Forced Migration

In this page, you will find interesting information about forced migration, as well as  news and recommended readings.


Refugee Republic

Refugee Republic is an interactive documentary about everyday life in Domiz Camp, an overcrowded Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq, which through a combination of drawings, film, photography, sound and text creates a sensory experience that aims to enrich the existing image of refugees and refugee camps.Unknown

Synopsis: For the first time since the Second World War there are more than 50 million refugees worldwide. The hundreds of refugee camps across the world are rapidly growing into mini-societies, with refugees as citizens and relief organizations as governments. Like any others, the refugee-citizens make home improvements, go to the baker, look for work or start up a business, seek entertainment, fall in love, argue with the neighbours, get married and have children, who also go to day care centres after school.

For Dutch journalist Martijn van Tol, one of the minds behind Refugee Republic, the images that reach us from refugee camps are incomplete.
images“I mean, try Googling refugees on Google Images,” he says. “The images that were coming to me from the mainstream media were images of women sitting in front of tents waiting for help, children with dusty faces . . . , men standing around a UNHCR truck for the handing out of food and water. People depending on us, waiting for our help.”

While those images are obviously real—and refugees do desperately need help—it’s not the whole story. “People usually stay in refugee camps for many years and sometimes even decades,” van Tol says. “Instead of people passively waiting for help, it was very dynamic, busy, there was even a certain kind of optimism, confidence, and there were restaurants and entertainment. If you would brush the logos of relief organizations, who were everywhere, from your eyes, you could find yourself in an emerging city. Interview with Martijn van Tol originally posted by Adele Peters.



A broken system

Recommended article, originally posted by Amnesty International.

f95b0ca5024bfe20fc8e306dfb2093f6bf70bcf8The world’s system for protecting refugees is broken. It is obvious – from Australia to South Sudan’s vast camps, from Istanbul’s cold streets to the European Union’s heavily fortified walls. This has to change, now. Amnesty is putting forward eight solutions for how world leaders – in particular, the richest countries – can start tackling this massive humanitarian crisis together.

1. Opening up safe routes to sanctuary for refugees. 

2. Resetting all refugees who need it. 

3. World leaders need to put saving lives first.

4. Whether they travel by land or by sea, people fleeing persecution or wars should be allowed to cross borders, with or without travel documents. 

5. All countries should investigate and prosecute trafficking gangs who exploit refugees and migrants, and put people’s safety above all else. 

6. Governments need to stop blaming refugees and migrants for economic and social problems, and instead combat all kinds of xenophobia and racial discrimination. 

7. Start funding ‘broke’ UN properly.

8.  Approaching asylum as a human right. That involves setting up strong refugee systems: allowing people to apply for asylum, treating their refugee claims fairly, resettling the most vulnerable of all, and providing basics like education and healthcare.

None of these eight solutions are impossible to achieve, if politicians listen to the millions of people saying “refugees welcome”, and put solidarity and compassion above petty wrangling over who should host a few thousand refugees.




Special Issue: Syrian refugee crisis  


The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis

Recommended article by Brad Evans originally posted on The New York Times, May 2, 2016.


“Cat Eating a Bird,” 1939, by Pablo Picasso

Humanity is in crisis —- and there is no exit from that crisis other than the solidarity of humans. The first obstacle on the road to the exit from mutual alienation is the refusal of dialogue: that silence that accompanies self-alienation, aloofness, inattention, disregard and indifference. Instead of the duo of love and hate, the dialectical process of border-drawing needs to be thought therefore in terms of the triad of love, hate and indifference or neglect that the refugee, in particular, continues to face.”


The Syrian refugee crisis: More than meets the eye

Recommended article, originally posted by Asylum Access.


“The war in Syria has been devastating for the region, it has produced a crisis felt by the entire globe. But with all eyes on Europe, many have missed the bigger picture. Any response that guarantees the rights of Syrian refugees in the long-term must look beyond humanitarian aid for a long-term, sustainable solution”. 



UNHCR concerned over EU-Turkey plan56de989c6

On March 8 the European Union and Turkey announced an agreement to curb refugee flows to Europe. The UN Refugee Agency had expressed concern over this deal aimed to solve Europe’s refugee crisis.   To read the full High Commissioner’s speech, please click here.

“As a first reaction, I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law,” Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Tuesday.



Turkey as a Safe Third Country?

Article written by Orçun Ulusoy. Originally posted on March 29 by Border Criminologies. 

“The EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan has caused a heated debate on the humanitarian crisis that is currently taking place at the borders of EU (…) According to the Plan, Turkey can be regarded as a safe third country. This may not be the case. Recent events in Askale―a small remote town in the east of Turkey, which also hosts a deportation centre for irregular migrants―illustrate why regarding Turkey as a safe third country is, to say the least, questionable”.  In Askale “[L]ocal lawyers  have started to report unlawful practices of the staff working in the centre, such as access to clients being arbitrarily blocked, clients’ asylum applications being denied without proper examination, minors being kept in isolated cells without access to family members, and possible cases of ill treatment and torture”.


The Turkish Parliament adopted in 2013  the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP), which came into power in April 2014. “It grants all basic human rights to migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in line with EU legislation”.

“The EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan assumes that since there is a law to guarantee the rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, Turkey should be regarded as a safe third country and asks Turkey to ensure access to effective asylum procedures for all persons in need of international protection. However, migrants in Askale Removal Centre have a very different idea and experience of this ‘safe country’ and its ‘effective asylum procedures.’”

“It’s true that Turkey has a new asylum law but the Turkish asylum and migration system is still in its infancy. Inexperienced, under-equipped, under-trained, and under the wrong influences, this system is far away from providing a safe haven for migrants and refugees. Today, it’s only creating a legal limbo where migrants and asylum seekers are waiting without seeing their futures.”      





Forced migration news & recommended readings:


Asylum Seekers and Refugees Lack Protection in Thailand 

imagesOn March 16, 2016, seven human rights organizations published a joint submission to the UN Human Rights Council with the aim of improving the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in Thailand. The joint UN submission calls on Thailand to commit to concrete actions to respect, protect, and promote the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, and survivors of human trafficking during its upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism by which the United Nations Human Rights Council examines every country’s human rights record. 

“Thailand is home to an estimated 130,000 refugees, but it is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no domestic laws governing refugees. Refugees are considered illegal migrants and are routinely denied fundamental rights including legal status, freedom from detention and deportation, access to safe and lawful employment, and equal protection of the law”.

Read the official press release here.



Immigration Detention in the Gulf: Global Detention Project Special Report

While much has been reported on the abuses labour migrant workers often suffer, very Unknownlittle is known about what happens to them when they are arrested and detained. This GDP Special Report helps fill this gap.

The report shows that while all the Gulf states provide constitutional guarantees against arbitrary or unlawful arrest and imprisonment, they all make widespread use of forms of immigration-related detention for the purposes of punishing or deporting foreigners, often in situations that may be considered arbitrary or otherwise contrary to human rights norms. Read report.



Burundi’s refugees tell stories of ethnic targeting

burundi-refugeees-e1454497794870Recommended reading. Article wrote by  Samantha Lakin about local testimonies from refugees in Burundi that suggest that some parties to the conflict may be exploiting Hutu-Tutsi divides.

“We refugees are the real ones who are suffering,” says Jean Bosco. “Let us be heard.”

Burundi’s turmoil certainly began as a political dispute, but there are fears that ethnicity has since been instrumentalised by actors in the conflict for their own gain. The testimonies of some refugees – whose voices tend to have been neglected in the debate around Burundi thus far – seem to support these concerns.



Freedom of Movement Conference 2016 phpThumb_generated_thumbnail

Freedom of Movement: Exploring a Path from Armed Conflict, Persecution, and Forced Migration to Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, and Development

‘Our Responsibility to Refugees and Immigrants in Addressing Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, and Development in Response to Armed Conflict, Persecution, and Displacement’

Menno Simons College’s Conflict Resolution Studies department is pleased to be hosting Freedom of Movement, the 9th Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS), which will be chaired by Dr. Stephanie Stobbe, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at MSC.

Conference dates: May 12-14, 2016. For more information about the conference enter here.



Vluchthuis in The Hague (Refugee House)

Is this so far-fetched?

Sometimes a picture says it better…

Since January 2013, a group of between 40 and 80 mostly destitute men, from countries as diverse as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Egypt, have been living in a church building, previously empty for four years.  Until mid-December 2012, the protestors were in tents near Central Station, in the Koekamp.

This year, in early October, the Social Justice Perspectives major group went to visit the refugees, to find out more about their situation and conditions.  The impression was one of courage in the face of crisis. The refugees have recently had a court case and it looks as though the owners of the church want to demolish the building.  There is a sense of despair, combined with plenty of hospitality and solidarity among those who live in the building, and some of the local people.


The Vluchthuis is well organised, with working groups for different activities, including food, maintenance, health, legal advice and public relations.  They also have their own website, which means ‘the right to exist’.  And this all they are really seeking – the right to exist legally since none of them can go back to their own countries.


rechtopbestaan-vredespaleis3The photo  shows some refugees demonstrating in September 2013 in front of the Peace Palace, including some from the Vluchthuis. One protestor was injured by police on this occasion. We hope to continue to be in touch with the refugees and to invite to hear them explain their struggle for justice, which has already lasted more than a year.  Since none can go home, and none can remain legally in The Netherlands, as one student remarked, the refugees are in effect stateless persons.  Their courage and sense of solidarity is exemplary; they may be persecuted, but they are not simply victims, but also active agents.


Refugee policies should be based on fact, not fictionimages

‘Academic research suggests detaining asylum claimants is expensive, harmful to claimants, and doesn’t deter.’ By Susan McGrath, director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. Published March 14, 2012

Canadian policy-making on refugee issues is ignoring the evidence of leading researchers in the field. Empirical research that would improve refugee legislation and the practices of our refugee determination system is being overlooked to the detriment of refugees and the Canadian public. Professor Delphine Nakache of the University of Ottawa recently completed a detailed 100-page report on the Canadian immigration detention system managed by the Canada Border Services Agency.  Her research raises a number of concerns about the current system including its legality and practices. A key example is the immigration detention process.

The Centre for Refugee Studies at York University has been producing leading research for almost 25 years and is hosting the global refugee research network of over 1,000 members.  The May 2011 conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at York University featured over 120 research presentations. Canadian policy-makers and policy-makers elsewhere now have a rich resource of refugee research to draw on and our refugee policies and practices need this knowledge and expertise if they are to be legal and humane. [The question is: when will they start to use it ? HH]




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International Institute of Social Studies

Conflict and Peace Studies is a specialization within the Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies MA Major in Development Studies. This blog provides a platform for discussion for researchers, students and others interested in this field of studies. The blog is administered by the Conflict and Peace Studies teaching team.

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