By: Anna Chen.
In a home virtually empty of furniture, Maria* shows me the wood boards lying among sawdust, glue, paint and work tools. Donning a white face mask, she squats down and begins to saw at a board. These are the first steps of making what will become large wooden mirror frames, a craft she learned from the internet. Each takes several hours to complete, including embellishing the frames with ornate golden decorations. But this is the easy bit.
Maria tells me the most difficult part is getting people to buy them off the streets of Quito, where she peddles them for about USD10 apiece. With modest profit margins, Maria must sell dozens to feed her family of four every month.
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.
By: Diana Essex
To fully understand the significance of the right to work for refugees, one must understand the dynamics of protracted refugee situations. Issue 33 of Forced Migration Review, released in September 2009 by the Refugee Studies Centre of Oxford University, shines a spotlight on the two-thirds of refugees, nearly six million people, who live in prolonged exile rather than short-term emergency settings.
Protracted refugee situations (defined by UNHCR as a setting where any group of refugees has been in exile for five years or longer in any given asylum country) are of particular interest to those advocating for the right to work because they divert attention toward a refugee’s need for access to lawful employment and other livelihoods strategies.
To envisage a protracted refugee’s internal dialog, one may ask, “Can I create a home? Can I make a living? Can I practice my preferred way of life?” Often the answer to these questions is no—a no reinforced by governments through either strict employment and business laws, or active disincentives.
Unfortunately, the average length of stay in exile is now nearly 20 years. This means that in some situations entire generations are unable to access legitimized employment, or engage in legitimized entrepreneurial activities. The impacts of these rights violations are severely debilitating.
In several short essays, refugee and IDP policy and practice experts discuss the problems facing refugees in protracted settings and propose solutions. Authors also provide country case studies from Somalia, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sudan, Peru, and more. We think Issue 33 of Forced Migration Review is a critical read for anyone looking to understand the importance of working rights for displaced people.