International Developments and Responses amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) data indicates that there are approximately 281 million people living outside of their country of origin and they represent 3.6 percent of the global population. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that by mid-2020, the world’s population of forcibly displaced people and refugees surpassed 80 million. International migrants and the forcibly displaced have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic due to border closures, travel restrictions, unemployment, and xenophobia, racism, and stigmatization. They have been among the world’s most vulnerable persons to the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences.

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Climate-Induced Migration

In its Climate-Induced Migration Initiative, CMS seeks to explore the connection between climate change and migration, provide analysis of international efforts to address climate-induced migration, and share policy ideas that address the challenges of communities most affected by environmental degradation.

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What We Know About Climate Change and Migration

People’s circumstances, available choices, and decisions on movement are affected by climate change. However, it is too simplistic and empirically inaccurate to suggest that climate change causes human movement. First, while scientific efforts are evolving, in general attributing a specific event or phenomena solely to climate change is difficult. Second, the impacts of climate change are never the sole ‘cause’ of human movements. Third, personal and household characteristics, as well as obstacles and facilitators, influence decisions on movement.

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Recent Work on Refugees & Forcibly Displaced Persons

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.

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The Hope of Refugees as a New Year Approaches

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.

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An Update on Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons Globally – December 2020

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.

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New from IMR: Migration Infrastructure, Policy, and Public Attitudes

The Fall 2020 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition is thematically sorted into four sections. The first section has articles about different aspects of migration infrastructure. The second section discusses migrant labor market outcomes, with a focus on education, employment, and selection. The third section examines migration policies across scales, such as local voting, geopolitical influences, and enforcement questions. The fourth section examines immigration and public attitudes focusing on political elites and media use. Lastly, this edition includes 11 book reviews which are free to access.

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Panel II • Migration Policy in the Midst of Multiple Pandemics

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.

Susan Martin

Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emeritus School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University

Anne Richard

Former Assistant Secretary
Population, Refugees and Migration
U.S. State Department

Eskinder Negash
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Former Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

Paul Spiegel
Professor of the Practice and Director
Center for Humanitarian Health
Johns Hopkins University

Joseph Chamie
Former Research Director
Center for Migration Studies
Former Director
UN Population Division

Philip Martin
Professor Emeritus
University of California, Davis

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Panel I • The Role of Migration Scholarship at a Time of Multiple Crises

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.

Jamie Winders

Professor, Geography and the Environment
Director, Autonomous Systems Policy Institute
Syracuse University
International Migration Review

Oliver Bakewell

Senior Lecturer
Global Development Institute
University of Manchester

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes
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
Rutgers University

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

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