External and Internal Pressures for Refugee Protection: Refugees as Political Pawns in Migration Regimes?
Paper short abstract:
This paper seeks to understand African state interests in protecting refugees as a part of a broader migration regime with external and internal pressures. It highlights the politics behind refugee protection as part of a (re)new(ed) interests in dealing with refugees and other migrants.
Paper long abstract:
Ethiopia just amended a pre-existing refugee law, making into one of the most progressive ones worldwide: refugees are allowed obtain work permits, open bank accounts and obtain drivers' licences. Hailed as 'historic', the law is linked to the 'job compact', a $550 million agreement between the Ethiopian Government and external donors (the UK, EU and the World Bank) set to create 100,000 jobs. On the one hand, African institutional frameworks for protecting refugees and displaced persons are amongst the strongest around the word including the Kampala Convention and the 1969 Refugee Convention. On the other hand, European governments and international organisations are increasingly looking for partnerships on the African continent in efforts to externalise their southern borders and reduce irregular migration towards Europe. How relevant are African refugee protection norms for African states and what are the political stakes in implementing them? This paper seeks to understand African state interests in protecting refugees as a part of a broader migration regime as well as the external and internal pressures to do so. Externally, how do pressures from international institutions increase pressure to protect refugees? Have refugee protection schemes been affected by European interests in migration governance on the African continent? Do African states act collectively in (regional) patterns or do they standalone? Internally, how much impact do civil society actors have in ensuring implementation? Drawing on interviews with relevant stakeholders this explorative paper argues that the political context of refugee protection should not be underestimated.
Refugees and the state in Africa