Daily Archives: Saturday, May 11, 2013

Resources: UNHCR launches updated version of key protection tool, Refworld

Link on UNHCR Website: UNHCR launches updated version of key protection tool, Refworld.

News Stories, 17 April 2013

The new Refworld has been designed for use on multiple devices

GENEVA, April 17 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency on Wednesday launched a new and improved version of Refworld, a widely used online protection and research tool that helps those who have to decide on refugee and statelessness status.

Refworld 2013 (http://www.refworld.org) contains a vast collection of reports relating to situations in countries of origin, policy papers, case law and other documents relating to international and national legal frameworks. The documents have been carefully selected from – and with – UNHCR field offices, governments, international, regional and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and judicial bodies.

The service is free of charge and provides the crucial country of origin and legal information that UNHCR staff, government officials and judges need to decide whether an asylum-seeker is a refugee. To be recognized as a refugee, it has to be accepted that the applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution and cannot or will not return home because of that fear.

UNHCR Director of International Protection Volker Türk said Refworld 2013 was an improved version on the existing model, which was one of the most reliable and comprehensive websites in its field. “Refworld 2013 is more intuitive, looks better, can handle non-Roman script search terms and has improved search options. I have tried it myself and can assure you that finding the information you are looking for has become much easier,” he said.

“Without proper procedures, in which reliable country of origin information is available and well-used, people who need international refugee protection may not be able to access it,” Türk said, referring to the process of refugee status determination or asylum procedures. “Therefore, refugees and the stateless are the people who ultimately benefit from Refworld’s improved capacity to find relevant protection information faster.”

Refworld’s unparalleled collection of protection information has been developed over more than two decades by UNHCR’s Electronic Publishing Unit and the Division of International Protection. It initially appeared in CD-ROM and DVD formats and in 2007 went online.

A powerful and easy-to-use web application, it has been developed to meet the highest standards and best practices in online information management. It includes improved possibilities for browsing the collection of more than 167,000 documents by region and/or country, by publisher, by topic or keyword and by document type. In addition, it has a powerful full text search engine and advanced search facilities, including a thesaurus which allows for the inclusion of variations of search terms.

Refworld is updated daily and includes thematic pages on topics of importance to UNHCR such as refugee status determination, statelessness, mixed migration, sexual orientation and gender identity, and people trafficking.

It enhances UNHCR’s international protection mandate by making protection information available to everyone. UNHCR intends to develop different language versions of Refworld, starting with a Russian version later this year.


Historians and Charities | Voluntary Action History Society

Historians and Charities

Posted on May 6, 2013 by Blog Editor

Fresh from talking to Save the Children about their founders and their early days, Emily Baughan writes for us on what historians and charities can learn from each other.

When I first began research in the archives of Save the Children, they were housed in the organisation’s UK head offices in London. As I read harrowing accounts of the 1921 Russian famine, I sat metres away from a team organising deliveries of food and medicine to famine stricken regions in Niger during the 2010 East Africa Famine Appeal. Witnessing these two food crises unfold alongside each other, I saw that the questions and problems being faced by the staff as Save the Children today were similar to those which confronted their predecessors over almost ninety years before. This experience left me with a conviction that historians can and should have important inputs into conversations about contemporary humanitarian practice and policy.

If historians wish to be heard by humanitarian organisations which, by their very nature, lurch from one crisis to the next, they must find ways to make their research accessible. One very obvious way of doing this is by directly talking to organisations, as I enjoyed doing at Save the Children offices in Cardiff and London this spring.

The early leaders of Save the Children, sure that they would be remembered as the ‘heroes of the age’, were careful to compile a ‘devastating mass of documents for a future history-reading generation’. They even spoke of their ‘pity’ for the historians who unearthed their prolific paper trail! Yet, conscious of this future interest in their work, they began to mythologise their origins and sought to obscure instances of conflict and controversy. They did so by centring the story of Save the Children’s early years upon one of their early leaders, Eglantyne Jebb, who was portrayed as a saintly figure ‘ahead of her time’ in her concern for ‘all the word’s children’ in a period of nationalism and xenophobia.

Full article via Historians and Charities | Voluntary Action History Society.


News on CMRB EUBorderscapes Project


Bordering, Political Landscapes and Social Arenas: Potentials and Challenges of

Evolving Border Concepts in a post-Cold War World

EUBorderscapes, financed though the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, is a new international research project that tracks and interprets conceptual change in the study of borders. It is a large-scale project with a consortium that includes 22 partner institutions from 17 different states, including several non-EU countries. The EUBorderscapes project will study conceptual change in relation to fundamental social, economic, cultural and geopolitical transformations that have taken place in the past decades. In addition, major paradigmatic shifts in scientific debate, and in the social sciences in particular, will also be considered. State borders are the frame of reference, rather than ethnographic/anthropological boundaries. However, this approach emphasises the social significance and subjectivities of state borders while critically interrogating “objective” categories of state territoriality and international relations. The research proposed here will, furthermore, not only be focused at the more general, at times highly abstract, level of conceptual change. This project will also compare and contrast how different and often contested conceptualisations of state borders (in terms of their political, social, cultural and symbolic significance) resonate in concrete contexts at the level of everyday life.

CMRB’s Role

CMRB’s Prof. Nira Yuval-Davis is co-ordinating work package 9 of the project – Borders, Intersectionality and the Everyday. The central objective of the work package is to promote hitherto neglected areas of border research agendas that address lived, experienced and intersectional (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity) aspects of state borders. The bordering perspective will thus be developed in terms of discursive, practical and interpretational categories that reflect issues of citizenship, identity and transnational migration. This work package will also explore how borders affect groups with regard to gender, race, citizenship, socio-economic status and sexuality. The comparative perspective will encompass in-depth case studies that involve internal Schengen borders (UK/France) and the external EU border (Finland/Russia). In addition, an urban case study (London) of intersectionality and bordering will be carried out.

Full details via Contact – Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB).

19th century immigrants’ records released online | The National Archives

The records of thousands of 19th century immigrants to Britain are

now available to search and download online. The collection, which covers the period 1801 to 1871, includes records relating to more than 7,000 people who applied to become British citizens under the 1844 Naturalisation Act, as well as a small number of papers relating to denization, a form of British citizenship that conferred some but not all the rights of a British subject.

Applicants were required under the act to present a memorial to the Secretary of State at the Home Office stating their age, trade and duration of residence. These papers are now available online for the first time.

They include a rich mix of individuals from across the world, including a large number of immigrants from French and German states, as well as Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Poland, Sweden and the Italian states.

The majority settled in London, establishing immigrant communities, such as ‘Little Italy’ in Clerkenwell, which still exist today. Many Italian immigrants were ice cream makers, plasterers, confectioners, restaurateurs, and shop keepers, while many German immigrants settled in the East End of London working in the sugar refineries and in the meat and baking trades.

The upheaval caused by the European revolutions of 1848 caused an upsurge in political exiles, while the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park in London in 1851 attracted pioneers of industry from across Europe as the country embarked on the industrial revolution.

You can read more about the series on The National Archives’ blog and search the records in Discovery, our catalogue.

Full article via 19th century immigrants’ records released online | The National Archives.


Files that may shed light on colonial crimes still kept secret by UK | UK news | The Guardian

Secret government files from the final years of the British empire are still being concealed despite a pledge by William Hague, the foreign secretary, that they would be declassified and opened to the public.

The withheld files are among a huge cache of documents that remained hidden from view for decades at an undisclosed Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) archive, in breach of laws governing the handling of official papers. Once the existence of the archive became known to lawyers for a group of elderly Kenyans who are trying to sue the British government over the abuses they suffered during the Mau Mau insurgency, Hague ordered an inquiry and promised disclosure.

He told MPs: “I believe that it is the right thing to do for the information in these files now to be properly examined and recorded and made available to the public through the National Archives. It is my intention to release every part of every paper of interest subject only to legal exemptions.”

Full article via Files that may shed light on colonial crimes still kept secret by UK | UK news | The Guardian.


Kenyan Mau Mau victims in talks with UK government over legal settlement | World news | The Guardian

The British government is negotiating payments to thousands of Kenyans who were detained and severely mistreated during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency in what would be the first compensation settlement resulting from official crimes committed under imperial rule.

In a development that could pave the way for many other claims from around the world, government lawyers embarked upon the historic talks after suffering a series of defeats in their attempts to prevent elderly survivors of the prison camps from seeking redress through the British courts.

Those defeats followed the discovery of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office (FCO) had kept hidden for decades, and which shed new and stark light on the dying days of British rule, not only in Kenya but around the empire. In the case of the Mau Mau conflict, the secret papers showed that senior colonial officials authorised appalling abuses of inmates held at the prison camps established during the bloody conflict, and that ministers and officials in London were aware of a brutal detention regime in which men and women were tortured and killed.

Full article via Kenyan Mau Mau victims in talks with UK government over legal settlement | World news | The Guardian.


Refugee Archive: Off-Air Recordings WB 10/05/2013

The following off-air requests were made for the Refugee Council Archive for the week beginning the 10 May 2013:

Friday 10 May

0900-0945: BBC Radio 4: The Hutton Inquiry.

Saturday 11 May

0530-0600: BBC News: Our World: Ukraine’s Aids Racket.  Series Recording.

Sunday 12 May

2100-2200: Channel 5: (3/3) The Truth About Travellers.  Series Recording.

Monday 13 May

2000-2030: Channel 4: Dispatches Murder in Tenerife.

2030-2100: BBC1: Panorama Jobs for the Boys?

2100-2200: Yesterday: (1/3) The Crusades Part 1: The Holy Land Whole Series if Possible Please.

Thursday 16 May

2000-2100: BBC2: (2/2) Bradford: City of Dreams.

Friday 17 May

 1930-1955: Channel 4: Unreported World – Episode 6. Bangladesh Woman’s Driving School Series Recording.