31 May 2007

U.S. asylum decisions

The New York Times reported today about "big disparities" that exist in the "judging of asylum cases" in the U.S. The article discusses the findings of a study undertaken by three law professors that examined 140,000 decisions made by 225 immigration judges. They determined that the "chance of winning asylum was strongly affected by whether or not the applicant had legal representation, by the gender of the immigration judge, and by the immigration judge's work experience prior to appointment." An abstract of the study (to be published in full in the Stanford Law Review) is available on SSRN.com.

An earlier study by TRAC also found significant variations in the asylum decisions of immigration judges.

Posted in Publications.

30 May 2007

Research Guides

LLRX.com recently published an updated version of my "Guide to International Refugee Law Resources on the Web." This legal information service is an excellent resource, particularly for finding out about the law and legal systems of other countries. An earlier guide of mine on country research for refugee status determination purposes is also available through LLRX.com, although it's a bit out of date at this point. (A more complete country of origin information guide - actually, more of a training manual - was produced by the Austrian Red Cross.)

Other resources that provide useful introductions to or overviews of forced migration issues include:

- Forced Migration Online's research guides (both thematic and regional, including a general guide to forced migration resources on the web that I prepared)

- Human Rights Education Associates' study guides (thematic)

- IDMC's Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2006

- IFRC's World Disasters Report 2006: Focus on Neglected Crises (2007 edition due out at the end of the year)

- UNHCR's The State of the World's Refugees 2006: Human Displacement in a New Millennium

- USCRI's World Refugee Survey 2007 is due to be published in June; editions for 2003-2006 are available here.

Posted in Publications.

29 May 2007

New Pubs.: Asylum, Children, Human Trafficking, Integration, Poverty, Palestinian Refugees/Syria, Refugees/Uganda

"Giving out their Daughters for their Survival": Refugee Self-Reliance, 'Vulnerability', and the Paradox of Early Marriage (Refugee Law Project, April 2007) [text]

Handbook on Integration for Policy-makers and Practitioners, 2nd edition (European Communities, May 2007) [text]

Keeping Up: A Brief on the Living Conditions of Palestinian Refugees in Syria (Fafo, 2007) [text]

Report on Destitute Forced Migrants (Jesuit Refugee Service-Europe, May 2007) [text]

Troubling Trafficking: Why I am Worried about Motherhood and Apple Pie but don't Endorse Slavery (DIIS, May 2007) [text]

When is a Child not a Child? Asylum, Age Disputes and the Process of Age Assessment (ILPA, May 2007) [text]

Posted in Publications.

23 May 2007

Amnesty International Report 2007

Amnesty International's flagship annual report has just been released. The 2007 edition surveys the state of the world's human rights during 2006. In addition to regional overviews and country profiles, the report includes facts and figures, a description of AI's campaigns, and state ratifications of human rights treaties. The report can be downloaded in its entirety or browsed by chapter. Video, audio and photos are also provided, and a companion blog is available with links to different language editions of the 2007 report.

Previous annual reports are available through the AI library.

Posted in Publications.

Forced Migration Overviews

I was asked recently about finding an introduction to the forced migration situation within a particular region/country. The following resources are starting points for developing overviews of population displacements around the world. Because different labels are used to describe forced migrants, depending on the type of displacement they experience, it is necessary to consult a range of sources in order to get a sense of the overall picture in any given place; currently, there is no single comprehensive source for "forced migration country profiles."

Forced Migration Research Guides (Forced Migration Online) [access]
- The aim of these guides is to provide an overview of the range of displacement situations in selected countries. Currently, 18 countries are profiled, as well as Palestinian refugees.

International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies [access]
- Describes IFRC programmes to assist the "world's most vulnerable people; victims of natural and man-made disasters, refugees and displaced people and those hit by socio-economic problems."

Profiles of Internal Displacement (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre) [access]
- Select countries from the orange drop-down menu on the right. For regional overviews of displacement, read through the recent report entitled Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2006 (April 2007). IDMC focuses on conflict-induced displacement.

ReliefWeb [access]
- Portal to humanitarian information on complex emergencies and natural disasters.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees [access]
- Browse by country using the drop-down menu on the home page. UNHCR's focus is on refugees, or people fleeing persecution, conflict, human rights violations who cross an international border. For regional overviews, read the agency's latest Global Appeal.

World Refugee Survey (U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants) [access]
- Search by individual country using the drop-down menu on the right, entitled "Refugee Conditions by Country." Or browse through the complete issues of World Refugee Surveys back to 2003. USCRI surveys both refugee and IDP situations.

Posted in Web Sites/Tools.

22 May 2007

HIV and IDPs: Update

I posted earlier about the First Global Consultation on HIV and Internally Displaced Persons that was held 24-25 April in Geneva. You can learn more about the discussions that took place during the meeting by reading the report and reviewing the presentations that have just been made available on the UNHCR web site.

Posted in Events and Publications.

21 May 2007

New Pubs.: Bhutanese Refugees, Forced Evictions, Palestinian Refugees, Refugee Legal Aid, Somali Refugees

Addressing the Palestinian Refugee Issue: A Brief Overview (R. Brynen, May 2007) [text]

Denied Refuge: The effect of the closure of the Kenya/Somalia border on thousands of Somali asylum-seekers and refugees (Amnesty International, May 2007) [text]

Last Hope: The Need for Durable Solutions for Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal and India (Human Rights Watch, May 2007) [text]

Palestinian Refugees: Challenges of Repatriation and Development, ed. by R. Brynen and R. El-Rifai (IDRC, 2007) [text]
- Full-text book with access by chapter.

The 'Southern' Refugee Legal Aid Network Documents (Feb. 2007) [access]
- A recent conference resulted in the revision of the Network's Charter and the Nairobi Code of Ethics.

“They Pushed Down the Houses”: Forced Evictions and Insecure Land Tenure for Luanda’s Urban Poor (Human Rights Watch, May 2007) [text]

Posted in Publications.

16 May 2007

Forced Migration Summer Courses

A number of courses are scheduled annually during the summer period. Here is a partial listing. (Note: This is provided primarily for informational and future planning purposes, as registration for many of these courses is already closed. That said, if you are interested in a particular course, it's worth checking availability.)

3-29 June 2007
International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance, Center for International Health and Cooperation, New York [info]

4-9 June 2007
Third Course on the Law of Internal Displacement, International Institute of Humanitarian Law, Sanremo [info]

9-17 June 2007
Summer Course on Refugee Issues, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University [info]

15-17 June 2007
Workshop on Health and Social Care Needs of Migrants, Department of Sociology of the National School of Public Health (NSPH) and European Center for the Study of Migration and Social Care (MASC), Athens [info]

18 June - 6 July 2007
Summer Programme on International Affairs and Multilateral Governance, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva [info]

23-30 June 2007
Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, The Fletcher School, Tufts University [info]

2-13 July 2007
European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum, Odysseus Network, Université Libre de Bruxelles [info]

2-14 July 2007
Summer Course on International Humanitarian Law, International Institute of Humanitarian Law, Sanremo/Geneva [info - note: more information is available under the drop-down menu on the left; select "our activities--summer course"]

2-20 July 2007
International Summer School in Forced Migration, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University [info]

Posted in Events & Opportunities.

15 May 2007

World Refugee Day/Refugee Weeks

World Refugee Day is June 20th. The aim is to honour the courage and determination of refugees and to "recognise the richness and diversity they bring to our societies." Various events are taking place across the globe to commemorate the day. Find out more on UNHCR's special events page.

Two week-long programmes to raise awareness of refugee issues will be held 18-23/24 June, to intersect with World Refugee Day. The first is the UK's Refugee Week, with events organised across the country. Visit the web site for background information, ideas for events, and other scheduled activities.

Australia will also be celebrating Refugee Week; this year's theme is "The Voices of Young Refugees." Check the Refugee Council of Australia site for more details and ideas for getting involved.

Posted in Events.

14 May 2007

New Pubs.: Forced Evictions, Global Warming, Human Rights, Iraq, Migration Policy/Europe, Minorities, Palestinian Refugees/Lebanon, UNHCR

(updated 15 May)

A Comprehensive European Migration Policy (EU, May 2007) [text]

Forced Evictions - Towards Solutions? Second Report of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT (AGFE, 2007) [text]

Human tide: the real migration crisis (Christian Aid, May 2007) [text]

International Human Rights Research Guide (GlobaLex, March 2007) [text]

Iraq humanitarian crisis situation and NGOs' responses (NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq, May 2007) [text]

The Law, the Loss and the Lives of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, CMI Working Paper 1 (CMI, 2007) [text]

State of the World's Minorities 2007: Events of 2006 (Minority Rights Group International, March 2007) [text]

UNHCR Policy and Practice: Confronting Calls for Change (Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, 30 April 2007) [text]

Posted in Publications.

11 May 2007

CFPs for Two Forced Migration Conferences

Two upcoming conferences will examine the changing nature of forced migration, both as a phenomenon and as a field of study.

An Unsettled Future? Forced Migration and Refugee Studies in the 21st Century, 7–8 December 2007, University of Oxford [call for papers]
- An event held in part to commemorate the Refugee Studies Centre's 25th anniversary. The aim is to "take stock of the state of research on refugee and forced migration movements. The conference will consider, in particular, how refugee and forced migration studies have progressed in the years since the RSC’s inception and what contemporary challenges and future directions should inform the ongoing development of these areas of study." Paper proposals due September 14th.

Refugees and Forced Migrants at the Crossroads: Forced Migration in a Changing World, 6-10 January 2008, Cairo [call for papers]
- The 11th conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM). The focus will be on places, people, policies and a field at the crossroads. Submit abstracts by June 30th.

Posted in Events & Opportunities.

10 May 2007

Refugee Integration in Europe

EU ministers responsible for integration are meeting today and tomorrow (May 10-11) to "discuss strengthening European cooperation and the exchange of experience within the EU regarding integration policy issues." The second edition of the Handbook on Integration for Policy-makers and Practitioners was presented on the first day.

In light of the EU meeting, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles issued a press release noting that refugees are overlooked in EU integration policies. ECRE has helped organize an NGO Network of Integration Focal Points to, among other activities, "advocate for better integration policies and practices for refugees and migrants in Europe." The organization has also prepared a series of policy briefs with recommendations for improved practices in key integration-related areas. More information on ECRE's integration activities is available here.

UNHCR also recently issued a Note on the Integration of Refugees in the European Union, which "highlights existing gaps in the integration of refugees in the European Union (EU), and formulates a number of policy recommendations in order to strengthen policy and practice in this area." The refugee agency has its own handbook, entitled Refugee Resettlement: An International Handbook to Guide Reception and Integration.

Posted in Publications.

08 May 2007

Humanitarian Law Guide

The second English edition of the Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law, by F. Bouchet-Saulnier, was published in February 2007. Using an alphabetically organized dictionary format, the guide provides introductions to and definitions of key concepts in humanitarian law.

Book reviews of the first edition of the Guide (2002) can be found online at:

Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, Internet archive version [html text]

Melbourne Journal of International Law, vol. 4, no. 2 (Oct. 2003) [html text] [pdf text]

These reviews refer to two other useful texts that focus on humanitarian law:

- Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, by R. Gutman and D. Rieff [access]
- The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts, by D. Fleck (second edition to be published by OUP in 2008) [info.]

For more comprehensive information on international humanitarian law, explore the following web sites:

International Humanitarian Law (International Committee of the Red Cross)

International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative (Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research)
- Free registration required.

Reference Guide to the Geneva Conventions (Society of Professional Journalists)

Posted in Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

04 May 2007

New Periodical Issues: AWR, Conflict Trends, Dev. in Practice, Disasters, IJRL, ICRC Rev., MIS

AWR Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 4 (Dec. 2006) [contents]
- Mix of articles including one on harmonizing European asylum policy.

Conflict Trends, no. 1 (2007) [full-text]
- Focus is on parliaments and conflict resolution.

Development in Practice, vol. 17, no. 2 (2007) [contents]
- Mix of articles; an overview of the issue is provided in the editorial.

Disasters, vol. 31, no. 2 (June 2007) [contents]
- Mix of articles including one on NGO insecurity in conflict areas.

International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 19, no. 1 (March 2007) [contents]
- Includes articles on freedom of movement, Mozambican refugees in South Africa, and African asylum law.

International Review of the Red Cross, no. 863 (2006) [full-text]
- Focus is the "presence of private military companies (PMCs) in situation of armed conflicts."

Migration Information Source (May 2007) [full-text]
- Mix of articles.

Posted in Periodicals.

02 May 2007

HIV and IDPs

A global consultation on the effects of HIV on internally displaced populations was held last week in Geneva (April 24-25). The aim of the meeting was to "help...identify gaps, plan joint programmes and improve services for IDPs." A call was made for more research into the HIV infection rates among displaced people. One 2006 study of eight countries that host IDPs noted that "[l]ittle is currently known about HIV among conflict-affected internally displaced persons (IDPs) despite claims that conflict increases HIV among IDPs, that they have high HIV infection rates, and that they lack adequate HIV interventions."

One way to track research reported in the medical literature is to create an RSS feed from PubMed searches. For example, enter the search >HIV AND (displaced OR armed conflict OR humanitarian)<, click on "go" to generate your results; from the "send to" drop-down menu, select "RSS feed," and "create feed." Copy and paste the resulting feed into your newsreader; it will update when new matches are made to your search criteria. (Note the record for the article entitled "HIV-1 prevalence and factors associated with infection in the conflict-affected region of North Uganda" from March 2007 that is available in full-text.)

Other resources relating to HIV/AIDS and displacement include:

- IASC, Guidelines for HIV/AIDS Interventions in Emergency Settings (2003) [text]

- ReliefWeb, HIV/AIDS Policy and Issues Documents [access]

- UNAIDS & UNHCR, Policy Brief: HIV and Refugees (2007) [text]

- UNHCR, Refugees and HIV/AIDS page [access]

Posted in Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

01 May 2007

Library Services to Refugees

A UK program called "Welcome to Your Library: Connecting Public Libraries and Refugee Communities" recently won the Libraries Change Lives award. The objective of the program is to "improve access to and quality of public library services for everyone" by sharing information about good practice, planning guidance, training opportunities, and other resources that can help libraries deliver services to refugees and asylum seekers. Documents on the pilot project that led to the development of this program are available in the "background" section.

Examples of other library programs and services designed specifically to target refugee and/or immigrant populations are described in the following resources:

- Brathwaite, T., A Place for the Displaced: A Consideration of the Types of Caribbean Libraries Should Provide to Refugees, Paper presented to the Association of Caribbean University Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) XXXVI Conference: “Information and Human Rights", Wyndham Resort, Aruba (2006) [text]

- MacDonald, M. and D. Kane, Public library services to refugees and asylum seekers in the North East (Centre for Research into Quality, 2005) [text]

- Takafumi, M., "Libraries for Refugee Camps: The Shanti Volunteer Association," ABD: Asian/Pacific Book Development, vol. 33, no. 1 (2002) [text]

- Thorhauge, J., Danish Strategies in Public Library Services to Ethnic Minorities, Paper presented to World Library and Information Congress: 69th IFLA General Conference and Council, Berlin (2003) [text]; see also Finfo: Information for Ethnic Minorities in Denmark

- USCIS, Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices (2006) [text]

- Virgilio, D., "InfoBUS: Serving Immigrant and Refugee Populations," excerpt from From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice (ALA, 2004) [text]

Posted in Publications and Web Sites.