Accepted paper:

Policies acted: the effect of pluralism and policies on Eritrean refugees

Authors:

Lily Harmon-Gross (University of Tennessee)

Paper short abstract:

not used

Paper long abstract:

Eritrean refugees have been migrating to Ethiopia for approximately 7 years. By registering with UNHCR, they hope to have the opportunity for resettlement in a Western country. The process of time-case resettlement has been slow, leaving many Eritreans stranded in Ethiopia for up to six years; UNHCR policies are further confounded by US polices on terrorism and immigration quotas. UNCHR and the US government have just announced that a group resettlement to the US has been approved for the majority of residents of Shimelba refugee camp. In presenting a case study of the experiences and attitudes of encamped and urban Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, I will illustrate the "front-end" of refugee resettlement and forced migration. The intersection of US policies on immigration, international institutions that monitor these processes, local political opposition groups that insert themselves into the resettlement process, and the experiences of individuals seeking resettlement to a third country must be explored to understand the effects these processes have on the overall Eritrean diaspora community, and on Eritrean identity and consciousness. I suggest that the upcoming group-resettlement of Shimelba residents to the US has triggered a shift in subjectivity among the camp members towards that of rights-bearing citizenship. By noting patterned articulations of human rights and an emergent rights consciousness, we see where UNHCR humanitarian policy fails by defining protection narrowly, even while engendering refugees' human rights awareness. I reexamine US policies that leave some refugees stranded, and Ethiopian government policies that short-circuit the human rights regime for refugees.

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