End Refugee Warehousing EBulletin
This is the July 2007 Bulletin of the international civil society campaign to end the warehousing of refugees. If you wish to subscribe, please sign up here. You can read our back issueshere.
1. Research Contributors Drive Worldwide Release of Survey
Thanks to the efforts of our research contributors Human Solidarity Benin, RESPECT Refugees in Ghana, South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) in India, the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, Memorial in Russia, Recontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme in Senegal, the Refugee Law Project in Uganda, and USCRI-Thailand, the release of the World Refugee Survey 2007 made news on four continents. We have posted a photo gallery of some of the release events on our website. In Nepal, Jana Utthan Pratisthan will be releasing the Survey as part of its anniversary celebration on July 24.
In Benin, Human Solidarity Benin’s event made the front page of La Nation (English translation by USCRI).
In Ghana, RESPECT Refugees held an event in Buduburam Camp, and the Statesman reported on the Survey’s findings.
Hong Kong’s Asia Times Online covered USCRI’s report of local governments in China issuing identity cards to female North Korean refugees married to Chinese men.
Human Solidarity Benin's event in Cotonou.
Kenya’s East Africa Standard reported on the abuses refugees suffered in the Kakuma and Dadaab Camps.
The South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre in India issued this press release to mark the Survey’s release.
In Russia, RosBusinessConsulting reported on the release of the Survey (Translation by USCRI).
In Uganda, the New Vision reported on allegations of flogging of refugees in the Survey.
The Survey was covered by the Associated Press, InterPress Service, and Agence France-Presse.
2. Report: Iraqi Refugees Not Major Cause of Inflation in Jordan
A new report from the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan has found that, while the Iraq War has contributed to the increase in inflation in Jordan, Iraqi refugees living in Jordan have not been a major part of the problem. Despite the popular perception that Iraqi refugees have been driving up prices, authors Ibrahim Saif and David M. DeBartolo found that the loss of subsidized oil from Iraq, high international oil prices, and increased food exports to Iraq were more significant factors than the increased real estate prices.
Iraqis Working in Jordan
Iraqis, regardless of their residency status, are not allowed to work in Jordan without a work permit. Work permits are only issued for jobs that are listed by the Ministry of Interior as open to foreigners (i.e. jobs for which there are insufficient Jordanians, or which Jordanians are unwilling to perform), and in order to obtain the permit, a worker must find an employer willing to offer him or her a contract.
Due to this strict and lengthy process, few Iraqis seek or receive work permits. Approximately 1,700 Iraqis had valid work permits in Jordan as of the week of May 14-18, 2007, according to the Ministry of Labor. The total number of valid foreign worker permits at that time was 291,000. Iraqis are thus less than 1% of the officially employed foreign workforce. Since the government certifies jobs for which it issues foreign work permits as being not in competition with Jordanian workers, such jobs ought not to impact the Jordanian unemployment rate.
Most of the Iraqis working in Jordan are doing so informally, without work permits. This
subjects them to the possibility of abuse and unfair treatment, since as illegal workers they have no legal recourse. Iraqis report that they have been refused pay after finishing work and discriminated against in pay compared to Jordanian co-workers. Nevertheless, because Jordan has a relatively high unemployment rate, at 14.3% in the first quarter of 2007, some Jordanians perceive Iraqis working illegally as taking jobs that would otherwise be done by Jordanians. …
The popular perception in Jordan is that the approximately 800,000 Iraqis who have fled there have single-handedly caused rampant inflation. Our research tells a different story. The Iraq war in a broad sense has, in many ways, caused Jordan’s inflation rate to rise but the presence of the Iraqis in Jordan, and the associated rising real estate prices, have relatively little to do with it. It appears instead that the end of subsidized fuel from Iraq, high international oil prices, exports of the domestic food supply, rising costs of food imports, and unfavorable exchange rates have done far more to spur inflation in Jordan over the last two years.
3. Thailand: World Refugee Day—Students Speak Out
Pattarawit Jaroenkit of Triamudomsuksa School won the prize for best high school essay for his paper, “Why Should Thailand Help Refugees?” which he read to an audience at Assumption University, June 20, 2007, including the Minister of Interior and ambassadors from Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, and the United States, and a representative of the European Union. Rather than stick to the theme of refugees needing help, he explained how refugees could be productive agents of development. Excerpts:
Pattarawit Jaroenkit reads his prize-winning essay on refugees.
[I]t would be ridicule to assume that these refugees only consume and not produce. In reality, they also contribute in the production as well. A good example would be Belize where 22,000 refugees manufacture goods worth $8 million while demand goods worth $6 million. What about Thailand? Instead of giving them chances to pay back the society in terms of production, we keep them in camps around the borders where they are not allowed to leave the camp or to have a profession even if some of the refugees could prove to be efficient producers as they are well educated. Consequently, the camps are financed mainly by Thailand’s budget and supports from organizations such as the UNHCR. Because they have nothing productive to do, these refugees are considered a burden. If Thailand utilizes all available resources, including labor from these refugees, to push the productions, both Thailand and the refugees will benefit much more. …
The refugees that come from different cultures could cause positive effects in the country. The Chinese immigrants used to be considered undesirable in the Thai society when they very first arrived in the kingdom. However, after their grand successes in the business world, they have gained respect from Thais, and their philosophies are adapted to Thais’ daily lives. The Chinese culture, such as food and architecture, has become a part of the current Thai society. In addition, we could learn from Nepalese history of its economic crop, Cardamom, which was introduced to the local by refugees along with the unique technique of the cultivating system.
Furthermore, qualified refugees could, without any doubt, be a part of the much needed development process in a country. The most blatant example is the USA, or the Great Melting Pot. People have immigrated from many parts of the world; from the European countries such as the UK, Ireland, Germany and Spain to the Far East Asian countries like China and Vietnam. Different knowledge from all over the world was melted down in the United States. Although, in the beginning, there was chaos, the country nowadays has become the most influential nation in this world. This proves the advantage of accepting the differences and using individual's strengths to improve the welfare of the country as a whole.
- Warehousing One of Top Ten Challenges
Prof. Vitit Montarbhorn of Chulalongkorn University Law School’s World Refugee Day (June 20, 2007) op-ed in the Bangkok Post listed warehousing first among the top ten protection challenges the international community must deal with:
1. Anti-warehousing. The movement against the detention of refugees in closed camps, akin to warehouses, has gathered momentum. Closed camps are detrimental to the welfare and development of those who seek asylum, for many reasons. Often they create apathy and a dependency syndrome among the camp population. They undermine people's self esteem since they isolate refugees for the normality of life. Often there is a paucity of activities in such camps, particularly all too limited access to education and employment opportunities. The closed nature of the camps is also a breeding ground for corruption and poor governance.
4. Encampment More Dangerous than Poverty or Orphanhood in Recruitment Risk
Vera Achvarina and Simon F. Reich rigorously examined poverty, orphanhood, and unprotected concentration in camps as risk factors for recruitment in “No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers,” in International Security, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Summer 2006), pp. 127164. The last was the key determinant:
children constitute 57 percent of the inhabitants of refugee camps in the UNHCR-mandated facilities in Africa.[c] Whether orphans or not, children conveniently amassed in large groups are often so vulnerable that they are too tempting a target for armed forces seeking recruits in the absence of a sufficient deterrent. …
The image of children plucked off the street or out of the fields may have some relevance. But it is an inefficient way for belligerents, already shorn of sufficient manpower, to recruit soldiers and is unlikely to account for relatively high participation rates. For government and rebel forces, rounding children up at unprotected refugee or IDP camps presents a far more attractive source of fresh recruits. …
As one UNICEF official reported to us in interviews, “Recruitment in refugee camps is relatively widespread. …camps are wonderful places where people are regrouped and propaganda can be conducted quite easily.” …
For the years after 1998, we relied on data from the yearly reports of the United States Committee for Refugees as our main source of the information.
5. Report Refugee Detention Cases for Urgent Action!
We would like to mount letter-writing campaigns for refugees detained for allegedly illegal entry, presence, work, movement, or any other activity protected by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Please send examples of such cases to msmith-at-uscridc.org (replace "-at-" with "@") including complete information—name, where held, date detention began, legal status of case (charged? tried? on appeal?), human interest information, contact information of authorities responsible. If you have contact with the detainee or know the lawyer representing him or her, please put us in touch. (We want to have our information straight and, of course, insure that such action will actually help and not make things worse!)
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Jean Faustin Linock of the Ligue Nationale des Droits l'Homme gives an interview at the release event in Douala, Cameroon.
7. New Endorsements
Arche nova Initiative
for People in Need
Association for the Protection of Women’s
Rights after D. Alieva (Azerbaijan)
Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (Georgia)
Contemporaneity and Heritage (Georgia)
Cultural-Humanitarian Fund Sukhumi (Georgia)
Education and Universe (Georgia)
Foundation of Association of Conflict Resolution,
Peace Education, Tolerance Building and Non-
Violence Educators (Russia)
Fund of Women Entrepreneurs (Georgia)
Labour Rights Promotion Network (Thailand)
Mental Health and Society (Kyrgyzstan)
M Plus Filtration Co., Ltd. (Thailand)
Public Fund of Sopport of the Civil Initiatives
Shrimp Network Co., Ltd. (Thailand)
Society Biliki (Georgia)
Thai Labour Campaign (Thailand)
Woman and Child’s Protection League (Russia)
Woman and Health (Georgia)
Women's Association for Rational Development
Phra Kittisak Kittisophano
Metta Dhammaraksa Foundation, Thailand
Member, Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand