Originally published on the Asylum Access website. See original here.
By: Jessica Therkelsen, Global Policy Director, Asylum Access
The Kenyan government’s decision this week to force all refugees to leave urban centers and report to camps violates human rights and represents a backslide in the government’s approach to urban refugees.
Host to nearly 700,000 refugees, Kenya has since 2006 implemented laws and policies that increasingly improve compliance with international human rights standards. Urban refugees have enjoyed legal status, access to employment, opportunity, and services outside of camps. Following recent attacks in Nairobi attributed to al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group, Kenya is now citing national security in its decision to send nearly 100,000 people to overcrowded and dangerous camps.
Under the new measure, these refugees will be forced to leave their rebuilt lives for internment in a camp with no access to freedom of movement and serious security risks.
Christian Pangilinan is the Georgetown Fellow and a Volunteer Legal Advocate at Asylum Access Tanzania. This post draws from a paper he presented at the African Conference on International Law on October 5, 2012 on the “Potential of the African Court on Creating a Binding Regional Framework for Refugee Protection.”
By Christian Pangilinan
As Marina Sharpe explained earlier on this blog, refugees in Africa are entitled to social and economic rights under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. These include a right to wage-earning employment that is equal to that of other foreign nationals lawfully resident in a country, a right to engage in agriculture and industry on terms no less favorable than resident aliens, as well as various welfare rights.
Although the 1969 OAU Convention Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa did not expressly guarantee these rights, the 1969 Convention does identify itself as the regional complement of the 1951 Convention and its acknowledgment that the 1951 Convention as the “basic and universal instrument relating to the status of refugees” (Sharpe presents two other arguments in her blog post).
Adina Appelbaum is a second year joint MPP/JD student at Georgetown University. She spent a year in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright Fellow providing legal aid to refugees who had fled from Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan. Adina has also worked with refugee issues at Asylum Access Ecuador and at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
By Adina Appelbaum
On May 30, 2012, the Ecuadorian government adopted Decreto 1182, a new restrictive decree that has replaced the previous policies regarding the refugee status determination process (RSD) in Ecuador. Decreto 1182 represents a great setback for refugee rights in Ecuador, as the law no longer includes a provision to accept refugees under the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees of 1984, which until recently has provided protection to thousands of Colombians fleeing violence. Under the new decree, asylum seekers now have only 15 business days to apply for status in Ecuador after entering the country and three to five days to submit an appeal for a negative decision. Additionally, refugees who are considered ilegitimas, or illegitimate, are now excluded from the process.
In a recent article in the Bangkok Post, Human Rights Watch’s Policy Director, Bill Frelick argues for an expanded approach to refugee policy in Thailand – one that would allow refugees the freedom to move, work and rebuild their lives outside of camp structures.
Frelick’s piece focuses in on the desperation refugees can face after years spent with no freedom of movement, access to education or job training. In contrast, he challenges the Thai government to adopt fair and transparent systems that would legalize the refugee population, and allow for personal development.
You can find the entire article posted here.
By Stewart Pollock, Legal Intern, Asylum Access.
At Tuesday’s Plenary Session of the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Alex Aleinikoff spoke on the importance of innovation and self-reliance; highlighting the importance of refugee rights, including the right to work.
Meriem NAÏLI received her Masters from the Amsterdam School of Law in Public International Law and the Grenoble Law Faculty in International Legal Careers. Having both French and Algerian citizenships, she focused her legal studies on Human Rights and Refugees Rights and wrote a paper on the rights of asylum seekers under complementary international law when they are denied refugee status.
By Meriem NAÏLI
When the subject of “stateless refugees” arises, people often think first about Palestinian refugees. However, at least one other large group of such refugees exists: the Sahrawi refugees. The Sahrawi people originate from Western Sahara – a “non self-governing territory” controlled by Morocco, a matter of much international dispute. Sahrawi refugees fled violence over territorial control, to settle primarily in Algeria, as well as in Morocco and Mauritania.
This article will discuss access to safe, lawful employment for the Sahrawi people explaining why Sahrawi refugees remain mostly unemployed and reliant on humanitarian relief.
Watch this video to learn more about Asylum Access’s Right to Work Campaign and how this fits within our broader advocacy goals. Our Global Policy Manager, Jessica Therkelsen, will also speak about our landmark publication, “To Work is to Have Life: Refugees’ Experience with the Right to Work in Ecuador”.
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Asylum Access highlights the experiences of refugees in Ecuador who have sought to exercise their right to work, and to provide a forum for refugees to speak in their own words about the role that employment plays in their lives.