Daily Archives: Sunday, April 19, 2015

Q&A: what is being done to stem migrant crossings in the Mediterranean?

Postcards from ...

By Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham [This article was originally published on The Conversation]

The UN refugee agency has heavily criticised efforts to tackle the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe after a boat capsized off the coast of Libya, with up to 400 migrants believed to have died.

Nando Sigona from Birmingham University, who studies patterns in migration and refugees, explains what is being done to tackle this deadly problem.

Why are migrants risking their lives?

Syrians and Eritreans make up the bulk of those attempting such desperate and dangerous journeys. Years of civil war in Syria means that those who initially moved to neighbouring countries are losing hope of being able to return to Syria in the near future and are looking for a place to rebuild their future. Hopelessness and desperation are very powerful drivers for migration.

What has been done to try…

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Daily International News Stories Round-up 04/19/2015

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Archives in the News: Updates from the UEL Archives (weekly)

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Refugee Council Archive: Daily News Stories On Refugee and Forced Migration 04/19/2015

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New Articles on Refugee and Forced Migration Issues (weekly)

  • “This article critiques the binary approach adopted in the European Union Qualification Directive (2004) and the United Kingdom’s Qualification Regulations (2006) requiring proof of both a “protected characteristic” and “social perception” for victims of human trafficking when they are seeking to avail themselves of refugee status on the basis of their membership of a “particular social group”. Adopting a post-colonial critique suggestive of law’s “epistemic violence” on those already violated, the article considers how the binary approach can be squared, eschewing a Western and euro-centric formulation which overemphasizes hybridity at the expense of material realities. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Refugee resettlement organizations in the US are tasked with implementing employment policies for newly arrived refugees, yet there is limited research explaining how refugee resettlement organizations operate. Workfare literature that deploys a street-level perspective to understand welfare-to-work policy explains that with the expansion of privatization and contracting, street-level organizations are in a position to determine what workfare policy looks like on the ground. This article draws on original data from an organizational ethnographic study of two urban refugee resettlement organizations and a street-level analysis of the implementation of refugee employment policy. The major contributions of this article are an analysis of the formal and informal mechanisms by which performance measure pressures associated with employment policy contracts were conveyed to refugee resettlement organization staff, and the identification of two novel practice behaviours I call cherry-picking and broadening the resource pool. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “The core argument of this edited volume is that humanitarian crises cause large-scale and diverse movements of people, and that only a fraction of these migrants are protected by existing international, regional or national laws. This premise implicitly gives the book three functions: documenting diverse experiences of contemporary migration caused by humanitarian crises, developing ‘crisis migration’ as an analytical concept, and calling for more consistent and effective responses to such migration.

    In the introduction, the editors define humanitarian crises as ‘any situation in which there is a widespread threat to life, physical safety, health or basic subsistence that is beyond the coping capacity of individuals and the communities in which they reside’ (p. 5). Such crises may evolve slowly or erupt suddenly, and they may result from either natural or human factors, or a combination of the two. Examples include hurricanes, earthquakes, epidemics, droughts, floods, industrial accidents, terrorism, generalized … ”

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “With the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East since 2011, the region has experienced profound change. The long-term socio-political prospects remain difficult, if not impossible, to discern. As the movements of migrants and refugees have increased dramatically, ongoing developments are as far-reaching as bewildering. At a minimum, notions of nationhood and polity are being contested and questions of undisputable significance are laid bare. How does security relate to migration in the Middle East? How is the relationship being redefined as a result of continuing and deepening regional instability? What defines citizenship in the Middle East and how does this apply to migrant workers? These are some of the main issues that Seeberg and Eyadat’s edited volume, Migration, Security and Citizenship in the Middle East, sets out to unpack. The collection is ambitious in a two-fold endeavour: it both speaks to the central problems of today’s Middle East, and uncovers subaltern and counterintuitive facets on the ideas and practices of citizenship”

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Anne Hammerstad’s new book charts the tumultuous and triumphant journey of this unique UN entity, an entity that is simultaneously an international organization working to promote co-operation between member states, and a quasi-state providing the frontline services for multitudes residing in legal limbo outside their sovereign domiciles. The book is thus an attempt to comprehend ‘the processes through which UNHCR responds and adapts to new pressures and changing circumstances, and how the ideational level of perceptions, beliefs and discourse is crucial to understanding such processes’ (p. 3). The book is divided into three parts. The first sets the stage through an explanation of the conceptual lenses employed, with a discussion on the importance of discourse and the power of ideas. The second section details the intellectual history of UNHCR from its creation to the present. The third examines the high profile global interventions in Iraq, Bosnia, Zaire and Afghanistan that either shaped, tested, or bolstered UNHCR. The author’s main thesis is that UNHCR’s rise and decline was grounded in its ability to construct and utilize … “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “This review article compares Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen’s analysis in Access to Asylum, with the outcomes of three recent landmark decisions of the European Court of Human Rights: Hirsi Jamaa, Al Skeini and Al Jedda. The central question of Gammeltoft-Hansen’s book is whether new practices of states in the field of immigration control—in particular extraterritorialization efforts such as push-back operations on the high seas or migration control in foreign territorial jurisdictions—have induced a progressive reaction in the relevant human rights courts. By examining its case law, this article demonstrates that the ECtHR is willing to use its interpretative tools to extend the human rights obligations beyond state territory if the involved state wishes to go that far. The ECtHR makes clear that it will counterbalance the circumvention of human rights and refugee rights obligations by providing a new interpretation to the concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction, which involves in particular a shift to a more functional reading of the effective control test. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Using narrative methodology this paper analyses the life stories of 25 former refugees from two African countries, resettled in Australia. Study findings demonstrated a salient divergence between the stories of the two communities; within which there were also individual differences in structure and content of participants’ narratives. Five narrative types were identified along a continuum from detailed disclosure to near-complete silence about traumatic events and experiences. They were: (1) avoiding narratives; (2) struggling narratives; (3) prompted narratives; (4) narratives exceeding demarcated boundaries of disclosure; and (5) returning narratives. We discuss these differences in narrative structure, narrated experience, identity reconstruction, and meaning-making within the context of the personal, interpersonal, sociocultural and historical influences that have shaped the lives of participants. Findings were supported by interviews with 25 resettlement agency staff. Broader implications of the study’s findings for therapists and researchers working with refugees are also discussed. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Every year, millions of people are forcibly displaced as a result of natural or human-made disasters. Although a significant proportion are persons living with a disability, remarkably little is known about the incidence and type of disabilities they experience. To design services that best respect rights and address needs, effective procedures must be devised to identify persons with disabilities in situations of displacement. This article draws on initial findings from research funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, conducted with the cooperation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in four countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Uganda. It examines methods used by UNHCR and its partners for identifying disability in populations of displaced persons. The authors present a tool for the identification of disabilities designed to overcome some of the challenges observed. They argue that to reflect the values enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, identification tools should not focus simply on impairment, using a medical approach or disability labelling. Rather, questions should be asked about functionality and a person’s assistance needs. Proper identification of disability would go some way to ensuring equal access to appropriate assistance and protection for all refugees. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “The concept of biopower is often used in the analysis of contemporary aid. Referring to a power that is exercised over life and that operates through self-government, it seems very appropriate for the operations of humanitarian agencies, particularly in refugee contexts. This article critiques the application of biopower in studies of humanitarianism, arguing that many aid operations are based on top-down control, rather than self-government and the internalization of norms. As an illustration, I examine a supplementary feeding programme in South Sudan, looking at how food was provided, how hunger was measured, and pointing out the hierarchical and paternalistic control involved. As well as suggesting that biopower often lacks relevance in refugee contexts, I also argue it has been applied too broadly. By being associated with a vast array of humanitarian practices, it risks losing any analytical utility, becoming a substitute for detailed descriptions of power. This article seeks to return to that detail, describing a humanitarian programme and pointing out some discrepancies with the ever-popular notion of biopower, which, I argue, has a tendency to be applied without an adequate definition. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Previous research on the integration of asylum seekers and refugees has aimed to develop conceptual frameworks for understanding integration or to measure the extent to which people are integrated. However, this research tends to pay insufficient attention to the rhetorical functions of integration discourse. The current study addresses this gap through a discursive analysis of ‘lay’ accounts of asylum seeker and refugee integration in Glasgow, Scotland. The analysis highlights that accounts of integration ‘failure’ may support ‘two-way’ conceptions of integration while still blaming asylum seekers for any lack of integration. Furthermore, accounts of integration ‘success’ may reinforce assimilationist policies or otherwise function to reinforce the view that adult asylum seekers generally do not integrate. The analysis highlights the importance of attending to the rhetorical functions of integration discourse in order to understand how particular policies and practices are supported or criticized at the community level at which integration takes place. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “The literature on the “new global land grab” has to date been preoccupied with macro and theoretical studies, resulting in a lack of in-depth local studies. This article uses a Liberian case study and quasi-anthropological methods to address this imbalance. In Liberia, historical confrontations over resource access that are tied to issues of land ownership have been given new life by the interjection of a Malaysian palm oil corporation. Elders, as the biggest potential losers in the confiscation of land, have successfully linked themselves to NGOs and transnational advocacy campaigns that publicize land grabbing and pressure for international standards and compliance. At the same time, young men who largely came of age during the civil war have been rendered invisible and palpably frustrated. In exploring the generational divide that has characterized the Sime Darby plantation, this article not only reveals that land grabbing has its supporters as well as its detractors, but also unmasks the role that NGO advocacy networks play in local politics and in shaping the narratives that the wider world hears about the response of African communities to new development trends. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “This article draws attention to a trend in which military deployments as part of peacekeeping missions have triggered army mutinies in some West African countries. It explains how participation in peacekeeping missions created new material grievances and a sense of injustice amongst the peacekeepers, which under certain conditions sparked domestic mutinies. These uprisings in West Africa follow a history of military disobedience in the region, and the article places them in the context of long-standing tensions within military organizations. Mutinies often symbolize and intensify divisions within armed forces, which can lead to further instability even after the mutiny is resolved. Therefore, it is important for those interested in building and maintaining effective militaries to understand the ways in which deployments and peacekeeping participation can contribute to unrest within the armed forces. The article draws on interviews with former mutineers, including peacekeepers, and others military personnel in West Africa, as well as media reporting, including public statements made by mutineers, academic writing, and archival research. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “David Harris’s most recent book examines the nature of post-conflict elections as determinants of peace in the twenty-first century. Tracing the development of conflict resolution more broadly in post-Cold War Africa, but looking in particular at these two West African cases, Harris examines the role of elections as the crux of conflict termination in the contemporary era and the problematic role they have come to occupy when coupled with concepts of post-conflict justice. He probes the role of the international community in cementing the primacy of the post-conflict election and conceptions of transitional justice, notably the emergence not only of the International Criminal Court but also of ad hoc hybrid systems such as the Sierra Leone Special Court (SLSC).

    Harris’s text begins with an introduction to the literature on contemporary conflict resolution more broadly, but specifically in relation to the African continent and the emergence of the ‘new war’ thesis in respect of Africa’s myriad intra-state conflicts. Harris provides a very useful overview of the thematic considerations and developments in relation to conflict in Africa, probing ideas of ethnicity and motivation, such as the ‘greed’ vs ‘grievance’ debate (pp. 1–37). … ”

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Nina Wilén’s book is a bold effort to tackle the complex notion of ‘sovereignty’, by pursuing what appears at first glance to be a rather straightforward inquiry: ‘how to stabilize a country through external intervention without destabilizing its sovereignty’ (p. 1). From a theoretical standpoint, the study aims to contribute to the discussion on how justifications for interventions stabilize or destabilize the concept of sovereignty, and how this affects the exercise of sovereignty in a target state (the concern of her first two sub-questions). Its empirical contribution is an analysis of how sovereignty is interpreted by the external actors in charge of reinforcing it, and the consequences of their interpretation (her second two sub-questions). She pursues her lines of inquiry through analysing regional and international interventions in Liberia, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Voted into power in the first democratic elections held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the government of Joseph Kabila has presided since 2006 over a nation that remains plagued by recurring violence, pervasive corruption, and stuttering development. Independent journalist Michael Deibert’s second book follows earlier journalistic and academic works that sought to make sense of the instability afflicting the DRC. This volume offers an overview of the nation’s pre-colonial and colonial epochs, independence movement, and early post-colonial era, before focusing on the period after the Second Congo War. Combining first-hand interviews with primary and secondary sources, this painstakingly researched – albeit event-driven – narrative surveys the regional situation, especially the interventionist ambitions of Rwanda and Uganda, and ponders Congo’s complex patchwork of inter-ethnic relations. Deibert takes issue with the fact that the violence marring the country has drawn wide commentary, but the underlying economic and political interests are often overlooked. His book does not provide a clear argument, preferring to dissect issues that help explain why this Central African nation has been struggling to attain peace … “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “After Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, policies of ‘national unity and reconciliation’ have been at the heart of the ruling RPF government’s attempt to construct a strong Rwandan society through top-down decisions. Susan Thomson’s political ethnography provides a fresh bottom-up perspective by giving voice to peasants from southern Rwanda who ‘whisper their truth to power’ in manifold ways. Some 82 per cent of Rwandans are subsistence farmers, often patronized as uneducated and non-political actors by the elites. Thomson argues that the question of ‘national unity and reconciliation’ is not one of ethnicity, as government would have it, but one of poverty. In pursuing their economic survival, the peasants Thomson spoke to recognize the RPF’s social engineering efforts as a means of social control and manipulation, while trying to circumvent these policies by acts of ‘everyday resistance’. Anticipating that her book might be perceived as controversial by many readers, Thomson attempts to forestall critique by beginning her monograph with an extensive …”

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “Comparative studies have shown that, along with individual and group characteristics, the context of settlement and the context of exit influence the political incorporation of migrants in the host country (region/locality). Yet does the context of settlement influence political participation of migrants in the country (region/locality) they left behind? In this article we study electoral participation of Colombian expatriates in their home country by analyzing Colombians’ intentions to participate in the 2010 elections. In order to assess the factors that shape this participation, we analyzed data from a survey of Colombians in five cities in the United States and Europe. We find that individual resources and social capital factors are superseded by motivational, migratory, and institutional (registration) factors. More important for our concern, we also find that the local context in which migrants are embedded creates significant variation in expatriates’ electoral participation. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “This article provides a simple framework for studying migrants’ incentives to acquire country-specific skills and proposes an optimal immigration policy from the host country’s point of view. The article focuses on the optimal cultural composition of migrants. It shows that as long as the integration costs are not too asymmetric among migrants of different countries of origin, cultural heterogeneity is beneficial to the host economy. To some extent, the model explains why immigration policies have changed over time and why they still differ across countries. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “In this article it is argued that ‘the journey’—as an embodied form of travel from one place to the other—is a fruitful analytical starting point to bring migration and tourism studies in closer dialogue with each other. With our focus on the ‘en route’ behaviour and experiences of two prototypical mobile figures (the transient migrant and the backpacker), we go beyond the usual categorical divisions of human mobility based on temporality (temporary tourists vs. long-term migrants) and politicization (welcomed tourists vs. unwanted migrants). With our empirical findings on migrants’ journeys and our analysis of published articles in tourism studies, we identify three aspects (personal transformation, social networking and risk taking) along which we conceptually mirror and merge the embodied journeys of the prototypical travellers. The analysis identifies relevant commonalities of different mobility processes and illustrates that individuals on the move easily jump over the categorical divide of migrants/tourists across time and space. We finally use these insights to contribute further to a mobility-driven research agenda in migration studies. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

  • “How do return migrants’ experiences of legality abroad influence their attitudes and practices toward the law in their country of origin? Theoretically, I advance an argument that return migrants’ legal consciousness could be considered a form of social remittance. However, in response to valid criticisms of the concept, I innovate upon it in three ways. First, I give the social remittances a narrower focus by empirically examining the values, attitudes and practices of legality, both positive and negative. Secondly, to ensure that the social remittances could indeed be traced to migration-related transfers, I base my analysis on in-depth interviews with return migrants and family members of Ukrainian migrants regarding their personal experiences of legality abroad and ‘at home’. I thereby reveal the nuances and subtle differences in the collective ‘Ukrainian’ legal consciousness beyond the ‘national mainstream’: where return migrants’ fatalism about law’s potential for upholding justice coexists with a sense of agency about capacity to achieve change outside the formal state law. Thirdly, I posit that legal consciousness not only reflects how certain socio-legal practices flow across borders, but also the ways in which the migrants themselves (and their families) innovate upon and interpret such ‘remittances’ in different ways. The results elaborate upon Levitt’s and Lamba-Nieves’ (2010) observations that social remittances work in both directions and are thus shaped not only by people’s experiences prior to migration and in their respective host countries, but are also adapted to the conditions they encounter upon their return. “

    tags:newjournalarticles

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