• Unpicking the notion of ‘safe and legal’ routes

    Introduction

    The last ten years have brought a growing recognition of the need to address the issue of mixed and irregular migratory movements through the introduction of pathways that enable people to move from one country and continent to another in a safe and legal manner. As well as averting the need for refugees and migrants to embark on dangerous and expensive journeys involving unscrupulous human smugglers, such routes promise to mitigate the negative perceptions of states with respect to the impact of such movements on their sovereignty, security, and social stability.

    This essay examines the context in which the discourse on safe and legal routes has emerged and identifies the different types of organised pathways that have been proposed by states and other stakeholders. Focusing particularly on population movements from the global South to the global North, it discusses the opportunities, difficulties, and dilemmas associated with this approach to the governance of cross-border mobility. More specifically, it scrutinises the increasingly popular assumption that the introduction of such routes will lead to significant reductions in the scale of mixed and irregular migration.
    The context

    In the mid-1980s, the world’s most prosperous states began to express concern about the growing number of foreign nationals arriving irregularly on their territory, many of whom subsequently submitted applications for refugee status. Regarding such movements as a threat to their sovereignty, and believing that many of those applications were unfounded, over the next two decades those countries introduced a range of restrictive measures designed to place new physical and administrative barriers in the way of unwanted new arrivals, especially those originating from the global South.

    The limitations of these measures were dramatically exposed in 2015-16, when up to a million people, initially from Syria but subsequently from several other countries, made their way in an unauthorised manner to the European Union, many of them travelling via Türkiye. Reacting to this apparent emergency, the EU adopted a strategy pioneered in earlier years by Australia and the United States, known as “externalisation”. This involved the provision of financial and other incentives to low- and middle-income states on the understanding that they would obstruct the outward movement of irregular migrants and readmit those deported from wealthier states.

    At the same time, governments in the developed world were beginning to acknowledge that mixed and irregular movements of people could not be managed by exclusionary measures alone. This recognition was due in no small part to the efforts of human rights advocates, who were concerned about the negative implications of externalisation for refugee and migrant protection. They also wanted to highlight the contribution that foreign nationals could make to destination countries in the global North if they were able to move there in a regular and orderly manner. The common outcome of these different discourses was a growing degree of support for the notion that the establishment of safe and legal routes could minimise the scale and mitigate the adverse consequences of mixed and irregular movements.

    This was not an entirely new approach. As then UN secretary-general Kofi Annan had argued in the early 2000s, international migration, if governed in an appropriate manner, could have “win-win outcomes”, bringing benefits to countries of origin, countries of destination, and migrants alike. But to attain those outcomes, certain conditions had to be met. In the words of the Global Commission on International Migration (GCM), a body established by Mr. Annan:

    It is in the interest of both states and migrants to create a context in which people migrate out of choice and in a safe and legal manner, rather than irregularly and because they feel they have no other option. Regular migration programmes could reinforce public confidence in the ability of states to admit migrants into their territory on the basis of labor market needs. Programmes of this kind would also help to create a more positive image of migrants and foster greater public acceptance of international migration.

    Migration governance initiatives

    In recent years, and especially since the so-called “European migration crisis” of 2015-16, this notion has been taken up by a number of different migration governance initiatives. Focusing primarily on labour migration, the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration (GCM) cited “enhanced availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration,” as one of its key objectives. Endorsed by the majority of UN member states, the GCM extended this approach to the realm of forced migration, encouraging the international community to “develop or build on existing national and regional practices for admission and stay of appropriate duration based on compassionate, humanitarian or other considerations for migrants compelled to leave their countries of origin.”

    At the same time, the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), also adopted in 2018 and which was even more widely endorsed by the international community, underlined the necessity for people who were fleeing persecution and armed conflict to have access to safe and legal routes. “There is a need,” it said, “to ensure that such pathways are made available on a more systematic, organised and sustainable basis, that they contain appropriate protection safeguards, and that the number of countries offering these opportunities is expanded overall.”

    Similar approaches have emerged in the context of regional migration governance initiatives. The EU’s 2011 Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, for example, acknowledged the importance of “preventing and reducing irregular migration and trafficking in human beings” by “organising and facilitating legal migration and mobility.” The more recent EU Pact on Migration and Asylum also “aims to reduce unsafe and irregular routes and promote sustainable and safe legal pathways for those in need of protection.” “Developing legal pathways,” it says, “should contribute to the reduction of irregular migration.”

    In 2022, the Summit of the Americas, a meeting of states that focussed on the issue of human mobility in the western hemisphere, endorsed the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. Using language similar to that of the EU Pact, it committed participating states to “a shared approach to reduce and manage irregular migration,” and to “promoting regular pathways for migration and international protection.” Signatories expressed their commitment “to strengthen fair labor migration opportunities in the region,” and “to promote access to protection and complementary pathways for asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons.”

    As indicated by the declaration’s reference to “labor migration opportunities”, the recognition of the need for safe and legal pathways to be established is closely linked to another recent development: a growing and global shortage of workers. In many industrialised states, members of the existing labour force are aging, taking retirement, quitting, or changing their jobs. The Covid-19 pandemic prompted those countries to introduce new border controls and stricter limits on immigration. Taking advantage of these circumstances, employees have been able to demand better wages and working conditions, thereby pushing up the cost of producing goods and providing services. Confronted with these threats to their profitability, the private sector has been placing growing pressure on governments to remove such restrictions and to open the door to foreign labour.
    Safe and legal routes

    As demonstrated by the migration governance initiatives described in the previous section, there is now a broad international consensus on the need to provide safe and legal routes for people who wish or feel obliged to leave their own country. There is also an agreement, supported by a growing volume of academic research, that the provision of such routes has a role to play in reducing the scale of mixed and irregular migration and in boosting the economies of destination states. But what specific forms might those safe and legal routes take? The next section of this essay answers that question by describing the principal proposals made and actions taken in that respect.
    Labour migration programmes

    One such proposal has been labour migration programmes established on a permanent, temporary, or seasonal bases. The rationale for such programmes is that they would allow people from poorer countries who are in need of employment to fill gaps in the labour markets of more prosperous states. As well as boosting the economies of destination countries, such programmes would allow the migrants concerned to enhance their skills and to support their countries of origin by means of remittances.

    Until recently, for example, there have been only limited legal opportunities for the citizens of Central and South American countries, especially those with lower levels of skill, to join the US workforce. At the 2022 Summit of the Americas, however, President Biden indicated that he would introduce a package of measures designed to manage northward migration more effectively, including the establishment of safe and legal routes for Latin Americans. According to one US spokesperson, “we will have announcements related to labor pathways as part of the Los Angeles Declaration, designed to ensure that those pathways meet the highest labor standards and are not used for abuse or for a race to the bottom.”

    Mexico, another signatory to the declaration, has already taken steps in this direction, offering border worker visas to Guatemalans and Belizeans wishing to work in the country’s southernmost states—an initiative intended to meet the labour needs of the area while reducing the number of people from those two countries arriving and working in an irregular manner.

    Turning next to Germany, in 2015-16, at a time when the country was receiving large numbers of new arrivals from the Western Balkan states, most of whom submitted unsuccessful asylum claims, a new employment regulation was introduced. This opened the labour market for nationals of those countries, on condition that they had a valid job offer from a German employer.

    Since that time, EU member states more generally have begun to acknowledge the need to recruit employees from outside the bloc. Thus in April 2022, the European Commission launched what it described as “an ambitious and sustainable legal migration policy,” including “specific actions to facilitate the integration of those fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into the EU’s labour market.” In the emphatic words of the commissioner for home affairs, “legal migration is essential to our economic recovery […] while reducing irregular migration.”

    A more preemptive approach to the issue has been taken by Australia, whose Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme allows businesses to recruit seasonal and temporary workers from ten Pacific island states. The purpose of the scheme is to meet Australia’s domestic labour market needs, to promote regional cooperation and development, and, in doing so, to avert the kind of instability that might provoke unpredictable and irregular movements of people.
    Refugee-related programmes

    When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, large numbers of people displaced by the hostilities began to make their way to neighbouring and nearby member states of the European Union. While the EU has made vigorous and often inhumane efforts to exclude asylum seekers originating from other parts of the world, even if they had strong claims to refugee status, in the case of Ukraine steps were quickly taken to regularise the situation of the new arrivals. Refugees from Ukraine were allowed to enter the EU without a visa, to enjoy residence and work rights there for up to three years, and to move freely from one member state to another.

    This arrangement, known as “temporary protection”, was based on a number of considerations: the geographical proximity of Ukraine to the EU, the great difficulty that the EU would have had in trying to obstruct the movement, a humanitarian concern for people who had been obliged to flee by the conflict, and a particular readiness to support the citizens of a friendly country that was suffering from the aggression committed by Russia, a state with a long history of enmity to the EU and NATO. While it remains to be seen how effectively the Ukrainians can be absorbed into the economies and societies of EU member states, in the short term at least, the temporary protection system provided a means of channeling a very large and rapid movement of people into routes that were safe and legal.

    Looking beyond the specifics of the Ukrainian situation, UNHCR, the UN’s agency for refugees, has in recent years made regular calls for governments—predominantly but not exclusively in the global North—to establish and expand the scale of state-sponsored refugee resettlement programmes. Such efforts enjoy limited success, however, partly because of the serious cuts made to the US resettlement quota by the Trump administration, and partly because of the restrictions on movement introduced by many other countries as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the aftermath of the 2015-16 “migrant crisis”, moreover, European countries were reluctant to consider the admission of additional refugees, even if they were to arrive in an organised manner.

    In a more positive development, the decade since the beginning of the Syrian refugee emergency in 2012 has delivered a new focus on the establishment of privately- sponsored resettlement programmes, enabling families as well as neighbourhood, community, and faith-based groups in the global North to sponsor the reception and initial integration of refugees from countries of asylum in the global South. Canada has taken a particular lead in this respect, establishing private sponsorship programmes for Afghan, Syrian, and Ukrainian refugees, with Australia, the US, and some European countries also experimenting with this particular form of safe and legal route.

    A similar approach can be seen with respect to the notion of “humanitarian corridors”, an initiative taken by Italian church-affiliated groups. Self-funded but closely coordinated with the government in Rome, this programme has enabled religious communities in Italy to welcome hundreds of refugees from Ethiopia, Greece, and Lebanon. Discussions are currently underway with a view to expanding this model to other European states.

    Recent years have seen a growing interest in the notion of labour mobility for refugees, arrangements whereby refugees with specific skills and qualifications are allowed to leave their country of asylum in order to take up pre-arranged employment opportunities in another state. An approach first proposed more than a decade ago but largely unimplemented since that time, the potential of such initiatives has now been recognised by Australia, Canada, and the UK, all of which have recently established pilot programmes of this type.

    In similar vein, humanitarian organisations have promoted the notion that refugees in developing countries of asylum should be able to benefit from scholarship programmes in states that are better equipped to provide them with appropriate education at the secondary and tertiary levels. The implementation of this approach has been boosted considerably by the emergencies in Syria and Ukraine, both of which have prompted universities around the world to make special provisions for refugee students.

    When people move from one country to another in the context of a refugee crisis, a common consequence is for family members to be separated, either because some have been left behind in the country of origin, or because they lose contact with each other during their journey to a safer place. In response to this humanitarian issue, the international community has for many years supported the notion of family reunification programmes, organised with the support of entities such as the International Organization for Migration, UNHCR, and the Red Cross movement. Most recently, there has been a recognition that such programmes also have a role to play in reducing the scale of irregular movements, given the frequency with which people engage in such journeys in an attempt to reunite with their relatives.
    Relocation and evacuation programmes

    Other arrangements have been made to enable refugees and migrants to relocate in a safe and legal manner from countries that are not in a position to provide them with the support that they need. In the EU, efforts—albeit largely unsuccessful—have been made recently to establish redistribution programmes, relocating people from front-line states such as Greece and Italy, which have large refugee and migrant populations, to parts of Europe that are under less pressure in this respect.

    In a more dramatic context, UNHCR has established an evacuation programme for refugees and migrants in Libya, where they are at serious risk of detention and human rights abuses, and where escape from the country by boat also presents them with enormous dangers. A safe and legal alternative has been found in an arrangement whereby the most vulnerable of these people are transferred to emergency transit centres in Niger and Rwanda, pending the time when other countries accept them as permanent residents.

    Finally, proposals have been made with respect to the establishment of arrangements that would allow people who are at risk in their country of origin to move elsewhere in a safe and legal manner. For individuals and families, this objective could be attained by means of humanitarian visas issued by the overseas embassies of states that wish to provide sanctuary to people who are threatened in their homeland.

    On a larger scale, orderly departure programmes might be established for designated categories of people who feel obliged to leave their own country and who might otherwise have no alternative but to move by irregular means. An important—but as yet unreplicated— precedent was set in this respect by a 1980s programme that allowed some 800,000 Vietnamese citizens to relocate to the US and other western countries with the authorisation of the Hanoi government, sparing them from the dangerous journeys that the “boat people” had undertaken in earlier years.
    The potential of regular pathways

    It is not surprising that the notion of safe and legal routes has attracted so much attention in recent years. They are in the interest of refugees and migrants, who would otherwise have to embark on difficult and often dangerous journeys. They are in the interest of states, who have much to gain from the orderly and authorised movement of people. And they are in the interest of international organisations that are struggling to respond to large-scale and unpredicted movements of people, and which are trying to ensure that human mobility is governed in a more effective, human and equitable manner.

    At the same time, there is a need to scrutinise the popular assumption that such measures can substantially reduce the scale of mixed and irregular migratory movements, and to address the many difficulties and dilemmas associated with the establishment of such pathways.
    Scaling up

    Despite all of the rhetorical support given to the notion of regular pathways in recent years, the number of people who are able to access them is still very modest. And there are a number of reasons why they might not be scaled up to any great extent. First, the Covid-19 pandemic, which erupted unexpectedly not long after the GCM and GCR had been negotiated, caused many governments to act with a new degree of caution in relation to the cross-border movement of people. And while the pandemic has subsided, states may well prefer to retain some of the immigration restrictions they introduced in the context of the pandemic.

    Second, and more recently, the need for states in Europe and beyond to admit large numbers of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine seems certain to limit their enthusiasm and capacity for the establishment of safe routes for people from other parts of the world. With many thousands of people from those two countries left without jobs and in temporary accommodation, the introduction or expansion of other pathways would simply exacerbate this problem.

    While the admission of overseas workers appears to be a way of addressing the demographic deficits and labour market needs of the industrialised states, are the citizens and politicians of those countries ready to acknowledge the need to admit more foreign nationals, even if they arrive in a managed manner? Immigration has become a toxic issue in many of the world’s more prosperous states, and few governments or opposition parties are willing to run on electoral platforms that advocate an increase in the number of new arrivals from other parts of the world.

    In the context described above, it should come as no surprise that most of the orderly pathway initiatives introduced in recent years (such as privately sponsored resettlement, humanitarian corridors, evacuation, and relocation programmes) have all operated on a modest scale and have often been established on a pilot basis, with no guarantee of them being expanded.

    For example, when in 2021 the British home secretary introduced a new labour mobility programme for refugees, she boldly announced that “those displaced by conflict and violence will now be able to benefit from access to our global points-based immigration system, enabling them to come to the UK safely and legally through established routes”. In fact, only 100 Syrian refugees from Jordan and Lebanon will benefit from the programme over the next two years.

    And the UK is not an isolated case. According to a recent study, in 2019 the OECD countries provided complementary pathways to fewer than 156,000 people from seven major refugee-producing countries. Two-thirds of them were admitted on the basis of family reunion, with the remaining third split equally between people granted visas for work and for educational purposes. That 156,000 constituted just 0.6 percent of the global refugee population.
    Reducing irregular migration

    Even if safe and legal routes could be established and expanded, what impact would that have on the scale of irregular migration? That is a difficult question to answer, partly because the evidence on this issue is so limited, and partly because it is methodologically challenging to establish causal linkages between these two phenomena, as demonstrated by two recent studies.

    With respect to the German labour programme in the Western Balkans, one analyst has suggested that although the number of asylum applications from that region did indeed drop after the new initiative was introduced, “one cannot credibly single out the exact effect the Western Balkan Regulation had on reducing irregular migration from the region to Germany”. The author goes on to say that “the regulation was only one of many policy measures at the time, including many restrictive measures and faster processing times of asylum applications as well as the ‘closure’ of the Western Balkan route.” Consequently, “it is not possible to isolate the exact causal role the Western Balkan Regulation may have played.”

    A case study of Mexico and the US reaches a similar conclusion, suggesting “there is evidence that lawful channels for migration between Mexico and the US have suppressed unlawful migration, but only when combined with robust enforcement efforts,” including the intensification of border controls that facilitated the apprehension and return of migrants crossing the frontier in an irregular manner. This conclusion on the close relationship between safe pathways and enforcement, shared by both studies, is ironic, given that some of the strongest NGO advocates for the former are most vocal in their opposition to the latter!

    A more general review of the evidence on this matter also casts doubt on the notion that an expansion of safe and legal routes will necessarily lead to a reduction in irregular movements. Looking specifically at labour migration programmes, the study says that they are often proposed “on the basis of an assumption of a rerouting effect, whereby migrants who would otherwise arrive and enter the asylum system or stay in a country without legal status will be incentivised to try and access a legal work permit from home rather than migrate illegally.” But the validity of that assumption “will depend on the capacity of legal pathways to accommodate the number of low-skilled workers who want to migrate, but lack permission to enter their desired destination.”

    That statement concerning the number of people who would like to or have been obliged to migrate but who have been unable to do so in a safe and legal manner is readily substantiated in numerical terms. Most estimates suggest that around 15 million irregular migrants are to be found in the US and Europe alone, with millions more in countries such as India, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. According to UNHCR, there are some 30 million refugees worldwide and more than 4.5 million asylum seekers who are waiting for their applications to be processed. A worldwide survey undertaken in 2018 concluded that some 750 million people, 15 percent of all the world’s adults, would move to another country if they had the opportunity to do so.

    Given the growing demand for migration opportunities in poorer regions of the world, coupled with the general reluctance of the industrialised states to facilitate the large-scale admission of people who want to move there, it is difficult to see how this square can be circled. The most likely scenario is that the supply of opportunities for regular migration will be unable to meet the demand, meaning that aspirant migrants who are not selected for regular entry will still have a strong incentive to move in an irregular manner.

    Indeed, it can also be argued that the establishment of safe and legal routes intensifies the social networks linking countries of origin and destination, enabling those migrants who move in a regular manner to inform the compatriots they have left behind of the opportunities that exist in the countries to which they have moved and to send remittances to people at home that can be used to pay the costs of a clandestine journey to the same location. In this respect, instead of reducing levels of irregular migration, the establishment of safe and legal routes might actually contribute to their growth.
    Selection criteria and processes

    In addition to the scale of the routes that might be established and their potential impact on levels of irregular migration, a number of other issues must be considered in the context of this discourse.

    First, the notion of safe and legal pathways is based on the idea that states should control the arrival of foreign nationals on their territory, determining how many should be admitted, what countries they should come from, why they wish or need to move to another country, what their demographic profile is, and what skills they should have. In other words, for safe and legal routes to work effectively, states and other stakeholders have to establish selection criteria and processes that allow the admission of some people who would like to move, while refusing entry to others. This is not a principle accepted by some refugee and migrant advocates, for whom the notion of safe and legal routes has become a disguised proxy for “open borders”.

    Almost inevitably, moreover, different constituencies within receiving states will be pushing for priority to be given to certain categories of people. Humanitarians will want the emphasis to be on refugees. Diaspora families and communities will favour family reunification programmes and community-sponsored resettlement. The private sector will argue the case for the admission of people with the skills and capacity to fill gaps in the labour market in a cost-effective manner. Universities will argue the case for visas to be granted to refugees and other foreign citizens with the necessary qualifications or academic aptitude. The selection process is therefore likely to be a contested and controversial one, potentially limiting governmental enthusiasm for the notion of safe and legal routes.
    Status and rights

    Second, as the attempt to regularise migratory movements proceeds, some important questions will have to be addressed in relation to the status and rights of the new arrivals and the organisation of such programmes. In the context of labour migration programmes, for example, would people be admitted on a temporary or permanent basis, and in the latter case would they eventually be able to acquire permanent resident rights or citizenship? Would they be tied to a single employer or allowed to move freely in the labour market? Would they enjoy the same pay, rights, and working conditions as citizens of the countries in which they are employed?

    A somewhat different set of issues arises in the context of labour mobility initiatives for refugees. Will they be allowed to leave their countries of asylum by the governments of those states and, more importantly, would they be able to return to it if employed abroad on a temporary basis? As some refugee lawyers have mooted, would they be at risk of being deported to their country of origin, and thereby be at risk of persecution, if their country of first asylum refused to readmit them? And if they were readmitted to their country of first asylum, would they have full access to the labour market there, or find themselves returning to a refugee camp or informal urban settlement where only informal and low-income livelihoods opportunities exist?

    With respect to privately sponsored resettlement, there is some evidence, especially from Canada, that refugees who arrive by this route fare better than those who are admitted by means of state-sponsored programmes. But there are also risks involved, especially in emergency situations where the citizens of resettlement countries are, for good humanitarian reasons, eager to welcome refugees into their homes and neighbourhoods, and where the state is only too happy to devolve responsibility for refugees to members of the community.

    A particular case in point is to be found in the UK’s sponsorship scheme for Ukrainian refugees, in which some of the new arrivals have found themselves matched with inappropriate sponsors in isolated rural locations and with few affordable options available with respect to their long-term accommodation.
    State manipulation

    Third, the establishment and expansion of safe and legal routes could have adverse consequences if misused by destination countries. With respect to resettlement, for example, UNHCR has always insisted that refugees should be selected on the basis of their vulnerability, and not in terms of what the organisation describes as their “integration potential”.

    That principle might prove more difficult to uphold in a context where alternative pathways are being discussed, specifically targeted at people on the basis of their skills, qualifications, language abilities, family connections and value to the labour market. Rather than expanding their refugee resettlement programmes, as UNHCR would like them to do, will destination countries prefer to make use of pathways that enable them to cherry-pick new arrivals on the basis of perceived value to the economy and society?

    At the same time, there is a risk that states will use the establishment of organised pathways as a pretext for the exclusion of asylum seekers who arrive in an independent manner and by irregular means. That has long been the approach adopted by Australia, whose policy of interception at sea and relocation to remote offshore processing facilities is justified by the government on the grounds that the country has a substantial refugee resettlement programme. Rather than taking to boats and “ jumping the queue”, the authorities say, refugees should wait their turn to be resettled from their country of asylum, however difficult that might be in practice.

    Taking its cue from Australia, the UK is in the process of establishing a formalised two-tier asylum system. On one hand, “bespoke” admissions programmes will be established for refugees from countries in which the UK has a particular geopolitical interest, most notably Afghanistan and Ukraine. On the other hand, the asylum claims of people arriving in the UK in an irregular manner, such as by boat across the English Channel (including those from Afghanistan and Ukraine) are now deemed inadmissible, and many of those arriving in this way are detained and liable to deportation to Rwanda without the possibility of returning to the UK, even if their refugee claim is recognised by the authorities in Kigali. At the time of writing, however, there is no evidence that this policy will have its intended effect of deterring irregular arrivals, nor indeed whether it will ever be implemented, given the legal challenges to which it is being subjected.
    Regularisation

    Finally, while much of the recent discourse on irregular migration has focused on the extent to which its scale and impact can be minimised by the establishment of safe and legal pathways, it must not be forgotten that many destination countries already have substantial populations of people who are officially not authorised to be there: so-called “illegal immigrants”, unsuccessful asylum seekers, and foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas, to give just three examples.

    No serious attempt to address the issue of irregular migration can avoid the situation and status of such people, although questions relating to their regularisation, whether by means of amnesties or by other measures. have not featured at all prominently in the recent discourse on international mobility.

    Interestingly, the GCM avoids the issue completely, presumably because it is deemed to be a matter that lies within the jurisdiction of sovereign states. If an attempt had been made to include the question of regularisation in the compact, it would almost certainly have been endorsed by fewer states. Nevertheless, any discussion of irregular migration must involve a consideration of those people who are living and working in countries where they do not have a legal status, as countries such as Spain, Ireland, and Italy have started to recognise. It is an issue that warrants much more attention at the national and multilateral levels, irrespective of its controversial nature.
    Conclusion

    A strong case can be made for the introduction and expansion of safe and legal migratory routes, as has been recognised by a plethora of recent initiatives relating to the governance of international mobility. But expectations of them should be modest.

    While such routes may have a limited role to play in reducing the scale and impact of mixed and irregular movements, they appear unlikely to have the transformative effect that some participants in the migration discourse have suggested they might have. Such routes are also likely to be a contentious matter, with some states using the notion of safe and legal routes as a pretext for the introduction of draconian approaches to the issue of irregular migration, and with migrant advocates employing the same concept as a means of avoiding the more controversial slogan of “open borders”.

    As indicated in the introduction, this essay has focused to a large extent on mixed and irregular migration from the global South to the global North, as it is those movements that have prompted much of the recent discourse on safe and legal routes. But it should not be forgotten that most migratory movements currently take place within the global South, and that some 85 percent of the world’s refugees are to be found in low and middle-income countries.

    Looking at the migration and refugee scenario in the developing world, there are perhaps greater grounds for optimism than can be found by focusing on the industrialised states. With some exceptions (South Africa being a prime example), countries in the global South are less exercised by the issue of irregular migration.

    Two regions—South America and West Africa—have established rather successful freedom-of-movement arrangements for their citizens. And despite some restrictive tendencies, encouraged in many instances by the externalisation policies of the global North, developing countries have kept their borders relatively open to refugees, as demonstrated by the presence of so many Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh, South Sudanese in Uganda, Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon, and Venezuelans in a host of neighbouring and nearby states.

    In an ideal world, the cross-border movement of people would indeed take place in an exclusively voluntary, safe, and orderly manner. But that scenario cannot be envisaged in an era that is characterised by failures of global governance, widespread armed conflict, growing regional inequalities, intensifying environmental disasters, and the climate crisis, not to mention the general unwillingness of politicians and the public to countenance large-scale immigration and refugee arrivals. Looking to the future, there is every reason to believe that large numbers of people will have to move out of necessity rather than choice, in an unpredictable and irregular manner.

    https://mixedmigration.org/articles/unpicking-the-notion-of-safe-and-legal-routes

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #voies_sures #voies_légales #frontières #1980s #menace #2015 #externalisation #refugee_compact #pacte_migratoire #global_compact_for_safe_orderly_and_regular_migration #global_compact_on_refugees #global_compact #relocalisation #régularisation #ouverture_des_frontières #Jeff_Crisp #safe_routes #legal_routes

  • Discussion #Frontex et #MSF sur twitter...

    Tout commence par un tweet de Frontex, le 13.11.2020 :

    Ruthless people smugglers put dozens of people in danger today. Thankfully a Frontex plane saw the overcrowded boat near Libyan coast and issued mayday call. We also alerted all national rescue centres. 102 people were rescued by Libyan Coast Guard. Sadly, 2 bodies were recovered

    MSF répond le 14.11.2020 :

    How many boats do you see & not report to the NGOs who could have rescued them?
    How many people have you watched die without alerting the world to what reality looks in the #Med?
    What happens to the people you facilitate the Libyan Coast Guard in trapping & forcing back to Libya?

    https://twitter.com/MSF_Sea/status/1327569141344194560

    Frontex :

    Frontex always alerts national rescue centres in the relevant area, as required by international law. Always. Don’t you?

    MSF :

    International law requires people to be brought to a place of safety.

    Frontex :

    So you do not/would not contact the closest internationally-recognised rescue centres, violating international law and putting lives in danger?

    MSF :

    So you are not/ would not be concerned that people are taken back to a place internationally recognised as unsafe, violating international law and putting lives in danger?
    Your Director was.

    –-> en ajoutant le lien vers une lettre signée par Paraskevi MICHOU (EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR MIGRATION AND HOME AFFAIRS) et adressée à #Fabrice_Leggeri (Ref. Ares(2019)1755075 - 18/03/2019) :
    https://www.statewatch.org/media/documents/news/2019/jun/eu-letter-from-frontex-director-ares-2019)1362751%20Rev.pdf

    Frontex :

    We care deeply about the safety and security of hundreds of millions of European by helping to protect our borders. And we care deeply about the lives of those in distress at sea. This is why we helped to save more than a quarter million people in recent years.

    https://twitter.com/Frontex/status/1327288578678906880

    –---

    Commentaire de #Jeff_Crisp sur twitter :

    Latest score:
    MSF: 3
    Frontex: 0
    And it is only half-time...

    https://twitter.com/JFCrisp/status/1327692414686027776

    #sauvetages_en_mer #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #sauvetage #mensonges #Libye #twitter #réseaux_sociaux #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Refugee protection at risk

    Two of the words that we should try to avoid when writing about refugees are “unprecedented” and “crisis.” They are used far too often and with far too little thought by many people working in the humanitarian sector. Even so, and without using those words, there is evidence to suggest that the risks confronting refugees are perhaps greater today than at any other time in the past three decades.

    First, as the UN Secretary-General has pointed out on many occasions, we are currently witnessing a failure of global governance. When Antonio Guterres took office in 2017, he promised to launch what he called “a surge in diplomacy for peace.” But over the past three years, the UN Security Council has become increasingly dysfunctional and deadlocked, and as a result is unable to play its intended role of preventing the armed conflicts that force people to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. Nor can the Security Council bring such conflicts to an end, thereby allowing refugees to return to their country of origin.

    It is alarming to note, for example, that four of the five Permanent Members of that body, which has a mandate to uphold international peace and security, have been militarily involved in the Syrian armed conflict, a war that has displaced more people than any other in recent years. Similarly, and largely as a result of the blocking tactics employed by Russia and the US, the Secretary-General struggled to get Security Council backing for a global ceasefire that would support the international community’s efforts to fight the Coronavirus pandemic

    Second, the humanitarian principles that are supposed to regulate the behavior of states and other parties to armed conflicts, thereby minimizing the harm done to civilian populations, are under attack from a variety of different actors. In countries such as Burkina Faso, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia, those principles have been flouted by extremist groups who make deliberate use of death and destruction to displace populations and extend the areas under their control.

    In states such as Myanmar and Syria, the armed forces have acted without any kind of constraint, persecuting and expelling anyone who is deemed to be insufficiently loyal to the regime or who come from an unwanted part of society. And in Central America, violent gangs and ruthless cartels are acting with growing impunity, making life so hazardous for other citizens that they feel obliged to move and look for safety elsewhere.

    Third, there is mounting evidence to suggest that governments are prepared to disregard international refugee law and have a respect a declining commitment to the principle of asylum. It is now common practice for states to refuse entry to refugees, whether by building new walls, deploying military and militia forces, or intercepting and returning asylum seekers who are travelling by sea.

    In the Global North, the refugee policies of the industrialized increasingly take the form of ‘externalization’, whereby the task of obstructing the movement of refugees is outsourced to transit states in the Global South. The EU has been especially active in the use of this strategy, forging dodgy deals with countries such as Libya, Niger, Sudan and Turkey. Similarly, the US has increasingly sought to contain northward-bound refugees in Mexico, and to return asylum seekers there should they succeed in reaching America’s southern border.

    In developing countries themselves, where some 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are to be found, governments are increasingly prepared to flout the principle that refugee repatriation should only take place in a voluntary manner. While they rarely use overt force to induce premature returns, they have many other tools at their disposal: confining refugees to inhospitable camps, limiting the food that they receive, denying them access to the internet, and placing restrictions on humanitarian organizations that are trying to meet their needs.

    Fourth, the COVID-19 pandemic of the past nine months constitutes a very direct threat to the lives of refugees, and at the same time seems certain to divert scarce resources from other humanitarian programmes, including those that support displaced people. The Coronavirus has also provided a very convenient alibi for governments that wish to close their borders to people who are seeking safety on their territory.

    Responding to this problem, UNHCR has provided governments with recommendations as to how they might uphold the principle of asylum while managing their borders effectively and minimizing any health risks associated with the cross-border movement of people. But it does not seem likely that states will be ready to adopt such an approach, and will prefer instead to introduce more restrictive refugee and migration policies.

    Even if the virus is brought under some kind of control, it may prove difficult to convince states to remove the restrictions that they have introduced during the COVD-19 emergency. And the likelihood of that outcome is reinforced by the fear that the climate crisis will in the years to come prompt very large numbers of people to look for a future beyond the borders of their own state.

    Fifth, the state-based international refugee regime does not appear well placed to resist these negative trends. At the broadest level, the very notions of multilateralism, international cooperation and the rule of law are being challenged by a variety of powerful states in different parts of the world: Brazil, China, Russia, Turkey and the USA, to name just five. Such countries also share a common disdain for human rights and the protection of minorities – indigenous people, Uyghur Muslims, members of the LGBT community, the Kurds and African-Americans respectively.

    The USA, which has traditionally acted as a mainstay of the international refugee regime, has in recent years set a particularly negative example to the rest of the world by slashing its refugee resettlement quota, by making it increasingly difficult for asylum seekers to claim refugee status on American territory, by entirely defunding the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency and by refusing to endorse the Global Compact on Refugees. Indeed, while many commentators predicted that the election of President Trump would not be good news for refugees, the speed at which he has dismantled America’s commitment to the refugee regime has taken many by surprise.

    In this toxic international environment, UNHCR appears to have become an increasingly self-protective organization, as indicated by the enormous amount of effort it devotes to marketing, branding and celebrity endorsement. For reasons that remain somewhat unclear, rather than stressing its internationally recognized mandate for refugee protection and solutions, UNHCR increasingly presents itself as an all-purpose humanitarian agency, delivering emergency assistance to many different groups of needy people, both outside and within their own country. Perhaps this relief-oriented approach is thought to win the favour of the organization’s key donors, an impression reinforced by the cautious tone of the advocacy that UNHCR undertakes in relation to the restrictive asylum policies of the EU and USA.

    UNHCR has, to its credit, made a concerted effort to revitalize the international refugee regime, most notably through the Global Compact on Refugees, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the Global Refugee Forum. But will these initiatives really have the ‘game-changing’ impact that UNHCR has prematurely attributed to them?

    The Global Compact on Refugees, for example, has a number of important limitations. It is non-binding and does not impose any specific obligations on the countries that have endorsed it, especially in the domain of responsibility-sharing. The Compact makes numerous references to the need for long-term and developmental approaches to the refugee problem that also bring benefits to host states and communities. But it is much more reticent on fundamental protection principles such as the right to seek asylum and the notion of non-refoulement. The Compact also makes hardly any reference to the issue of internal displacement, despite the fact that there are twice as many IDPs as there are refugees under UNHCR’s mandate.

    So far, the picture painted by this article has been unremittingly bleak. But just as one can identify five very negative trends in relation to refugee protection, a similar number of positive developments also warrant recognition.

    First, the refugee policies pursued by states are not uniformly bad. Countries such as Canada, Germany and Uganda, for example, have all contributed, in their own way, to the task of providing refugees with the security that they need and the rights to which they are entitled. In their initial stages at least, the countries of South America and the Middle East responded very generously to the massive movements of refugees out of Venezuela and Syria.

    And while some analysts, including the current author, have felt that there was a very real risk of large-scale refugee expulsions from countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya and Lebanon, those fears have so far proved to be unfounded. While there is certainly a need for abusive states to be named and shamed, recognition should also be given to those that seek to uphold the principles of refugee protection.

    Second, the humanitarian response to refugee situations has become steadily more effective and equitable. Twenty years ago, it was the norm for refugees to be confined to camps, dependent on the distribution of food and other emergency relief items and unable to establish their own livelihoods. Today, it is far more common for refugees to be found in cities, towns or informal settlements, earning their own living and/or receiving support in the more useful, dignified and efficient form of cash transfers. Much greater attention is now given to the issues of age, gender and diversity in refugee contexts, and there is a growing recognition of the role that locally-based and refugee-led organizations can play in humanitarian programmes.

    Third, after decades of discussion, recent years have witnessed a much greater engagement with refugee and displacement issues by development and financial actors, especially the World Bank. While there are certainly some risks associated with this engagement (namely a lack of attention to protection issues and an excessive focus on market-led solutions) a more developmental approach promises to allow better long-term planning for refugee populations, while also addressing more systematically the needs of host populations.

    Fourth, there has been a surge of civil society interest in the refugee issue, compensating to some extent for the failings of states and the large international humanitarian agencies. Volunteer groups, for example, have played a critical role in responding to the refugee situation in the Mediterranean. The Refugees Welcome movement, a largely spontaneous and unstructured phenomenon, has captured the attention and allegiance of many people, especially but not exclusively the younger generation.

    And as has been seen in the UK this year, when governments attempt to demonize refugees, question their need for protection and violate their rights, there are many concerned citizens, community associations, solidarity groups and faith-based organizations that are ready to make their voice heard. Indeed, while the national asylum policies pursued by the UK and other countries have been deeply disappointing, local activism on behalf of refugees has never been stronger.

    Finally, recent events in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Europe have raised the question as to whether refugees could be spared the trauma and hardship of making dangerous journeys from one country and continent to another by providing them with safe and legal routes. These might include initiatives such as Canada’s community-sponsored refugee resettlement programme, the ‘humanitarian corridors’ programme established by the Italian churches, family reunion projects of the type championed in the UK and France by Lord Alf Dubs, and the notion of labour mobility programmes for skilled refugee such as that promoted by the NGO Talent Beyond Boundaries.

    Such initiatives do not provide a panacea to the refugee issue, and in their early stages at least, might not provide a solution for large numbers of displaced people. But in a world where refugee protection is at such serious risk, they deserve our full support.

    http://www.against-inhumanity.org/2020/09/08/refugee-protection-at-risk

    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #protection #Jeff_Crisp #crise #crise_migratoire #crise_des_réfugiés #gouvernance #gouvernance_globale #paix #Nations_unies #ONU #conflits #guerres #conseil_de_sécurité #principes_humanitaires #géopolitique #externalisation #sanctuarisation #rapatriement #covid-19 #coronavirus #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #liberté_de_mouvement #liberté_de_circulation #droits_humains #Global_Compact_on_Refugees #Comprehensive_Refugee_Response_Framework #Global_Refugee_Forum #camps_de_réfugiés #urban_refugees #réfugiés_urbains #banque_mondiale #société_civile #refugees_welcome #solidarité #voies_légales #corridors_humanitaires #Talent_Beyond_Boundaries #Alf_Dubs

    via @isskein
    ping @karine4 @thomas_lacroix @_kg_ @rhoumour

    –—
    Ajouté à la métaliste sur le global compact :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/739556

  • #Jeff_Crisp :

    “In the past 15 years, we seem to have gone from ’refugees being completely dependent on international aid’ to ’refugees being resilient entrepreneurs’. Both notions equally unsatisfactory!”

    Even worse, “refugees being globally connected entrepreneurs...”

    https://twitter.com/JFCrisp/status/1206418043712278528

    #résilience #dépendance #réfugiés #asile #migrations #discours #rhétorique #entrepreneurs #entreprenariat #indépendance #aide #charité #travail #humanitaire #humanitarianisme

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Smuggling, Trafficking, and Extortion: New Conceptual and Policy Challenges on the Libyan Route to Europe

    This paper contributes a conceptual and empirical reflection on the relationship between human smuggling, trafficking and kidnapping, and extortion in Libya. It is based on qualitative interview data with Eritrean asylum seekers in Italy. Different tribal regimes control separate territories in Libya, which leads to different experiences for migrants depending on which territory they enter, such as Eritreans entering in the southeast Toubou controlled territory. We put forth that the kidnapping and extortion experienced by Eritreans in Libya is neither trafficking, nor smuggling, but a crime against humanity orchestrated by an organized criminal network. The paper details this argument and discusses the implications.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/anti.12579

    Et ce passage signalé par @isskein:

    “Asylum claims in the EU should consider not only the situation back home that gave origin to the migration, but also the hardship endured en route and events that took place during the journey which can raise a claim for international protection.”

    #mixed_migration #asile #migrations #Libye #catégorisation #réfugiés #migrants #migrants_économiques #protection_internationale

    ping @karine4 @_kg_

    • En lien avec ces deux autres fils de discussion sur seenthis:
      Un texte de #Jeff_Crisp de 2008:
      Beyond the nexus : UNHCR’s evolving perspective on refugee protection and international migration
      https://seenthis.net/messages/636439

      –----------

      Mixed Migration Trends in Libya : Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges
      Un nuovo studio sottolinea come insicurezza, crisi economica, abusi e sfruttamenti in Libia spingano rifugiati e migranti in Europa

      Uno studio dell’Agenzia ONU per i Rifugiati (UNHCR) sui flussi di rifugiati e migranti, rivela che circa la metà di coloro che viaggiano verso la Libia lo fanno credendo di trovarvi opportunità di lavoro, e finiscono per fuggire in Europa a causa di insicurezza, instabilità, condizioni economiche difficili, sfruttamenti e abusi diffusi.

      https://seenthis.net/messages/612396

  • Uganda’s refugee policies: the history, the politics, the way forward

    Uganda’s refugee policy urgently needs an honest discussion, if sustainable solutions for both refugees and host communities are to be found, a new policy paper by International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) reveals.

    The paper, entitled Uganda’s refugee policies: the history, the politics, the way forward puts the “Ugandan model” in its historical and political context, shines a spotlight on its implementation gaps, and proposes recommendations for the way forward.

    Uganda has since 2013 opened its borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan, bringing the total number of refugees to more than one million. It has been praised for its positive steps on freedom of movement and access to work for refugees, going against the global grain. But generations of policy, this paper shows, have only entrenched the sole focus on refugee settlements and on repatriation as the only viable durable solution. Support to urban refugees and local integration have been largely overlooked.

    The Ugandan refugee crisis unfolded at the same time as the UN adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and states committed to implement a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). Uganda immediately seized this opportunity and adopted its own strategy to implement these principles. As the world looks to Uganda for best practices in refugee policy, and rightly so, it is vital to understand the gaps between rhetoric and reality, and the pitfalls of Uganda’s policy. This paper identifies the following challenges:

    There is a danger that the promotion of progressive refugee policies becomes more rhetoric than reality, creating a smoke-screen that squeezes out meaningful discussion about robust alternatives. Policy-making has come at the expense of real qualitative change on the ground.
    Refugees in urban areas continue to be largely excluded from any support due to an ongoing focus on refugee settlements, including through aid provision
    Local integration and access to citizenship have been virtually abandoned, leaving voluntary repatriation as the only solution on the table. Given the protracted crises in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, this remains unrealistic.
    Host communities remain unheard, with policy conversations largely taking place in Kampala and Geneva. Many Ugandans and refugees have neither the economic resources nor sufficient political leverage to influence the policies that are meant to benefit them.

    The policy paper proposes a number of recommendations to improve the Ugandan refugee model:

    First, international donors need to deliver on their promise of significant financial support.
    Second, repatriation cannot remain the only serious option on the table. There has to be renewed discussion on local integration with Uganda communities and a dramatic increase in resettlement to wealthier states across the globe.
    Third, local communities hosting refugees must be consulted and their voices incorporated in a more meaningful and systematic way, if tensions within and between communities are to be avoided.
    Fourth, in order to genuinely enhance refugee self-reliance, the myth of the “local settlement” needs to be debunked and recognized for what it is: the ongoing isolation of refugees and the utilization of humanitarian assistance to keep them isolated and dependent on aid.


    http://refugee-rights.org/uganda-refugee-policies-the-history-the-politics-the-way-forward
    #modèle_ougandais #Ouganda #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    Pour télécharger le #rapport:
    http://refugee-rights.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IRRI-Uganda-policy-paper-October-2018-Paper.pdf

    • A New Deal for Refugees

      Global policies that aim to resettle and integrate displaced populations into local societies is providing a way forward.

      For many years now, groups that work with refugees have fought to put an end to the refugee camp. It’s finally starting to happen.

      Camps are a reasonable solution to temporary dislocation. But refugee crises can go on for decades. Millions of refugees have lived in their country of shelter for more than 30 years. Two-thirds of humanitarian assistance — intended for emergencies — is spent on crises that are more than eight years old.

      Camps are stagnant places. Refugees have access to water and medical care and are fed and educated, but are largely idle. “You keep people for 20 years in camps — don’t expect the next generation to be problem-free,” said Xavier Devictor, who advises the World Bank on refugee issues. “Keeping people in those conditions is not a good idea.” It’s also hard to imagine a better breeding ground for terrorists.

      “As long as the system is ‘we feed you,’ it’s always going to be too expensive for the international community to pay for,” Mr. Devictor said. It’s gotten more and more difficult for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise that money; in many crises, the refugee agency can barely keep people from starving. It’s even harder now as nations turn against foreigners — even as the number of people fleeing war and violence has reached a record high.

      At the end of last year, nearly 70 million people were either internally displaced in their own countries, or had crossed a border and become a refugee. That is the largest number of displaced in history — yes, more than at the end of World War II. The vast majority flee to neighboring countries — which can be just as badly off.

      Last year, the United States accepted about 30,000 refugees.

      Uganda, which is a global model for how it treats refugees, has one-seventh of America’s population and a tiny fraction of the wealth. Yet it took in 1,800 refugees per day between mid-2016 and mid-2017 from South Sudan alone. And that’s one of four neighbors whose people take refuge in Uganda.

      Bangladesh, already the world’s most crowded major nation, has accepted more than a million Rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. “If we can feed 160 million people, then (feeding) another 500,00-700,000 …. We can do it. We can share our food,” Shiekh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, said last year.

      Lebanon is host to approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees, in addition to a half-million Palestinians, some of whom have been there for generations. One in three residents of Lebanon is a refugee.

      The refugee burden falls heavily on a few, poor countries, some of them at risk of destabilization, which can in turn produce more refugees. The rest of the world has been unwilling to share that burden.

      But something happened that could lead to real change: Beginning in 2015, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees crossed the Mediterranean in small boats and life rafts into Europe.

      Suddenly, wealthy European countries got interested in fixing a broken system: making it more financially viable, more dignified for refugees, and more palatable for host governments and communities.

      In September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution stating that all countries shared the responsibility of protecting refugees and supporting host countries. It also laid out a plan to move refugees out of camps into normal lives in their host nations.

      Donor countries agreed they would take more refugees and provide more long-term development aid to host countries: schools, hospitals, roads and job-creation measures that can help both refugees and the communities they settle in. “It looked at refugee crises as development opportunities, rather than a humanitarian risk to be managed,” said Marcus Skinner, a policy adviser at the International Rescue Committee.

      The General Assembly will vote on the specifics next month (whatever they come up with won’t be binding). The Trump administration pulled out of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration, but so far it has not opposed the refugee agreement.

      There’s a reason refugee camps exist: Host governments like them. Liberating refugees is a hard sell. In camps, refugees are the United Nations’ problem. Out of camps, refugees are the local governments’ problem. And they don’t want to do anything to make refugees comfortable or welcome.

      Bangladesh’s emergency response for the Rohingya has been staggeringly generous. But “emergency” is the key word. The government has resisted granting Rohingya schooling, work permits or free movement. It is telling Rohingya, in effect, “Don’t get any ideas about sticking around.”

      This attitude won’t deter the Rohingya from coming, and it won’t send them home more quickly. People flee across the closest border — often on foot — that allows them to keep their families alive. And they’ll stay until home becomes safe again. “It’s the simple practicality of finding the easiest way to refuge,” said Victor Odero, regional advocacy coordinator for East Africa and the Horn of Africa at the International Rescue Committee. “Any question of policies is a secondary matter.”

      So far, efforts to integrate refugees have had mixed success. The first experiment was a deal for Jordan, which was hosting 650,000 Syrian refugees, virtually none of whom were allowed to work. Jordan agreed to give them work permits. In exchange, it got grants, loans and trade concessions normally available only to the poorest countries.

      However, though the refugees have work permits, Jordan has put only a moderate number of them into jobs.

      Any agreement should include the views of refugees from the start — the Jordan Compact failed to do this. Aid should be conditioned upon the right things. The deal should have measured refugee jobs, instead of work permits. Analysts also said the benefits should have been targeted more precisely, to reach the areas with most refugees.

      To spread this kind of agreement to other nations, the World Bank established a $2 billion fund in July 2017. The money is available to very poor countries that host many refugees, such as Uganda and Bangladesh. In return, they must take steps to integrate refugees into society. The money will come as grants and zero interest loans with a 10-year grace period. Middle-income countries like Lebanon and Colombia would also be eligible for loans at favorable rates under a different fund.

      Over the last 50 years, only one developing country has granted refugees full rights. In Uganda, refugees can live normally. Instead of camps there are settlements, where refugees stay voluntarily because they get a plot of land. Refugees can work, live anywhere, send their children to school and use the local health services. The only thing they can’t do is become Ugandan citizens.

      Given the global hostility to refugees, it is remarkable that Ugandans still approve of these policies. “There have been flashes of social tension or violence between refugees and their hosts, mostly because of a scarcity of resources,” Mr. Odero said. “But they have not become widespread or protracted.”

      This is the model the United Nations wants the world to adopt. But it is imperiled even in Uganda — because it requires money that isn’t there.

      The new residents are mainly staying near the South Sudan border in Uganda’s north — one of the least developed parts of the country. Hospitals, schools, wells and roads were crumbling or nonexistent before, and now they must serve a million more people.

      Joël Boutroue, the head of the United Nations refugee agency in Uganda, said current humanitarian funding covered a quarter of what the crisis required. “At the moment, not even half of refugees go to primary school,” he said. “There are around 100 children per classroom.”

      Refugees are going without food, medical care and water. The plots of land they get have grown smaller and smaller.

      Uganda is doing everything right — except for a corruption scandal. It could really take advantage of the new plan to develop the refugee zone. That would not only help refugees, it would help their host communities. And it would alleviate growing opposition to rights for refugees. “The Ugandan government is under pressure from politicians who see the government giving favored treatment to refugees,” Mr. Boutroue said. “If we want to change the perception of refugees from recipients of aid to economic assets, we have to showcase that refugees bring development.”

      The World Bank has so far approved two projects — one for water and sanitation and one for city services such as roads and trash collection. But they haven’t gotten started yet.

      Mr. Devictor said that tackling long-term development issues was much slower than providing emergency aid. “The reality is that it will be confusing and confused for a little while,” he said. Water, for example, is trucked in to Uganda’s refugee settlements, as part of humanitarian aid. “That’s a huge cost,” he said. “But if we think this crisis is going to last for six more months, it makes sense. If it’s going to last longer, we should think about upgrading the water system.”

      Most refugee crises are not surprises, Mr. Devictor said. “If you look at a map, you can predict five or six crises that are going to produce refugees over the next few years.” It’s often the same places, over and over. That means developmental help could come in advance, minimizing the burden on the host. “Do we have to wait until people cross the border to realize we’re going to have an emergency?” he said.

      Well, we might. If politicians won’t respond to a crisis, it’s hard to imagine them deciding to plan ahead to avert one. Political commitment, or lack of it, always rules. The world’s new approach to refugees was born out of Europe’s panic about the Syrians on their doorstep. But no European politician is panicking about South Sudanese or Rohingya refugees — or most crises. They’re too far away. The danger is that the new approach will fall victim to the same political neglect that has crippled the old one.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/opinion/refugee-camps-integration.html

      #Ouganda #modèle_ougandais #réinstallation #intégration

      avec ce commentaire de #Jeff_Crisp sur twitter :

      “Camps are stagnant places. Refugees have access to water and medical care and are fed and educated, but are largely idle.”
      Has this prizewinning author actually been to a refugee camp?

      https://twitter.com/JFCrisp/status/1031892657117831168

    • Appreciating Uganda’s ‘open door’ policy for refugees

      While the rest of the world is nervous and choosing to take an emotional position on matters of forced migration and refugees, sometimes closing their doors in the face of people who are running from persecution, Uganda’s refugee policy and practice continues to be liberal, with an open door to all asylum seekers, writes Arthur Matsiko

      http://thisisafrica.me/appreciating-ugandas-open-door-policy-refugees

    • Ouganda. La générosité intéressée du pays le plus ouvert du monde aux réfugiés

      L’Ouganda est le pays qui accueille le plus de réfugiés. Un million de Sud-Soudanais fuyant la guerre s’y sont installés. Mais cette noble intention des autorités cache aussi des calculs moins avouables : l’arrivée massive de l’aide internationale encourage l’inaction et la #corruption.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/ouganda-la-generosite-interessee-du-pays-le-plus-ouvert-du-mo

    • Refugees in Uganda to benefit from Dubai-funded schools but issues remain at crowded settlement

      Dubai Cares is building three classrooms in a primary school at Ayilo II but the refugee settlement lacks a steady water supply, food and secondary schools, Roberta Pennington writes from Adjumani


      https://www.thenational.ae/uae/refugees-in-uganda-to-benefit-from-dubai-funded-schools-but-issues-remai

    • FUGA DAL SUD SUDAN. LUIS, L’UGANDA E QUEL PEZZO DI TERRA DONATA AI PROFUGHI

      Luis zappa, prepara dei fori per tirare su una casa in attesa di ritrovare la sua famiglia. Il terreno è una certezza, glielo ha consegnato il Governo ugandese. Il poterci vivere con i suoi cari non ancora. L’ultima volta li ha visti in Sud Sudan. Nel ritornare a casa sua moglie e i suoi otto figli non c’erano più. É sicuro si siano messi in cammino verso l’Uganda, così da quel giorno è iniziata la sua rincorsa. É certo che li ritroverà nella terra che ora lo ha accolto. Quella di Luis è una delle tante storie raccolte nei campi profughi del nord dell’Uganda, in una delle ultime missioni di Amref, in cui era presente anche Giusi Nicolini, già Sindaco di Lampedusa e Premio Unesco per la pace. 



      Modello Uganda? Dell’Uganda il mondo dice «campione di accoglienza». Accoglienza che sta sperimentando da mesi nei confronti dei profughi sud sudanesi, che scappano da uno dei Paesi più drammaticamente in crisi al mondo. Sono 4 milioni le persone che in Sud Sudan hanno dovuto lasciare le proprie case. Chi muovendosi verso altri Paesi e chi in altre regioni sud sudanesi. In questi ultimi tempi arrivano in Uganda anche persone che fuggono dalla Rep. Democratica del Congo.

      https://www.amref.it/2018_02_23_Fuga_dal_Sud_Sudan_Luis_lUganda_e_quel_pezzo_di_terra_donata_ai_pro

    • As Rich Nations Close the Door on Refugees, Uganda Welcomes Them

      President Trump is vowing to send the military to stop migrants trudging from Central America. Europe’s leaders are paying African nations to block migrants from crossing the Mediterranean — and detaining the ones who make it in filthy, overcrowded camps.

      But Solomon Osakan has a very different approach in this era of rising xenophobia. From his uncluttered desk in northwest Uganda, he manages one of the largest concentrations of refugees anywhere in the world: more than 400,000 people scattered across his rural district.

      He explained what he does with them: Refugees are allotted some land — enough to build a little house, do a little farming and “be self-sufficient,” said Mr. Osakan, a Ugandan civil servant. Here, he added, the refugees live in settlements, not camps — with no barbed wire, and no guards in sight.

      “You are free, and you can come and go as you want,” Mr. Osakan added.

      As many nations are securing their borders and turning refugees away, Uganda keeps welcoming them. And they keep coming, fleeing catastrophes from across this part of Africa.

      In all, Uganda has as many as 1.25 million refugees on its soil, perhaps more, making it one of the most welcoming countries in the world, according to the United Nations.

      And while Uganda’s government has made hosting refugees a core national policy, it works only because of the willingness of rural Ugandans to accept an influx of foreigners on their land and shoulder a big part of the burden.

      Uganda is not doing this without help. About $200 million in humanitarian aid to the country this year will largely pay to feed and care for the refugees. But they need places to live and small plots to farm, so villages across the nation’s north have agreed to carve up their communally owned land and share it with the refugees, often for many years at a time.

      “Our population was very few and our community agreed to loan the land,” said Charles Azamuke, 27, of his village’s decision in 2016 to accept refugees from South Sudan, which has been torn apart by civil war. “We are happy to have these people. We call them our brothers.”

      United Nations officials have pointed to Uganda for its “open border” policy. While the United States, a much more populous nation, has admitted more than three million refugees since 1975, the American government settles them in the country after they have first been thoroughly screened overseas.

      By contrast, Uganda has essentially opened its borders to refugees, rarely turning anyone away.

      Some older Ugandans explain that they, too, had been refugees once, forced from their homes during dictatorship and war. And because the government ensures that spending on refugees benefits Ugandans as well, younger residents spoke of how refugees offered them some unexpected opportunities.

      “I was a farmer. I used to dig,” Mr. Azamuke said. But after learning Arabic from refugees from South Sudan, he got a better job — as a translator at a new health clinic that serves the newcomers.

      His town, Ofua, is bisected by a dirt road, with the Ugandans living on the uphill side and the South Sudanese on the downhill side. The grass-thatched homes of the Ugandans look a bit larger and sturdier, but not much.

      As the sun began to set one recent afternoon, a group of men on the Ugandan side began to pass around a large plastic bottle of waragi, a home brew. On the South Sudanese side, the men were sober, gathered around a card game.

      On both sides, the men had nothing but tolerant words for one another. “Actually, we don’t have any problems with these people,” said Martin Okuonzi, a Ugandan farmer cleaning his fingernails with a razor blade.

      As the men lounged, the women and girls were still at work, preparing dinner, tending children, fetching water and gathering firewood. They explained that disputes did arise, especially as the two groups competed for limited resources like firewood.

      “We’ve been chased away,” said Agnes Ajonye, a 27-year-old refugee from South Sudan. “They say we are destroying their forests.”

      And disputes broke out at the well, where Ugandan women insist they should be allowed to skip ahead of refugees.

      “If we hadn’t given you the land you live on, wouldn’t you be dying in Sudan?” said Adili Chandia, a 62-year-old refugee, recounting the lecture she and others got from a frustrated Ugandan woman waiting in line.

      Ugandan officials often talk about the spirit of Pan-Africanism that motivates their approach to refugees. President Yoweri Museveni, an autocratic leader who has been in power for 32 years, says Uganda’s generosity can be traced to the precolonial days of warring kingdoms and succession disputes, when losing factions often fled to a new land.

      This history of flight and resettlement is embedded in some of the names of local groups around western Uganda, like Batagwenda, which means “the ones that could not continue traveling.”

      The government encourages the nation to go along with its policy by directing that 30 percent of foreign aid destined for refugees be spent in ways that benefit Ugandans nearby. So when money for refugees results in new schools, clinics and wells, Ugandans are more likely to welcome than resent them.

      For Mr. Museveni, hosting refugees has given him relevance and political capital abroad at a time when he would otherwise have little.

      A former guerrilla fighter who quickly stabilized much of his country, Mr. Museveni was once hailed as an example of new African leadership. He was relatively quick to confront the AIDS epidemic, and he invited back Ugandans of Indian and Pakistani descent who had been expelled during the brutal reign of Idi Amin in the 1970s.

      But his star has fallen considerably. He has clung to power for decades. His security forces have beaten political opponents. Freedom of assembly and expression are severely curtailed.

      Even so, Uganda’s openness toward refugees makes Mr. Museveni important to European nations, which are uneasy at the prospect of more than a million refugees heading for Europe.

      Other African nations also host a significant number of refugees, but recent polls show that Ugandans are more likely than their neighbors in Kenya or Tanzania to support land assistance or the right to work for refugees.

      Part of the reason is that Ugandans have fled their homes as well, first during the murderous reign of Mr. Amin, then during the period of retribution after his overthrow, and again during the 1990s and 2000s, when Joseph Kony, the guerrilla leader who terrorized northern Uganda, left a trail of kidnapped children and mutilated victims.

      Many Ugandans found refuge in what is today South Sudan. Mark Idraku, 57, was a teenager when he fled with his mother to the area. They received two acres of farmland, which helped support them until they returned home six years later.

      “When we were in exile in Sudan, they also helped us,” Mr. Idraku said. “Nobody ever asked for a single coin.”

      Mr. Idraku has since returned the favor, loaning three acres to a South Sudanese refugee named Queen Chandia, 37. Ms. Chandia said the land — along with additional plots other Ugandans allow her to farm — has made all the difference.

      Her homestead of thatched-roof huts teemed with children tending their chores, grinding nuts into paste and maize into meal. Ms. Chandia is the mother of a girl and two boys. But over the years, as violence hollowed out her home country, Ms. Chandia started taking in the orphaned children of relatives and friends. Now 22 children call her “mom.”

      A refugee for nearly her entire life, Ms. Chandia arrived in Uganda as a young girl nearly 30 years ago. For years, she worried about being expelled.
      Image

      “Maybe these Ugandans will change their minds on us,” she said, describing the thought that plagued her. Then one day the worry stopped.

      But Mr. Osakan, the administrator who oversees refugee affairs in the country’s extreme northwest, is anxious. There is an Ebola outbreak over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr. Osakan fears what might happen if — or when — a refugee turns up in Uganda with the dreaded illness.

      “It would destroy all the harmony between refugees and host communities,” he said, explaining that it would probably lead to calls to seal the border.

      For now, the border is very much open, although the number of refugees arriving has fallen significantly. In one of the newer settlements, many of the refugees came last year, fleeing an attack in a South Sudanese city. But some complained about receiving too little land, about a quarter acre per family, which is less than previous refugees had received.

      “Even if you have skills — in carpentry — you are not given a chance,” said one refugee, Simon Ludoru. He looked over his shoulder, to where a construction crew was building a nursery school. The schoolhouse would teach both local Ugandan and South Sudanese children together, but the workers were almost entirely Ugandan, he said.

      At the construction site, the general contractor, Sam Omongo, 50, said he had hired refugees for the job. “Oh, yes,” he exclaimed.

      How many?

      “Not a lot, actually,” he acknowledged. “I have about three.” Mr. Omongo called one over.

      “Are you a refugee?” Mr. Omongo asked the slight man.

      “No, I’m from Uganda,” he said softly. His name was Amos Chandiga, 28. He lived nearby and owned six acres of land, though he worked only four of them. He had lent the other two to a pair of refugees.

      “They asked me, and I gave it to them,” Mr. Chandiga explained. He patted his chest. “It comes from here, in my heart.”


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/28/world/africa/uganda-refugees.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

    • Uganda: a role model for refugee integration?

      Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and is, after Turkey and Pakistan, the third-largest refugee recipient country worldwide. Political and humanitarian actors have widely praised Ugandan refugee policies because of their progressive nature: In Uganda, in contrast to many other refugee-receiving countries, these are de jure allowed to work, to establish businesses, to access public services such as education, to move freely and have access to a plot of land. Moreover, Uganda is a pilot country of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). In this Working Paper the authors ascertain whether Uganda indeed can be taken as a role model for refugee integration, as largely portrayed in the media and the political discourse. They identify the challenges to livelihoods and integration to assess Uganda’s self-reliance and settlement approach and its aspiration towards providing refugees and Ugandan communities receiving refugees with opportunities for becoming self-reliant. Drawing on three months of field research in northern and southern Uganda from July to September of 2017 with a particular focus on South Sudanese refugees, the authors concentrate on three aspects: Access to land, employment and education, intra- and inter-group relations. The findings show that refugees in Uganda are far from self-reliant and socially integrated. Although in Uganda refugees are provided with land, the quality and size of the allocated plots is so poor that they cannot earn a living from agricultural production, which thus, rather impedes self-reliance. Inadequate infrastructure also hinders access to markets and employment opportunities. Even though most local communities have been welcoming to refugees, the sentiment has shifted recently in some areas, particularly where local communities that are often not better off than refugees feel that they have not benefitted from the presence of refugees....

      https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/handle/document/62871

    • Uganda has a remarkable history of hosting refugees, but its efforts are underfunded

      Uganda has agreed to a request from the United States to temporarily accommodate 2,000 refugees from Afghanistan while Washington processes their applications to live in the US. The move underscores the reputation Uganda has of being progressive on refugee issues. Refugee expert Dr Evan Easton-Calabria provides insights into why.
      When did Uganda start hosting refugees?

      Uganda has a long history of hosting refugees. This started in the early 1940s with Polish refugees who fled from Nazi-occupied Europe. The Nakivale refugee settlement – formed in 1959 – in southwest Uganda is the oldest refugee camp in Africa.

      Uganda also hosts huge numbers of refugees. In the mid-1950s almost 80,000 Sudanese refugees, fleeing the first civil war, sought refuge in the country. They were only the first of many waves of refugees from different neighbouring countries to arrive. Uganda has hosted significant numbers of refugees ever since.

      Today, almost 1.5 million refugees live in Uganda, making it the top refugee-hosting country in Africa and one of the top five hosting countries in the world.

      Its longstanding ‘open-door’ policy has benefited it both politically and financially, with hundreds of millions of donor funds provided each year for humanitarian and development projects. These target both refugees and locals. While Kenya, for example, has received Euros 200 million in humanitarian aid from the European Union since 2012, Uganda has received this much from the EU in just over four years.
      Is the country more progressive towards refugees than its neighbours?

      Uganda’s policies towards refugees have been hailed as progressive. It has even been called “the world’s best place for refugees”.

      Refugees have the right to work and freedom of movement, thanks to Uganda’s 2006 Refugee Act and 2010 Refugee Regulations, which provide a strong legal and regulatory framework for refugee rights.

      Refugees have the right to the same social services as Ugandans, including health care and free primary education. They are not confined to camps but can also live in urban areas. The country has, therefore, received a lot of positive attention for ‘fostering’ the self-reliance of refugees.

      However, despite rights on paper in Uganda, refugees still struggle.

      They are not legally recognised as refugees if they live in cities besides the capital, Kampala. As ‘self-settled’ urban refugees, they risk being misclassified as economic migrants. Lacking official refugee status (unless they have been registered in a settlement), urban refugees also often lack assistance.

      Although refugees in Uganda are economically diverse – one study even identified over 70 different types of livelihoods activities by refugees in Uganda – for many in settlements, subsistence farming is their primary livelihood. But, despite plots of land being provided in settlements, many don’t have enough land to farm on and soil quality is often low. This means that, for many, farming is no longer a viable livelihood. This shows that liberal refugee policies, like those promoting self-reliance in Uganda, must be backed with adequate resources if they are to be more than just words on paper.

      Comparatively, Uganda’s neighbours – such as Kenya and Ethiopia – have traditionally been more restrictive. Kenya relies on a system of encampment, where most refugees live in camps, and Ethiopia has only recently expanded its out-of-camp policy to all refugees and aslyum-seekers, although regulatory gaps remain. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that both are major refugee-hosting countries. They host far more refugees than many western (and wealthier) countries. Kenya hosts over half a million refugees, mainly from Somalia and South Sudan. Ethiopia hosts over 788,000 and is the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa.
      How effectively does Uganda manage its refugee community?

      ‘Effectiveness’ is an interesting word in this context. On one hand, Uganda provides an important foundation in terms of providing the legal infrastructure to allow many refugees to lead independent lives. But refugees also enter a challenging context: Uganda struggles to provide adequate services for its own citizens and unemployment is high. It has one of the world’s lowest rankings in the Human Capital Index.

      In addition, the 2021 presidential election saw increased political and social unrest which has led to the violation of rights such as the freedom of assembly and expression for citizens and other residents, including refugees. While many Ugandans have welcomed refugees, there are increasing accounts of overburdened cities and strains on resources, like firewood, in some parts of the country.

      The corruption of humanitarian aid is also a problem, with UNHCR Uganda accused of mismanaging tens of millions of dollars in 2016-2017. This illustrates the clear need for effective financial management so that refugees can actually be helped.

      There is also another important question of responsibility. Despite the positive attention the international community has given the country, donor funds have not often matched the praise. If schools and health facilities are crowded, in part because of refugees, the responsibility to provide additional support should not fall on a refugee-hosting country such as Uganda alone. Limited resources mean limited management. As of June, the 2020-2021 Uganda Refugee Response Plan was only 22% funded, leaving a shortfall of US$596 million to cover all sectors ranging from protection to food security to sanitation.
      Does it look likely that Uganda will continue in its role as a leading refugee destination?

      Uganda has had a strong commitment to hosting refugees for over 70 years –- about the same length that the 1951 Refugee Convention has existed. A spirit of pan-Africanism and first-hand understanding of displacement by many Ugandans have all contributed to its willingness to host refugees. Its recent temporary accommodation of Afghan refugees indicates that it is interested in continuing this role.

      That said, no country should host refugees without significant international support. Many refugee response plans, such as Uganda’s, remain significantly underfunded even as displacement rises and challenges – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – remain. Even though Uganda receives a significant amount of money, it’s not enough to support the number of people arriving as evidenced by a funding appeal by refugee response actors in June this year.

      Mechanisms such as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework offer a means to channel resources and increase collaboration on refugee hosting. But it is important to consider what displacement in Central, Eastern, and the Horn of Africa would look like if Uganda closed its borders. Uganda is making an effort in a neighbourhood where few other countries have the same enthusiasm.

      https://theconversation.com/uganda-has-a-remarkable-history-of-hosting-refugees-but-its-efforts

  • As the World Abandons Refugees, UNHCR’s Constraints Are Exposed

    The U.N. refugee agency lacks the funding, political clout and independence to protect refugees in the way that it is supposed to, says former UNHCR official and refugee policy expert #Jeff_Crisp.

    Over the past three years, the world has been confronted with a number of major new refugee emergencies – in Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Venezuela, as well as the Central American region. In addition, existing crises in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria have gone unresolved, making it impossible for large exiled populations to return to their own country. As a result, the global refugee population has soared to more than 25 million, the highest figure ever recorded.

    This means that the role of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which is supposed to protect and find solutions for this growing population, is more important than ever. But is it up to the task? The proliferating crises have stretched it to the limit. Funding, most of which comes from a dozen key donor states, has not kept up with the rising numbers the agency is expected to support. In April, UNHCR said it had received just $2.3 billion of the $8.2 billion it needed for its annual program.

    Things look unlikely to improve. UNHCR is losing the support of the United States, traditionally the organization’s most important government partner, whether under Republican or Democrat administrations. Since Donald Trump’s election, the country has slashed the number of refugees it admits through its resettlement program. In his final years in office, Barack Obama had raised the annual quota to 110,000 refugees. That is now down to 45,000 and may yet be reduced to 25,000.

    There is also the prospect that the Trump administration will demonstrate its disdain for the U.N. and limited interest in the refugee issue by reducing its funding to the agency, as it has already done with UNRWA, a separate agency that supports Palestinian refugees. Given that the U.S. currently contributes almost 40 percent of the UNHCR budget, even a modest reduction in its support will mean serious cuts in expenditure.

    The agency therefore has little choice but to look for alternative sources of funding and diplomatic support, especially from the European Union and its member states. But that may come at a price. One of the E.U.’s top priorities is to halt the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers who have transited through nearby countries such as Libya, Morocco and Turkey. Populist political parties throughout much of the E.U. are reaping the electoral benefits of taking a hard line on the issue of refugees and migration. Several European governments have shown little hesitation in violating the international refugee laws they have signed in their desperation to seal Europe’s borders.

    The E.U. thus looks to UNHCR for two things: first, the expertise and operational capacity of an organization that has years of experience in responding to mass movements of people; and second, the legitimacy that E.U. policies can acquire by means of close association with an agency deemed by its founding statute to be “entirely non-political and humanitarian.” In this context, it should come as no surprise that E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has been at pains to point out that the E.U. and UNHCR “work together” and have a “close partnership” – and that the E.U. remains “the strongest supporter of UNHCR.”

    But this partnership (which involved $436 million in funding from Brussels alone in 2017) also involves an important element of compromise on the part of UNHCR. In the Mediterranean, for example, the E.U. is funding the Libyan coast guard to intercept and return any refugees who try to leave the country by boat. Those people are subsequently confined to detention centers where, according to Amnesty International, they are at risk of torture, forced labor, extortion and murder at the hand of smugglers, bandits or the Libyan authorities.

    The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has publicly chastised the E.U. for its failure to improve the situation of migrants in Libya. By contrast, UNHCR has kept very quiet about the E.U.’s role in the process of interception, return and detention, despite the fact that these actions violate a fundamental principle of refugee protection: that no one should be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.

    This reveals a fundamental tension in the organization’s character. Ostensibly, UNHCR enjoys a high degree of independence and moral authority. As part of the U.N. system, it is treated with more respect by states and other actors than NGOs doing similar work. It has regular access to heads of state, government leaders, regional organizations, the U.N. security council and the secretary-general himself (who was previously UNHCR chief).

    But in practice, the autonomy enjoyed by UNHCR is at best a relative one. Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The organization can operate in a country only if it has the agreement of the government, which also has the ability to shape the scope of UNHCR’s operational activities, as well as the partners it works with. In countries such as Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria, for example, the organization is obliged to work with government departments whose priorities may well be different from those of UNHCR.

    Almost 90 percent of the agency’s funding is provided by states, much of it earmarked for specific programs, projects and countries. UNHCR’s governing board consists entirely of states.

    The tensions at the heart of UNHCR seem unlikely to diminish. Throughout the world, governments are closing their borders to refugees and depriving them of basic rights. Exiled populations are being induced to repatriate against their will and to countries that are not safe. As epitomized by the E.U.’s deal with Turkey, asylum seekers have become bargaining chips in interstate relations, used by political leaders to extract financial, political and even military concessions from each other.

    Given the constitutional constraints imposed on the organization, UNHCR’s options are now limited. It can try (as it has done for many years) to diversify its funding base. It could assume a more assertive stance with states that violate refugee protection principles – and in doing so risk the loss of its already diminished degree of diplomatic support. And it can hope that the recently completed Global Compact on Refugees, a nonbinding declaration of principles that most U.N. member states are expected to sign, will have some effect on the way that governments actually treat refugees.

    A final option available to UNHCR is to be more transparent about its limitations, to moderate the relentless self-promotion of its branding and marketing campaign and give greater recognition to the efforts that refugees are making to improve their own lives. In that respect, UNHCR’s favourite hashtag, “We Stand #WithRefugees,” could usefully be changed to “Refugees Are #StandingUpForThemselves.”

    #UN #ONU #HCR #UNHCR #crise #indépendance #fonds #financement #it_has_begun

  • Safe and Voluntary Refugee Repatriation: From Principle to Practice

    The article discusses the principles of voluntariness, safety, and dignity in the context of refugee repatriation. It begins by setting out the applicable legal framework, and discusses how that framework has been elaborated upon and refined since 1951. The article then discusses how the principles of voluntariness, safety, and dignity have, in practice, been applied (or, in a few unfortunate cases, ignored). After noting that we are now living in an era of protracted refugee emergencies, the article concludes with a number of recommendations regarding alternatives to repatriation and the conditions under which repatriation can take place without offense to the principles of voluntariness, safety, and dignity.

    http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index.php/jmhs/article/view/65
    #retour_volontaire #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    Un texte de #Jeff_Crisp, pour archivage

    cc @isskein

  • Returning migrants to The Gambia: the political, social and economic costs

    Gambians were among the top nationalities leaving West Africa for Italy in 2016. In total 11,929 Gambians arrived last year. But because they have a new democratically-elected government, European countries are now looking to increase the returns of Gambian migrants. A Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion has already met at the European Council to discuss a draft agreement on returns between the EU and the Gambia.

    By September 2017, 1,119 Gambians had been returned. When a focus group of 15 were questioned in a recent study, they said that they returned because of the gravity of their situation in detention centres in Libya, and to a degree, by the hope that things would be different in the new Gambia.

    https://theconversation.com/returning-migrants-to-the-gambia-the-political-social-and-economic-

    Avec ce commentaire de Emmanuel Blanchard (reçu via la mailing-list migreurop):

    Article intéressant notamment par les informations et statistiques qu’il donne sur l’enregistrement et le rapatriement, par l’#OIM, des Gambiens détenus en #Libye.
    Expulsions depuis l’Italie semble aussi de plus en plus nombreuses (l’auteure ne donne pas de chiffres) et augmenteront encore, selon toute vraisemblance, dans les prochains mois.

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #renvois #expulsions #réfugiés_gambiens #statistiques #chiffres #Italie

  • Poussés à rentrer en #Somalie, les #réfugiés sont abandonnés à leur sort
    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/121116/pousses-rentrer-en-somalie-les-refugies-sont-abandonnes-leur-sort

    Après avoir accueilli les réfugiés somaliens parfois durant plus de deux décennies, le gouvernement kényan les pousse à rentrer dans leur pays. De retour, ceux-ci se retrouvent totalement démunis, sans logement, sans école, sans hôpital.

    #International #Afrique #guerre_civile #Kenya #Nations_unies #shebab #terrorisme