Subscribe: Journal of Refugee Studies - current issue
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Journal of Refugee Studies Current Issue

Published: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2017 12:48:53 GMT


Stealth Humanitarianism: Negotiating Politics, Precarity and Performance Management in Protecting the Urban Displaced


Post-cold-war-era conflicts and the humanitarian political economy have driven two disparate yet concurrent shifts within the humanitarian field. On one hand, new public management-style reforms have increasingly focused organizations on efficiency, deliverables and technical proficiency. On the other, an international rights regime has demanded that humanitarian interventions and actions become more explicitly political. Nowhere are the tensions between neutral humanitarian expertise and the need for overt political engagement more visible than for organizations promoting refugee protection in fluid, politically pluralistic urban sites. Building on fieldwork in Johannesburg, Kampala and Nairobi, we argue that neutrality, technical fixes and demands for direct and targeted service delivery can undermine long-term urban protection. Rather, protection requires enhanced local literacy and pursuing back routes to rights through engagement with municipal authorities, local actors and policy sectors. In other words, humanitarian organizations must work smarter, smaller and stealthier. But, to do this, the sector requires substantial shifts in its funding regime—including reconsidering demands for measurable outputs, strictly targeted services and rapid direct service delivery.

Religious Identity and Experiences of Displacement: An Examination into the Discursive Representations of Syrian Refugees and Their Effects on Religious Minorities Living in Jordan


This article explores how religious identity is related to experiences of and responses to displacement. It does so by examining discursive representations of Syrian refugees, their effects on religious minorities among the Syrian refugee population in Jordan and responses to religion in the Syrian humanitarian crisis by humanitarian actors. It finds that limited engagement with religious identity in displacement is in part due to (mis)interpretations of humanitarian principles of neutrality and universality and widespread assumptions held about religion as either non-essential or divisive. It argues that these limited views overlook the complex ways that resources, power, place and identity interact in practice. The article shows how an exclusion of religion in displacement affects religious minorities in relation to their wellbeing, security and protection, and access to humanitarian services. In particular, Syrian Christian and Syrian Druze refugees living in urban centres in Jordan experience isolation, insecurity and discrimination because of their religious identity, revealing the importance of the religious dimension in displacement despite humanitarian desires to avoid or downplay religion. It argues that understanding these experiences is essential to enhancing more inclusive refugee aid and protection for a range of refugee populations.

Researching the Resolution of Post-Disaster Displacement: Reflections from Haiti and the Philippines


Researching the resolution of post-disaster displacement raises a range of under-examined challenges. This article contributes to the literature on research methods and forced migration by analysing experiences conducting two policy research projects that employed a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the pursuit of ‘durable solutions’ to post-disaster displacement in Haiti and the Philippines. Many scholars are highly critical of how policy concepts and categories have sometimes unthinkingly shaped research on displacement, but the views of policy researchers and researcher-practitioners are under-represented in this conversation. This article seeks to advance discussions on the relationship between research, policy and practice in the field of forced migration by reflecting on efforts to undertake thoughtful policy research on durable solutions while making the very notion of durable solutions and tools such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons central objects of investigation. In particular, it explores four key issues: the structure of policy research partnerships; implications of different approaches to conceptualizing displacement and durable solutions; the challenge of understanding displacement and durable solutions in relation to broader and pre-disaster politics, conditions and concerns; and the timing of studies on durable solutions.

Identifying the Needs of Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Children in Thailand: A Focus on the Perspectives of Children


This research reports on the under-researched needs of urban refugee and asylum-seeking children living in precarious circumstances in Bangkok, Thailand. Further, it takes an unconventional approach and utilizes child-centred research methods to privilege the perspectives of children. It then compares children’s perspectives with those of adults who are their parents/guardians and key informants who are service providers and policy advocates. Qualitative research methods, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews and drawing with children, were employed in late 2014. This article reports remarkable findings on the similarities and differences between the perspectives of children and adults. The similarities and differences are contextualized in light of the supports and services available to improve the children’s wellbeing.

Naturalization of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania: The Debates on Local Integration and the Meaning of Citizenship Revisited


This article discusses the implementation of the Tanzania Comprehensive Solution Strategy (TANCOSS), which aimed to provide durable solutions for Burundian refugees living in Tanzania since 1972. In 2008, over 200,000 refugees were given a choice between repatriation and naturalization, and almost 80 per cent opted for Tanzanian citizenship. By March 2015, 149,630 people had received Tanzanian citizenship certificates. Despite the recognized importance of this unique case of de jure integration, there is very little understanding of what impact it has had and continues to have on the people concerned and the areas they inhabit. Taking an ethnographic perspective, this author examines the consequences of naturalization and the ways in which former refugees conceptualize and utilize their newly acquired status. Building on the case of TANCOSS, the article confronts the dominant narratives of citizenship in Africa and it brings attention to the tangible and intangible value of citizenship documents for displaced populations.

Humanitarian Sentiment and Forced Repatriation: The Administration of Hungarians in a Post-War Displaced Persons Camp


This article analyses the Quaker administration of Feffernitz Displaced Persons (DPs) camp in post-war Austria under the authority of the British Military Government. Specifically, it seeks to understand how the Quaker relief agency responded to the question of forced repatriation, and how these responses derived from its own ethical traditions and from the political and administrative context. It seeks to add to the historiography on relief agencies’ responses to the dilemmas of governing DP camps. Using the archives of the Society of Friends and the British Foreign Office, it looks at how the question of forced repatriation was understood and acted upon in Feffernitz DP camp. It is argued that Quaker ethical traditions combined with widely held humanitarian sentiments and Western anti-communism to question the application of forced repatriation in this and other DP camps. The semi-independence of Quaker organizations from the government and the relief regime allowed them to protest aspects of forced repatriation in Feffernitz and elsewhere on an ad hoc basis. However, because of the Quakers’ focus on ethics rather than politics, their critique of the politics of repatriation was limited and was not formally articulated in public or at an organizational level. The article thus stresses the importance of contextual knowledge in refugee crises, in conjunction with ethical independence and reflexivity in dealing with fast-moving and uncertain situations.