‘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…

Migrants’ Rights & Development: New Report

MOVEMENT Report: A Global Civil Society Report on Progress and Impact for Migrants’ Rights and Development
5 June, 2017

Many thanks to Rosa.

“The new Report is based on written input from 600 representatives of civil society active in migration and development around the world, as well as twenty in-depth interviews with civil society actors actively engaged at the regional and global level.”

To access the full report, please click here

  Photo Credit:

“Rights City”- Montreal Human Rights Conference

May 26-27 - "One city. One cause. Three events"
8 May, 2017

Unprecedented Human Rights Conference coming to Montreal this May.

Described as “A global initiative celebrating the role Montreal has played in advancing human rights worldwide and re-energising the international human rights community in a time of great upheaval”

The two-day event is organized by Amnesty International, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Concordia University), the Armenian National Committee of Québec and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

For more information on the conference, please visit the following site

  A policeman monitors the security situation along the underground water runway system that runs along the border. This is often used by smugglers to pass contraband in the USA. Photo Credit: Patrick Tombola

USA: Mexican Drug Smugglers to Trump: Thanks!

Article in The New York Times
5 May, 2017

What is true for drug smuggling is also true for migrant smuggling. If push factors and pull factors remain unaddressed, and a barrier is created preventing fluidity from the one to the other, one has the perfect conditions for an underground market to flourish. The more the authorities repress undocumented migrants, the more they are pushed deeper underground into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, recruiters, employers and landlords. 40 years of the war on drugs have not significantly reduced the power of the cartels. One should remember that the end of the Prohibition in the Thirties brought an end to bootlegging from Canada and destroyed underground empires such as Al Capone’s. Harm-reduction policies have most often worked better than zero-tolerance policies and allowed law enforcement to target specific threats without having to cast too large a net. As for tackling undocumented migration, taking over the mobility market by providing most migrants with regular, safe, accessible and affordable mobility options and repressing employers abusing the precariousness of their workforce are the only way to progressively eliminate underground labour markets and the migrant smuggling industry.

“When asked whether the border wall promised by President Trump will stop smugglers, he smiles. “This is never going to stop, neither the narco trafficking nor the illegals,” he says. “There will be more tunnels. More holes. If it doesn’t go over, it will go under.”

What will change? The fees that criminal networks charge to transport people and contraband across the border. Every time the wall goes up, so do smuggling profits.

Today, many migrants pay smugglers as much as $5,000 to head north without papers, trekking for days through the Sonoran Desert. Most of that money goes to drug cartels that have taken over the profitable business…

Strengthening defenses does not stop smuggling. It only makes it more expensive, which inadvertently gives more money to criminal networks”

To access the full article, please click here

  The Danish authorities have called for Zarmena Waziri, 70, who has dementia, to be deported to Afghanistan. She has suffered multiple strokes and has high blood pressure. Photo Credit: Andrew Testa for The New York Times on The New York Times' website.

Old, Ill and Ordered Deported From Denmark to Afghanistan

Article in The New York Times
22 April, 2017

“Zarmena Waziri’s dementia is so severe that when she recently ate an orange she forgot to swallow and nearly choked to death. She has suffered multiple strokes, has high blood pressure and wears a diaper.

Now, in a case that has captured headlines across Denmark, the Danish authorities have called for Mrs. Waziri, a 70-year-old Afghan woman, to be deported to Afghanistan, where, her children say, she is sure to die.

Her daughter Marzia, her main caregiver, has lived in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city, for 25 years and owns a small grocery business. Marzia’s two children are Danish citizens.

Read Post

  “I do not try to cross illegally,” said Mohammed Wafa Sekendari, right, who left Afghanistan with his family a year and a half ago. Photo credit: Akos Stiller for The New York Times on The New York Times' website

Already Unwelcoming, Hungary Now Detains Asylum Seekers

Article in The New York Times
19 April, 2017

“Double rows of razor-wire fences. High-tech watch towers equipped with search lights, motion sensors, cameras and loudspeakers. Hungary’s border with Serbia, specially fortified in the last two years to keep out migrants and refugees, is anything but a welcome mat.

Now, add to those deterrents detention camps — small container villages surrounded by razor wire, with a tiny playground for children.

Hungary, which already had one of the toughest immigration policies in the European Union, last month rolled out a draconian new asylum procedure that will reduce applicants to a trickle — 10 people a day — and essentially put them in prison camps for months while their cases are decided. Even after that, if the recent past holds true, more than 90 percent are likely to be rejected.

By May, several hundred asylum seekers already in Hungary may also be relocated to the detention camps, evoking ugly and unavoidable echoes of rounding up Jews, Roma and others during World War II.”

The pictures illustrate well the present model of refugee camps in Europe, which one can find in Italy and in Greek hotspots, as well as now in Hungary. The automatic detention of all asylum seekers remain in violation of international and European human rights instruments.