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Refugee resettlement: politics, practices, rhetoric

Refugee resettlement: politics, practices, rhetoric


UNHCR, IOM, Sant Egidio, Centre for Lebanese Studies, AMADPOC (Kenya), Simon Bolivar University (Ecuador), HIAS, Women Now for Development, Asylum Access.


Dr. Katharine Jones, Professor Heaven Crawley, Dr. Esra Kaytaz, Dr. Mateja Celestina (Coventry University, CTPSR); Professor Jennifer Hyndman (York University, Ca); Associate Professor Katrina Powell (Virginia Tech); Professor Alison Phipps (Glasgow University).


This project explores resettlement in countries of destination as well in those which host large numbers of forcibly displaced persons. Drawing evidence from a select group of case-studies, we analyse the ways in which the politics of resettlement are translated on the ground through the practices and narratives of the staff of intermediary organisations such as UNHCR, IOM and the NGOs involved in resettlement; and government officials as well as their main respective donor governments. Using decolonising methodologies, we also aim to study the intertwined narratives, storytelling and rhetoric about resettlement of the women and men who have been forcibly displaced.


Refugee resettlement faces an uncertain future. Over one million forcibly displaced people have been resettled to a third country over the past decade but global demand for resettlement places greatly outstrips supply. UNHCR expects to submit 170,000 individuals for resettlement in 2017, based on the expected global quotas from resettlement states: the number in need of resettlement is expected to escalate to 1.19 million by next year, up three-quarters on 2014. As of 2017, the U.S., which has traditionally accounted for the large number of places have instituted a temporary ban on resettlement. This project is targeted at generating evidence about the current and potential role of resettlement as a tool for immediate humanitarian protection as well as a longer-term ‘durable solution’ for countries which host large numbers of forcibly displaced people. The research will assist the governments of countries hosting large numbers of forcibly displaced persons to better utilise the opportunity structures around resettlement. The research will assist UNHCR - globally as well as within Ecuador, Kenya and Lebanon – and its partners in resettlement programmes to refine their operational responses leading to more successful outcomes and protection for the most vulnerable. We also aim to help these organisations more effectively tailor international advocacy on resettlement. Thirdly, the research will assist donor governments and related agencies better understand how resettlement can be a safe and legal alternative migratory route to protection. It will also help donors understand how ODA can be better targeted at supporting these programmes. Finally, although policy makers are interested in finding ways to increase the scale of resettlement the existing academic literature is, with few notable exceptions, largely silent on resettlement in the countries from which resettlement takes place, focusing instead on institutional processes and individual integration outcomes in countries of resettlement. Our research will address this lacuna.

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