Strangers in Strange Lands: Migration

August 8, 2016

Syrian refugee woman in Lebanon. CREDIT: Trocaire (CC)

In 2015, the number of international migrants worldwide—people residing in a country other than their country of birth—reached a record-breaking 244 million, according to the International Organization for Migration. And 65.3 million of these migrants were refugees, people forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution (UNHCR. June 2016). This is the largest number of refugees since World War II. 

The ethical issues presented by migration have long been a topic of major concern for Carnegie Council. The current crisis has intensified this. We present a selection of some of our recent resources looking at various aspects of the issue, along with some older, useful material.  We will continue to focus on this topic, so check out our website from time to time for new resources. 


Refugees on Turkey's Borders: Consequences of Chaos in Syria
Kemal Kirişci, Brookings Institution
Over 4.8 million Syrians have become refugees, mostly in neighboring countries, and this is not the only displacement crisis around the globe, says Kirişci, an expert in Turkish foreign policy and migration studies. This troubling and informative talk raises both practical and ethical issues, not only for Turkey and its neighbors but for the entire world. (March 2016, Public Affairs Program, audio, video, and transcript)

The Refugee/Migrant Crisis
Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative on International Migration; David Donoghue, Ireland's permanent representative to the UN
The migrant/refugee crisis is a defining moral issue for our generation, declares Peter Sutherland. And proximity should not define responsibility. It's a global responsibility. (February 2016, Public Affairs Program, audio, video, and transcript)

The Global Refugee Crisis
Ian Buruma, Bard College; Tomáš Halík, Charles University, Prague
How can Christian leaders help Europe cope with the flood of refugees? Renowned Czech theologian Father Tomàš Halik argues that Christianity, especially the Catholic Church, can be an effective mediator between Islam and Europe's secular humanists, as it has many values in common with both. (November 2015, Public Affairs Program, audio, video, and transcript)

Europe's Current Migration Crisis and the Evian Migration Conference of 1938
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein draws parallels between today's crisis in the Mediterranean and Europe and the United States turning its back on Jewish refugees just before World War II. (June 2015, Public Affairs Program, YouTube clip)


The Needs of Refugee Women and Children in the Global Humanitarian Crisis
Sarah Costa, Women's Refugee Commission (WRC), Joanne Myers, Carnegie Council
In this powerful talk, executive director Sarah Costa explains the work of the WRC, and discusses the current crisis. The numbers are staggering: at least one in 122 people across the world have been forced to flee, and the majority—as much as 75-80 percent—are women and children. The average length of displacement is 20 years. What can be done? (June 2016, Public Affairs Program, audio, video, and transcript)

Children's Rights as Human Rights
Michael Garcia Bochenek, Human Rights Watch
Fundamental state failures—to recognize and act in children’s best interest; to afford them the right to be heard; and to respect, protect, and fulfill their other rights—threaten children worldwide. Two new books address these failures. (Winter 2015, Issue 29.4, Ethics & International Affairs, review essay)

The Central American Child Migration Crisis: Facts, Figures, and Root Causes
Carlos Vargas-Ramos, CENTRO, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Beginning in early 2014, news reports noted the rising number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the U.S. border with Mexico. Soon, it was described as a crisis. What made this flow of migrants a crisis? Who are these unaccompanied minors? What caused their migration? Did the United States play a role in it? (September 2014, Carnegie Ethics Online article)


Us and Them? Bridget Anderson on Migrants and Nation-States
Bridget Anderson, University of Oxford's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS)
Underlying people's economic fears about migrants taking their jobs are much deeper anxieties about nationality, culture, and race, says Bridget Anderson. The nation-state is simply not working for a lot of humanity, and we need to come up with new ways of thinking about political communities. (May 2016, Ethics Matter series, audio and transcript)

The Normative Terrain of the Global Refugee Regime
Alexander Betts, University of Oxford
The issues of who, why, and how to protect refugees pose a series of normative challenges that can only be addressed by recognizing the dynamic nature of refugee protection today. (Winter 2015, Vol. 29.4, Ethics & International Affairs article)

Suchitraya Vijayan on the Politics and Rhetoric of the Refugee Crisis
Suchitra Vijayan, Writer, Lawyer, Political Analyst; Alex Woodson, Carnegie Council
The co-founder of the Resettlement Legal Aid Project in Cairo during the Iraq War, Suchitra Vijayan discusses the refugee crisis from a legal, political, and humanitarian point of view. She details the remarkable empathy needed to work in the field and why the United States and Europe have an ethical responsibility to respond to the situation. (December 2015, CNL Podcast, audio and transcript)

Immigration Reform: Truths, Myths, and Politics
Edward Schumacher-Matos, National Public Radio (NPR)
The great wave of illegal immigration to the United States is over, says Edward Schumacher-Matos. Our real challenge now is what to do with those 11–12 million people who are here illegally but who are part of our communities—and this is not only a legal issue but an ethical one. (September 2013, Public Affairs Program, audio, video, and transcript)

On the Morality of Immigration
Mathias Risse, Harvard University
Using the U.S. as a case study, Risse makes a plea for the relevance of moral considerations in immigration debates. The earth belongs to humanity in common, he argues, and immigration must be considered in the context of global justice. (Spring 2008, Vol. 22.1, Ethics & International Affairs article) 

Read also an Exchange between Ryan Pevnick, Philip Cafaro, and Mathias Risse.


New Paradigms for Refugee Camps and for Humanitarian Aid Itself
Kilian Kleinschmidt, Innovation and Planning Agency
Kilian Kleinschmidt describes how he, together with the refugees themselves, transformed the Zaatari refugee camp from what the media called a "hellhole of humanitarian aid" into a lively living space with shops and even fountains. Indeed, the entire aid paradigm needs to be transformed, says Kleinschmidt, and he offers innovative ways to do it. (April 2016, Ethics Matter series, audio, video, and transcript)


Welcome to Canada: the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge (RULC)
Wendy Cukier, Samantha Jackson, Ryerson University
In just under a year, Toronto's universities raised more than CAD$4.3 million and helped 19 Syrian families (99 people) settle in Canada, with many more on the way. And it all began at Ryerson University. Cukier and Jackson tell the inspiring story of how they mobilized support. Jackson even cancelled her wedding reception and donated the funds to RULSC. (July 2016, Carnegie Ethics Online article)

Integration and the European Migration "Crisis"
Jenny Phillimore, Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham
How we treat the millions arriving in Europe will affect all our futures, writes migration expert Jenny Phillimore. "We can genuinely welcome people, accept them as part of our world, support them to have the same opportunities as us, and adapt to our increased diversity, or we can exclude them and await the social and economic consequences." (June 2016, Carnegie Ethics Online article)

Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds
Karl E. Meyer, Shareen Blair Brysac, non-fiction authors
The headlines are full of stories of deep-simmering hatreds and ethnic strife. How about some good news for a change? Historians Meyer and Brysac explore places where diversity is actually working, from Kerala to Queens. What can we learn from these "oases of civility"? (May 2012, Public Affairs Program, audio, video, and transcript)

Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West
Kavitha Rajagopalan, Devin Stewart, Carnegie Council
How do Muslim immigrants to the West adjust to their new lives? Kavitha Rajagopalan follows three families on their journey: a Palestinian family from Jerusalem to London, a Kurdish family from Turkey to Berlin, and a Bangladeshi family to New York City. (February 2009, Carnegie New Leaders, audio and transcript)


Check our monthly Instagram Take-Over by photographers from around the world, as several of them have reported on migrants: Rena Effendi at the Macedonia (FYROM)/Greek border; Rob Pinney at "The Jungle" migrant camp, Calais; and Tyson Sadler on refugees trapped in Greece.