The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) has recently released four new resources describing and proposing solutions to the challenges faced by refugees and forcibly displaced persons globally. A new CMS essay, provides an overview of the Venezuelan crisis and closely examines legal contexts and responses of countries receiving Venezuelans. A new paper from CMS’s Journal on Migration and Human Security outlines the legal protections afforded migrants in places of armed conflicts and describes the obstacles to realizing those protections in the context of the Yemeni and Libyan conflicts. CMS has also published a new story from Omar al-Muqdad, a prominent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former Syrian refugee. Al-Muqdad reflects on a Syrian refugee camp that was set ablaze and shares the hopes of Abdul Qadir, a father living in a Syrian refugee camp. A new video interview with Donald Kerwin, executive director of CMS, provides an informal overview and reflection on the world’s forcibly displaced persons and the conditions they face at the advent of a new year. Finally, CMS and Refugee Council USA released an exhaustive report on ways to rebuild and strengthen the US refugee resettlement program.
In spite of the prevailing security dynamics in Yemen and Libya, both states continue to serve as areas of transit along some of the world’s largest mixed migration routes, leaving migrants caught in the crossfire of the two conflicts. This article examines the legal framework governing the protection of migrants in armed conflict under international humanitarian and human rights law. It also identifies two adverse incentives produced by the conflict situations that impede the exercise of these legal protections: (1) profits derived from migrant smuggling and trafficking, and (2) the use of migrants to support armed groups. In the absence of stable conditions in Yemen and Libya, individuals have little reason to respect international legal protections and discontinue migrant abuse connected with the lucrative businesses of smuggling and trafficking. The intractable nature of the two conflicts has also led to the strategic use of migrants as armed support, and more specifically as combatants, weapons transports, and human shields. Given these realities, the article outlines several recommendations to address the issue of migrant abuse in conflict. It recommends that states, particularly those neighboring Yemen and Libya, strengthen regular migration pathways to help reduce the number of migrants transiting through active conflict zones. It further advises that the international community increase the cost of non-compliance to international humanitarian law through the use of accountability mechanisms and through strategic measures, including grants of reciprocal respect to armed groups that observe protections accorded to migrants in conflict situations.
With a new year on the horizon and the world focused on the coronavirus pandemic, another harsh winter has arrived at the door of the squalid refugee camps where hundreds of thousands struggle to survive and retain their human dignity. Many harsh winters have passed over Syrian and many other refugees with what seems like total indifference from the world’s governments, including some who were strongly committed to refugee acceptance in the past.
In this interview, Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, provides an update on the conditions facing refugees and forcibly displaced persons throughout the world. He also shares findings from the recent CMS and Refugee Council USA report on refugee resettlement and he reflects on the connection between refugees, the Christmas story, and Catholic Social Teaching.
This report analyzes the US refugee resettlement program – known as “USRAP” (the US Refugee Admissions Program) – leveraging data from a national survey of resettlement stakeholders conducted in 2020. The survey examined USRAP from the time that refugees arrive in the United States. The survey’s design and questionnaire were informed by three community gatherings organized by Refugee Council USA in the fall and winter of 2019, extensive input from an expert advisory group, and a literature review.
This report finds that USRAP serves important purposes, enjoys extensive community support, and offers a variety of effective services. Overall, the survey finds a high degree of consensus on the US resettlement program’s strengths and objectives, and close alignment between its services and the needs of refugees at different stages of their settlement and integration. Because USRAP’s infrastructure and community-based resettlement networks have been decimated in recent years, the Biden administration’s main challenges will be to rebuild and revitalize the program, educate the public on it, and try to regain broad, bi-partisan support for it. The report also points to specific ways in which USRAP’s programs and services should be strengthened.
This panel examined trends in international migration and migration-related policies in the context of pandemics of disease, racism, and violence. It examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related policies on migrants and refugees, drawing on a growing body of research on how pandemics affect marginalized communities. The intersection of the health pandemic and the pandemics of racism and violence also disproportionately affect persons of color, including migrants and refugees. This panel lifted up promising international, national, and local approaches to the immense challenges facing immigrants, refugees, and their communities of origin and destination. Panelists also discussed the role of immigrants and refugees in economic and social recovery.
Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emeritus School of Foreign Service
Former Assistant Secretary
Population, Refugees and Migration
U.S. State Department
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Professor of the Practice and Director
Center for Humanitarian Health
Johns Hopkins University
Former Research Director
Center for Migration Studies
UN Population Division
University of California, Davis
This Sunday, September 27th the Church celebrates the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. On this occasion, Pope Francis issued a timely letter entitled Like Jesus, Forced to Flee. In the letter, the Holy Father summarizes the reality facing so many displaced people throughout the world who have been forced to flee for their lives during the worldwide pandemic.
Nadra and Ghazel first came to North America as refugees. Today, they participate in their communities as mothers, teachers, learners, and leaders. Although much of the literature on refugee resettlement focuses on refugee-serving agencies, refugee women can have a profound impact on fellow refugees in their new home communities. Interviews from 2017 and 2019 with Nadra and Ghazel about their post-resettlement experiences reveal insight into both the nature and effects of moral agency under constraint. The constraints refugee women encounter in the United States operate like a downward-turning spiral; with each twist of the “spiral,” a new obstacle appears that makes overcoming subsequent obstacles all the more daunting. However, Nadra’s and Ghazel’s narratives indicate that acts of moral agency—characterized by hopeful risk, holistic care, and future-oriented imagination—can reverse the direction of the spiral by lowering barriers to integration and expanding opportunities for refugee women, their families, and their communities to thrive.
Uganda has long promoted refugee self-reliance as a sustainable livelihood strategy with progressive land-allocation and free-movement-for-work policies. Framed as a dialogue with Oxford University Refugee Studies Centre (“the Centre”), this article explores sustainable solutions that benefit refugees as well as the host populations that receive them. It explores the self-reliance opportunities that depend on the transnational, national, and local markets in which refugees participate. It acknowledges the Centre’s substantial work and welcomes its focus on economic outcomes. For Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda, however, the discussion of “refugee economies” may not be complete without problematizing the effects on the host populations living alongside the refugees.