Article

The New Grand Compromise: How Syrian Refugees Changed the Stakes in the Global Refugee Assistance Regime

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Abstract

The influx of asylum seekers in Europe in 2015 and 2016 changed the incentive structure of the "grand compromise" - the system of global refugee management in which states in the Global South host most of the world's refugees and states in the Global North finance refugee hosting abroad. Asylum seekers interrupted the established status quo, and in doing so, created new opportunities for states in the Global South. I argue that a "new grand compromise" emerged. Major refugee host states in the Global South, especially those with large Syrian refugee populations, were able to leverage the value of their refugee hosting capacity and renegotiate policies to promote state-centric agendas. I elaborate on the case of Jordan to illustrate how government officials strategically capitalized from the influx of asylum seekers in Europe, making Jordanian resilience and development an integral part of the global refugee response.

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... Refugees are identified and their movement is managed by the international refugee regime, the interlinked international bureaucratic apparatus of humanitarian institutions, policies, protocols and practices that is "based on a fundamental inequality that grants power to the global North … over people in the global South who are fleeing persecution, war, or disaster" (Besteman 2016:63). Most refugees live in states in the global South, where they are not "resettled" and the possibility of citizenship is rare (Arar 2017). As states increasingly try to filter who can cross international borders, the successful claim of refugee status opens doors to some that are closed to many other migrants, including many fleeing from violence. ...
... Because her patient load was high, she developed clinical skills "that you cannot read in a book." Medically, she thrived in Jordan, but politically she was "under threat all the time" because Jordan would not give her permanent residency or citizenship (Arar 2017). She applied for refugee status and was approved and resettled in the US, placing her among the one percent of refugees assigned for resettlement. ...
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In this paper we propose a new category of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who are forced to leave their home countries: “refugee physicians.” In US social science scholarship, IMGs are divided into US citizen IMG (USIMG) and non-US citizen IMG (non-USIMG). For purposes of US medical licensure qualifications and recordkeeping, US- and non-USIMGs are lumped together. These categorizations are too blunt to demonstrate important differences among non-USIMGs. The category of “refugee physicians” distinguishes non-USIMGs who are forced to flee their homelands from other IMGs. We define and develop this category based on qualitative in-depth interviews in 2019 with 28 non-USIMGs who fled to the US within the past 15 years. Using narrative analysis, we constructed “flight biographies,” storied chronological events and experiences for each physician. The flight biographies highlight the medical and political contexts in which they were forced to flee and are situated in the US. Two representative cases demonstrate how and why lumping refugee physicians together with other IMGs obscures the constraints and challenges that set them apart from the other IMG categories. First, the term refugee physician focuses attention on how physicians are located among forcibly displaced people worldwide, including their distinct relationships to their home countries, transit countries in which some of them seek sanctuary, and the US, where some requested asylum and others have been resettled. Second, because refugee is an umbrella term that blends categories of law, policy, social science, and everyday usage it encompasses a wide variety of lived experiences along a continuum of compulsion to leave. Finally, refugee physician illuminates the group’s distinct relationship to medical licensure and brings into focus structural barriers that impede their goal of gaining a US medical license.
... A "surrogate state" (Kagan 2012) comprised of the UNHCR and subcontracted NGOs often provides many government-like functions that help keep refugee populations alive. Analyzing the membership claims that refugees make under these conditions promises to push forward debates in the sociology of migration about the extent to which territorial personhood by virtue of presence in a state, national citizenship, or postnationalism are the bases of meaningful access to rights (Motomura 2006, Arar 2017, Hansen 2009, Soysal 1994. ...
... Finally, the study of refugee integration in the Global South draws attention to the symbiotic, albeit asymmetrical, relationship in the world system between major refugee host states and donor states of refugee resettlement-a relationship in which the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are the arbitrators and facilitators of refugee movement and containment (Geiger & Pécoud 2010). Human rights norms and supranational governance limit the sovereignty of major refugee-receiving countries (Arar 2017). By taking a relational perspective, scholars are better able to understand global policies, state interests, and refugee experiences. ...
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Theorization in the sociology of migration and the field of refugee studies has been retarded by a path-dependent division that we argue should be broken down by greater mutual engagement. Excavating the construction of the refugee category reveals how unwarranted assumptions shape contemporary disputes about the scale of refugee crises, appropriate policy responses, and suitable research tools. Empirical studies of how violence interacts with economic and other factors shaping mobility offer lessons for both fields. Adapting existing theories that may not appear immediately applicable, such as household economy approaches, helps explain refugees' decision-making processes. At a macro level, world systems theory sheds light on the interactive policies around refugees across states of origin, mass hosting, asylum, transit, and resettlement. Finally, focusing on the integration of refugees in the Global South reveals a pattern that poses major challenges to theories of assimilation and citizenship developed in settler states of the Global North.
... Moreover, it did not establish refugee camps, but instead highlighted "the fact that Iraqi refugees lived entirely among the local population and directly affected the host community" (Kelberer, 2017, p. 158)-pressing for aid budgets to be transferred directly to the government. As will become clear, this tendency to leverage its position as a refugee-hosting state to increase access to international aid can also be observed in the current crisis (Arar, 2017;Kelberer, 2017). ...
... For crisis-affected states, the EU's turn to resilience-building provides an opportunity to leverage their position as refugee-hosting countries to obtain international assistance that directly benefits their own development-to the possible detriment of refugees (Arar, 2017;Kelberer, 2017;Tsourapas, 2019). Nonetheless, the refugee crisis has exacerbated long-standing structural challenges, and both countries have seen growing public discontentment. ...
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... This finding is especially important in the wake of the 2015 European refugee "crisis," whereby European states have turned to increasingly far-fetched solutionssuch as funding the establishment of migrant-processing centers in Libyato prevent the arrival of migrants and refugees on European shores (Reidy 2017;OHCHR 2017). One tactic used across the region involves offering Middle East and North African host states increased international assistance and development funds to improve formal access to education, employment, and social services for refugees as a means of migration deterrence (Arar 2017;Lenner and Turner 2018). This approach operates under the assumption that if conditions can be improved in host countries, migrants and refugees will not have the same need to travel irregularly to Europe (ibid). ...
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... Put differently, it is not clear that the Compact is serving the needs of Syrian refugees or attaining its broader economic goals for the Kingdom, despite the fact that the accord has resulted in an increased number of work permits for refugees. Many analysts have criticized the pact's state-centric character (Arar, 2017), its uninformed and non-participatory decision-making process (Lenner & Turner, 2019), an underwhelming and decreasing rate of job growth since its adoption (ICMC, 2021), a marked increase in the number of refugees working in the informal sector since its implementation, its overemphasis on linear thinking and outputs rather than outcomes (e.g., number of work permits issued versus jobs secured) (Huang et al., 2018), and a lack of human rights monitoring and enforcement of its provisions (Al-Mahaidi, 2021). ...
... As a result, security studies scholars identify how the bargaining strategies of refugee host states towards the EU have developed accordingly. On the one hand, interstate co-operation may occur via 'win-win' strategies: 'in the absence of altruistic commitment by Northern states to support refugees in the South, issue-linkage has been integral in achieving international cooperation on refugees' (Betts, 2011, p. 20; see also : Arar, 2017;Adam et al., 2020). On the other hand, refugee host states may also utilise coercion: they may employ deportation in order to create targeted refugee 'crises' in target countries that, in fear of being 'capacity-swamped', become more likely to comply with these states' demands (Greenhill, 2010; see also : Tsourapas, 2021;Aras, 2019). ...
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How does forced migration feature in EU member states' foreign policy and how does it affect their bargaining strategies? While the literature highlights EU‐level policies aiming to manage forced migration flows, we examine how Greece sought to leverage its response to the 2015–16 European migrant crisis. We propose a theoretical framework that explains why the SYRIZA–ANEL government sought to leverage Greece's position as a refugee‐host state via an issue ‐linkage strategy tying the management of forced migration to economic aid over the Third Economic Adjustment Programme. Initially employing a ‘blackmailing’ strategy focused on threats, Greece shifted to a ‘backscratching’ strategy of co‐operation after March 2016, once its geopolitical importance and numbers of asylum seekers within its territory were reduced. We provide the first detailed analysis of Greece's foreign policy response to the European migrant crisis, demonstrating the importance of forced displacement in the international politics of EU member states.
... explanation for this could be the relative novelty of the concepts in the literature, resulting in the concepts being untested and a lack of clarity as to the uncertainty around their meaning. Alternatively, as some authors suggest, such buzzwords are often used precisely for their vague and euphemistic qualities as they cannot be challenged and act as smokescreens for ulterior motives and political agendas (Arar, 2017;Kelberer, 2017;Tsourapas, 2019;Cornwall, 2019). ...
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Resilience and empowerment are concepts that recently have become popularised in the world of forced displacement management policy and practice. Often undervalued and dismissed as being buzzwords, these concepts have become bound up in the burgeoning study of higher education in refugee contexts. This article explores these themes in the frame of a real-world experience of studying a blended learning medical studies course in Kakuma refugee camp and the impact it has had on an individual's life and that of his community. Building on the academic discourse, we present a case study of the individual's experience of studying an online and face-to-face course in Kakuma refugee camp and subsequently undertaking an internship with a local health care organisation. Through a discursive conversation, the subject of the case study reveals the positive impact this educational experience has fostered in his life by instilling resilience and empowering him to become a force for positive change in his community.
... In this way, Jordan ensures that both humanitarian and development assistance benefits its own citizens. As with previous waves of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, several authors have noted Jordan's tendency to leverage its position as a refugee-hosting state to increase access to international aid (Arar, 2017;Kelberer, 2017;Tsourapas, 2019). Respondents did not seem to find this particularly problematic, however, justifying this strategy on the basis of Jordan's stagnant economy, high unemployment, and lack of resources. ...
Article
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Little is known about how the idea of ‘resilience’ translates into practice. It has nonetheless emerged as a dominant theme in the governance of crises, such as political instability, armed conflict, terrorism, and large-scale refugee movements. This study draws on interviews with humanitarian and development practitioners in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon working under the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan to explore how resilience is interpreted and translated on the ground. Results suggest that resilience is translated as the economic self-reliance of refugees, and the capacity for crisis management of refugee-hosting states, enacted through ‘localization’ and strengthening the ‘humanitarian-development nexus.’ The prominence of the political and economic context and the power relations between crisis response actors that it generates reveals the limits of what a buzzword like resilience can achieve on the ground. The findings highlight the need for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to engage in continuous critical reflection on whether the ways in which resilience policies and programmes are implemented actually improve the ability of systems and vulnerable populations to recover from crisis, as well as on the validity of the assumptions and interpretations on which such policies and programmes are built.
... More recently, the international responses to the Syrian refugee crisis and, in particular, the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan have put additional emphasis on host-state "resilience" that has accelerated a shift towards refugee rentierism (cf. Arar, 2017;Norman, 2020). Ten years after the Arab uprisings, North-South cooperation on refugee protection shifted away from questions of burden-sharing and human rights protection as, gradually, an economistic lexicon of "bargains," "deals," and "compacts" came to dominate the workings of the global refugee regime until today. ...
... More recently, in part as a response to the ongoing Syrian war, the migrant crisis in Europe, and the growing dissatisfaction of host states in the Global South, there has been a growing demand for more equitable burden sharing among countries across the world (Arar 2017). This has been followed up by attempts to modify the current humanitarian system, specifically through the Global Compact on Refugees and a separate Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, discussions of which began in 2016 (Hansen 2018). ...
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FREE ACCESS available at: http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/CRZXBRSNZYMVS83SWJXG/full/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-101518-042609 Refugees have an increasing global significance, as their numbers continue to grow and the nature of displacement continues to evolve. Different international, state, and local laws and policies play a part in refugee crises. On the one hand, then, it is important to theorize the role of the law in shaping different formations of displacement; on the other, it is also crucial to address how the people involved in these crises (government officials, street-level bureaucrats, forced migrants, and receiving populations) engage with the law. We highlight and develop three areas of sociolegal inquiry that can push forward the study of the law and politics of refuge: ( a) the uneven geography shaping the global humanitarian machine; ( b) the local contexts within which such a machine operates, interacting with different actors’ conceptualizations of justice; and ( c) the distinct dilemmas that the urban environment poses to both refugees and humanitarians. Advancing these areas of sociolegal inquiry requires enriching established theoretical sources in refugee studies with both neglected ones, such as postcolonial theory and Pierre Bourdieu's sociology of forced displacement, and newer ones, such as Didier Fassin's anthropology of morality and pragmatic sociology of ordinary judgments of fairness.
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Since 2011 half of Syria's population has been forced to flee its homes. Much research has focused on the macro-level challenges and post-conflict reconstruction plans. In this article, I focus on the micro-level by examining the dialectic of "humiliation" and "dignity" as a dynamic that shapes and transforms Syrian refugees' identities through sustained interaction, and sometimes through struggle, with others, who can be proregime or pro-opposition Syrians, or pro-refugees or anti-refugees in hosting countries. Methodologically, I use an interpretive approach which focuses on context-specific meanings and their relation to power, seeking multifaceted understandings of refugees' lived-experience. This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork and ordinary language interviews conducted in the United States, and semi-structured, open-ended interviews with Syrians in Germany and Turkey. I show that researching participants' meaning-making in their own settings reveals the dynamics of humiliation and dignity as dialectically interwoven in specific situational contexts and shaped by refugees' lived-experience in both the country of origin (in the past) and the hosting country (in the present). Full Access: https://brill.com/view/journals/melg/9/3/article-p282_282.xml?language=en
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A common narrative of the Syrian conflict suggests that it began with a grassroots uprising and devolved into a violent war between armed actors, leaving civilians to become victims or warriors. A more careful consideration of developments in and around Syria uncovers evidence of continued unarmed mobilization among civilians. Indeed, refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan are deeply engaged in humanitarian, developmental, and political endeavors. In this study, qualitative research and a unique survey together demonstrate that Syrians in Jordan have engaged in abundant activism on behalf of the Syrian cause. Still, the overwhelming militarism and humanitarianism that have characterized the Syrian crisis have had their impacts: activist organization is constricted and configured by security imperatives and, paradoxically, by the aid regime assisting civilians in the conflict. In turn, activism has evolved from grassroots mobilization to a formal and aid-based response to a humanitarian crisis.
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In 2015 and 2016, Germany received more than 1.1 million asylum applications, some 425,000 of them from Syrians. Significant optimism accompanied the peak of this refugee inflow, with many Syrians praising Germany as a haven offering freedom and dignity, and many Germans taking pride in their country's humanitarian stance and welcoming culture. Since then, various sources of anxiety have emerged, particularly those related to locals' concerns about threats to their country's national culture and newcomers' frustrations stemming from their dealings with state bureaucracy. Building on field research in Germany in 2016 and 2017, this article offers a preliminary exploration of these issues, with a focus on refugees' experience of bureaucracy in the realms as legal status, housing, and work. The article concludes with reflections on how juxtaposition of locals and newcomers' respective concerns can highlight unexpected spaces for exchange and mutual understanding.
Work Permits and Employment of Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Toward Formalising the Work of Syrian Refugees
  • Rana F Sweis
Rana F. Sweis, "Jordan Struggles Under a Wave of Syrian Refugees," New York Times https:// www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/world/middleeast/jordan-syria-refugees.html?mcubz=0. 29 ilo, "Work Permits and Employment of Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Toward Formalising the Work of Syrian Refugees," International Labour Organization, 2017, http://reliefweb .int/report/jordan/work-permits-and-employment-syrian-refugees-jordan-towards -formalising-work-syrian.