Changing Our World
Edited by Zachary D. Kaufman
Chapter 3: Starting a movement for refugee rights in the Global south: Asylum Access and beyond
3. Starting a movement for refugee rights in the Global South: Asylum Access and beyond Emily E. Arnold-Fernández, Mauro De Lorenzo, Barbara Harrell-Bond, and Rachel Levitan1 INTRODUCTION Refugees across the Global South are frequently deprived of fundamental rights,2 often for a decade or more.3 Since the late 1990s, advocates across the Global South and around the world, including young people, outraged by this phenomenon and feeling that traditional refugee humanitarian organizations were ignoring the rampant violation of refugees’ rights, have begun to pursue an alternative mode of refugee assistance: a movement to make human rights a reality for refugees in the Global South. The movement’s first and still primary tool is legal aid. Refugees need legal assistance as soon as they arrive in a host country. Their lives may depend on the outcome of a refugee status determination (RSD) proceeding. Failure to gain such status exposes a refugee to the risk of forcible repatriation and subsequent persecution. Recognition of refugee status is also a prerequisite for other basic rights guaranteed to refugees by international law, such as the right to seek employment, to move freely, and to obtain education and healthcare on the same terms as citizens. Typically, governments determine refugee status. Where they are unwilling or unable to do so, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) makes the determination. In 2010, UNHCR conducted status determination for nearly 100,000 individuals in more than 50 countries,4 making its RSD system the world’s...
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