May 26 2023: 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. 138

Dear RRN colleagues and friends near and far,

This issue concludes the 2022-223 academic year as we break for the summer with a planned return in September 2023.

Thank you to our readers  for your continued interest and support, and our contributors for  sharing your innovative refugee research with us!

We look forward to continuing to mobilize knowledge together in the upcoming academic year and we wish you a safe, relaxing, and fun summer.

RRN Team


Moodley, R. (2023). Rethinking ‘regional processing’ in Europe: lessons from the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) for indochinese refugees. Australian Journal of Human Rights, 1-19. What could or should a ‘regional processing’ framework entail to be compatible with international human rights law principles? The author examines the question by drawing practical insights from the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees, the first international attempt to introduce region-wide processing during the Indochinese refugee crisis in the 1970s-1980s. The paper explores how ‘regional processing’ might be reconceptualized to expand protection pathways to Europe and inform a protection-orientated approach to international cooperation on asylum and migration.

Kuru, N., Alici, N. K., Akman, B. (2023). The social ecology of health promotion within war-effected refugee preschool children. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 94. This study focuses on understanding the factors that influence the health of young children living in refugee camps affected by war. Currently, there is limited research on health promotion frameworks for this population. The study used storytelling to gather information from 20 Syrian refugee children aged five to six years. Four main themes emerged from the data: risk factors contributing to illness, awareness of illness, strategies for dealing with illness, and protecting and promoting health. These findings suggest that health promotion programs for refugee children should take a holistic approach that considers biological, social, and ecological factors.

Ilona Bontenbal  (2023)The good, the bad and the advantageous: Migrants’ attitudes towards other migrants. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 94. This study examines the attitudes of migrants living in Finland towards other migrants. It explores how these attitudes are formed and affect the categorization and hierarchy of different migrant groups. The researchers conducted 77 qualitative interviews with migrants in 2018-2019 and analyzed the data using various theories of minority relations. The findings reveal that migrants evaluate other migrants based on perceived advantages, such as integration, hard work, non-threatening behaviour, similarity to Finns, being “white,” and not relying on welfare benefits. These evaluations lead to the formation of hierarchies, which are partially based on ethnicity. Migrants also emphasize their distinctiveness from other migrant groups to avoid being unfairly grouped and discriminated against. The assumption of shared characteristics with the majority population guides the idea of fitting in.

Fatih Özdemir, Meryem Kaynak Malatyalı, Nuray Sakallı (2023). Anti-refugee attitudes towards Syrian people living in Turkey: Culture dimensions and motivational personal dispositions. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 94. This study examines the relationship between the internalization of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, anti-refugee attitudes, and the mediating roles of needs for cognition and recognition. It focuses on the sociodemographic changes in Turkey due to the Syrian civil war, which resulted in a large number of Syrian refugees seeking asylum. The sample for the study consisted of 439 Turkish university students. The main findings indicate that the internalization of cultural dimensions such as long-term orientation, masculinity, and uncertainty avoidance predicts the likelihood of holding anti-refugee attitudes. The results provide valuable insights for interested parties to address negative attitudes and support the integration and adaptation of refugees into society.

Wellman, E. I. (2023). Refugee status as a patronage good? The interaction of transnational party mobilization and migration policy in the global southJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 49(10), 1-21. This article investigates how the Zimbabwean opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), operated across borders to engage migrant supporters in South Africa during the 2000s. It uses various sources, including interviews with former MDC officials and Zimbabwean civil society organizers in the diaspora. The article explores the difficulties of involving the diaspora in contexts of poverty, legal insecurity, and political violence in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. By combining research on transnational party mobilization with the study of distributive politics and clientelism, the article demonstrates how assistance with asylum became a form of patronage, given to party members in exchange for their involvement in party activities and electoral support. The article also highlights the challenges Zimbabweans face in South Africa, blurring the line between forced and voluntary migration, and the severe consequences for those who do not fit neatly into legal definitions of refugee movements.

Reports, and Policy Briefs and Opinion Pieces

Nelson Graham, Margaret Walton-Roberts, and Valerie Preston, (2023). ‘Removing Caps on International Students’ Paid Work’, Building more resilient cities (BMRC). This policy review which builds on a webinar, discusses the following questions:

  • How will the increase in work hours influence the number of people applying to be international students in Canada and why?
  • How many students will increase their work hours?
  • How will working more hours affect international students’ academic success, quality of life, and chances of becoming permanent residents in Canada?
  • How will this regulatory change affect Canadian labour markets? Who benefits from the regulatory changes?
  • What is needed to make this policy change positive for international students and enhance their contributions to Canada?

Rasha Arous (2023). Towards a better implementation of the UNHCR urban refugee policy, Policy Brief No. 13, May 2023. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) introduced a new policy in 2009 called the Urban Refugee Policy. This policy aimed to shift the focus from managing refugees in camps to recognizing their presence and rights in cities and host countries. However, the policy has faced challenges in its implementation. It lacks a nuanced understanding of urban contexts and has been criticized for being vague and incoherent. This policy brief emphasizes the need for an integrated approach, data-driven policy tools, integration of various initiatives, and meaningful participation of refugees and local stakeholders in policy design and implementation. The recommendations aim to enhance the effectiveness of the UNHCR’s efforts in supporting urban refugees and addressing their unique needs.

Anna Triandafyllidou (2023). Complex Migration Flows and Multiple Drivers: What Do We Know? Toronto Metropolitan Centre for Immigration and Settlement (TMCIS) & the CERC in Migration and Integration. Working Paper No. 2023/05. This paper aims to analyze the drivers of migration at different levels (macro, meso, and micro) and their interactions. The goal is to develop an analytical framework for studying international migration. The paper reviews existing literature on various factors influencing migratory flows, including social, economic, political, demographic, and environmental drivers. It also examines the role of intermediaries, such as networks and institutions, and explores individual and household decision-making processes in different cultural and spatial contexts. The paper acknowledges that migration can be voluntary or forced, recognizing that different degrees of choice are involved. Lastly, it emphasizes that migration is a complex and nonlinear process often involving multiple destinations and intermediate stages or new beginnings.

News and blog posts

Mohammad Zaman, ‘What if the Rohingya are not repatriated?’, The Daily Star, May 6,  2023. A pilot project to repatriate over 1,100 Rohingya refugees is now in discussion. However, according to experts and informed sources, Myanmar is taking this symbolic step to “lighten the responsibility” in its next submission to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May regarding the Rohingya genocide. Nevertheless, as of writing this piece, no repatriation has taken place.

Editorial, ‘Treat Uyghurs justly’, Bangkok Post, May 2, 2023. The Thai government forcibly repatriated 109 Uyghur men and boys to China in 2015, and their whereabouts remain unknown. Additionally, 170 Uyghur women and children were allowed to travel to Turkey. The author emphasizes the importance of the Thai government providing humanitarian assistance and upholding the non-refoulement policy outlined in the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act. This act prohibits officials from returning individuals to their home countries if they fear torture. The author urges the Thai government to adhere to these principles and protect the rights and well-being of Uyghur refugees.

Cristiano D’Orsi, Sudan refugee crisis: aid agencies face huge challenges as hundreds of thousands flee violence, The Conversation, May 11, 2023. The confrontation between General Abdelfatah El-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, two influential Sudanese generals, has pushed Sudan to the brink of another civil war. The conflict has primarily unfolded in Khartoum, the capital, and has resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis. Many individuals are fleeing the violence and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, leading to a significant displacement of people. The author, an expert in international law and refugees, highlights his major concerns regarding the situation and emphasizes the necessary actions to tackle these challenges. The focus should be on addressing the humanitarian needs of the affected population and finding sustainable solutions to the conflict in Sudan.

Mary Anne Kenny, Carol Frech, Nicholas Procter, ‘Government must use trauma-informed approach to end uncertainty on refugee visa applications’, The Conversation, May 15,  2023. The Albanian government has announced that refugees in Australia on Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV) will now be granted permanent visas called Resolution of Status Visas (ROS). This change provides stability for an estimated 20,000 refugees who have faced years of uncertainty. However, research shows that the visa uncertainty has had a detrimental impact on the mental health of asylum seekers. While the ROS visas offer a pathway to family reunification, strict rules and high visa charges may still cause ongoing separation. The government needs to adopt a trauma-informed approach and collaborate with experts to address the ongoing uncertainty and mental health challenges refugees face.

Tafi Mhaka, ‘Sudanese refugees deserve as much help as Ukrainians’, Al Jazeera, May 12,  2023. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak avoided answering a question about providing safe and legal routes for Sudanese children seeking refuge in the UK. Instead, he spoke about evacuating British diplomats from Sudan. The UK government’s selective support for refugees is evident in its different treatment of Ukrainians and Sudanese asylum seekers. The author argues that the discrimination against African refugees reflects a broader prejudice in European attitudes towards migration. Urgent action is needed to create safe and legal pathways for Sudanese victims of conflict to seek asylum and prevent further suffering and loss of life.

Digital and social media

Short video Series: Christina Clark-Kazak, Introduction to Forced Migration: This 8-part video series explores key issues related to borders, definitions, asylum, refugee protection, and more! It is an excellent pedagogical tool of interest to educators, policy actors and anyone concerned about forced migration in Canada.

<< Back