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.
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 plenary panel of leading scholars explored the role, promise, and course of migration research and scholarship at a time of multiple crises. It particularly examined the importance of scholarship that crosses disciplines, competencies, and areas of expertise.
Professor, Geography and the Environment
Director, Autonomous Systems Policy Institute
International Migration Review
Global Development Institute
University of Manchester
Professor of Economics
University of California, Merced
Ali R. Chaudhary
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Faculty Associate, Rutgers Program on South Asian Studies and the Center for Security, Race & Rights
Brenda S.A. Yeoh
Raffles Professor of Social Sciences, Department of Geography
Director, Humanities and Social Science Research Office of the Deputy President
National University of Singapore
Venezuelan returnees are turning around and new migrants are joining them to walk to Colombia and other receiving countries in the subregion. The direction of the migration flow is changing, and it seems unstoppable. Meanwhile, the number of returnees entering Venezuelan legal checkpoints seems to be decreasing. Since last September, groups of youths, women, children, and entire families are daily walking back to Colombia using informal border paths.
This article comprehensively examines international migration trends and policies in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It begins by reviewing migration developments throughout the past 60 years. It then examines pandemic-related migration trends and policies. It concludes with a series of general observations and insights that should guide local, national, regional, and international policymakers, moving forward. In particular, it proposes the following:
- National measures to combat COVID-19 should include international migrants, irrespective of their legal status, and should complement regional and international responses.
- Localities, nations, and the international community should prioritize the safe return and reintegration of migrants.
- States and international agencies should plan for the gradual re-emergence of large-scale migration based on traditional push and pull forces once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.
- States should redouble their efforts to reconcile national border security concerns and the basic human rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
- States and the international community should accelerate their efforts to address climate-related migration.
- States of origin, transit, and destination should directly address the challenges of international migration and not minimize them.
More than 4,000 Venezuelan citizens, stranded in 10 countries, have demanded repatriation flights to Venezuela, according to news reports. For more than three months, Venezuelans living in vulnerable situations during the pandemic have been waiting for flights in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, Panamá, and the United States. Joselin Ferrer, a 41 years old lawyer, is one of the few Venezuelans who has been able to return to her country.