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. 53
Recent Publications and New Research
Journal issue: International protection and SOGI, Genius: Journal of legal studies on sexual orientation and gender identity – November 2018
This Issue explores some of the problematic aspects raised by sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) asylum claims. Going beyond the studies available in this field, which are often focused only on the refugee status determination, the contributions published in this issue scrutinize the entire process of claiming asylum undertaken by SOGI people in need of international protection. Adopting different perspectives based on international, EU and domestic law, all authors advance appropriate proposals to overcome the legal obstacles that prevent, to this day, the protection of SOGI claimants and the full enjoyment of their human rights in Europe and beyond. Articles are available in English and Italian at:
Enns, T. (2017). The Opportunity to Welcome: Shifting responsibilities and the resettlement of Syrian refugees within Canadian communities, Dissertation, University of Oxford
This dissertation asks: to what extent have local and individual resettlement efforts been shaped by a rhetoric of “welcome”, and to what extent have national policies and practices of refugee resettlement reconfigured the scales of responsibility? It starts by providing a revisionist history of refugee resettlement in Canada, it then contextualises the latter within the recent Syrian resettlement effort, and assess the national, community and individual responses and responsibilities—with a particular focus on the community-led response within the Region of Waterloo. It argues that the Syrian example has revealed manifestations of neo-liberalization, regarding who determines one’s right to resettlement, and on whose shoulders the moral and economic impact of resettlement rests. Available (with an academia.edu account) at:
Akesson, B., Hoffman, D. A., El Joueidi, S., & Badawi, D. (2018). “So the World Will Know Our Story”: Ethical Reflections on Research with Families Displaced by War. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 19, No. 3, p. 19).
This article examines the ethical implications of a qualitative research study exploring the everyday mobilities of Syrian families displaced in Lebanon. The multiple methods of data collection—collaborative family interviews, children’s drawing and mapmaking, GIS-tracked neighborhood walks, and activity logging—encouraged children and family voices. At the same time, these methods provide an opportunity to explore family networks, relationships, and environments that are impacting their lives in the context of war and displacement. These methods, like all research with vulnerable populations, also raise several ethical questions. Using a process of ethical reflexivity, the authors discuss six ethical points related to both procedural and micro-ethics. In addition to shedding light on the importance of uncovering the everyday experiences of refugees using creative methods, they suggest broader ethical implications regarding how to respectfully work with vulnerable populations while still upholding research integrity. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/3087
d’Orsi, C. (2018). To Stay or to Leave? The Unsolved Dilemma of the Eritrean Asylum-Seekers in Israel. Harvard Int’l law Journal, Volume 59.
This work seeks to analyze the conditions of Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel in order to highlight gaps in their protection and to identify gap-ﬁlling solutions that would be amenable to both Israeli authorities and Eritreans asylum-seekers. Part I, focuses on the arrival of Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel. Part II focuses on the reaction of Israeli authorities once the Eritreans have managed to enter the country. It will review attempts to remove the Eritreans as unwanted guests. Part III scrutinizes the conditions of the Eritrean asylum seekers that manage, at least temporarily, to remain in Israel. The analysis cover recent domestic legislation and the sort of “limbo” in which Eritreans ﬁnd themselves, with very few rights, and with no clear future in Israel or elsewhere. Part IV examines the status of essential socio-economic rights (right to work and right to health) that Eritrean asylum-seekers can claim within Israel. The article concludes by illustrating the major challenges for the Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel and by making recommendations to improve their situation in the country. Available at:
Camminga, B. (2019). Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies over Borders and Borders over Bodies, Palgrave
This book tracks the conceptual journeying of the term ‘transgender’ from the Global North—where it originated—along with the physical embodied journeying of transgender asylum seekers from countries within Africa to South Africa and considers the interrelationships between the two. The term ‘transgender’ transforms as it travels, taking on meaning in relation to bodies, national homes, institutional frameworks and imaginaries. This study centres on the experiences and narratives of people that can be usefully termed ‘gender refugees’, gathered through a series of life story interviews. It argues that the departures, border crossings, arrivals and perceptions of South Africa for gender refugees have been both enabled and constrained by the contested meanings and politics of this emergence of transgender. Some selections and previews are available at: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319926681
Gericke, D., Burmeister, A., Löwe, J., Deller, J., & Pundt, L. (2018). How do refugees use their social capital for successful labor market integration? An exploratory analysis in Germany. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 105, 46–61.
Using Germany as an example, this qualitative study explores how refugees use their social capital within and outside organizations to enter their host countries’ labor market. Following a grounded theory approach, it interviewed 36 Syrian refugees who had already secured employment in Germany. It aims to provide in-depth information regarding the available types, uses, and benefits of social capital with regard to their access and integration into the labor market. Results showed that refugees have access to different types of social capital and that these types can offer different forms of support to refugees during the labor market integration process. The findings provide insights into how different forms of social capital can facilitate labor market integration of refugees at different stages. Available at:
Reports, Working Papers and Briefs
Akesson, B. and Coupland, K. (2018). Without choice? Understanding war-affected Syrian families’ decisions to leave home, Migration Research Series No. 54
This report addresses the factors that influenced displaced Syrian families’ decision to leave Syria for Lebanon and how this has impacted the time they took to decide to leave. The research is grounded in the experiences of displaced Syrian families who have left the Syria and fled to Lebanon in the past eight years since the start of the conflict in 2011. The findings indicate that there is much diversity in the decision-making processes that families engage in and underscore the importance of family agency in making decisions. Although many Syrians came to Lebanon to escape risk and find safety, they continue to manage the risks in challenging conditions. The findings counter common popular depictions of refugees as helpless and without agency. In fact, they are making difficult decisions and balancing equally difficult decisions to ensure their family’s survival. Available at:
Mixed Migration Review 2018: Highlights. Essays. Interviews. Data, Mixed Migration Centre
The Mixed Migration Review 2018 provides an overview of the latest evidence, research-based thinking, and specialist comment on the sector. It aims to promote understanding and stimulate discussion of a complex and increasingly politicized field. This report is based on a wide range of research as well as exclusive access to 4Mi data from over 10,000 interviews with refugees and migrants in over twenty countries along seven major migratory routes. In three major sections (the migrants’ world, the smugglers’ world and global debates), the report offers a deep analytical dive into the world of mixed migration. The report does not offer one-size-fits-all solutions or simple conclusions, instead it raises many difficult questions and treats the mixed migration phenomenon with the complexity it deserves. Available at: http://www.mixedmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Mixed-Migration-Review-2018.pdf
Banulescu-Bogdan, N. (2018). When Facts Don’t Matter: How to Communicate More Effectively about Immigration’s Costs and Benefits, Transatlantic Council on Migration
This report explores why there is often a pronounced gap between what research has shown about migration trends and immigration policy outcomes and what the public believes. To do so, it explores the social psychological literature on why people embrace or reject information, as well as recent changes in the media landscape. The report concludes with a re-examination of what it takes to make the “expert consensus” on these issues resonate with skeptical publics, including recommendations for policymakers and researchers seeking to communicate more effectively the costs and benefits of immigration. Available at:
Molnar, P. and Gill, L. (September 2018). BOTS AT THE GATE: A Human Rights Analysis of Automated Decision Making in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee System, International Human Rights Program
This report focuses on the impacts of automated decision-making in Canada’s immigration and refugee system from a human rights perspective. It highlights how the use of algorithmic and automated technologies to replace or augment administrative decision-making in this context threatens to create a laboratory for high-risk experiments within an already highly discretionary system. Vulnerable and under-resourced communities such as non-citizens often have access to less robust human rights protections and fewer resources with which to defend those rights. Adopting these technologies in an irresponsible manner may only serve to exacerbate these disparities. Available at:
News reports and Blog post
Aid emojis, El Nino warnings, and an Afghan summit: The Cheat Sheet, IRIN(November 23, 2018)
This is a weekly report where IRIN editors highlight some of the most significant humanitarian news, trends, and developments from around the globe. This week’s report covers funding for Palestinian refugees, a UN-hosted conference addressing the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, preparations for extreme weather alerts (El Niño) in many nations in the southern hemisphere, and emergency emojis: graphical icons that can be used in emergency-related reports, maps, and infographics. Available at:
Deportation Monitoring Aegean
This blog, run by an independent monitoring group of activists and scholars, documents deportations from Greece to Turkey. While the blog does not represent an all-encompassing documentation of all deportations from Greece to Turkey, it offers a data breakdown and analysis of deportations; and brings to the fore discrepancies between official information and the actual practices. Available at: http://dm-aegean.bordermonitoring.eu/
Digital and Social Media
Refugee Law Initiative’s 9th International Refugee Law Seminar Series, Speaker: Professor Penelope Mathew, Griffith University, Date: 19 November 2018
This podcast explores the approach of the final draft of the Global Compact on Refugees – due to be endorsed at the current session of the UN General Assembly – to its primary task of providing ‘a basis for predictable and equitable burden and responsibility-sharing’. Notwithstanding the disappointment expressed by some about the level of ambition of the Compact during its drafting, a careful reading of the final draft reveals the outlines of a firmer mechanism for responsibility sharing that is to be constructed in the future. The talk poses a deeper question concerning the viability of development as the critical vehicle for change. Speaker: Penelope Mathew is a research professor at Griffith Law School, where she served as Dean from June 2014 to June 2018. Her primary area of expertise is international refugee law. Available at: