31 July 2006

Disparities in U.S. Asylum Rulings

The New York Times announced that a report released today by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) found significant variations in the asylum decisions of the 208 immigration judges within the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Examples of findings include:

- Variability among judges: "Denial rates for the 208 judges ranged from a low of 10% to a high of 98%."
- Legal representation: "While having a lawyer by no means ensures success -- 64% of these requests are denied -- the denial rate for those without it is far higher, 93%."
- Nationality of asylum-seeker: "Since FY 2000, more than 80 percent of individuals from El Salvador, Mexico and Haiti...have been denied asylum. At the other extreme are asylum seekers, while less numerous, from Afghanistan and Burma whose odds of denial are less than 30 percent."

TRAC reports on asylum law and process will be available 10 August 2006.

Posted in Publications.

RSC News: Director Appointed, New Working Paper, FMR Supplement

1. The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) has appointed Roger Zetter to replace Stephen Castles as director. Roger Zetter is currently the head of the Development and Forced Migration (DFM) Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University. Read the blurb on RSC's home page for more info. about his research interests. Some of his publications are available in full-text at the DFM site, such as "Shelter Provision and Settlement Policies for Refugees : A State of the Art Review" (1995). Forced Migration Online's digital library also houses some of his papers, including "A practice handbook for researchers and research assistants conducting fieldwork and data collection with refugees" (1991) [go to Advanced Search and enter Zetter in the author field]. Dr. Zetter was the founding editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies (1988-2001). Visit FMO's Journals repository for full-text back issues of the JRS; the first issue of the first volume sets out Dr. Zetter's objectives for the new journal in the article entitled "Refugees and Refugee Studies - a Label and an Agenda."

2. A new RSC Working Paper has been issued: Resolving the Liberal Paradox: Citizen Rights and Alien Rights in the UK, by George Gigauri (July 2006) [text]

3. The RSC's Forced Migration Review recently published a supplement entitled "Education and conflict: research, policy and practice," which includes summaries of presentations given at a conference by the same name. Readers can access the whole issue or single articles here.

Posted in Publications.

28 July 2006

New Forced Migration Books

A brief list of books recently published:

Bayefsky, Anne F. (ed.), Human Rights and Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrant Workers: Essays in Memory of Joan Fitzpatrick and Arthur Helton, Brill (2006) [publisher site] [other books in Refugees and Human Rights series]
- Compilation of essays from 28 contributors on a wide range of forced migration issues. Dedicated to two leading advocates in the field. (Read more on Arthur Helton and on Joan Fitzpatrick.)

Hopgood, Stephen, Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International, Cornell University Press (2006) [publisher site]
- History of Amnesty International over 45 years. Also by this author is an article on AI recently posted on OpenDemocracy.net.

Muggah, Robert (ed.), No Refuge: The Crisis of Refugee Militarization in Africa, Zed Books (July 2006) [publisher site]
- Looks at refugee/IDP militarization in Guinea, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Temple, Bogusia and Rhetta Moran (eds.), Doing Research with Refugees: Issues and Guidelines, Policy Press (June 2006) [publisher site]
- Different articles "explore methodological issues relating to the involvement of refugees in both service evaluation and development and research more generally."

Van Arsdale, Peter W., Forced to Flee: Human Rights and Human Wrongs in Refugee Homelands, Lexington Books (August 2006) [publisher site] [other books in Program in Migration and Refugee Studies series]
- Looks at causes of flight.

Weiss, Thomas G. and David A. Korn, Internal Displacement: Conceptualization and its Consequences, Routledge (June 2006) [publisher site]
- "[T]races the normative, legal, institutional, and political responses to the challenges of assisting and protecting internally displaced persons (IDPs)."

Posted in Publications.

27 July 2006

Gender-based Violence

This briefing paper, entitled "Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in War and Its Aftermath: Realities, Responses, and Required Resources," was referenced recently on ReliefWeb. It was prepared for a symposium on gender-based violence in Brussels.

There is a section of the paper that tracks "the development of resources for the field" that was quite interesting. Here's a list of some of the tools for gender-based violence programming that were discussed, presented in chronological order:

Gender-based Violence: Emerging Issues in Programs Serving Displaced Populations, JSI Research and Training Institute and the Reproductive Health in Conflict (RHRC) Consortium (September 2002) [text]

Sexual and Gender-based Violence against Refugees, Returnees and Internally DisplacedPersons: Guidelines for Prevention and Response, UNHCR (May 2003) [text]

Gender-based Violence Tools Manual for Assessment and Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation in Conflict-affected Settings, Reproductive Health in Conflict (RHRC) Consortium (November 2003) [text]

Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings: Focusing on Prevention of and Response to Sexual Violence in Emergencies, IASC (September 2005) [text]

Posted in Publications.

New Periodical Issues: Intl. Mig., JHA, YHRDLJ

International Migration, vol. 44, no. 3 (Aug. 2006) [contents]
- The theme of this issue is "Sustainable Return in the Balkans: Beyond Property Restitution and Policy."

Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, irregular [full-text] (go to "Articles" under "Academic")
- Includes four articles posted in July 2006.

Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, vol. 9 (2006) [selected full-text]
- No particular theme, but does include article entitled "Refugee Responses, State-like Behavior, and Accountability for Human Rights Violations: A Case Study of Sexual Violence in Guinea's Refugee Camps."

Posted in Periodicals.

25 July 2006

New Site: Human Rights Tools

Human Rights Tools is a newly launched web site that offers up the following features:

- An electronic library with annotated links organized under these categories: Investigating Country Conditions, Monitoring/Documentation/Advocacy, Using the Law, Specific Issues & Population Groups, Tech for Human Rights, Humanitarian Protection, Planning & Fundraising, and Your Career. The collection grew out of a compilation of resources that the web site creators found most useful in their work with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

- Human rights headlines from six different sources. RSS newsfeeds for each are also provided.

[Note: The "Resources for Country Analysis" page, accessed via the "Investigating Country Conditions" category mentioned in the library above, also highlights the availability of RSS feeds.]

- A newsletter that provides "updates on new tools and resources." No issues are available yet for perusing, but visitors can subscribe to receive upcoming editions.

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

24 July 2006

Unaccompanied Minors

Two web sites have just been launched that aim to provide support and assistance to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the U.S. and UK.

Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children: Developing Good Practice Project (ARC) [site]
- Produced by the National Children's Bureau in the UK. Sections available on the site include "assessment & planning," "health & education," "legal & policy," "training & development," "projects & placements," and "resources." Most sections include both briefing papers and further resources.

[Note: Coincidentally, there is another ARC site, "Action for the Rights of Children: A Tool to Assist Practitioners in Providing Protection and Care for Refugee and Displaced Children," coordinated by Save the Children, that takes a broader approach to the issue of child protection.]

Refugee and Immigrant Children Alone in the United States [site]
- Produced by the Women's Commission in the U.S. The main resource available here is an educational video that helps kids better understand immigration court proceedings. A user guide is also provided.

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

22 July 2006

New Periodical Issues: APMJ, JEMS

Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, vol. 15, no. 2 (2006) [contents]
- Includes articles on Muslim refugee women in Australia and Japan's refugee policies.

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 32, no. 7 (Sept. 2006) [contents]
- Includes an article on asylum-seekers in the UK.

Posted in Periodicals.

21 July 2006

Humanitarianism & War Project Now Closed

The Humanitarianism & War Project terminated on June 30, 2006. Much of its research activity will be continued by the Feinstein International Center (formerly Feinstein International Famine Center) at Tufts University where the H&W Project was based.

For more information about the closing of the project, a review of its accomplishments, and plans for the future, read the June 2006 Status Report. Page 6 notes that sets of H&W Project publications are being shipped to relevant organizations. (Note: These continue to be available online at the Project's web site but most likely not indefinitely. Most titles can also be accessed through Forced Migration Online's Digital Library.)

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

IDPs in Colombia

Two recently issued papers on IDPs in Colombia:

Colombia: Government 'peace process' cements injustice for IDPs. A profile of the internal displacement situation (30 June 2006) [text]
- From the IDMC.

Colombia: internal displacement - policies and problems (June 2006) [text]
- A WriteNet paper.

For comparison, I did some searches in ecoi.net's re-designed site. The WriteNet paper isn't in their database yet, but the IDMC profile is. However, it did not appear in my search results for IDPs in Colombia. That said, other recent information was retrieved; some examples:

Colombia : Voices of the displaced in Pasto (17 July 2006) [text]
- From Refugees International.

The role of young IDPs as child soldiers (17 July 2006) [text]
- From the Colombia Journal.

Colombian laws and framework to assist IDPS are good, but their non-application affects enjoyment of rights, UN expert says (27 June 2006) [text]
- From OHCHR.

The moral of the story is, if you are undertaking comprehensive research, use a variety of information tools and resources to cover all your bases.

Posted in Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

20 July 2006

New Online Journal: Peace & Conflict Review

The UN Pulse announced that the University for Peace's first issue of Peace & Conflict Review has been produced. It carries an article on Sudan entitled "The political potential of displacement to urban areas." Readers are encouraged to submit papers for consideration. See the "Guidelines for Contributors" provide more information. Peace & Conflict Review is a sister publication of Peace & Conflict Monitor.

Posted in Publications.

18 July 2006

Local Integration Resources

The latest addition to UNHCR's Legal and Protection Policy Research Series is "Rights of Refugees in the Context of Integration: Legal Standards and Recommendations" (June 2006). One of the three durable solutions for refugees, local integration is defined by the Master Glossary of Terms as involving the "permanent settlement [of refugees] in a country of first asylum, and eventually being granted nationality of that country."

For more information about local integration, see:

ECRE Project on Reception and Integration (slated for completion in August 2006)

The forgotten solution: local integration for refugees in developing countries (a paper by Karen Jacobsen, July 2001)

Local integration: a durable solution for refugees? (an article in Forced Migration Review, May 2006)

Posted in Publications.

17 July 2006

New Periodical Issues: Geo. Immig. L.J., Refugees Mag.

The latest issues of the following periodical titles are now available:

Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, vol. 20, no. 3 (Spring 2006) [contents]

Refugees Magazine, no. 143 (July 2006) [text]
- Focus is on Central Asia.

Posted in Periodicals.

ecoi.net search features

Here are a few notes re. searching the re-designed ecoi.net site:

Browse by country:
- When you select a country from the drop-down list, you'll be presented with a country menu providing access to country and human rights reports, organized in reverse chronological order so the most recent items appear first.
- Other options lead you to background country information (mainly from AlertNet, the BBC, CIA World Fact Book and the U.S. State Department), maps, national laws and links. Most countries don’t have much listed for the latter two at this early stage of development.
- Some countries also have a link to “Topics and Issues,” which leads to another menu with access to documents by topic (protection, security, humanitarian...), by human rights issue, by background country category, etc. [Note: The white font on the yellow background is very hard to read on this menu.]

If you select a country and enter a search term, the search will be conducted throughout the ecoi.net database, so more documents are searched than the specific ones listed in the individual country menus.

Alternatively, you can just enter a search term or terms. Depending on the term entered, it can sometimes take a while before your search results are displayed. Moreover, there is no indication that the search is being processed, which can be a bit confusing. It would be helpful to have some confirmation that a search is actually taking place.

Advanced search allows you to focus your search to a specific source/publisher, document type and/or language. You can also indicate a time frame to limit your results. You have the option to sort your search results by publication date, publication on ecoi.net (i.e., when it was posted to the site, which is not necessarily the same was when it was published), and relevance.

Search results:
If you search by a keyword, the results include a snippet of the report displaying the keywords in context. The link, however, still connects you to the original document and source. This is helpful for verification purposes. A link is also provided to the homepage of the publisher/source.

Overall, most features from the original site have been retained. However, the revised site is more streamlined than it was before. The previous homepage was too busy - there was a lot to have to sift through. The new ecoi.net is now better structured, and users are not immediately confronted with a mass of information, particularly when selecting an individual country.

Now it’s up to COI users to determine the efficacy of the search engine and site and its ability to support the COI research process!

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

15 July 2006

New Issues in Refugee Research

This message was circulated on the Forced Migration List:

"UNHCR's newly established Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES) has assumed responsibility for the publication of the research paper series, 'New Issues in Refugee Research.' PDES is hoping to increase the number of papers published in the series, and would like to hear from anyone who has a paper to contribute. Papers submitted to the series should be based on original research or thinking on refugee, humanitarian and migration issues. UNHCR aims to publish the papers as quickly as possible, and has no objection to the papers being republished in journals or books. For all correspondence, please contact hqep00@unhcr.org."

Three new working papers in this series were posted 14 July on the UNHCR site.

Forced displacement in Africa: Dimensions, difficulties and policy directions, Working Paper No. 126 [text]

The Refugee Convention as a rights blueprint for persons in need of international protection, Working Paper No. 125 [text]

Connected lives: Somalis in Minneapolis, family responsibilities and the migration dreams of relatives, Working Paper No. 124 [text]

Posted in Publications and Events & Opportunities.

14 July 2006

UNHCR Protection Information

An operational guide and a training programme have recently been made available from UNHCR's Division on International Protection:

Operational Protection in Camps and Settlements: A reference guide of good practices in the protection of refugees and other persons of concern (June 2006) [text]
- As noted in an Alert from the Status Determination and Protection Information Section (SDPIS), this guide should be used in conjunction with the Camp Management Toolkit and Protecting Refugees: A Field Guide for NGOs.

UNHCR and International Protection: A Protection Induction Programme (June 2006) [text]
- Other UNHCR protection training materials are also available.

Moreover, the 36th Meeting of the Standing Committee was held 26-28 June 2006. A number of protection-related documents were discussed including:
- UNHCR's Expanded Role in Support of the Inter-agency Response to Internal Displacement Situations [text]
- Note on International Protection [text]
- Report on the High Commissioner's Five Global Priority Issues for Refugee Children [text]
- Progress Report on Resettlement [text]

NGO comments about these issues are available on the ICVA site.

Posted in Publications.

13 July 2006

Re-organized sites: AidWorkers.net and ECOI.net

Two sites have recently undergone significant re-structuring and re-organization:

Aidworkers Network is a "comprehensive resource for busy field workers needing practical advice and proven resources to help with their current work." The refreshed site retains most of the same sections as the original incarnation, including the "Forum" where practitioners can post or answer questions, the "Aid Workers Exchange" which is an email bulletin with short, practical articles, and the "Advice pages" with guidance, links and references to key support materials. A new feature is the "Journals" section, which appears to be a news service that aggregates relevant stories from various blogs. Hopefully, the site creators will add more information about how to navigate around and what users can expect to find where.

ecoi.net is a gateway for locating country of origin information. The site "gathers, structures and processes publicly available country of origin information with a focus on the needs of asylum lawyers, refugee counsels and persons deciding on claims for asylum and other forms of international protection." Not all changes have been fully implemented as of this writing. For example, some sub-sections under the "Sorted Research Resources" have not yet been populated with links. I haven't had a chance to fully explore the site to determine what's new and different. The newest features and design changes have not been fully described at this point. This will be helpful, once it becomes available. Upon first glance, though, it would appear that the site is more search-driven than it was previously, so several trial searches would be worth undertaking. Next week's task!

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

New Periodical Issues: H&M, Hum. Exch., IJRL, Studi Emig.

The latest issues for the following periodicals are now available:

Hommes et Migrations, no. 1261 (mai/juin 2006) [selected full-text]
- Theme is the reception of immigrants in France.

Humanitarian Exchange, no. 34 (June 2006) [full-text, free registration required; also available through ReliefWeb]
- Focus is on the “response to the earthquake in Pakistan on 8 October 2005.”

International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 18, no. 2 (June 2006) [contents]
- Includes articles on "protection elsewhere," post-9/11 in Canada, non-Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, and IDPs in Darfur.

Studi Emigrazione/Migration Studies, vol. XLIII, no. 162 (June 2006) [contents]
- Focus is "Europe, land of refuge?".

Posted in Periodicals.

12 July 2006


The Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees in the UK (ICAR) has introduced the first of what it promises will be a series of blogs that "provide a different source for information, commentary, analysis and web-links on asylum and refugee issues in the UK and internationally." Mediablog focuses on the news and provides commentary and links to relevant stories. It was first launched in early June 2006.

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

International Meetings, Past and Future

The following meetings/conferences were recently held. Background documents, agendas and programmes, and resolutions or other concluding statements are provided on the conference web sites.

- Human Rights Council, First Session, Geneva, 19-30 June 2006 [site]
See documentation for resolutions, decisions, and a draft report of the session.

- International Symposium on International Migration and Development, Turin, 28-30 June 2006 [site]
Part of the lead-up to the High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, scheduled for 14-15 September 2006.

- International Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond, Brussels, 21-23 June 2006 [site]
See Agenda for more information about the programme and selected presentations.

The 10th Biennial Meeting of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration ended 22 June. A conference blog that I set up highlights rapporteur reports from a number of the sessions.

Two upcoming conferences of interest are:

- International Conference on Refugees and International Law: the Challenge of Protection, Oxford, 15-16 December 2006 [site]
On the occasion of the Refugee Studies Centre's 25th anniversary. See also the call for papers.

- 11th International Metropolis Conference, Lisbon, 2-6 October 2006 [site]
Theme is "Paths and Crossroads: Moving People, Changing Places."

Posted in Events.

11 July 2006

New Reports/Guides

There is a lot to catch up on after a lengthy absence, starting with some recent publication titles that appeared in June 2006:

Beyond Victimhood: Women’s Peacebuilding in Sudan, Congo and Uganda [text]
- From the International Crisis Group.

First do no harm: denying healthcare to people whose asylum claims have failed [text]
- From the Refugee Council UK.

Guide to International Human Rights Mechanisms for IDPs and their Advocates [text]
- From the Brookings Institution.

Home truths - Adult refugees and asylum seekers [text; free registration required]
- From New Philanthropy Capital.

Reflecting asylum in London's communities - monitoring London's press coverage of refugees and asylum seekers: an analysis of press reporting January - February 2005 [text]
- From the Information Centre about Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK.

Seeking Asylum Alone: Unaccompanied and Separated Children and Refugee Protection in the U.S. [text]
- From Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies.

A Tragedy of Failures and False Expectations: Report on the Events Surrounding the Three-month Sit-in and Forced Removal of Sudanese Refugees in Cairo, September–December 2005 [text]
- From the American University in Cairo's Forced Migration and Refugee Studies Program.

Warm welcome? Understanding public attitudes to asylum seekers in Scotland [text]
- From the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Posted in Publications.