May 16 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


Bejan, R., & Glynn, T. (2024). “A Total Black Hole”: How COVID-19 Increased Bureaucratic Violence Against Refugees in Greece. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 39(2), 1–18. Informed by participant observations and 10 interviews with civil society actors conducted in Athens in 2021 and 2022 at the height of the pandemic, this paper shows how the Greek state weaponized COVID-19 to further exclude refugees from society, deny asylum procedures, and reduce service provision for those awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims.

Chen, E. (2024). The 2021 UNHCR-IE SOGI global roundtable on protection and solutions for LGBTIQ+ people in forced displacement: Toward a new vision for LGBTIQ+ Refugee Protection. Journal of Refugee Studies. This field reflection critically examines how emerging international norms concerning forcibly displaced people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) were negotiated during the 2021 UNHCR-IE SOGI Global Roundtable on Protection and Solutions for LGBTIQ+ People in Forced Displacement. The author argues that the Roundtable was a crucial site of norm contestation on queer refugee intersectionality and inclusion within the global refugee policy regime, particularly among stakeholders grounded in two interconnected, mutually responsive policy ecosystems: (1) refugee rights and assistance and (2) LGBTIQ+ human rights. The author proposes several ways to effectively innovate the international norms that will impact LGBTIQ+ refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and stateless people in coming years.

Karimi, A., Thompson, S., & Bucerius, S. M. (2024). National Assimilation and/or Cosmopolitan Transnationalism? Impending Transnationalism among the Upwardly Mobile Children of Refugees. Sociology. The authors explore educational and occupational attainments and transnational practices of second generation refugees in Canada. The data show upward mobility and an absence of contemporary transnational practices. However, the study finds that participants’ refugee background impacts their transnationalism, their parents’ forced departures as refugees and the ongoing violence in their origin-country lead to second-generation Somali-Canadians’ lack of transnationalism. Many, however, emphasize their desire to discover their origin-country in the future. As such, the authors argue that refugee background seems to push transnationalism into the future for the study participants.

Lenner, K. & Turner, L. (2024). ‘The Jordan Compact, Refugee Labour and the Limits of Indicator-oriented Formalisation.’ Development and Change, online first, pp. 1-29. This article explores initiatives to formalize refugees’ labour market participation. Despite many practitioners believing that formalization is a solution for improving the lives of marginalized workers, including refugees, the authors argue that in practice, it easily becomes an indicator-oriented exercise, where readily quantifiable targets are prioritized over substantive improvements. The article analyzes the trajectory of the Jordan Compact, a flagship initiative that brought together humanitarian, development, and labour actors to create ‘win-win’ solutions for Syrians and Jordanians. It traces how the Compact has made formalization an end in itself, with little regard for how much it benefits workers. The article demonstrates how indicators have shaped initiatives while undermining meaningful reform.  The authors advocate shifting the focus onto the individual and collective power of workers so that they can better realize the potential benefits of formalization.

Alcaraz, N., Ferrer, I., Abes, J. G., & Lorenzetti, L. (2021). Hiding for survival: Highlighting the lived experiences of precarity and labour abuse among Filipino non-status migrants in Canada. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, 6(4), 256–267. This paper presents a case study on the experiences of non-status migrants seeking access to health, social, and community services. The findings highlight five case-based themes that centre on the (1) undocumented and hidden costs of striving for status, (2) aspirations to stay in Canada, (3) navigation through the everyday struggles to survive, (4) acts of selflessness and (5) resistance against the stigmatisation of being labelled a non-status migrant. This paper offers key recommendations for social work practitioners who engage in social justice and advocacy work alongside non-status migrants in Canada.


A decade of documenting migrant deaths: Data analysis and reflection on deaths during migration documented by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, 2014-2023. (2024). Missing Migrants Project. This report sheds insights on MMP data to inform action to make migration safe for all. It starts with a brief overview of migrant deaths and disappearances documented in 2023, highlighting the increases in recorded fatalities across nearly all regions of the world. A holistic analysis of the last decade of MMP data is then presented, including the main countries of origin, causes of death, and demographic information of those who are known to have died. The report concludes with a discussion of the many data gaps and challenges of documenting deaths and disappearances during migration and calls for long-overdue action to ensure evidence-based policies and programmes are put in place to end migrant deaths.

Comparing national laws and policies addressing irregular migrants. (2024). MIrreM. Based on 20 countries across Europe, North America and North Africa, this report synthesizes key trends and patterns of national policy approaches toward migrant irregularity, highlighting commonalities and differences across various contexts. In particular, this report examines three key research questions: how have irregular migration policies evolved over time and in response to what; what pathways into and out of irregularity have these policies produced or aimed to address; and what challenges have hindered policy implementation. In doing so, the report aims to contextualize irregular migration policy changes, and  how such policies can channel migrants into or out of irregularity.

Heavy rainfall in East Africa forces thousands of refugees from their homes. (2024). UNHCR. Thousands of people, including refugees, continue to be caught up in the ongoing El Niño-triggered heavy rains and severe flooding sweeping across East Africa. In Kenya, nearly 20,000 people in the Dadaab refugee camps – which host over 380,000 refugees – have been displaced due to the rising water levels. Many of them are among those who arrived in the past couple of years after fleeing severe drought in neighbouring Somalia. Some 4,000 people are currently sheltering in six schools with facilities that have been extensively damaged. The others are staying with friends or relatives in other parts of the camp. Several latrines have collapsed, putting refugees at risk of deadly water-borne diseases.

UNHCR launches fund to shield refugees and other displaced people from climate shocks. (2024). UNHCR. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched the UNHCR Climate Resilience Fund, seeking to boost the protection of refugees and displaced communities who are most threatened by climate change. Contributions to the Fund will boost the reach and impact of UNHCR’s climate action, enabling the agency and its partners to commit to climate-related projects in countries where it is already responding to major conflict-related situations of forced displacement, such as Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique.

World Migration Report. (2024). IOM UN Migration. The World Migration Report 2024 helps demystify the complexity of human mobility through evidence-based data and analysis by shedding It  light on longstanding trends and emerging challenges. The report highlights that international migration remains a driver of human development and economic growth, highlighted by a more than 650 per cent increase in international remittances from 2000 to 2022, rising from USD 128 billion to USD 831 billion. The growth continued despite predictions from many analysts that remittances would decrease substantially because of COVID-19. 


Egypt hosts 300K registered Sudanese refugees: UNHCR by Noha El Tawil, April 21, 2024. Egypt Today. Since the outbreak of the civil war in Sudan on April 15, 2023, 8.2 million have been displaced, including 1.8 million who fled to neighbouring states, particularly Chad and Egypt. According to the UNHCR, over 500,000 crossed the borders into Egypt, primarily women and children. The commission’s bureaus in Cairo and Alexandria receive 2,000-3,000 refugees daily. Since the beginning of 2024, the commission has registered almost 100,000. As such, the number of Sudanese refugees registered with the UNHCR has hit 300,000 – jumping five-fold – making the total of registered refugees of various nationalities 570,000. Nevertheless, the number is expected to rise given that 2.3 million Sudanese are estimated to leave Sudan for neighbouring states by the end of 2024.

EU Refugee And Asylum Pact: Balancing Security And Human Rights In Europe by Fadi Jaloun, April 28, 2024. The Organization for World Peace. The recent approval of the EU Refugee and Asylum Pact by the European Parliament is a milestone in the EU’s continuous efforts to change its migration and refugee policies. This comprehensive reform, which has been in the works since 2015, aims to expedite asylum procedures, increase returns of irregular migrants, and establish a system of shared responsibility among EU member states. At its core, the deal includes many critical provisions aiming at speeding up the asylum process, improving irregular migrants’ returns, and imposing stronger pre-entry screening processes. This comprehensive strategy has received support from important political factions inside the European Parliament, notably the center-right European People’s Party Group (EPP) and the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The far-left denounces the agreement as a betrayal of European ideals and claims it puts political expediency before compassion and human decency.

‘Hiroshima-level casualties’ feared in final battle for North Darfur by Redmond Shannon, April 26, 2024. Global News. The veteran human rights investigator Nathaniel Raymond is monitoring the encirclement of the Sudanese city of El Fasher in almost-real-time, via high-resolution satellite images. The capital of the state of North Darfur could be about to fall to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its allies, as they fight against the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in the country’s year-long civil war. Raymond told Global News he believes some RSF troops have made it inside the city limits. El Fasher is the last city still under SAF control in the vast eastern region of Darfur. It hosts hundreds of thousands of people who have fled violence elsewhere.

Operation Zufolo: Australia deployed a ‘charade’ to sustain indefinite immigration detention – it failed by Paul Karp, April 27, 2024. The Guardian. In July 2022, Australia’s immigration minister, Andrew Giles, was warned of legal “risks” associated with immigration detention and the need to show “concrete and robust steps” to deport non-citizens stuck in limbo. A task force within the Home Affairs Department had been set up to explore third-country options to resettle long-term detainees in immigration detention. Its existence was never publicized and references to it were redacted from documents released under freedom of information. However, in the high court on April 17 the Australian Border Force operation that succeeded the task force was revealed for the first time: Operation Zufolo.

Parliament passes bill declaring Rwanda safe – but can it really be called a law at all? by Joshua Jowitt, April 23, 2024. The Conversation. After months of deadlock, the House of Lords withdrew its opposition to the safety of Rwanda (asylum and immigration) bill, meaning it would become law upon receiving royal assent. This legislation declares in UK law that Rwanda is a safe country for the UK to send asylum seekers. Much has been written about the Rwanda plan’s practical (un)workability, high cost, and its perceived cruelty. However, one thing that may have been overlooked is a conceptual question: Are there problems with this law that mean it is not a real law at all?

Thousands of Refugees Flee Fighting in Southeastern Myanmar by Sebastian Strangio, April 22, 2024. The Diplomat. Several thousand people from Myanmar’s Kayin (Karen) State have crossed the border into Thailand to take refuge from escalating battles between Myanmar junta forces and ethnic Karen troops, according to Thai officials. Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said recently that the number of Myanmar refugees in Mae Sot had risen to around 3,000, as fighting flared across the border around the Myanmar city of Myawaddy. On April 10, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karen National Union, said that it had captured the last Myanmar military outpost in Myawaddy, along with allied People’s Defence Forces. However, the junta forces in the area did not surrender. Subsequently they retreated to the customs compound at the second of the two bridges linking the two countries across the Moei River, where they continue to hold out for reinforcements.

​​Why host country education for refugees isn’t a magical solution by Maha Shuyab, April 24, 2024. The New Humanitarian. UN agencies and global education initiatives appear to be converging on a consensus: Enrolling refugees in national education systems in host countries is the best way to bring schooling to the world’s growing refugee populations. The argument behind this policy seems sound at first: Most conflicts are protracted, so enrolling refugees in the educational system of the host country is more sustainable, is less time- and resource-consuming, and promotes cohesion between refugees and host populations. However, what looks good on paper does not always work in practice.


Centre for Refugee Studies Summer Course on Forced Migration: Exploring the intersections between forced migration and technology. This hybrid event (online and at York University) takes place June 3-7, 2024. This year’s Summer Course is offered in collaboration with Osgoode Hall Law School’s Refugee Law Laboratory. It will focus on research, policy, and practices at the intersections of forced migration and technology. The course  provides an introduction, including on an overview of major trends in forced migration, and some of the vast array of technologies used for border enforcement, refugee adjudication, as well as inspiring innovations by researchers, lawyers, and affected communities to level the playing field. Two public keynotes with noted experts in the field will also bookend the course, one focusing on critical issues in race, gender, and technology, and the other providing a former private sector perspective. 

Race and Empire in Europe’s Borders by Beyond Eurocentrism Programme and ENAR. This all-day event will examine the interactions between border practices and the character of the EU, exploring how the new lines of inclusion/exclusion drawn in Europe’s peripheries and on distant shores inform the political identity of the EU. This event hosts several speakers delivering a series of panels, each with its own focus, and the event will end with a film-screening with director Q&A! This event takes place both in person and online on May 23, 2024, 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM BST.

What’s Unsaid | Migrants and refugees are easy political targets by The New Humanitarian.  This episode explores how every day, hundreds arrive at the Inzargai refugee registration centre in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, after a wave of mass expulsions by the Pakistani government that began last November. The situation at Inzargai camp is just one illustration of how governments around the world are weaponizing anti-refugee and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The hosts discuss how far-right parties and right-wing governments in post-Brexit Europe, as well as political parties and leaders in Argentina, Turkey, and the United States, continue to stir up xenophobia for political gain.

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