Feb 28, 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. 58

Recent Publications and New Research

Weidinger, T., Kordel, S. & Kieslinger, J. (2019). Unravelling the meaning of place and spatial mobility. Analyzing the everyday life-worlds of refugees in host societies by means of mobility mapping. Journal of Refugee Studies

Drawing on experiences from trial empirical studies with asylum seekers and recognized refugees in rural Germany, The article examins the potential of mobility mapping, a space-related visual tool. It identifies its advantages, in terms both of acquiring valid qualitative data and of empowering the interviewees according to the principles of participatory methods. It argues that this tool can help to diminish power asymmetries between the researcher and the participant and acknowledge individuals’ competencies in terms of language. For practitioners, the implementation of the tool provides an opportunity to enhance participant-oriented planning and capacity building, such as in terms of networks and infrastructures, that addresses both individuals’ needs and spatial structures. Available to subscribers at:


Bylander, M. (2019). Is Regular Migration Safer Migration? Insights from Thailand. Journal on Migration and Human Security.

This paper challenges the assumption within international development programming that regular and orderly migration is also safer for migrants. Based on data collected from Cambodian, Burmese, Laotian, and Vietnamese labor migrants recently returned from Thailand, this paper illustrates the limits of regular migration to provide meaningfully “safer” experiences. It observes that migrant workers who move through legal channels do not systematically experience better outcomes. While regular migrants report better pay and working conditions than irregular migrants, they also systematically report working conditions that do not meet legal standards, and routinely experience contract substitution. Regular migrants also have a higher likelihood of experiencing exploitation, contract breaches, harassment, abuse, and involuntary return. These findings challenge mainstream development discourses seeking to promote safer migration experiences through expanding migration infrastructure. The paper recommends: 1) re-examining the conflation of “safe” with “regular and orderly” migration and advocating for practices that increase migrant safety, 2) focusing on broadening rights offered to migrant workers, and 3) strengthening and expanding oversight of labor standards and migrant regulations.  Available open access at:  


Sontag, K. (2018). Mobile Entrepreneurs: An Ethnographic Study of the Migration of the Highly Skilled. Verlag Barbara Budrich.

Migration, mobility, and globalization are transforming ways of working and living. Business activities, relationships and a sense of belonging are often not tied to any one place. This book explores biographies of highly mobile startup founders who often run startups that have been called “born global”. It describes how they move, how they orientate and perceive themselves, and how migration and mobility play a role beyond the physical act of ‘moving’. Presenting current ethnographic research, the book critically discusses approaches in migration and mobility studies and the research field of the “migration of the highly skilled”. The book is available open access at:


Borges, I. M. (2018). Environmental Change, Forced Displacement and International Law: from legal protection gaps to protection solutions. Routledge.

This book explores the increasing concern over the extent to which those suffering from forced cross-border displacement as a result of environmental change are protected under international human rights law and addresses their “legal protection gap”. The book seeks to provide answers to two basic questions: whether and to what extent existing international law protects cross-border environmental displacement, and whether and how existing formalized regional complementary protection standards can interpretively solidify and conceptualize protection for cross-border environmental displacement. It aims to help states reconceptualise protection as a holistic and dynamic enterprise. Some selections of the book are available at Google Books. More information available at: https://www.routledge.com/Environmental-Change-Forced-Displacement-and-International-Law-from-legal/Borges/p/book/9780203712023

Reports, briefs and policy papers

Study: Syrian refugees who resettled in Canada in 2015 and 2016, StatCanada

For the first time, Statistics Canada is releasing a detailed analysis of the socioeconomic conditions and demographic characteristics of those Syrian refugees who resettled in Canada from January 1, 2015, to May 10, 2016, a period during which many Syrian refugees were admitted to Canada. The study, mainly uses census data, which is the richest source of current information available for Syrian refugees. Data from the 2016 Longitudinal Immigration Database are also used to examine the income situation of refugees who were admitted in November and December of 2015. As more data become available on the socio-economic situation of Syrian refugees in Canada, Statistics Canada will add to this analysis and provide a more comprehensive picture of their settlement and integration over time. The report can be downloaded at: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/190212/dq190212a-eng.pdf

Issue brief: Persons Uprooted by Disasters and Climate Change Opportunities to Enhance Protection and Promote Human Rights in the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, refugees international; (April 2018)

Introduction and summary: Those moving across international borders in the context of disasters and climate change do not always fall neatly within existing definitions of refugees and migrants, leaving the most vulnerable individuals without sufficient protection and at risk of human rights violations. The extent to which disasters and climate change drive international forced displacement and unsafe, disorderly, and irregular migration in the future depends in part on state action to mitigate disaster and climate risk, as well as state support to build the resilience of the most vulnerable communities. But it will also depend on the extent to which states cooperate actively to enhance international protection and regularize migration pathways for vulnerable persons. As UN member states meet over the course of 2018 to agree upon the terms of global compacts on refugees and migrants, they must seize upon critical opportunities to enhance protection for vulnerable individuals uprooted by disasters and climate change through supporting more expansive, flexible protection mechanisms and migration pathways. Available at:


Immigration Detention in Slovakia: Punitive Conditions Paid for by the Detainees, The Global detention project

Since the onset of the “refugee crisis,” Slovakia has pursued restrictive immigration policies and employed anti-migrant rhetoric, despite the fact that the country has not faced the same migratory pressures as its European neighbours. Rarely granting alternatives to detention due to strict eligibility criteria, non-citizens are held in facilities that observers have described as punitive in nature, and where detainees are required to pay for their own detention. Monitoring bodies have also raised concerns that the country’s legislation enshrines a presumption of majority in cases of age disputes, resulting in some unaccompanied children being held alongside unrelated adults as they await the results of bone analyses. Full report available at: https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/slovakia 

News reports and Blog posts

Nothing About Us Without Us: Why Refugee Inclusion Is Long Overdue by Sanaa Mustafa, Refugees Deeply (June 20, 2018)

I was really invited to deliver a keynote address at an event on refugee inclusion… The master of ceremonies bellowed over the loudspeaker, “Please join me in welcoming a Syrian refugee to the stage.” I cringed. In a fleeting moment the event organizers had undermined the very project they had set out to address: empowering refugees. I had asked them to introduce me like they would anyone else, by my resume. By introducing me by my legal status, they had stripped me of my agency, further entrenching the narrative of dependent, passive refugees.” Sana Mustafa, tried in this piece to question tokenism and move towards meaningful participation of refugees. Available at: https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/06/20/nothing-about-us-without-us-why-refugee-inclusion-is-long-overdue

Special Report: Venezuela: Millions at risk, at home and abroad – A collection of our recent reporting, IRIN (February 21, 2019)

This report compiles a collection of recent IRIN reporting from and about Venezuela. It covers the humanitarian situation of the 3-4 million people who escaped the economic meltdown as well as those who have stayed.  It also addresses the repercussions of the increasingly politicised humanitarian aid which had pushed some international aid agencies to sit on the sidelines rather than risk their neutrality. Others run secretive and limited operations inside Venezuela that fly under the media radar. More available at: https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2019/02/21/venezuela-millions-risk-home-and-abroad

Citizenship: What Is It and Why Does It Matter? By Bridget Anderson, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford (March 28, 2011)

An older but highly relevant piece today with the current immigration and policy debate in the UK regarding revoking Shamima Begum citizenship. This piece discusses the objectives and implications of citizenship policy and examines the concept of citizenship in the UK in the light of both its historical context and recent policy changes. More available at: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/primers/citizenship-what-is-it-and-why-does-it-matter/

Multimedia and social media

UNHCR’s learning initiatives on the Immigration Detention of Asylum-seekers and Refugees

UNHCR is pleased to announce the official launch of the Fundamentals of Immigration Detention e-learning course and two thematic self-study modules on Immigration Detention Monitoring and on Alternatives to Detention, all developed jointly by the Division of International Protection (DIP) and the Global Learning Centre (GLC).The practice of detaining asylum-seekers and refugees has become routine rather than exceptional in a number of countries around the world, with serious lasting effects on individuals, in particular for those in situation of vulnerability or at risk, such as children. The e-learning course and the self-study modules have been developed under the framework of UNHCR’s Global Strategy – Beyond DetentionThese learning initiatives aim at providing UNHCR staff and partners with practical tools, knowledge and best practices examples to continue advocating for the end of immigration detention of asylum-seekers, refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR. The self-study modules are available for download at https://www.refworld.org/detention.html. You may also access the e-learning course through this web-page or directly at two platforms:

  1. DisasterReady.Org www.disasterready.org/immigration-detention
  2. Humanitarian Leadership Academy www.kayaconnect.org/course/info.php?id=1213

The e-learning course and self-study modules are available in English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

New web page: Building Bridges with Indigenous Communities, Canadian Center for Refugees

In 2018, CCR member organizations and allies were asked to share their initiatives, practices and resources that connect the work they are doing with newcomers to Canada with Indigenous communities. This web page is a place to find resources and practices relating to building bridges between newcomers and Indigenous peoples. The page is meant to be dynamic and is now ready to be consulted at: ccrweb.ca/en/indigenous

If you have a resource or practice to share, or any comments or questions please submit them to: sgasana@ccrweb.ca 

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