SOC383 September 20, 2012
Lecture 2: Women in Flight
For Lecture 2 & 3, we will address the following questions:
1) Who is a refugee
2) What do we know about refugees? How do we know?
3) What causes refugee flows?
4) Responses: refugee camps
5) What happens to women?
6) Resettlement in Canada – what happens when and after they get here?
Refugee flow – the displacement of groups or a group of people
Refugee flight – tend to be referred to “displaced people” which has an international
connotation. These are people who fled their country of origin
Voluntary migration vs. involuntary migration (refugees), or flight
Voluntary – (some) deliberate decision making capacity in the migration policy
Involuntary – No (or very little) deliberate decision making capacity in the migration
1. What is the definition of a refugee? See Boyd reading
“Refugee” can have broad meaning
o 1951 UN Refugee Convention definition:
“As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-
founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,
is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such
fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or
who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former
habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear,
is unwilling to return to it.”
143 countries have signed this convention
Displaced people – could refer to people fleeing from natural disaster, civil
People who cannot return to the original state which they were residing
After WWII, migration was different after the lines of the USSR were clearly
drawn. Nations of practices perpetuated by nations, protocol, obligations
Canadian diplomat, John Peters Humphrey – helped develop protocol of
what to do with refugees or people in flight. Aided in the creation of the 1951
o Refugee – Those in “refugee like” conditions
E.g. Johva witness
o IDP (Internally displaced person) – people on the move internally
E.g. Civil unrest, war in Ethiopia, Congo, Syria
People who are moving around to safer areas within the same country
o Refugee claimant/asylum seeker – arrive at the border saying they are a refugee,
seek shelter. Offered temporary residence until their case is formally assessed.
Not a definite approval or grant
Key thing to note, each claimant person’s case is individually handled. \ SOC383 September 20, 2012
This is the reason why so many countries signed the UN convention as well
If a whole country is in danger, does that mean a whole country can be
guaranteed status in another country?
2. What (and how) do we know about refugees?
What constitutes protection and persecution?
Protection – governments are responsible for enforcing a country’s laws. May be
unable or unwilling to do so, often during a conflict or civil unrest.
o State may be protecting majority ethnic group
o Romas (gypsies) – distinctive group with history, practices
Believed to have originated from India, fanned across Europe
Live apart from mainstream society, stigmatized, persecuted, not treated well
by institutions, incarcerated.
o Many gypsies are trying to enter Canada – some hold middle class jobs
o Refugees must be assessed individually. Primary claimant, not an entire group,
done by on a case by case basis.
Persecution – what constitutes persecution is debated
Has to have grounds. E.g. common persecution of fat people around the
world does not amount to sound reason. OR Jehovah Witness from Portugal
seeks entry to Canada for refugee status; dominant faith in Portugal is
Catholicism (Christinaity). Claim rejected.
o State-sponsored & focused on individuals
Persecution based on religion, faith, political opinions, sexuality, and ways of
dressing. Good example is the Taliban Regime on anti-women education,
and enforcement of burka.
o Widespread social practices & attitudes may also be grounds for persecution
Failure to conform to what is acceptable practice can be grounds for
persecution. E.g. homosexuals often killed. Somewhat sanctioned by the
state – gangs kill, government doesn’t intervene to punish the murderers.
E.g. 2 – women refuse to dress a certain way in their home country
What is UNHRC
UNHRC stands for United Nations High Refugee Committee
Worldwide information on refugees
o For more information, see: www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c4d6.html
Population of concern for UNHCR
o 35 million % in 2011
o Refugees 29.4 (17.1 UNHCR)
o Asylum seekers 2.5
o Stateless 9.8
o IDPs (protected) 43.7
o Returned IDPs 9.2
o Returned refugees 1.5
o Other 4.0
Asylum seekers (European term) – want to settle in another country
Stateless – not recognized as citizens, can’t return to their country
o Somalia, Ethiopia, extreme in