January 25 2024: 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


d’Orsi, C. (2023). One step forward, half step back: The still long way to go to end statelessness in Madagascar. African Human Mobility Review, 9(3). This work discusses the still unresolved plight of statelessness in Madagascar. Despite several important steps undertaken to eradicate statelessness in the country, the path to the complete eradication of statelessness in the country still seems quite long. This is because of the lack of will by local authorities who seem to ignore the conditions of thousands of people born and bred in Madagascar who, apparently for no specific reason, still do not hold Malagasy citizenship, causing them to be deprived of several basic rights that citizens are usually entitled to. In this respect, the fact that Madagascar is still not a party to several important international legal instruments adopted to eradicate statelessness does not facilitate the situation of the thousands of stateless people in Madagascar.

İçduygu, A., & Gören, H. (2023). Exploring temporal and topical dynamics of research on climate/environment–migration nexus: A critical comparative perspective. Migration Studies, 11(4), 572-597. Climate/environmental change and human migration research have significantly transformed since the early 1990s. Attention by migration-related journals and environment/climate-oriented journals has been uneven. What is absent is a critical comparative approach to this unevenness and the evolving dynamics of the nexus in a continuum. The researchers conducted a critical comparative analysis of six scholarly journals to fill this gap.

Lokot, M., Hartman, E. & Hashmi, I. (2023). Participatory approaches and methods in gender equality and gender-based violence research with refugees and internally displaced populations: A scoping review. Conflict & Health, 17 (58). Using participatory approaches or methods is often positioned as a strategy to tackle power hierarchies in research. Despite momentum on decolonizing aid, humanitarian actors have struggled to describe what the ‘participation’ of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) means in practice. However, it is not clear if and how these critiques apply to gender-based violence (GBV) and gender equality—topics that often innately include power analysis and seek to tackle inequalities. This scoping review explored how refugee and IDP participation is conceptualized within research on GBV and gender equality. Researchers suggest that future research should articulate more clearly what constitutes participation, consider incorporating feminist research methods, take more intentional steps to engage refugees and IDPs, ensure compensation for their participation, and include more explicit reflection and strategies to address power imbalances.

Sackett, B., & Lareau, A. (2023). We thought it would be heaven: Refugees in an unequal America. University of California Press. After fleeing conflict and enduring years of displacement, many refugees hope that resettlement to the United States will offer a place of refuge—a land of opportunity. Instead, they quickly find that it is also a land of inequality. Based on observations and interviews with Congolese refugees, aid workers, and volunteers, Sackett and Lareau reveal how a daunting obstacle course of services and agencies can derail newcomers’ trajectories in the United States. Seemingly small organizational errors—missing a deadline, mistaking a rule, or misplacing a form—tangle processes and block access to crucial resources. For some, these obstacles impeded socioeconomic mobility. Others, with support, were able to overcome obstacles to unlock key resources, buy houses, and send their children to college. Heaven. This book explains how large-scale policies and social programs transform the lives of refugee families, both helping and hindering their efforts to get ahead.

Thinyane M., Fournier-Tombs, E., & Molinario, G. (2023). The digital dynamics of migration: Insights from the Ukrainian crisis. Migration Research Series, N° 78. International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva. This Migration Research Series paper examines the digital dynamics of Ukrainian migrants and the implications of digital trends, such as online activism and remote work, on migration and displacement. The authors employ an aspirations and capabilities analytical lens to investigate the different facets of the digital lives of Ukrainian migrants. The authors argue that centring the analysis on the individual and collective capabilities and aspirations of the migrants allows for a nuanced understanding of migration and the role of digital technologies in the migration story and ultimately offers suggestions for enhancing the digital lives of migrants.

Vankova, Z. (2023). Refugee labour mobility to the EU: A tool contributing to fairer sharing of responsibilities in the context of forced displacement? Refugee Survey Quarterly. The idea of facilitating labour mobility for refugees as a pathway for admission is back on the policy agenda. However, a significant shortcoming of work-based pathways is that, in most cases, they do not lead directly to a durable solution but instead offer “a journey to a durable solution” based on temporary residence permits. This begs the question, to what extent can we rely on such pathways to support responsibility sharing, and what happens in cases where beneficiaries of such complementary pathways lose residence rights? By comparing the different approaches applied to Ukrainian and Syrian refugees in the European Union, this article concludes that refugee labour mobility in its current state has the potential to contribute to fairer responsibility-sharing only cumulatively with other durable solutions and complementary pathways and when it provides admission facilitation coupled with a fast and clear path to permanent residence or legal mechanisms, ensuring possibilities for extension of residence rights and legality of stay.


A tale of two contexts: The Ukrainian and Afghan refugee crises in Canada and the UK. (2023). Dalhousie University & University of Oxford. A Tale of Two Contexts is a comparative study that contrasts the approaches of Canada and the UK in accommodating Ukrainian and Afghan refugees. This study scrutinizes the criteria that classify refugees as deserving or undeserving of governmental protection. The insights derived from this comparative study are set to offer substantive recommendations to policymakers in Canada and the UK. The aim is to enhance the design and implementation of international and temporary protection measures for migrants and optimize transit and resettlement procedures for those displaced by turmoil and global emergencies.

Confronting compassion fatigue: Understanding the arc of public support for displaced populations in Turkey, Colombia, and Europe. (2024). Migration Policy Institute. This report examines the ebb and flow of public support for forced migrants in these three cases – displaced populations in Turkey, Colombia, and Europe. It highlights factors that have contributed to initial widespread solidarity, how support has been sustained over time, and when and why it begins to fade. The report concludes by drawing lessons from these case studies on what policymakers can do to better anticipate and address compassion fatigue.

Expanding protection options? Flexible approaches to status for displaced Syrians, Venezuelans, and Ukrainians. (2024). Migration Policy Institute. This report—part of the Beyond Territorial Asylum: Making Protection Work in a Bordered World initiative led by MPI and the Robert Bosch Stiftung—examines the cases of Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine, identifying similarities in the approaches taken to offering protection while recognizing the differences between the cases. The study explores the factors underpinning government decisions and their medium- to long-term implications, concluding with thoughts on what can be learned for future international displacement crises.

World development report 2023: Migrants, refugees, and societies. (2023). The World Bank. This report proposes an integrated framework to maximize the development impacts of cross-border movements on both destination and origin countries and migrants and refugees themselves. The framework it offers, drawn from labour economics and international law, rests on a “match and motive” matrix that focuses on two factors: how closely migrants’ skills and attributes match the needs of destination countries and what motives underlie their movements. This approach enables policymakers to distinguish between different types of movements and to design migration policies for each. The authors conclude that international cooperation will be critical to the effective management of migration.

World report 2024: Events of 2023. (2023). Human Rights Watch. The latest edition of Human Rights Watch’s annual human rights survey summarizes the human rights situation in over 100 countries and territories around the world. 


Canada weighing extra border measures for asylum seekers from Mexico, minister says by Steve Scherer, January 21, 2024. Reuters. Canada is weighing several measures to prevent Mexican nationals from flying into the country to request asylum, a top official said on Sunday, after Quebec’s premier said earlier this week that the lack of visa requirements for Mexican travellers meant more refugees were arriving by plane. Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he and Immigration Minister Marc Miller were considering visas and other measures.

Between a rock and a hard place: the EU’s transactional approach to migration. (2024). Mixed Migration Centre. Since 2016, the combination of two trends—the increasing political importance of migration within the EU and the volatile political and security outlook in Africa—continues to shape the draft of a broader European strategic vision for migration. This essay examines the EU’s evolving and changing relationship with North Africa in terms of building migration policy and using North Africa to support the EU’s migration agenda.

In Lebanon, young Syrians sleep out in the open to avoid night-time deportation raids by Omar Hamed Beato, January 18, 2024. The New Humanitarian. For some young men among the more than 300,000 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s eastern Beqaa Valley, sleeping outside feels like the safest option amid an ongoing wave of deportations to Syria, where a 12-year war rattles on, and returnees fear government reprisals. The New Humanitarian spoke with Ali, a 38-year-old Syrian refugee who spends his nights out in the open on the outskirts of the Beqaa Valley town where his family has a tent in one of the clutch of informal camps, which offers little protection from the harsh winter conditions. 

‘Nobody sees me’: Photographing displacement in Burkina Faso’s capital by Warren Saré and Giulia Tringali, January 10, 2024. The New Humanitarian. More than 30,000 Burkinabé have made their way down to the capital city, Ouagadougou, over the past few years, escaping a jihadist conflict that has enveloped large parts of the country and displaced more than two million people overall. Yet, despite the city’s safety and employment opportunities, the displaced people have been struggling with high rents and a lack of assistance and recognition from humanitarian organizations and different governments.

Often Shut Out of the Financial System, Refugees and Other Migrants Face Economic Integration Challenges by Ting Zhang, December 6, 2023. Migration Policy Institute. Globally, significant strides have been made in recent years to expand affordable financial services to marginalized populations. Services such as low-cost microcredit and mobile money transfers have helped millions of people obtain loans, build credit, and benefit from an advanced, global financial system. Nevertheless, many refugees and other migrants in the Global North can encounter difficulties accessing financial services due to inadequate identification, discriminatory business practices, and limited financial literacy, among other challenges. These barriers can prevent migrants from fully integrating into their host communities. They can have broad ripple effects, given that a bank account is often essential to access formal employment, obtain housing, and manage expenses.

Q&A: 2023 migration and forced displacement, in review by Eric Reidy, December 22, 2023. The New Humanitarian. This piece summarizes an interview with Bram Frouws, director of the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC),  on migration and forced displacement developments and trends in the past year. He discussed the significant gap between what research evidence suggests would be a humane and sustainable way to manage migration and the debates that drive the migration policies that are actually adopted. The interview also covers the importance of correcting misperceptions about climate migration and how many people migrate from the Global South to the Global North; the MMC’s documentation of the shocking killing of Ethiopian asylum seekers and migrants in Yemen by Saudi Arabian border guards; the dramatic rise in people crossing the Darién Gap between Colombia and Panama; and other major migration and forced displacement developments around the world. 


How can we better support refugees? | The development podcast limited series: A world free of poverty on a liveable planet by The World Bank. In this episode—the hosts ask the questions—How can we better support the world’s growing number of refugees and their host communities? What economic benefits can refugee integration bring to societies? The podcast features Abdullahi Mire, a refugee education advocate and winner of the 2023 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, and insights from Kenyan entrepreneur Nancy Karambo Riungu. Discussions with Raouf Mazou (UN Refugee Agency) and Xavier Devictor (The World Bank) explore how various sectors can better support refugees.

Refugees: living with loss of identity, family, language, culture and home by SBS News. This Australian Special Broadcasting Services podcast explores the unique grief experience of refugees and asylum seekers. For refugees and asylum-seekers, grief is often a multi-layered experience. In many cases, they are navigating the loss of family, home and identity while trying to forge a new reality. The episode interviews individuals who have been refugees or asylum seekers to share their experiences.

“Refugees” or “Migrants”? How word choices affect rights and lives by The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. This resource explains the importance of distinguishing between the words “refugees” and “migrants,” as all people who move between countries deserve full respect for their human rights and dignity. There are, however, different reasons and motivations for people to leave their homes and, consequently, different international legal obligations that arise and apply to those whose lives were, are, or may be at risk should they return.

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