Responsibility Sharing for Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants in Need of Protection

A report of the Scalabrini Migration Study Centers
June 2017

Credit: Alun McDonald/Oxfam

International Migration Policy Report: Responsibility Sharing for Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants in Need of Protection



The 2017 International Migration Policy Report is the first in an expected series of annual reports on international migration policy and refugee protection by the global network of think tanks or study centers founded by the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians. These institutions are members of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN). The Scalabrini migration study centers consist of the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) in the United States, the Scalabrini Migration Center (SMC) in the Philippines, the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA) in South Africa, the Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos (CEMLA) in Argentina, the Centro de Estudios Migratorios (CEM) in Brazil, the Centre d’Information et d’Études sur les Migrations Internationales (CIEMI) in France, and the Centro Studi Emigrazione Roma (CSER) in Italy. The purpose of these reports will be to focus on pressing global migration and refugee protection challenges in all parts of the world and to offer policy suggestions to address them.

The inaugural issue will focus on global responsibility sharing for large movements of refugees and migrants, a timely issue given the recent adoption of the New York Declaration on the Large Movement of Refugees and Migrants at the United Nations. This report also considers some of the issues which should be addressed during the deliberations on the Global Compact on Responsibility Sharing for Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

In his address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in January of 2016, His Holiness Pope Francis spoke of the connectedness between nations and how the global migration crisis can be solved only through the collaboration of the entire international community. “As things presently stand,” the Holy Father said, “there is no place for autonomous solutions pursued by individual states, since the consequences of the decisions made by each inevitably have repercussions on the entire international community. Indeed, migrations, more than ever before, will play a pivotal role in the future of our world, and our response can only be the fruit of a common effort respectful of human dignity and the rights of persons.” The 2017 International Migration Policy Report by the Scalabrini migration study centers explores the degree to which nations make “common effort” to address large movements of migrants and refugees around the world and recommends how they can collaborate more effectively.

The papers in this volume are produced by Scalabrini study centers in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa; Manila, Philippines; New York City, United States; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and São Paulo, Brazil. They highlight and analyze large movements of refugees and migrants in their parts of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. They offer comprehensive policy responses to each of these movements, consistent with the protection of human rights and Catholic teaching.

In his paper, Rohingyas: The People For Whom No One Is Responsible, Graziano Battistellia, c.s., executive director of SMC in Quezon City, Philippines, examines the plight of the Rohingya minority ethnic group in Myanmar, which has been persecuted over several decades by the Myanmar government and other actors. The paper provides a historic overview of the conflict in the region between the Rakhine and the Rohingya in Rahkine State, the long-standing patterns of discrimination against the Rohingya, and recent outflows of Rohingya from the region. It also critiques the global response to the outflows and the neglect which drives it. Finally, the author identifies the issues both in Rakhine State and internationally that should be addressed and offers policy suggestions to this ongoing humanitarian crisis based on a responsibility sharing model.

Sergio Carciotto and Aquilina Mawadza of SIHMA in Cape Town, South Africa, address the humanitarian situation in South Sudan in their paper, South Sudan: A Young Country Divided by Civil War. The refugee crisis generated by the civil war is one of the most challenging on the African continent, according to the authors, with more than 1.6 million internally displaced and close to one million Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. More than 70 percent of the refugees are children. The authors trace the history of the conflict, which began in December 2013, examine the refugee population it has produced, analyze the regional and international response to the humanitarian crisis, and offer recommendations for action and the need for responsibility sharing among the global community.

In their paper, Politics and Responsibility Sharing in Facing the Migration Crisis in Europe, Luca Marin of CIEMI in Paris, Fr. Aldo Skoda Pashkja, executive director, and Carola Perillo, research director, of the CSER of Rome, and Mattia Vitiello, researcher of the Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies in Rome, look at the crisis in responsibility sharing in Europe which led hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa to enter Europe in 2015 and 2016. The authors give an overview of the situation of refugees in the European Union (EU), the patterns of migration leading to Europe, the political response from the EU, and recommendations for action. The EU provides the structure for responsibility sharing which, the authors point out, is not being utilized. Security is one reason behind this lack of cooperation, but a fear of being overwhelmed by the number of arrivals and changes to the composition of their countries and the European continent is another. The authors also discuss the need for effective integration policies to address these concerns.

Turning to the Americas, similar patterns of migration emerge. In their article, The Challenges of Migration Trends and Shared Responsibility in Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Martinez of CEMLA in Buenos Aires, and Ernesto Rodriguez Chavez of CEM in São Paulo, look at Latin American and Caribbean migration trends, the forces behind them, and how nations have responded to these migration patterns.

The authors point to poverty, endemic violence in Central America and parts of South America, and natural disasters as forces pushing migrants in the hemisphere and suggest that current international instruments, if honored, could help alleviate the situation. These include the New York Declaration on the Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development, and the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, among others.

Looking at North America, Kevin Appleby, senior director for International Migration Policy for SIMN and CMS, writes about large refugee and migrant populations arriving at the US border and how the US and Mexico, along with other nations in the region, have responded to them. Appleby examines the flow of unaccompanied minors and families from the Northern Triangle of Central America — Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala — which began in earnest in 2014 and how the policy deployed by the United States and Mexico to deter the flow has failed. He offers recommendations to shift the US policy from one of deterrence to protection.

The paper, entitled Knocking on the Door: Vulnerable Populations at the US-Mexico Border, also looks at the large number of Cubans fleeing persecution in their homeland and Haitians fleeing persecution and natural disasters in Haiti. Populations from Africa, Asia, and the Near East have also arrived at the US-Mexico border in large numbers. Appleby points out that the groups at the US-Mexico border are seeking asylum in the United States, not looking to enter the country illegally.

Each of the papers in this volume analyzes a regional migration crisis and discusses how it should be addressed through regional and international arrangements. It is hoped that these studies will lead to a formula or a set of model policies and responses that can be usefully employed in situations of displacement throughout the world.