Thursday, June 4, 2015
Looking Beyond Asylum: New MPI Report Outlines Building Blocks to Implement a More Comprehensive Humanitarian Protection Strategy
With more than half of all registered refugees displaced for at least five years and forced displacement at levels unseen since World War II, there is growing recognition that the global protection system is failing both those it was designed to protect and the communities that offer refuge.
Responsibility for providing protection is falling extremely unevenly on countries and communities closest to the regions of crisis. This reality undermines overall public support for the refugee system in countries of first asylum. But publics in wealthy countries in Europe and elsewhere that seemingly have “gold-standard” protection systems are also experiencing increasing "protection fatigue."
A new report from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration discusses the growing strains on the protection system before proposing a series of goals that national governments and international actors should pursue to facilitate the development of an innovative, comprehensive protection system that better meets the needs of today's refugees and host communities alike.
In Beyond Asylum: Rethinking Protection Policies to Meet Sharply Escalating Needs, Transatlantic Council Convenor and MPI President Emeritus Demetrios G. Papademetriou urges policymakers to respond proactively to instability and the inevitable displacement before it becomes unmanageable—as seen with the rising flows crossing the Mediterranean in search of refuge in Europe, in Southeast Asia's Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, and elsewhere.
Investment in sustainable livelihoods and better living conditions for both refugees and host communities in the crisis region; wider legal channels for protection and alternative ways for refugees to submit claims (such as external processing); and the development of fairer, more effective asylum adjudication, reception and return policies are all necessary elements, Papademetriou suggests.
“The scale of current protection demands has made the need for policy innovations clear, even to those outside the humanitarian community, and has created an ideal opportunity to experiment,” Papademetriou writes.
Among the recommendations, the report urges policymakers to move beyond the traditional care-and-maintenance model of protection by finding ways to empower refugees to gain access to secure living situations and the means to support themselves as quickly as possible. Policymakers “need to consider refugees not just as victims in need of shelter, but social and economic actors with a need for individual fulfillment and opportunities, and the potential to contribute to their host communities through their skills, international networks, access to unique streams of aid and resources, and purchase of local goods and services,” Papademetriou writes.
The Council Statement is the final report in a seven-part series resulting from the Transatlantic Council meeting “Refitting the Global Protection System to Meet the Challenges of Modern Crises.” Earlier reports in the series, which examines the strains on the global protection system and proposes innovative policy responses, as well as describes Turkey’s handling of major Syrian inflows and U.S. treatment of rising migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America, can be read here.