Previously on this blog we have published articles related to developments in the refugee laws of particular countries in response to the current refugee crisis. For example, Elin wrote two posts on the refugee laws of Denmark and Sweden, and Theresa wrote a post on the European Union’s approach to the crisis. There are also a number of relevant articles on the Global Legal Monitor, which can be easily found by clicking on the “Refugees” topic.
We now also have an in-depth report on our website, titled Refugee Law and Policy in Selected Countries, that provides information on the laws and policies of twenty-two countries and the European Union regarding asylum seekers and refugees. The report was prepared by the Law Library’s foreign law research staff and is part of a growing collection of reports on important legal issues around the world.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of refugees around the world in recent years. The refugee population of the world, which was estimated at 10.5 million in 2012, has nearly doubled in just three years. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics, in 2015 there were around 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, around 21 million of whom were refugees, of which 10 million were stateless. Over half of the 21 million refugees were children.
The UNHCR also estimates that 34,000 people around the world are forced to flee their homes every day to escape conflict or persecution. One such conflict is the Syrian civil war, which has resulted in over 4 million registered refugees in the past four years, with that number constantly increasing.
This crisis is placing pressure on the resources of host communities and has led to considerable debate about how countries should respond to the vast numbers of asylum seekers and refugees. In Lebanon, for example, a country with a population of around five million, there are more than 1.4 million registered refugees as well as a large number of unregistered Syrians in the country (estimated to be between 300,000 and 500,000). This situation is creating various pressures in the communities across the country, including overcrowded schools and clinics and soaring rent prices. Wealthier countries that are receiving refugees, albeit in smaller numbers, are also facing resource pressures. For example Sweden, which received over 160,000 asylum claimants in 2015 alone, has faced issues in providing housing for asylum seekers and refugees.
At the global level, there is discussion about how to change or strengthen current models for responding to refugee crises and the increasing burden faced by different countries. At the domestic level, a number of individual countries are applying their own refugee laws and policies in processing and supporting varied numbers of refugees. In some cases, new policies, special processes, and specific quotas have been instituted in response to the current crisis. Our report examines these developments and a number of broader issues, including the legal framework for governing the admission of refugees and handling asylum claims; the protocols and processes in place for dealing with asylum seekers arriving at the border; the refugee status determination process; public accommodations and assistance provided to refugees and asylum seekers; and integration policies (including access to employment and pathways to citizenship). It also includes a bibliography of selected recently published resources on refugee law.
The new Refugee Law and Policy report covers the following jurisdictions:
We often introduce our new multinational reports through this blog. Our more recent reports cover a wide range of contemporary foreign, international, and comparative law issues including counter-terrorism laws and other security measures, training related to combating human trafficking, and campaign finance laws. You can read many more reports on the Law Library’s website.