World leaders gathered at the United Nations in September 2016 for an unprecedented summit focused on discussing major movements of refugees and migrants. This historic gathering, spurred in part by the massive asylum seeker and migrant flows to Europe in 2015, was intended to launch a strengthened global effort to coordinate responses to refugee and migration flows. The absence of concrete commitments in the resulting New York Declaration disappointed many observers.
During this Migration Policy Institute Europe event in Brussels, leading experts discussed how the slow progress on multilateral cooperation around migration evidenced in New York has particular salience for the European Union. Speakers included the European External Action Service’s Managing Director for Global Issues, the Director General for Asylum and Migration Policy in Sweden’s Ministry of Justice, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development’s Southern Dimension Director, and a key advisor to the UN Special Representative for Migration, in a discussion moderated by the Director of MPI Europe.
The discussants examined what lessons the European Union’s experience offers for the prospect of multilateral cooperation on migration at the global level? What implications might better global coordination have for cooperation within the European Union? And finally, is there a role for EU institutions, and the EU-28, to play in ensuring that the UN effort to strengthen global collaboration is concrete and meaningful?
In recent years, dramatic images of migration—struggling boats crammed dangerously beyond capacity; two sisters, champion swimmers, towing their foundering boat to safety; a little boy’s body lying face down in the sand—have seized worldwide attention and catapulted unauthorized maritime migration onto national and international policy agendas. Whether it is the overwhelming Mediterranean crisis or movements across the Bay of Bengal and the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, in the Caribbean, or around Australia, crisis has followed crisis, leaving almost intractable problems for policymakers. The challenges have only become more complex, widespread, and dangerous in recent years.
While the issues presented by unauthorized maritime migration are constantly evolving, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) provides analysis, in a book discussed at this event, on some common themes that have emerged over the past decade, along with practical recommendations. This book, All at Sea: The Policy Challenges of Rescue, Interception, and Long-Term Response to Maritime Migration, is based on case studies of unauthorized movements by sea in several parts of the world. This book discussion explores the different facets of maritime migration—the multiple state and nonstate actors; the mixed flows of refugees and other migrants; the overlapping and sometimes contradictory legal regimes; fluctuating state policies; the secondary movements of people from countries of first asylum; the constantly shifting sources, routes, and destinations; and the inter-relatedness with other equally complex problems—and how these together create a “wicked problem” for governments, civil society, the private sector, and international organizations to tackle together.
As record numbers of refugees and migrants undertake journeys across the Mediterranean, policymakers are faced with the challenging tasks of receiving, protecting, and integrating new arrivals—at every stage of their migration journey—while maintaining public confidence in an increasingly immigration-skeptic climate.
This second session, in an event co-organized by the Migration Policy Institute during September 2016 in New York, examines what is known about promising approaches to settle and integrate newcomers, including the links between development and stability in the region and integration, and how to garner support for these policies in host communities. The session also examines what drives complex public reactions to immigration, and how policymakers and civil society can innovate to combat xenophobia, better understand rising support for populist parties, and assuage fears of loss of identity. The session is followed by brief closing remarks.
Record numbers of people are on the move throughout the
Mediterranean region in search of protection or opportunity, placing
considerable pressure on national asylum and migration systems and fueling
anxiety among publics about their governments’ ability to manage these flows.
This discussion, co-organized by the Migration Policy
Institute during September 2016 in New York, focuses on how governments and
actors in the Mediterranean region can work together to expand durable
solutions for refugees and coordinate efforts to build welcoming communities
Opening comments and welcome are followed by the first session that examines
how regional cooperation can complement international action to address the
refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. What factors are driving current flows of
refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean, and how have the routes they
are using to access protection and opportunity shifted? What roles are
different actors playing at the international, national, regional, and local
levels to help manage mixed flows across the Mediterranean, and expand
protection for those in need? How can policymakers in the Mediterranean better
share responsibility for providing protection and help countries on the
frontline manage these flows and meet refugees’ needs?
World leaders met with significant fanfare in New York in September 2016 for the UN Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, with the aim of developing a more humane and coordinated approach by Member States to address sizable movements of refugees and migrants. The following day, President Obama convened a Leaders Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, and private-sector leaders also met to focus on ways to respond to the rising humanitarian crisis.
Though the UN Summit fell short of producing the outcomes sought by many in the advocacy world, it did result in a New York Declaration where UN Member States affirmed the benefits of migration, standardized international protection of migrants and refugees, committed to programs to counter xenophobia and discrimination, affirmed international cooperation and responsibility sharing for refugee protection and solutions, and committed to draft a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and a Global Compact on Refugees by 2018. The Obama summit gathered commitments from countries to resettle 360,000 refugees and rallied an estimated $650 million from private business leaders to empower refugees and improve their lives.
In this podcast, Migration Policy Institute experts, Kathleen Newland, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, and Gregory Maniatis, discuss the impacts of the summits and whether these efforts will gain enough momentum to respond capably to the complex threats that refugees and migrants are facing.
More than 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes, including 21 million refugees who have crossed international borders in search of a safe haven. The United States long has accepted more refugees annually for resettlement than any other country, though the numbers represent a tiny portion of those awaiting resettlement around the globe. Yet that historical welcome is under challenge in ways not seen since the immediate aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, more than half of the nation’s governors announced opposition to the further resettlement of refugees in their states. And there are calls in Congress for major changes to the resettlement program, which will admit 85,000 refugees this fiscal year, even as defenders note that those under consideration for resettlement undergo more stringent security screening than all other would-be immigrants and travelers to the United States. This panel at the 13th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference discusses the policy and legal concerns raised by state and federal lawmakers about the resettlement of refugees, examines how the federal government and its humanitarian partners have responded to these concerns, and addresses the implications of these challenges for the future of a program that has resettled more than 3 million refugees since 1975. Speakers include T. Alexander Aleinikoff, former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees and Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School; Kevin Fandl, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at Fox School of Business, Temple University; Anna Greene, Policy and Advocacy Director for U.S. Programs at International Rescue Committee; and moderator Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Director of the Center for Applied Legal Studies and Human Rights Institute and Professor from Practice at Georgetown Law. The conference is organized annually by the Migration Policy Institute, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and Georgetown University Law Center.
Housing an estimated 263,000 Somali refugees, the Dadaab camp is one of the world's largest refugee camps, and for more than 20 years, it has been home to generations of Somalis who have fled conflict. However, in 2016, the Kenyan government closed its Department of Refugee Affairs and announced its intention to close Dadaab camp, or at the very least drastically reduce the number of refugees in the camp by the end of the year. Based on a 2013 agreement with Somalia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the “voluntary repatriation" of Somali refugees, the Kenyan government has been encouraging Somalis in the camp to volunteer to return in exchange for cash assistance. What these refugees will find on return to Somalia, however, is questionable, as conditions there do not appear stable or conducive to large-scale return. For those Somalis who remain in the camp and do not take the volunteer repatriation package, the future is no less uncertain—will they be forced to return without assistance if the camp closes, and if they do manage to remain in Kenya, will they be left without food assistance and subject to arrest for illegal presence?
Back from a recent trip to the region, Human Rights Watch researchers have released a report exploring the situation of refugees in Dadaab. Hear them share their findings from on-the-ground interviews and observations, along with their recommendations for the Kenyan government and international community.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas discusses refugee resettlement and other pressing immigration issues in this keynote address opening the 2016 Immigration Law and Policy Conference, organized by the Migration Policy Institute, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and Georgetown University Law Center.
The educational needs of immigrant students in primary and secondary schools pose a growing challenge for policymakers and educators, whether in countries such as the United States, where nearly 10 percent of students are learning English, or in Germany, which is dealing with record numbers of asylum seekers. Many local schools lack the resources and capacities to meet the needs of these students, particularly given that many have limited or interrupted formal education, coupled with low or no proficiency in the language of instruction.
Speakers on this webinar discuss the need for supplementary funding to support the educational needs of migrant-background students and provide an overview of the mechanics of school funding for migrant-background students in the four focal countries examined in the report. They also discuss how schools use those funds to provide specialized services, and highlight the most salient choices facing policymakers who seek to use supplementary funding mechanisms to better support effective, high-quality educational services for children from immigrant and refugee families.
The pressure brought by the recent mass influx of migrants and refugees to Europe has drawn attention to the need for systems to receive and house new arrivals that can adapt to unpredictable numbers, remain cost-efficient, and meet national and EU standards. But what does it take to set up and manage a reception system that can simultaneously meet the demands of flexibility, quality, and efficiency?
Michael Kegels, Fedasil Belgium’s Director of Operational Services and author of the recent MPI Europe report, Getting the Balance Right: Strengthening Asylum Reception Capacity at National and EU Levels, discusses how to devise a more responsive asylum reception system at national and EU levels that upholds common standards. He is joined by representatives from the Austrian Ministry of Interior and EASO to reflect on the practical challenges of meeting asylum-seeker reception demand, the prospects of greater cooperation, and the place of asylum reception policy at the heart of the Common European Asylum System.
Following the March 30, 2016 meeting of global leaders hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), MPI Europe convened a discussion to examine the outcomes of the conference, and provide an analysis of how states and civil society can work together to realize the intensifying calls for new pathways to support the safe and legal migration—and successful integration—of refugees in practice. Speakers consider what initiatives already exist to facilitate the legal mobility of refugee groups, and critically assess the potential and pitfalls that come with each. The discussion also examines new and creative ideas that have emerged in the wake of the Syria crisis.
On this webinar, MPI analysts and experts in the field discuss the results of an analysis comparing young children of refugees to other U.S. children on several key indicators of well-being. This analysis is based on U.S. Census Bureau data with MPI’s unique assignments of refugee status to the foreign-born population, as well as administrative data on refugee arrivals from the U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of Refugee Resettlement. Key indicators to be discussed include geographic resettlement patterns, languages spoken, English proficiency, family structure, parental education and employment, poverty rates, use of public benefits, and health insurance coverage. The report analyzed these indicators for the most common refugee origin groups, including Vietnam, Cuba, Laos, Ukraine, Somalia, Haiti, Russia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Burma, and 10 others.
As the migration crisis in Europe continues unabated and a deepening crisis in Syria unfolds, European policymakers are struggling to come to terms with two of the most urgent elements: making certain that 2016 is not just a repetition of 2015 (or worse) and finding the key to incorporating those among the 1.5 million migrants who will be allowed to stay (whether under some form of protection or simply because EU Member States find deportations “difficult”).
Freshly returned from several months working on the crisis from MPI Europe’s offices in Brussels, Demetrios G. Papademetriou provides a briefing on how the policy response to the crisis has unfolded at EU and national levels, and sketches an affirmative vision for what the short-, mid-, and long-term responses must be if Europe is to respond more effectively to the crisis and tackle the longer-term integration challenges.
With global displacement at record levels, it is clear that humanitarian protection will continue to be a key focus for policymakers and the international community throughout 2016. This year's calendar is dotted with a series of high-profile international events related to migration and refugee protection—including conferences in London (February 4) and Geneva (March 30) addressing the fallout of the Syrian civil war, and a pair of summits on refugees and migrants hosted by the United Nations and the United States in September. These high-level meetings could prove crucial in paving the way for meaningful solutions for the world’s forcibly displaced populations.
Migration Policy Institute (MPI) experts join the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on International Migration, Peter Sutherlan, for a webinar focusing on what can be expected to be discussed at this year’s high-level migration summits, and what tangible results might occur. In addition to Mr. Sutherland, the webinar features MPI Senior Fellow T. Alexander Aleinikoff, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, and MPI Senior Fellow and Co-Founder Kathleen Newland.
Conflicts in Syria and around the world have generated an estimated 19.5 million refugees, of whom just over half are children. Most refugees reside in countries of first asylum in developing regions, with relatively few officially resettled in the United States and other developed countries. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is releasing a series of three papers, as part of a research project supported by the Foundation for Child Development, about the education and well-being of these children. The first report discusses the mental health and schooling of Syrian refugee children living in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The second explores the experiences of Somali Bantu refugee students in a U.S. elementary school shortly after their resettlement. And the third offers a broader look at the educational experiences of refugee children in developing countries—in camps and urban settings. In this webinar, the authors of the papers and MPI analysts presented their findings on the experiences of refugee children and the impacts on their mental health and education.
Against the backdrop of the refugee crisis in Europe and the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied minors entering U.S. schools in the last two years, this webinar considers the particular challenges facing educators and policymakers as they attempt to meet the needs of immigrant and refugee students who arrive during their middle and high school years. Providing these students with instructional, linguistic, and socioemotional supports is especially complex in the secondary grades, due to the rigor of the curriculum and the short timeframe available for students to prepare for postsecondary education and the workforce.
With uncontrolled migration to the European Union growing by leaps and bounds and asylum applications recorded by EU Member States at an all-time high, calls for ‘solidarity’ and increased support from the EU level for Member States under pressure have grown louder. In this webinar, MPI Europe President Demetrios Papademetriou and EASO Executive Director Rob Visser, the agency’s first director, had a candid discussion on the role EASO has played in its first five years and its potential for the future, along with what strategies Europe ought to be pursuing with regards to the current crisis.
With refugee arrivals continuing on a scale unprecedented in recent history, the European Union is struggling to deliver a humane, sustainable response that will have the support of all of its Member States. MPI Europe, as part of a joint project on asylum in the EU with the Open Society Foundations, brought together senior officials from some of the Member States to discuss their differing perspectives on the current crisis. They considered what is needed to ensure a unified, practically feasible response to the biggest crisis that has faced the Common European Asylum System since its inception.
This discussion explored the tensions facing asylum systems in Europe and North America, and asked what tools governments have at their disposal to respond proactively to forced displacement and reduce its costs for refugees and host communities alike. Where and when should governments focus their protection investments to have the most impact? What actors and stakeholders need to be engaged, both within a government and internationally? What lessons can be drawn from responses to past asylum flows?