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Protection for refugees, not from refugees: Somalis in exile and the securitisation of refugee policy

(Kampala 5 October 2017) Launched today, IRRI’s latest report, Protection for refugees, not from refugees: Somalis in exile and the securitisation of refugee policy, looks at the impact that the increased securitisation of refugee policy has had on the lives of refugees.

Based on 80 interviews with Somali refugees living in Kenya, Uganda and the United States, as well as interviews with relevant NGO, UN and government actors, the findings highlight some of the realities that refugees face when governments fashion a correlation between forced migration and insecurity that is both fundamentally flawed and has serious implications for people’s lives. The report suggests that existing security strategies targeting refugees neither provide security for the country nor protect refugees. Instead, they foster fear and feelings of exclusion and can act as a smokescreen for criminal activity.

Despite the fact that many Somalis are fleeing violence associated with the militant group Al-Shabaab, the report shows that their plight echoes a global tendency to label those who have fled “violent extremism” as extremists themselves and therefore as an implicit danger. As one interviewee said, “I have nothing to do with terrorism. I am Somali but not a terrorist. The two are not the same.”

Read the full report and press release.

IRRI Rights in Exile Newsletter

Issue 85: October 2017

In this issue:

Four years after cessation of status for former Rwandan refugees

Joint Statement on the High-Level Dialogue between the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Accountability needed for killings of Burundian exiles in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Michigan Guidelines on Refugee Freedom of Movement, or: how explosive existing law can be

US Third Circuit Court of Appeals find that 'terrorism bar' does not apply uness party leaders have been found to have authorised terrorist activity

Same old problems for Kenya's newest refugee settlement

Refugee Law Project comments on male sexual violence in South Sudan

New Refugee Law Project blogpost on unaccompanied refugee children in Africa

Israeli Supreme Court rejects indefinite detention

Read the full issue.

From non-interference to non-indifference: The African Union and the Responsibility to Protect

(Kampala - 6 September 2017) IRRI's new report on the African Union and the Responsibility to Protect (r2P), explores how this principle has taken root within the continental union, in the form of non-indifference, providing background on the principle of R2P and on the relevant legal and institutional frameworks of the Organisation of the African Union (OAU) and the African Union (AU).

The paper analyses different cases of intervention under the OAU and the AU and then analyses the challenges for the AU in implementing R2P in the form of non-indifference. First, the conceptual relation between the concepts of R2P and non-indifference is described, followed by the absence of clear triggers for AU action and the lack of clarity about decision-making. Finally, the difficult access to sufficient financial resources and political will among heads of state are identified as key challenges for the AU's role in preventing and addressing atrocities.

Read the full report.

"I fled because I was afraid to die": New IRRI report on Burundian asylum seekers

"I fled because I was afraid to die": Causes of Exile of Burundian Asylum Seekers is IRRI's latest report on rights in exile. Burundian refugees should “return to their homeland, because peace and security prevail on the whole national territory”, Burundi’s second vice-president, Joseph Butore stated during the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, held in Kampala in June 2017. Then during a recent visit to Tanzania, Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza expressed a similar message to refugees there.

The testimonies, collected from Burundians that arrived in Uganda between March and June 2017, challenge the Burundian government’s official narrative, which urges refugees to “return to their homeland, because peace and security prevail on the whole national territory”. While some are returning to Burundi and there is less open violence, new arrivals in neighbouring countries significantly outnumber the returnees, and all Burundians interviewed for this report said they did not intend to return in the near future. Some came to Uganda, because of the difficult situation for Burundian refugees in Tanzania.

In June 2017, International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) interviewed 30 Burundians who had recently arrived in Uganda, most between April and June. They left Burundi for two main reasons: threats and abuses by members of the Imbonerakure, a youth militia affiliated to the ruling party and killings and enforced disappearances of family members.

Read the full report in English or French, and view the press release.