November 11, 2021: 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. 113


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Recent Publications and New Research

Van Haren, Ian and Claudia Masferrer (2021). Visitor Visa Policy Changes and Mexico-Canada Migration. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies. Although recent scholarship shows that restrictive visa policies curtail migration, research does not disaggregate policy effects within migration flows. This article analyzes Mexico-Canada migration when a travel visa was imposed in 2009 and removed in 2016. The imposition coincided with a dramatic decrease in travel and refugee claims. However, the number of Mexican immigrants grew, contrasting expectations of migration policy effectiveness research. The authors suggest that future research should disaggregate effects of policy changes, consider a state’s broader approach to migration policy, and examine how subnational programs and number of legal migration pathways influence trends of mixed migration flows [The link includes 50 open-access copies].

Lawlor, A., & Paquet, M. (2021). Deservingness in context: perspectives toward refugees and asylum seekers in CanadaJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1-21. This article explores the conditions under which Canadians are willing to provide the right to stay and access to migrant-specific services to refugees and asylum seekers in Canada. Taking into consideration the institutional and policy specificities of Canada’s immigration regime, the analysis suggests that refugees and asylum seekers are evaluated as qualitatively different groups by the Canadian public. Consequently, the authors propose that economic cues and deservingness cues should have different influences on the evaluation of these two groups. Using a survey experiment, this article finds that economic cues play a role in the evaluation of refugees and that humanitarian needs are central to Canadians’ evaluation of asylum seekers. These results demonstrate the need to take national and institutional contexts into account when considering attitudes towards vulnerable migrant groups and, in particular, deservingness evaluations of these groups.

New open access issue: Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso (ed.) (2021). Migration and Refugee Flows: New Insights. Politics and Governance 9 (4). Population movements between countries and continents are not recent phenomena. What is new today is that migration flows are increasingly linked to the globalization process and to environmental degradation. Most of the migrants leave their homes for economic reasons, but also due to the higher frequency of natural disasters. Of the total migrant population, those who escape from conflicts or persecution still represent a smaller fraction and are entitled to obtain refugee status. This thematic issue includes eight articles that analyse migration flows and migration governance from different analytical perspectives. Five of the eight contributions examine the role that several factors play in explaining international migration flows and its effects, namely cultural diversity, information technology tools, governance, terrorism, and attitudes towards immigration. The remaining three articles are country studies that analyse the socio-economic causes/effects of migration flows to Portugal, Spain, and Germany, devoting special attention to forced migration and refugees.

Chowdhory, N., & Poyil, S. T. (2021). Speaking the language of the ‘other’: negotiating cultural boundaries through language in chitmahals in Indo-Bangladesh borders. Citizenship Studies, 1-17. Borders are not merely assertions of sovereign territorial demarcations, but indicative of cultural boundaries. This article discusses how the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (2015) led to reorganisation of territorial boundaries, whereby the inhabitants had the choice of citizenship between India and Bangladesh that reaffirmed their identity. The subjective differentiation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ was negotiated by various cultural elements such as Bangla language, an everyday language symbolizing membership in the constituting communities, kinship and citizenship in the nation. Language was an important attribute that identified them as ‘Bengali’/‘Bangladeshi’ while navigating the trans-territorial national identity. While arguing that the new citizens’ construction of ‘acts of citizenship’ was based on a linguistic identity and everyday languages made claims to citizenship possible, the paper also explores: how does language help negotiate the cultural boundaries of ‘us’ or ‘them’ in post Land Border Agreement? How has language (re)shaped identity towards attainment of citizenship?

Salam, Z., Nouvet, E., & Schwartz, L. (2021). Reflections of methodological and ethical challenges in conducting research during COVID-19 involving resettled refugee youth in CanadaJournal of Medical Ethics. This article reflects on the ethical and methodological challenges encountered when conducting qualitative research during the pandemic with Syrian migrant youth who are resettled in Canada. The three areas discussed from the study are recruitment, informed consent and managing the interviews. Special attention to culture as being part of the study’s methodology as an active reflexive process is also highlighted. The goal of this article is to contribute to the growing understanding of complexities of conducting research during COVID-19 with populations which have layered vulnerabilities, such as migrant youth. This article hopes that the reflections may help future researchers in conducting their research during this pandemic by being cognizant of both the ethical and methodological challenges discussed


Reports, and Policy Briefs and Opinion Pieces

[Brief] Dire Consequences: Addressing the Humanitarian Fallout from Myanmar’s Coup, Refugees International (October 2021). Nine months have passed since the coup in Myanmar, and the country’s humanitarian outlook is increasingly dire. Amid the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing economic crisis, the military junta’s crackdown on dissent has resulted in the killing of more than 1,100 civilians and the forcible displacement of more than 200,000 people and has left an estimated 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. This brief details the current situation in Myanmar and the complex geo-political dynamics hampering much-needed action, and recommends steps Myanmar’s neighbors, ASEAN countries, donor countries, and the United States must take to address the crisis and provided aid and safety to those in need.

[Report] No Shelter from the Storm: The Urgent Need to Recognise and Protect Climate Refugees, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) – October 2021. Since 2008, weather-related hazards have displaced over 21 million people each year on average. This figure does not include those forced to leave home due to slow-onset climate impacts, such as desertification and sea level rise. Most of the world’s climate refugees come from vulnerable communities in lower-income countries, where environmental degradation and climate change intersects with and exacerbates other stressors such as poverty, oppression, and conflict. The current international protection regime does not meet the needs of climate refugees. There remains a deficit of adequate legal and policy frameworks governing climate-induced displacement at the international level. The report includes recommendations and urges the international community to urgently work together to protect climate refugees by mitigating global heating through rapid decarbonisation action and developing protections for those already affected by climate change.

[Opinion] From Dadaab to Mogadishu, and Back Again?  A Somali Refugee’s Journey by Abdirahman Ahmed Aden, The New Humanitarian – October 20, 2021. After living in a refugee camp for most of his life, Abdirahman Ahmed Aden returned to Somalia, his country of origin. He has a job as a journalist and filmmaker, but he is afraid to leave his home because of the violence. “[W]hat I didn’t bargain for were the bombings, the shootings, the unpredictability of the violence here,” Aden said. “I will never get used to the fear and the violence.” When he can earn enough money, Aden plans to return to Dadaab, the refugee camp in northeastern Kenya where he grew up. He writes that he never felt at home in the refugee camp. Instead, he always felt that it was a “transient” place — refugees waiting to be either repatriated or resettled.

[Policy paper] Seizing the opportunity for a coherent refugee policy! Recommendations for the protection of Afghans on various levels of governance, by Petra Bendel, Johanna Günther, Raphaela Schweiger, Janina Stürner-Siovitz. This report presents policy recommendations for action in 21 key messages for decision-makers at different governance levels: (1) the international level, (2) the EU level, (3) the level of the German federal government and (4) the levels of the German Länder and municipalities. It highlights both short- and medium-term prospects, whereby there are also opportunities for overlap in the interest of coherent approaches. In the face of general concern, helplessness and incoherent policy approaches, the aim of this policy paper is to identify initial solutions and to make proposals for addressing the Afghan refugee situation at various levels of governance.

[Special issue] LERRN success stories, October 2021. The Local Engagement Refugee Research Network is a community of researchers and practitioners, committed to promoting protection and solutions, with and for refugees. LERRN is pleased to present this special issue of our Newsletter featuring Success Stories from the first half of the Partnership, 2018 to 2021. This report showcases the accomplishments of the network since its launch in 2018. Now at its halfway point, LERRN is excited to share some of the many successes of their researchers, students, and refugee partners.

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