Announcing Broadband4refugees

A bit of shameless self-promotion. The Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility has recently launched a project on a Global Broadband Plan for Refugees, aimed at expanding connectivity for refugees and refugee-hosting communities. The initiative is supported by Tent.org, USA for UNHCR and the World Bank. We are working with UNHCR to identify CRRF pilot countries in which to begin the project. Read more about the project at https://www.broadband4refugees.org/. Read the brief, subscribe for updates, and find more information on our partnerships and objectives.

Syrian Refugee Smuggling, 2014-6: Results from Fieldwork

Officials see them as cruel exploiters of human misery: criminals, traffickers, predators. Indeed, many policymakers seem to suggest that if only we crack down on smugglers, refugee crises would be solved. Popular culture—including through Oscar-nominated documentaries—glorifies Greek and Italian Coast Guards and other anti-smuggler agents as saviors from the machinations of evil smugglers. Syrian migrants have a different view.

Two Podcasts of Interest

On UN Day in 1959, Eleanor Roosevelt hosted a radio program honoring World Refugee Year.  Her featured guests included Doris Day, Joseph Schildkraut and Gregory Peck. Mrs. Roosevelt called the situation of refugees in Europe "a blot on the conscience of all mankind."

The Legal Battle Over Refugee Admissions

The State Department has issued guidance regarding the admission of refugees following the Supreme Court's decision in the Trump Executive Order cases. The guidance includes the narrow interpretation of "bona fide relationship with a person" adopted for the visa ban provision (fiancés are in; grandparents are out).

Casablanca—a refugee story par excellence—celebrates its 75th birthday

If Casablanca were made today—at the height of the greatest refugee crisis World War II—what would it look like? To celebrate 75 years of the classic, The New School hosted a screening and discussion of the film titled, “Casablanca at 75: A Refugee Story.” Noah Isenberg, a professor at Lang College and author of, We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie, was joined by Alexander Aleinikoff, the director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, and New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott. In their discussion, the particular focus on the refugee aspect of the film brought up several topical and intriguing points that asked attendees to imagine what the film would look like and whether or not it would have the same impact.

What does the Supreme Court’s decision on the Trump Executive Order mean for refugees?

 The commentary on the Supreme Court’s decision on the Trump Executive Orders has largely focused on the part of the Orders that imposed the travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.  Less noticed has been the paragraphs at the end of the decision that discuss the Orders’ suspension of the refugee program.

Focus on Refugee Skills to Move Beyond Arguments About Resettlement

In a June 12 speech to governments and NGOs at UNHCR’s annual consultations on refugee resettlement in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi made a passionate plea for additional resettlement pledges from participating nations. He will likely be disappointed.

New Report Released on Refugee Compacts to Address Protracted Displacement

The Center for Global Development and the International Rescue Committee have teamed up to produce an interesting report: Refugee Compacts: Addressing the Crisis of Protracted Displacement. (Full disclosure: I was a member of the Study Group for the Report). This excerpt from the Executive Summary provides the central conclusion: Compact agreements have emerged as a new approach, bringing together donors and development and humanitarian actors under host-country leadership for multiyear agreements to achieve defined, sustainable outcomes for refugees and host communities. Under a compact framework, diverse actors make mutually reinforcing commitments to resources, policy changes, and projects designed to achieve a shared vision.

The Right to Information: Expanding Access for Refugees

War zones, and the paths along which people flee them, are sites of abundant rumor and few certainties. Parties to a conflict may have a strategic interest in spreading misinformation and rumors, while hostilities may have disrupted the ordinary flows of news from independent organizations. Yet even affected people who have managed to flee conflict as refugees may find little clarity. While host nations may not actively spread rumors, they may have little incentive to correct ambiguities over important facts like deadlines to apply for asylum. And generally speaking, refugees find themselves in countries where they do not know the language and whose media are not oriented towards providing them with information.