Norway: Global displacement reaches an all-time high as the Syrian war enters its 10th year

– We can suspect 2020 will not go down as the happiest year in human history. The IMF reports global GDP lost 9 trillion dollars: the equivalent of the economies of Japan and Germany. 1,6 billion informal workers, mostly in the global South, have been exposed to loss of livelihoods, says WTO. People prefer moving than starving: depending on how you define “a refugee”, this enters the counting or not, explains Dario Mazzola to the Norwegian newspaper Utrop in a recent interview about increasing global displacement.

The UNHCR report that 80 million people are currently displaced, the number includes refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people. 34 million are children and 86% live in developing countries.

– Almost every year, we hit a new record number. This is due to the acute international instability and to the mere fact that the global population is growing. Yet the point is not whether refugees are proportionally more many than after World War II. The point is that every flight is a tragedy, every lack of assistance a failure, every collective displacement a humanitarian disaster, says Mazzola.

The situation for refugees on the island of Lesvos has been described by PROTECT researchers Evgenia Iliadou and Theofanis Exadaktylos as a graveyard of human rights.

Worldwide, resettled refugees amount to less than 1% of the total, says Mazzola.

Ongoing violent conflicts continue to be one of the main driving force behind forced displacement. In 2021, the Syrian civil war goes into its tenth year. The conflict alone has driven nearly 6 million Syrians out of the country.

– Then you have situations such as Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where peace has been missing for years, sometimes decades, elaborates Mazzola.

South Africa: How should governments deal with migration and Covid-19?

In a recent interview with the South African news station Newzroom Afrika, PROTECT researcher Jo Vearey, speaks about how the governments can deal with immigration during the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the solutions, argues Vearey, is to create better and more regional collaboration between African countries that share borders frequently crossed by migrating groups.

Vearey has also co-authored an op-ed in the Daily Maverick titled ‘Drones, dinghies and an army helicopter – why the state’s new toys won’t help South Africa’s response to Covid-19‘. In the co-ed, the authors write: “The government’s decision to focus on tracking, detaining and deporting migrants as they cross into South Africa ensures that their ‘illegal’ status and/or failure to secure the bona fide negative Covid-19 test certificates, currently required to enter into South Africa, is focused on at the expense of the many systemic challenges faced in accessing documentation – including Covid certificates.”


Photo: Newzroom Afrika

Norway: Challenges ahead for EU’s new asylum agreement:

PROTECT’s project leader Hakan G. Sicakkan has been interviewed about the forthcoming European asylum pact by the largest Norwegian news provider, NRK.no.

In the article Sicakkan says that tensions within EU countries are currently on the rise. This will affect the success of the new pact, which according to Von der Leyen will have a ‘strong solidarity mechanism’ and take a ‘human approach’.

This might be a lofty goal, according to Sicakkan:

Migration has been a challenging field for the EU to integrate from the very start. Countries want to be in control of their own borders, thus decide themselves who to let in and not, says Sicakkan to NRK.

This is due to the fact that states’ policy outcomes on migration are closely connected to differences in their citizenship models:

Eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia base their sense of national belonging on ethnicity, which often manifests itself in a stricter asylum policy, explains Sicakkan in the article.

These differences will form the basis for the negotiations and outcome of the new EU pact.

Photo: Colourbox

Photo of Hakan Sicakkan

Norway: Promoting refugee protection in a turbulent political climate

The Norwegian multicultural newspaper Utrop writes about the launching of Protect in Brussels.

Protect’s project leader, Professor Hakan G. Sicakkan, explains that the initiation of Protect was motivated by concerns about the future of the right to international protection of refugees:

“Protect’s title expresses that we do believe that the right to international protection is under threat and must be protected, as we are currently experiencing a turbulent political climate surrounding asylum and refugee issues”, Sicakkan says.

Photo: Photo: UNHCR/Antoine Tardy

Germany: EU project “Protect”: How do you effectively protect refugees and migrants?

The German political organization Colorful Germany writes about the aims of Protect’s research in an article released on 12 March:

The protection of human rights and international protection is a central goal, particularly of democracies. However, in the current political climate, this task is increasingly being questioned by nation states. Against this background, the project Protect The right to international protection: a pendulum between globalization and nativization is to analyze the consequences of changes in the areas of the legal system, governance, and social discourse for international refugee protection. The aim is to disclose the extent to which the agreements are compatible with human rights and the right to international protection. “Ultimately, the project makes it clear how and to what extent changed power relationships, political processes and social discourses influence people’s lives,” say the project managers at the University of Stuttgart, Prof. Raphael Heiberger and Sara Schmitt from the Computational Social Science department at the Institute for Social Sciences.

Photo: The University of Stuttgart

South Africa: Professor Jo Vearey on how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting vulnerable groups in South Africa

Professor Vearey has made two written contributions to The Daily Maverick on the topic of migrants and the Corona pandemic: The Hypocrisy in the time of Covid-19 and Foreign Migrants must be included in Covid-19 response. She has also co-authored a piece on healthcare for migrants in South Africa, which was published in Bhekisisa Centre of Health Journalism

In the podcasts, Monday Morning Meetings on Migration and #ForGood Professor Vearey discusses responses to the pandemic in South Africa.

Professor Vearey has also been a guest on SABC News Unfiltered: