions raise significant questions about security relativism and the cogency of Canadian and US national self-image. Learn more.

Report, Policy Briefs and Working Papers

New Report: Blocked at Every Pass: How Greece’s Policy of Exclusion Harms Asylum Seekers and Refugees, December 2020, Refugees International. Throughout the year, an already dire situation for asylum seekers in Greece has continued to deteriorate. Authorities have physically pushed people back from Greece’s shores and undermined the asylum process. Individuals with refugee status have found themselves homeless and hungry in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its policies and actions, the Greek government is systematically closing the space for protection. The report outlines Greece’s efforts to deny access to asylum and services at every stage of an individual’s search for protection. It makes urgent recommendations for how Greece—with the support of the EU—should reverse course and fulfill its international commitments to asylum seekers and refugees. Read here.

Collins, J., Reid, C., Groutsis, D., Watson, K., Kaabel, A., Hughes, S. 2019, Settlement experiences of recently arrived refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in New South Wales in 2018: Full Report, Centre for Business and Social innovation, UTS Business School: Sydney. This report is the second of three place-based reports on the outcomes of the first year of a three-year research project – funded by the Australian Research Council – examining the settlement, employment and education experiences and outcomes of recently-arrived Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees. The focus of this second report is to explore the challenges and opportunities of settlement in Australia from the experiences of the Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees themselves in New South Wales. Ultimately, the aim of reporting on the outcomes of the research is not only to present evidence but also to spark a conversation about, and to contribute to an understanding of the contribution that refugees make to Australian society and how we can enhance the social well-being, employability prospects, economic security and educational opportunities of recently arrived refugees in Australia. Finally, the reports aim to inform policy and services to enhance the settlement experience of this group. Read here.  

Magdalena Perzyna, The Substance of Solidarity: What the Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Says About the Global Refugee Regime Working Paper No. 2020/15 October 2020. By examining how Western nation states in the global North have responded to asylum seekers during the pandemic against the backdrop of existing international refugee law, practice, and policy, this essay seeks to evaluate the normative potential of the GCR and the GCM for the entrenchment of the principle of solidarity. Employing the theoretical framework of governmentality, it argues that despite the rhetoric of responsibility-sharing, the reactions of Western nation states reflect an existing trend toward exclusionary impulses, with countries reflexively reverting to patterns of state-centric, insular protectionism. Taking these issues into consideration, the essay goes on to focus on Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in light of its proximity to and relationship with the United States to illustrate how biopower is being deployed to exclude in line with neoliberal rationalities, even in a country that is usually heralded as a beacon of humanitarianism. The essay concludes with a guarded diagnosis that warns of the potential for an international protection crisis should civil society fail to challenge prevailing biopolitics. Read here.

News reports and blog posts

Why so many Syrian women get divorced when they move to western countries by Rola El Husseini, The Conversation, December 7, 2020. The author explores the increasing numbers of divorce among Syrian refugee and immigrant women. While this phenomenon has been disparaged among Syrians, it has been celebrated by some western commentators. They saw it as part of the western mission to “save Arab (and Muslim) women” from the Muslim men who oppressed them. The author scrutinizes this claim and makes the case that is would be a reductionist and Orientalist (western-centric) account of the situation. Read here.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted barriers to vital digital financial services for refugees by Daphne Jayasinghe, EuroNews, November 26, 2020. The economic shock of COVID-19 has made this dire situation even worse. It has revealed how easy it is for refugees to slip through social safety nets. The research outlined in this piece has found that, in the absence of sufficient humanitarian aid, many have been forced to cut back on meals or sell their belongings. In Jordan, many lost their incomes overnight while, in Kenya, large numbers have been evicted from their homes. Read more.

Digital and social media

REGISTER NOW: LERRN-IDRC Webinar: By Refugees, For Refugees: Refugee leadership beyond the pandemic. This webinar will explore the factors that influence the impact of refugee-led organizations (RLOs) as service-delivery providers in humanitarian settings before and during COVID-19. In the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, when international actors are limited in their mobility and access, RLOs are increasingly becoming frontline responders that provide vital assistance to displaced communities. This webinar aims to discuss how we can move the debate from a normative commitment to refugee participation and leadership to concrete measures that address the many barriers refugees-led organizations face in responding to local needs. Panelists include refugee leaders, donors, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers, who will consider innovative solutions with and for refugees and engagement of refugee-led organizations during the pandemic and beyond. Register here.

RRN Webinar Series: Ethics of Care and Knowledge Mobilization in Migration Contexts with Professor Christina Clark-Kazk. The second of the RRN webinar series explored the ways in which an ethics of care can complement dominant procedural ethics approaches to research and knowledge mobilization in migration contexts. Drawing on the Canadian Ethical Considerations: Research with People in Situations of Forced Migration, the International Association for Forced Migration Studies’ Code of Ethics, and participants’ own experiences, the webinar discussed key questions such as: To what extent can an ethics of care be practically applied in knowledge mobilization around migration issues? And What are the ethical opportunities and constraints of co-ownership and co-authorship in politicized migration contexts? Watch recording here.

November 26, 2020: 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. 98

Recent Publications and New Research

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (Ed.) (2020). Refuge in a Moving World: Tracing refugee and migrant journeys across disciplines, UCL Press. This volume draws together more than thirty contributions from multiple disciplines and fields of research and practice to discuss different ways of engaging with, and responding to, migration and displacement. Through interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies–including participatory research, poetic and spatial interventions, ethnography, theatre, discourse analysis and visual methods–the volume documents the complexities of refugees’ and migrants’ journeys. This includes a particular focus on how people inhabit and negotiate everyday life in cities, towns, camps, and informal settlements across the Middle East and North Africa, Southern and Eastern Africa, and Europe. Read more and Download free.

The new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum in light of the UN Global Compact on Refugees (September 2020), the ASILE Forum. The ASILE project studies the interactions between emerging international protection systems and the United Nations Global Compact for Refugees (UN GCR), with particular focus on the European Union’s role. The first ASILE Forum assesses the European Commission’s Pact on Migration and Asylum in light of the UN Global Compact on Refugees and EU law. It examines the implications of the Pact’s dualistic understanding of individuals from the perspective of refugee protection, human rights and rule of law. The Forum is composed by a Kick-off Policy Insight by Sergio Carrera, which is followed by written contributions by a group of European and international scholars. Access the forum.

Ghoshal, A. (2020). Refugees, Borders and Identities: Rights and Habitat in East and Northeast India. Taylor & Francis. Drawing on extensive research and in-depth fieldwork, this book discusses themes of displacement, rehabilitation, discrimination and politicisation of refugees that preceded and followed the Partition of India in 1947. It portrays the crises experienced by refugees in recreating the socio-cultural milieu of the lost motherland and the consequent loss of their linguistic, cultural, economic and ethnic identities. The author also studies how the presence of the refugees shaped the conduct of politics in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura in the decades following Partition. Read more.

Abdelaaty, L. (2020). Rivalry, Ethnicity, and Asylum Admissions Worldwide. International Interactions. Why do countries welcome some refugees and treat others poorly? Existing explanations suggest that the assistance refugees receive is a reflection of countries’ wealth or compassion. However, statistical analysis of a global dataset on asylum admissions shows that states’ approaches to refugees are shaped by foreign policy and ethnic politics. States admit refugees from adversaries in order to weaken those regimes, but they are reluctant to accept refugees from friendly states. At the same time, policymakers favor refugee groups who share their ethnic identity. Aside from addressing a puzzling real-world phenomenon, this article adds insights to the literature on the politics of migration and asylum. Read more.

Report, Policy Briefs and Working Papers

Report: Technological Testing Grounds: Migration Management Experiments and Reflections from the Ground Up (November, 2020) Petra Molnar, Refugee Law Laboratory and EDRi (European Digital Rights. This report offers the beginning of a systemic analysis of migration management technologies, foregrounding the experiences of people on the move who are interacting with and thinking about surveillance, biometrics, and automated decision-making during the course of their migration journeys. The reflections highlight the need to recognise how uses of migration management technology perpetuate harms, exacerbate systemic discrimination and render certain communities as technological testing grounds. Read the full report.

Brief: Caught in the Crossfire: Averting Further Humanitarian Disaster in Ethiopia (November 23, 2020) Refugees International. In early November, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia sent the national army into the northern region of Tigray in response to a reported attack on an Ethiopian military base by Tigrayan authorities. The outbreak of hostilities marked the culmination of months of mounting tensions and deteriorating relations between Abiy’s government and Tigrayan leaders. This brief explores the humanitarian and regional dimensions of the conflict and proposes a way forward to de-escalate the situation and accelerate humanitarian aid delivery. Read here.

Report: Populations at risk: Implications of COVID-19 for hunger, migration and displacement. (November 2020) IOM. This joint study by the World Food Programme and the International Organization for Migration explores the impacts of COVID-19 and related containment measures on migrant workers, remittance dependent households and the forcibly displaced. It assesses the implications of the pandemic for people’s mobility, food security and other livelihood outcomes in major migration and hunger hotspots around the world. Read here.

Chew, V., Phillips, M. & Yamada Park, M. (eds) (2020). COVID-19 Impacts on Immigration Detention: Global Responses, International Detention Coalition and HADRI/Western Sydney University. The Australian Government has held firm to a position of mandatory immigration detention for many years despite regular attempts by civil society and the public to soften this hardline approach. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has now also failed to alter the government’s resolve to utilise indefinite detention despite clear and obvious risks to the health of detainees throughout the pandemic. This paper provides a summary of State and civil society activity in response to COVID-19 with specific reference to immigration detention in Australia. It does not have scope to explore offshore detention arrangements as these policies have remained unchanged and include jurisdiction of other governments. Read full report here.

A Restriction of Responsibility-Sharing: Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the Global Compact on Refugees (2020) Danish Refugee Council (DRC). This report examines the current and potential use of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) to address COVID-19 and its impacts, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of the GCR itself. It provides analysis of and reflections on the effects of the pandemic and concomitant challenges on different aspects of the GCR, ranging from shrinking asylum space and restricted responsibility-sharing to how the Compact features in public advocacy surrounding pandemic responses. Questions explored in the report include: How is the GCR used to address COVID-19 and its impacts? What is the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of the GCR in terms of refugee protection? What might these impacts mean for the GCR’s short- and longer-term viability? It then offers key take-aways and recommendations aimed at a variety of actors. Read more (open access).

News reports and blog posts

Why Québec’s refugee sponsorship suspension is so misguided by Adèle Garnier and Shauna Labman (November 22, 2020) The Conversation. For more than 40 years, Canada has been at the forefront of private refugee sponsorship. But in October 2020, the Québec government announced a partial suspension of refugee sponsorships in the province. Until Nov. 1, 2021, sponsorship organizations are not permitted to sponsor refugees to Québec. Read more.

Rebalancing and improving refugee resettlement in Canada by Ervis Martani (November 2, 2020) Policy Options. The Canadian private sponsorship program is the oldest in the world and has offered protection to more than 350,000 refugees. But it is dependent upon the goodwill and resources of those sponsors. Concerns about the program have been raised as the incidence of sponsorship breakdown has grown, with sponsors unable or unwilling to provide the promised support until the end of the sponsorship period. The Quebec government moved last week to suspend private sponsorship by organizations for a year after receiving serious allegations about the program, though it didn’t provide details. Read the full article

In storm-hit Honduras, a climate crisis drives needs and fuels migration by Jared Olson. (November 18, 2020) The New Humanitarian. As Honduras endures its second major hurricane in as many weeks, international aid agencies and local volunteer groups are scrambling the best responses they can to assist people displaced by flooding and landslides. Read more.

First Central African refugees return from DRC since COVID-19 outbreak (November 16, 2020) UNHCR. This is a report of the first voluntary repatriation of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the Central African Republic (CAR) since the start of COVID-19 pandemic. About 475 refugees from the Mole camp in DRC were transferred by truck, bus and then boat to Bangui, capital of the CAR. Voluntary returns of refugees from DRC back to the CAR started in November 2019 but were suspended four months later when the borders closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Read more.

Digital and social media

Video: Solutions for dealing with refugees, Professor Khalid Koser interviewed by Dr. Melissa Siegel (March 15, 2020). This interview is a discussion on durable refugee solutions; what they are and how they manifest in practice. Watch here.

November 11, 2020: 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. 97


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Recent Publications and New Research

Bradley, M. (2020). The International Organization for Migration: Challenges, Commitments, Complexities. Routledge. This book provides an accessible, incisive introduction to IOM, focusing on its humanitarian activities and responses to forced migration—work that now makes up the majority of the organization’s budget, staff, and field presence. IOM’s humanitarian work is often overlooked or dismissed as a veil for its involvement in other activities that serve states’ interests in restricting migration. In contrast, this book argues that understanding IOM’s involvement in humanitarian action and its work with displaced persons is pivotal to understanding the organization’s evolution and contemporary significance. Examining the tensions and controversies surrounding the agency’s activities, including in the complex cases of Haiti and Libya, the book considers how IOM’s structure, culture, and internal and external power struggles have shaped its behaviour. It demonstrates how IOM has grown by acting as an entrepreneur, cultivating autonomy and influence well beyond its limited formal mandate. Learn more (20% Discount Available – enter the code FLR40 at checkout).

Dennler, K. (2020). Challenging Un-Belonging and Undesirability. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 19(2), 501-518. This article uses qualitative research to examine how people with precarious immigration status exercise agency in the context of deportability, restrictions to their rights, and discourses that construct them as un-belonging and undesirable members of Canadian society. It also examines the extent to which agency transforms people’s everyday realities. The research identifies two ways that research participants exert autonomy over their lives: persistent presence and critiquing their construction as un-belonging and undesirable. While acts of autonomy made it easier for participants to sustain themselves, the research shows that participants internalized discourses hostile to people with precarious immigration status. This suggests that agency is necessary, but also limited in its capacity to mitigate the harm caused by enactments of immigration control. (Open access) Read here.

Khadka, R. K. (2020). The labour market negotiation of Bhutanese in the Canadian labour market, [Doctoral dissertation]. University of British Columbia. The Bhutanese refugees came to British Columbia from Nepal, between 2009 and 2015, and they experienced challenges in finding jobs. This study examined their employment experience in Canada. The findings show that they lacked language, job-search skills and work skills relevant to the labour market in Canada. They also experienced discrimination based on race, class and gender. A majority of Bhutanese refugees found jobs in meat packaging companies as cleaning staff, but they were temporary low paying jobs that were physically demanding. This study recommends policies and programs that could help Bhutanese refugee succeed in Canada. (Open access) Read more.

Forced Migration Review issue 65: Recognising refugee, November 2020. This issue includes two features. The main feature on Recognising refugees explores some of the shortcomings in refugee status determination systems worldwide, as well as the challenges faced by different actors and the consequences for asylum seekers and refugees. Authors also explore new developments and approaches. The second feature offers reflections on lessons and good practice emerging from the 2018–20 GP20 Plan of Action for IDPs. (Open Access) Read here.

Report, Policy Briefs and Working Papers

Improving the US Immigration System in the first year of the Biden Administration by T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Donald Kerwin, November 2020. This report co-published by the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility and the Center for Migration Studies New York highlights nearly 40 immigration reforms that should be prioritized by the Biden administration. The authors argue that Successful immigration policy reform will depend upon the quality and coordination of the top personnel in a number of federal agencies as well as effective leadership by the White House. Read here.

The Effect of Covid-19 On the Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia by Jimmy Graham and Martha Guerrero Ble, Refugees International, October 2020. Colombia is the largest destination country for displaced Venezuelans, hosting almost 1.8 million as of May 2020. The Government of Colombia has maintained an open and constructive response, issuing residency and work permits and providing humanitarian relief. Yet Venezuelans in Colombia still face many obstacles to economic inclusion. COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges, increasing Venezuelan unemployment and worsening their situation. This policy paper, part of the “Let Them Work” initiative, outlines the impact of COVID-19 on Colombians and Venezuelans alike, exploring the barriers both face to accessing the labor market. It then identifies practical ways in which the Government of Colombia, donors, international organizations, and NGOs, can overcome these barriers. Read more.

Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities: A Review of the 2009 Human Development Report and the Way Ahead, UNDP report, October 21, 2020. This UNDP publication recommends actions for policymakers to enhance the benefits and reduce the costs of human mobility to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The report finds that the reforms advanced by UNDP are as relevant as ever. Making migration work for sustainable development requires us to expand legal pathways, guarantee migrants’ rights and access to services, reduce transaction costs, foster integration and social cohesion, and mobilize diasporas, among others. Increased policy coherence and cooperation, in the context of the two Global Compacts – on Refugees and for Migration – and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are key to realize the potential development gains of human mobility. Read more.

Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families through Home Visiting: Innovative State and Local Approaches by Caitlin Katsiaficas, Migration Policy Institute, October 2020. For immigrant and refugee families, home visiting can offer integration-related supports by helping parents navigate unfamiliar early childhood, health, and social service systems. But even though they make up an important segment of the at-risk populations these programs aim to serve, immigrant and refugee families are less frequently enrolled in home visiting programs than families in which the parents are U.S. born. This brief highlights strategies adopted by some states and counties to address this gap. To do so, it explores four case studies. Read more.

News Reports and Blog Posts

 Voices in limbo: The plight of asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong in times of Covid-19 by Ka Wang Kelvin Lam, RLI blog, November 10, 2020. In the context of the current global pandemic, many residents of Hong Kong still recall the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, which caused more than a thousand infections and hundreds of deaths in the small city with a population of 7.5 million. With the lesson of SARS, Hong Kong people knew that they could not afford to drop their guard: the border soon closed, the city was placed on lockdown, people masked up and maintained social distancing. The author interviewed a number of asylum seekers and refugees stranded in the city to understand from their perspective how their lives were affected by the pandemic. Read more.

The humanitarian fallout of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by Andrew Connelly, The New Humanitarian, November 5, 2020. Battle for control of Nagorno-Karabakh has frequently plunged the South Caucasus into turmoil, but the latest hostilities are threatening to cause a regional humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands of civilians displaced amid growing COVID-19 outbreaks and at the onset of winter. Read more.

New MP Ibrahim Omer’s election highlights the challenges refugees from Africa face in New Zealand by Samuel Judah Seomeng and Caroline Bennett, The Conversation, October 27, 2020. The election of Labour candidate Ibrahim Omer on October 17 makes him New Zealand’s first African MP and one of only two former refugees to sit in the New Zealand parliament. Read more.

Digital and Social Media

RRN webinar recording: Social Media Tools for Mobilizing Refugee Research. The Refugee Research Network hosted its inaugural webinar in October. A lot of the work of the RRN focuses on the value of using social media as a tool to disseminate knowledge about refugee and forced migration issues. The guest speakers, Michele Millard and William Payne argued that it is imperative that academics incorporate social media as part of their dissemination program and activities to have impact beyond specialized audiences. Watch recording, download the presentation or access webinar transcript.

Social Media Tools for Mobilizing Refugee Research

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The Refugee Research Network (RRN) recognizes the importance of using social media as a tool to disseminate knowledge about refugee and forced migration issues. Social media platforms have the potential of developing, supporting and strengthening diverse communities by spreading awareness about current issues to much broader audiences. The current “refugee crisis” is primarily a political problem, which will require political solutions. And lately, it seems that political leaders have not paid much attention to solid, evidence-based research.  We argue that it is imperative that academics incorporate social media as part of their dissemination program and activities to have impact beyond specialized audiences.


William Payne, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, York University
Michele Millard, Coordinator, Centre for Refugee Studies

William Payne is a doctoral candidate in critical human geography at York University, a graduate research associate at the Centre for Refugee Studies and teaches in the geography department at York University and in the Community Worker Program at George Brown College. Payne’s research examines human rights violations against sexual/gender minorities in Latin American contexts. He has worked as a human rights advocate in Mexico, Colombia, Canada, and Palestine.

Michele Millard, is the coordinator of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, and the former Project Coordinator of the Refugee Research Network where she managed the online networking, knowledge mobilization, and dissemination activities of the project. Millard has volunteered for organizations providing settlement, protection, and advocacy services to refugees and refugee claimants for a number of years. She is currently active as a volunteer in the Canadian Sanctuary Network.