On Erna speaking about refugees, 2001

The perks of doing archival research is that you occasionally come across some gems:

Status of Refugees – a speech by Erna Solberg, (then) Minister of local Government and Regional Development, at the Ministerial meeting of states parties to the convention relating to the status of refugees on 12 December 2001, Geneva:

This 50th anniversary provides an excellent opportunity to assess the quality of the international regime for the protection of refugees. I agree with UNHCR that in the course of these 50 years the 1951 Convention has proved its relevance, effectiveness and flexibility, despite the ever-changing environment. The Convention will, however, only be an efficient tool as long as the states parties are fully committed to its implementation. I am happy to see that so many colleagues from other countries have reaffirmed their commitments in this regard. […]

Refugee protection predates and goes beyond the 1951 Convention. In 1921 Fridtjof Nansen was appointed as the League of Nations’ first High Commissioner for Refugees. One of Nansen’s main objectives was to help refugees to stand on their own feet as soon as their essential needs had been met. The solutions were the same as those we use today: repatriation, resettlement and local integration. Fridtjof Nansen undoubtedly contributed to setting the standard for future action on behalf of refugees and paved the way for the 1951 Convention.

The preamble to the 1951 Convention notes that the granting of asylum may place unduly heavy burdens on certain countries and that a satisfactory solution cannot be achieved without international cooperation. It does not, however, specify how such cooperation should be brought about. Therefore, it is essential that states are willing to engage in such cooperation and that UNHCR provides the necessary coordination. […]

I am pleased to see the progress being made in the global consultations on international protection. In addition to highlighting questions of interpretation relating to the Convention, the consultations have focused on protection challenges that are not clearly covered by the Convention. How to deal with mass outflow situations has been one central issue. I have noted UNHCR ‘s assurances that the Convention is sufficiently flexible to be applied effectively even in situations of large-scale influxes. I’ll bear that in mind. Nonetheless, I believe that large-scale influxes call for practical national tools, stich as temporary protection schemes. The challenge is to make them fully compatible with international protection standards.


On debates re: European burden sharing

On 2014 Statistical Yearbook

UNHCR just released their 2014 Statistical Yearbook. From chapter 3, durable solutions and new displacement —

The number of countries admitting refugees for resettlement has remained relatively stagnant in recent years. Likewise, the number of available resettlement places has not grown significantly. These trends are in contrast to the number of resettlement claims, which continues to rise from year to year. UNHCR has not relaxed its efforts to advocate for more countries to offer resettlement places and for countries to increase their resettlement quotas.

see also: UNHCR 11 December 2015 confirmed pledges for resettlement and other forms of legal admission since 2013

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 the other refugee crisis

Ben Rawlence writes in the New York Times of one of the other refugee crises — protracted situations by way of long-term refugee camps,

Dadaab is not an anachronism, or a hangover from a former world order. It is the future.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Dadaab was created as a short-term haven where the international community could house and feed displaced people until a “durable solution” could be found. Under the principles set out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this meant refugees would stay in the camp until one of three things happened: They returned to their country of origin; were integrated into their new host country, in this case, Kenya; or were offered resettlement to a third country, usually in Europe or the United States.

There are nearly 400,000 Somali refugees living in Dadaab for whom none of these outcomes is likely. They are among the 14 million refugees living in what the United Nations calls “protracted situations,” those in exile for more than five years. The global displaced population is now at 60 million, but this appalling number masks another crisis that has been brewing out of the headlines for the past decade: the explosion in protracted refugees.

related: Barbara Borst via The Huffington Post on naturalization in Tanzania.