refugee

Islam and refugees

In these times of mass displacement and increasing islamophobia, I want to share a finding from a recently published study of mine:

“‘[I]f any human being asks for asylum, it can on no account be refused.’
[...]
the way Islamic law has been applied seems to provide better protection than the 1951 Refugee Convention alone.”

The paper where I explore the rights of disaster-affected Somalis and Ethiopians in Yemen is available through the open access journal Oslo Law Review:

“Disasters and Refugee Protection: A Socio-Legal Case Study from Yemen.” Oslo Law Review, 2(3), 2015.

In the hands of Europe

The Mediterranean is the most dangerous border between countries that are not at war. There have been more than 15 000 dead or missing since January 1998 and many more uncounted. Recently, the numbers of deaths have increased dramatically. As a border – a “contact boundary” in Gestalt therapy terminology – it is also somewhere we can see the European self in function, i.e. what Europe wants, does and becomes in interaction with the wider environment. 

In this article on the British Gestalt Journal website, I explore how we can use polarity theory to better understand the current crisis.
Read the article
here.

Disasters and refugee protection – a socio-legal case study from Yemen

Every year millions of people are forced to flee their homes in the context of climate change and disasters. Their needs and rights are unclear. This paper presents and discusses some findings from a socio-legal case study exploring the rights of disaster-affected Somalis and Ethiopians in Yemen. The first main findings relate to the challenges that Ethiopians face in accessing, and succeeding with, the formal asylum process. This is discussed in light of legal aid theory and research as well as research on credibility assessments. Another category of findings relates to interactions of local, religious law and international law. This is discussed in light of legal pluralism, which helps in identifying an emancipatory potential. While complex, dynamic and depending on regional politics and other factors, the way Islamic law is applied - and influences other bodies of law - seems to ensure better protection than the 1951 Refugee Convention alone. This potential should be further explored and possibly expanded in order to strengthen the rights of people displaced in the context of climate change and disasters more generally.

Read the full conference paper
here.

Doctoral defence

On 24th January, I gave two trial lectures and defended my doctoral thesis for the degree Dr. Philos. in Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo.

Every year millions are forced to flee their homes in the context of disasters associated with climate change and natural hazards. This thesis seeks to help secure real rights for those displaced. In order to do so, I explore the lives and rights of displaced people through interviews with them, government officials, UN actors and others. I also analyse relevant formal law.

The Introduction (“kappa”) of the doctoral is available
here.

Information about the trial lectures and defence is available
here.

In the media:


Climate refugees hard hit by unclear laws, ScienceNordic, 14 May 2014.

Klimaflyktning i lov og praksis, Morgenbladet, 24 January 2014.

Klimaflyktninger rammes hardt av uklare lover, forskning.no, 17 April 2014

Klimaflyktninger rammes hardt av uklare lover, UiO.no, 25 April 2014.

New paper on "climate refugees"

A paper of mine that was recently published in the International Journal of Social Science Studies, discusses the protection of Somalis who were displaced to Kenya and Egypt during the 2011 and 2012 drought. The full paper is available online here.

Abstract:
Natural hazard-related disasters, including those associated with climate change, displace millions of people. Those displaced across international state borders face particular challenges with regards to legal status and rights protection. This paper discusses to what extent, and how, this group of displaced people are protected, and indicates how their protection can be further strengthened. The discussion draws on case studies of Somalis displaced to Kenya and Egypt during the 2011 and 2012 drought. Appreciation of the contextual vulnerability in disasters and the multi-causality of displacement can, and should, inform the interpretation of the refugee concept(s). In Kenya, for example, all Somalis were given refugee status on a prima facie group basis due to the presence of generalised violence as well as drought in their home country. In Egypt, the decision-makers operated with a different understanding and practice, and many Somalis risked falling outside the refugee definition(s). Beyond getting a formal refugee status recognition, however, there may also be protection issues related to formal law such as restrictions on inter alia the right to work and freedom of movement, as well as issues related to operational capacity and resources such as lack of shelter and security. A series of extra-legal factors must be given due consideration both to ensure that the protection capacity of existing law is employed to its fullest and that new legal and policy developments become effective.

Driven Out By Drought - article in the Cairo Review of Global Affairs

The Spring 2013 issue of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, featuring Special Report: Humanity on the Move, is now online: http://www.thecairoreview.com/ 

My piece on Somalis displaced by drought to Kenya and Egypt is available here:
http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/CairoReview/Pages/articleDetails.aspx?aid=339

Global average temperatures are rising, and the weather is becoming wilder. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that climate change is a factor in certain disasters such as storms, floods and droughts. Population growth and density, poverty and armed conflicts are also contributing to a changing pattern in disasters. According to a study by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 14.9 million people were displaced by sudden-onset natural disasters in 2011; the majority by climate-related disasters such as storms and floods. Hundreds of thousands of others have fled slow-onset disasters, such as the drought that developed into a famine in the Horn of Africa. Among them are Somalis displaced to Kenya and Egypt.


Those who flee persecution qualify for refugee status, according to the refugee definition of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. There are wider regional refugee definitions such as the Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1969. This classified generalized violence and events seriously disturbing public order in the definition. For many of those displaced to another country in the context of disasters, however, there is no international legislation providing a clear and secure basis for their rights and protection. The Kenyan and Egyptian contexts offer an opportunity to understand what this means for people on the ground.