July 10, 2018: RRN Research Digest

The RRN Research Digest provides a synopsis of recent research on refugee and forced migration issues from entities associated with the RRN and others.

You can download the digest in PDF format here: RRN Research Digest No. 45

Recent Publications and New Research

Hausmann, Ricardo and Ljubica Nedelkoska (2018) Welcome home in a crisis: Effects of return migration on the non-migrants’ wages and employment. European Economic Review 101: 101-132.

The recent economic depression in Greece had a particularly strong impact on Albanian migrants in Greece, spurring a wave of return migration that increased the Albanian labour force between 2011 and 2014. This study considers how return migration affected the employment chances and earnings of Albanians who never migrated. The authors found positive effects on the wages of low-skilled non-migrants in particular and overall and conclude that the gains partially offset the sharp drop in remittances. In particular, businesses run by return migrants seemed to pull Albanians into commercial agriculture. An open access version of this paper is available here:


Carton, Jessy (2018) Complicated refugees: A study of the 1951 Geneva Convention grounds in Aleksandar Hemon’s life narrative. Law & Literature 30(2): 331-347.

Under the 1951 Geneva Convention, refugee status requires the establishment of a causal link between fear of persecution and one or more grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. According to legal scholars, this “nexus clause” included in the refugee definition may lead to restricted legal interpretations by states and cause protection gaps for persons in need of refuge. This paper argues that literary analyses of forced migration narratives can show the inadequacy of this requirement in the context of contemporary conflicts. The author uses a case study of the works of Aleksandar Hemon, a Sarajevo-born author, to discuss the relevance of the Convention grounds. This analysis shows that even in a conflict along ethno-religious lines, refugee profiles can be more “complicated” than the categories in the legal definition. This literary case study supports the call for reform of the 1951 Geneva Convention to ensure universal protection. Unfortunately, not open access:


Samuel Hall (2018) Syria’s Spontaneous Returns Study.

This study provides an analysis of the current returns to Syria. The armed conflict in Syria has already displaced millions of people inside and outside the country. Since 2011, over 6 million Syrians have sought asylum outside Syria’s borders, and an additional 6.5 million people are displaced internally. To date, there is no clear picture of the number or conditions in places of return. This research seeks to start to address this gap. The author concludes that returns to Syria should neither be promoted nor facilitated and the focus should remain on protection space in host countries. An open access version of this report is available here (you may need to cut and paste the link):


Coyne, Benedict (2018) #Rightsplaining: Political spinertia or a historic future for human rights in Australia? Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity 5(2): 207-221.

This is the published version of the opening speech for the Inaugural Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) National Human Rights Conference, held in Melbourne in February 2017. Coyne, the ALHR national president, set the scene for the conference by focusing on current, topical issues in human rights in Australia in order to illuminate the path forward for positive progress on human rights. He lamented that these are ‘dark times for human rights in Australia and the world’ and then offered several examples where Australia falls short, expressing particular concern with its use of islands to externalize the petitions for refuge by asylum seekers. He concluded with a call for Australia to adopt a robust Bill of Rights. The open access article is available here:


Koma, Anwar (2017) Securitization of Syrian refugees in 2015: A comparative analysis between the EU and Turkey. al-Hikmah 7(14): 151-174.

This paper uses the securitization framework pioneered by the Copenhagen School to examine how the European Union (EU) and Turkey dealt with the Syrian refugees in 2015. The author argues that while the EU and some of its member states attempted to securitize Syrian refugees in 2015-2016 in order to protect the Schengen Zone, Turkey, on the other hand, employed a humanitarian discourse to politicize the issue by framing Syrians as guests. However, in practice, as a result of the EU influence, Turkish actors implemented securitization in order to control border security. The paper uses a comparative approach to explore whether the different patterns of securitization matters. The study concludes that the discordant securitization undertakings contributed to volatility in Turkey-EU relations in 2015-2016. The study proposes that humanitarian-based organizations should advocate for an open door and burden-sharing EU policy instead of securitization and should urge Turkey to facilitate safety for refugees heading to its shores rather than adhere to a containment policy. An open access version of this article is available here:


Reports, Working Papers and Briefs

Bose, Pablo and Lucas Grigri (2018) PR4: Refugee Resettlement Trends in the Midwest. Refugee Resettlement in Small Cities Reports. University of Vermont. May.

This report examines refugee resettlement trends from FY2012-2016 for the Midwest region of the United States. Historically, the Midwest has been less of a destination for immigrants than states along either coast or the southern border. However, many states in the Midwest have more recently seen significant rises in the proportion of foreign-born residents. This report is part of a larger project that analyzes resettlement on a regional scale, looking at cities listed as official resettlement sites within each of five broad regions in the continental US. An open access report is available here:


Canadian Council for Refugees (2018) Report: National Forum on Human Trafficking.

This report summarizes the highlights of the 2017 CCR National Forum on Human Trafficking held in St. Catharines, Ontario, on December 3, 2017. Key issues discussed during the forum include: the application of a gender-based lens to policy; bridging anti-trafficking policies and access to services; access to justice and protection; service response and trauma-informed practice; advocacy for prevention, protection and prosecution; and, how migrant worker issues are intertwined with human trafficking. The open access report is available here: http://ccrweb.ca/en/report-national-forum-human-trafficking-2017

Sydney, Chloe (2018) Searching for Solutions: Lessons for Syria. IDMC/Norwegian Refugee Council Thematic Report.

Since 2011, close to half of Syria’s pre-war population has been displaced. The country remains far from safe for those who consider returning to their homes: explosive hazards contamination puts the physical safety of those who return at very real risk; widespread destruction of housing means that many IDPs will be unable to return to their former homes; and, damaged infrastructure and compromised services further impact those who seek to return. Sustained efforts from humanitarian and development actors will be needed to meet the benchmarks set out in the UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s framework for durable solutions. This review identifies lessons learned from other complex crises to inform future programming. The literature review examined pathways towards durable solutions for IDPs in Iraq, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Bosnia, and Kosovo to draw relevant parallels and lessons learned for Syria, with recommendations for operational actors working with displacement-affected communities. The open access report is available here:


The Expert Council’s Research Unit (SVR Research Unit (2018) What Next for Global Refugee Policy? Opportunities and Limits of Resettlement at Global, European and National Levels. Berlin.

This policy brief from the SVRʼs Research Unit provides an analysis of the current resettlement system in Germany, Europe and at global level. It also considers the development and implementation of alternative admission pathways such as humanitarian programmes and private sponsorship schemes and discusses the principles and direction of future resettlement policy. The open access publication is available here:


News and blog posts

Dharssi, Alia and Franscesca Fionda (2018) These are 5 things refugees and asylum seekers want you to know. The Discourse June 20.

In this succinct article based on a series of workshops with refugees organized by a new media group, refugee and asylum seekers share how media coverage affects them and how it can be improved. The authors ask refugees how they would like to be portrayed in the media and what stories they would like to see told. A special section entitled ‘tips for journalists’ will help those covering the stories do a better job. The open access article is available here:


Axworthy, Lloyd and Allan Rock (2018) Let’s ensure our border remains a beacon of hope. Globe and Mail. June 11, 2018.

In this opinion piece, two elder statespersons, both former Canadian cabinet ministers, call for the suspension of the “safe third country” arrangement until conditions in the United States change. They argue that the United States is no longer “safe” for asylum seekers. They argue that we can no longer regard our duty to asylum seekers as met simply because they are within U.S. jurisdiction. They call on Canada to “make crystal clear that we will not be complicit in his mistreatment of refugees.”


Rehaag, Sean (2018) U.S.-Canada agreement on refugees is now unconstitutional. The Conversation. June 13.

Given the latest shameful U.S. announcement regarding non-consideration of gender-based violence asylum claims combined with earlier atrocious announcements about detention and family separation, this prominent refugee law scholar says that the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. is now clearly unconstitutional (if it wasn’t already). The open access article is available here:


Howden, Daniel and Giacomo Zandonini (2018) Niger: Europe’s Migration Laboratory. News Deeply. Refugees Deeply. May 22.

Three-quarters of all African migrants arriving by boat in Italy in recent years transited Niger. Now, this relatively unheralded country that connects West and North Africa is also the biggest per capita recipient of E.U. aid in the world. With strong E.U. support and encouragement, Niger has become the “model” for how other transit countries should manage migration and is the best performer of the five African nations who signed up to the E.U. Partnership Framework on Migration – the plan that makes development aid conditional on cooperation in migration control. This open-access article explores the implications for Niger for being at the frontline of E.U. control of migrants.


Digital and Social Media

MOAS – Migrant Offshore Aid Station (2018) Snapshots of Childhood

This photo blog shows how Rohingya children living in refugee camps spend their days. The Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are home to hundreds of thousands of children who have suffered through more than most people will in a lifetime. The open access blog is available here:


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