May 12 2022: 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. 124


[open access] Special Issue: Maguire, M. (Ed.). (2021). Twentieth Century Histories of Civic Society Responses to Crises of Displacement. Displaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage, 2(1). This special issue of displaced voices marks the 70th anniversary of the UK Refugee Council. The articles in this issue take up the theme of voluntary organizations that support refugees, from the local to the national, interrogating how volunteer and community work at various scales can help refugees, build understanding and solidarity, and develop connections between historically disparate refugee arrivals. This issue raises new questions about what it means to organize for refugees and our roles and responsibilities.

[open access] Pacifico, A. P. (2022). A Network Society Communicative Model for Optimising the Refugee Status Determination System. E-book. The book aims to analyze the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) to locate the reader on the development of the theme, the forms and actors responsible for its application, and, in the last chapter, to present suggestions for improving the RSD system developed around the world. In addition, the text provides several elements that mark these 70 years of development of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees while touching on sensitive issues.

Krause, U. (2021). Difficult Life in a Refugee Camp: Gender, Violence, and Coping in Uganda. Cambridge University Press. Although refugee camps are established to accommodate, protect, and assist those fleeing from violent conflict and persecution, life often remains difficult there. Building on empirical research with refugees in a Ugandan camp, the author offers nuanced insights into violence, humanitarian protection, gender relations, and coping of refugees who mainly escaped the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This book explores how the risks of gender-based violence against women and men persist despite and partly due to their settlement in the camp and the system established there. It reflects on modes and shortcomings of humanitarian protection, changes in gender relations, and strategies that the women and men use to cope with insecurities, everyday struggles, and structural problems occurring across different levels and temporalities.

Walsh, M., Due, C., & Ziersch, A. (2022). “More Important than COVID-19”: Temporary Visas and Compounding Vulnerabilities for Health and Well-Being from the COVID-19 Pandemic for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in AustraliaRefuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees38(1), 11–26. Refugees and asylum seekers on temporary visas typically experience interacting issues related to employment, financial precarity, and poor health and well-being. This research aimed to explore whether the social impacts of COVID-19 exacerbated these issues. Interviews were conducted before and during the COVID-19 pandemic with 15 refugees and asylum seekers living in South Australia on temporary visas. The authors found that COVID-19 led to adverse health and other outcomes such as employment challenges. The findings emphasize the importance of immigration and welfare policy.

[open access] Anderson, M. M., & Soennecken, D. (2022). Locating the Concept of Vulnerability in Canada’s Refugee Policies at Home and Abroad. Laws11(2). How is the concept of “vulnerability” employed in Canadian immigration law? This article presents findings from research conducted as part of the VULNER project (2019–23). The authors analyze how vulnerability is operationalized in Canada’s inland refugee (or asylum) determination procedures compared to its overseas resettlement program by first discussing some general principles, followed by examining the treatment of women and LGBTQI+ individuals seeking protection. The authors demonstrate that legal-bureaucratic logics have constructed two very heterogeneous worlds of vulnerability that may reproduce and exacerbate vulnerabilities rather than create a more inclusive, equitable protection regime in law, policy, and practice.

[open access] Purkey, A. (2022). Vulnerability and the Quest for Protection: A Review of Canadian Migration Case Law. Laws, 11(2). Drawing on data from over 750 cases, primarily from the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court of Canada, this study sought to examine how the concept of vulnerability is used by both decision-makers and parties to cases involving migrants seeking legal status and various forms of protection under national or international law in Canad

[open access] Stirling Cameron, E., Ramos, H., Aston, M. et al. (2021). “COVID affected us all:” the birth and postnatal health experiences of resettled Syrian refugee women during COVID-19 in Canada. BMC Reproductive Health, 18(256). This article examined the lived experiences of postpartum Syrian refugee women who gave birth during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nova Scotia, Canada. This qualitative paper sought to understand how the pandemic impacted women’s access to healthcare and social support during and after birth. Women experienced complicated healthcare interactions, including socially and physically isolated deliveries, challenges accessing in-person interpreters, and cancelled or unavailable in-home services. In addition, increased childcare responsibilities and limited informal support due to pandemic restrictions left women feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.


Report: Pushed into the Shadows: Mexico’s Reception of Haitian Migrants by Yael Schacher & Rachel Schmidtke, Refugees International. April 28, 2022. Mexico’s response to Haitians seeking safety has been chaotic, neglectful, and discriminatory. A Refugees International team spoke with Haitian men and women about their experiences finding safety in Mexico and throughout the hemisphere—and recommended a new approach.

Report: “I’m a Prisoner Here”: Biden Administration Policies Lock Up Asylum Seekers, Human Rights First. April 21, 2022. The Biden administration has detained tens of thousands of asylum seekers in violation of the UN Refugee Convention. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention states that signatory nations “shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees… provided they present themselves without delay.” However, a close examination of the cases of 270 asylum seekers and immigrants revealed a pattern of detention, even for asylum seekers from countries where human violations are well documented. Information from these cases comes from dozens of immigration attorneys and interviews with asylees in detention. The United States has the most extensive immigration detention system in the world.

Report: After the Coup: Burkina Faso’s Humanitarian and Displacement Crisis by Alexandra Lamarche and Arden Bentley, Refugees International. April 21, 2022. Burkina Faso’s humanitarian emergency is getting worse. A longer-than-usual dry season and a worsening global grain shortage amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict—where more than a third of the country’s grains are imported—make action more urgent than ever.

News and Blog Posts

Life as death: How Afghan refugees aren’t offered real solutions by Nergis Canefe, Eurozine. 9 February 2022. More than half a million Afghans were displaced in 2021, adding to many more forced to flee over decades of uninterrupted violence. Unfortunately, offers to accommodate Afghanistan’s ‘living dead’ are often conditional on vague definitions of neediness. The author argues that there is a tendency in transitional justice efforts to contain the discussion of the local within the religious and cultural parameters in the Global South, thus engaging only with a ‘static local’, as interpreted by certain local stakeholders. Instead, we must pay attention to a ‘dynamic local’ where societal norms evolve. Here, realities on the ground are shaped by shifting power dynamics, local hierarchies and inequalities between actors, and histories of statehood.

From Detention to E-Incarceration, Hope Border Institute, Frontera Dispatch. April 26, 2022. The Hope Border Institute calls for an end to the detention of immigrants and “e-carceration” through “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) programs. These ATD methods allow immigrants to be tracked geographically via ankle bracelets, telephonic monitoring, and smartphone apps, which are nothing more than digital prisons and make immigrants feel like criminals. The Hope Border Institute also calls for protecting the privacy and security of migrants placed into ATD programs. Their data should not be mined by the government and for-profit companies working for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Nationality and Borders Act becomes law: five key changes explained by Alex Baltch, The Conversation. April 29, 2022. UK Parliament Passed the Nationality and Borders Act on April 26, 2022. The law presents the biggest overhaul to the asylum system in the United Kingdom in decades and seeks to deter illegal entry into the country. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi warned that this law undermines established refugee protection laws and practices, including the 1951 Refugee Convention. The law creates two classes of asylum seekers based on how they arrive in the UK, those who come with a visa and those who do not. Asylum seekers who entered the country through irregular channels or overstayed their visas could face criminal charges and four years imprisonment.


Government Data in Migration Research: Advantages, Pitfalls, and Examples, CCIS & UCLA Center for the Study of International Migration. May 20, 2022, 3:00-5:00 PM ET. The panellists will discuss the use of US government data in migration research. It will begin with a discussion of the data available through the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, its processes, the epistemological issues with how government knowledge is produced, and various applications in both academic works and the real world. Furthermore, the panellists will discuss the trade-offs between survey and administrative data to study individual versus place-level immigration-related questions.

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