On regional tensions

Heightened tensions in the region these days —




Norway – Sweden – Denmark comparisons:

08.12.15 edit: Add Finland to the mix:


On public lectures: Navigating Nakivale @ RCC

Morten Bøås gave a lecture at the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre on “Navigating Nakivale: the borderland economy of a refugee camp” on 13 November 2015.

The talk focused on how the combination of conflict + different types of interventions produces outcomes: “what matters is not only the cards you were dealt, but your ability to play them”.

It was his introductory remarks about the current status of refugees worldwide that caught my attention, @17:30 —

So it’s a combination of the fact that some places are completely full, and the local integrative capacity has been completely overloaded for too long. And we have contributed to this by underfunding the agencies who could have, at least in theory, contributed against this. And in addition, the conflicts that produce refugees do not come to a conclusion.


Bøås goes on to issue a warning call: If Uganda forcibly closed Nakivale, if Kenya forcibly closed Dadaab, if Lebanon expelled all Syrians — what would happen? Everyone needs to pay attention to the local + regional areas that have absorbed the majority of the world’s refugees.

Thus, the current refugee crisis is really global: “not a European crisis, or Norwegian, or Northern Norwegian, or Storstog refugee crisis. Only a very very few can afford to take these routes,” aiding the development of a “hierarchy of suffering”. Those left behind in camps must not be forgotten.


On Skype

Slight alterations have been made in the asylum interview process in Norway: UDI is staring to use Skype to conduct interviews with individuals around the country (else, everyone has to travel to Oslo). Via Bjorn Atle Gildestad and NRK,

Asylsøkjarane står i kø for å koma seg gjennom papirmølla som kan sikre dei opphald i Norge. For å unngå reising ut til alle asylmottaka, er UDI sine saksbehandlarar no i gang med å intervjue asylsøkjarane på Skype.

Det betyr at saksbehandlar og tolk sit i Oslo, og asylsøkjaren sit på einerom på eit mottak ein stad i landet.

Bakgrunnen for denne nye intervjuløysinga er at UDI no har så mange flyktningar spreidde på asylmottak rundt om i heile landet at dei må effektivisera drifta og gjennomføra asylintervju på enklare måtar enn å møte dei fysisk.


On international resettlement conferences

From Reuters: U.N. to hold March summit to resettle, place millions of Syrians

He [Ban Ki-moon] said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees would convene a conference in March to win pledges from countries to resettle or help place those who have been displaced due to the Syria conflict.


He said he would also hold a high-level summit on managing large-scale movements of migrants and refugees one day before the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York in September.

See also the remarks from HC Guterres at the Plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum seekers” on 20 November 2015,

We need to provide those fleeing the Syria crises  and others uprooted by conflicts that are no less violent but far less visible  safe, legal alternatives to the chaotic and dangerous smuggling routes they are forced to take today in order to reach safety.

This means more resettlement and humanitarian admission, more flexible visa arrangements, more private sponsorship programmes and other possibilities. Many efforts have been made in this regard, and I very much welcome all the recent announcements by governments that have underlined the importance of this element in addressing the global crisis. But much more is needed, and so UNHCR will be convening a “High Level Meeting on Global Responsibility-Sharing and Other Forms of Admission for Syrian Refugees” early next year, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to mobilize significant additional commitments.

(emphasis added in all quotes)

update: UNHCR Events: Pathways for admission of Syrian Refugees; High-level meeting on global responsibility sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian refugees, to be held at Palais des Nations, Geneva Switzerland 30 March 2016: concept note | background note | provisional agenda

also see: Focusing on Protection: Previewing Upcoming High-Level Fora on Migration via MPI

On Memphis and REP

What is going on in the US right now is utterly frustrating to watch from abroad. Major love to Ruth, Cam, and the rest of the REP family in Memphis.

Via Kelli Cook at Local Memphis, TN lawmaker calls for round up of Syrian refugees —

Ruth Lomo fled the South Sudan and was brought to the United States from a Kenyan refugee camp.  She’s been in the United States since 2001.

“I was forced to flee my country because of war. I didn’t plan to leave. I was just fleeing for the safety of my children,” said Lomo.

Lomo was the inspiration for the Refugee Empowerment Program in Memphis. She fought to help people just like her from war-torn countries to get much needed resources as they transition into their new life in the Bluff City.

Mohamud Hilowle has been participating in R.E.P since he was in the 5th grade after his family gained refugee status from Somalia.

“Growing up, I used to come here like everyday after school. They make sure I did my work and made sure I was doing good,” said Hilowle.

While all refugees are accepted at this program, that may not be the case if  Republican Tennessee lawmaker Glen Casada gets his way.

“I am going to protect your family and mine by making statements that no terrorists get into the state,” said Casada of Williamson County.

Representative Casada said Wednesday during a press conference he not only wants the National Guard to round up recently settled Syrians in Tennessee and take them back to federal immigration officials, but he also wants the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to keep an eye on any refugee in the state.

(click through for video coverage + interviews @ REP)

On what the news covers

Max Fisher over at Vox addresses the swirling accusations that the media (at large) ignores certain conflicts for others —

It would be easy to blame the media for this, to say that if only media outlets covered Beirut rather than ignoring it, the world might pay attention. I have bad news: The media does cover Beirut, just as it has been covering Lebanon’s refugee plight for years. That’s an uncomfortable truth, because rather than giving us an easy villain, it forces us to ask what our own role might be in the world’s disproportionate care and concern for one country over another.

But if that reflection leads people to express greater interest in what happens in Beirut or Abuja or Baghdad, then few will be happier than those of us in the media. We’ve been trying for years to break through reader apathy and disinterest. If we take some unfair criticisms but it gets people to finally pay attention, I think that is a trade-off every reporter on Earth would accept.