‘Camps That Are Becoming Cities – Cities That Are Becoming Camps: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan

The Oppenheimer Chair is pleased to welcome Faten Kikano, PhD Candidate in Environmental Design, from the Université de Montréal for a conference and a photo exhibition. Ms. Kikano will present her research and her photos about the life of  Syrian refugees in camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Join us for a lunch, a short conference…
Sonia Cancian Poster
Monday, 27 March 2017

The Power of Life Stories: Situating the Narratives of Migrants and Refugees within the Context of the Law

The Oppenheimer Chair and the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism are pleased to welcome Dr. Sonia Cancian, from Zayed University for a seminar on life stories of migrants and refugees and the law. This seminar will lead a discussion on life stories of migrants and refugees and their power (or not) within…

UNHCR: Dangerous Crossings – Yemen

Video by UNHCR
21 March, 2017

The song “Dangerous Crossings” is “part of a major UNHCR campaign to spread awareness about the dangers of crossing to war-stricken Yemen through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa, highlighting the horrendous conditions and rising risks in Yemen” (UNHCR).

Please listen to this song and watch the clip. Great craftsmanship from the musical and video points of view.

But an extremely confusing message. Is UNHCR really telling refugees and migrants to stay home? “Here at home with family and friends there are hands when hard times come to hold you”. “At home, the fields are green”. Tell that to the Somali and Eritrean youths!

It is a good idea to warn refugees about “dangerous crossings”, and certainly Bab-el-Mandeb has seen a high proportion of casualties (estimated a few years ago at an enormous 10%!). The tragedies are real. But helping refugees to find less dangerous routes would be more productive than telling them to stay home.

“Haven’t you received the tragic news?”. Yes, they have. But they have also received the news of all those who made it to a place of safety. The risks are high, but refugees are on a dignity-seeking journey for themselves and their loved ones, a dignity they can’t find or provide at home, and a journey undertaken often out of a feeling of family responsibility, filial duty or simply love. Telling them to stay put is not acceptable: for many of them, it’s not an option.

It is my experience that many refugees who came undocumented to Europe or the USA on a dangerous journey believe that this move was the best thing they ever did for themselves and their families. Many descendants of refugees still celebrate the courage, determination and grit that their parents or grand-parents have shown. In the family lore, these forebears are heroes, because they faced adversity to provide a future for their children.

Telling refugees to stay home seems to further the agenda of many Global North countries trying to “stem” the “flows” of refugees “streaming” towards more prosperous and stable regions.

This song presents a very conservative view and offers a counterproductive message, which seems to come directly from the toxic political song book of the EU or Australia!

  Workers on a farm in California’s Central Valley. Photo Credit: Max Whittaker for The New York Times.

No Crackdown on Illegal Employers

Article in The New York Times
20 March, 2017

“The takeaway is clear. While it has become politically expedient to malign and scapegoat immigrants, Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers across the country recognize that finding a way to excise them systematically from payrolls would have a crippling effect on several industries. The only long-term solution to this conundrum is returning to the bipartisan consensus that enabled the 1986 bill. This would require giving millions of undocumented immigrants the ability to earn citizenship, then developing a uniform system to verify employment eligibility, and more rigorously prosecuting employers who evade it.

Barring that form of comprehensive reform, American taxpayers will continue bankrolling an expensive, heartless crackdown on immigrants for years on end. Meanwhile, employers will continue to quietly reap the benefits of immigrant labor while looking the other way.”

Large underground labour markets were created over the last thirty years in order to increase the competitiveness of several sectors of our economies which cannot be delocalised (agriculture, construction, care, hospitality, fisheries, extraction, for the most part), through reducing labour costs by employing exploited undocumented migrant workers.

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The Refugee Surge in Europe: Economic Challenges

IMF Report
18 March, 2017

You might be interested in reading this IMF economic analysis of the refugee surge in Europe. It insists on social and economic integration of refugees, in particular through quick access of asylum seekers to the labour market. It minimises the negative consequences for the economic situation of native workers. Quite in line with previous economic analysis and contrary to what many European leaders are implementing, unfortunately.

To access the report in PDF,  you can click here: IMF Report

  ‘For its wearers the hijab is a core part of their way of life, linked to the way they choose to practise their faith. It is not up for debate’ Photo Credit: Martin Argles for the Guardian

The hijab ruling is a ban on Muslim women

Article in The Guardian
16 March, 2017

This week’s decision by the European court of justice to allow the hijab to be banned in the workplace is yet another sign of the continent’s obsession with how Muslim women dress.

The ruling states that the hijab can be banned only as part of a policy barring all religious and political symbols – and so framed in a way that doesn’t directly target Muslim women. Indeed, the Conference of European Rabbis was outraged, saying that the ruling sent a clear message that Europe’s faith communities were no longer welcome – and a number of religious communities, including Sikhs, will be affected.

However, there’s no doubt that Muslims are the main group in the line of fire. That’s why far-right groups across the continent were so delighted with it. “Of course companies have to be allowed to ban the wearing of headscarves,” said Georg Pazderski, of Germany’s hardline Alternative für Deutschland. “Even the ECJ votes Marine [le Pen],” tweeted the French MP Gilbert Collard, a Front National supporter.”Read Post

  Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands at The Hague on Thursday. Photo Credit: Jerry Lampen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A Dent in Europe’s Populism

Article in The New York Times
16 March, 2017

“Bucking fears that the Netherlands would be the next populist domino after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election in the United States, the Dutch turned out in record numbers on Wednesday to reject the anti-Muslim platform of the far-right candidate Geert Wilders. The Dutch election was seen as a potential bellwether for elections in France and Germany, where far-right populist parties have gained ground. But it is premature to assume the Dutch result signals the defeat of far-right populism in Europe.”

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