Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Middle East

24/09 | 09h00-18h00


Séminaire INTEGRIM du groupe de recherche Migrations et mobilités du CERI


En partenariat avec MIGRINTER, Université de Poitiers

Forced migrations have usually been described as “spontaneous” migrations and analysed in terms of political and security constraints. But even refugee movements resulting from conflicts are often fashioned by previous migration flows and correlated network structures that are re-mobilised during the humanitarian crisis. Therefore, tracing a genealogy of mobilities in the Middle East will help better understand current forced migration processes and their connections with other forms of social organisation built over time in a regional area (commercial mobility, family strategies, pilgrimage, etc.)
The distinction commonly made between forced migration and voluntary migration in the Middle East and elsewhere has already been criticised by a growing number of authors (Long: 2013, Richmond: 1994). In the case of “refugee” category, a huge diversity of social, legal and economic statuses and personal backgrounds coexist within such a category (Malkki: 1995, Marx: 1990). Early attempts to build a general theoretical model of refugee issues have focused mainly on push factors to explain refugee movements (Kunz, 1973). Studies have also emphasised the role of international relations in the production of refugee flows (Loescher, 1990). If push factors as well as international politics are key issues for the understanding of refugee movements, little attention has so far been paid to dynamics generated by the refugees themselves. Seteney Shami (1993) suggests that “displacement often leads to labour migration as a coping strategy”. But conversely, as will also be shown, labour migration may also mould and structure forced displacement patterns of dispersion and settlement.
The questioning of the dichotomy between forced and voluntary migrations is even more interesting in the Middle East as neither Jordan, Lebanon Iraq nor Syria, are not signatories of the Geneva Convention on Refugees. The refugee category (with the exception of Palestinians who are recognised as refugees in the state where they have their permanent residency) does not exist as such. There is often a confusion in the field of forced migration between legal categories (refugees, asylum seekers, etc.) and those relating to the analysis of migration (Zetter, 2007). This project aims to re-examine the production categories of asylum in an area outside the Convention (Jordan, Lebanon) and one signatory (Turkey) from three unusual situations, the Syrians, the Iraqis and the Palestinians from Syria.

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