School of Social and Political Science

SPS hosts global experts to discuss issues facing refugees



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World Refugee day

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The Global Refugee Health Research Network, co-led by Dr George Palattiyil in Social Work, hosted a group of international experts to address some of the most pressing issues facing refugees.

The network ran the World Refugee Day 2022 International Webinar on 20 June. Around 68 global academics, policymakers and practitioners including representatives from the United Nations gathered online to reflect on the key issues facing refugees – covering areas such as gender inequities, statelessness, mental health and education. 

The event theme was ‘Responding to Refugees in Complex Emergencies’, highlighting the importance o the various health and situational consequences that displaced people face when exposed to multiple risks and vulnerabilities. 

The group discussed:

  • Key points such as gender inequality issues surrounding female refugees. The President of International Association For Studies in Forced Migration, Professor Paula Banerjee's stated in her reflection the need for space for women and in turn, encourage them to "speak with confidence so they can gain the respect and dignity they deserve".
  • The issue of statelessness faced by refugees and how this impacts refugees’ access to services. Along with this was identifying how the lack of mental health or PTSD evaluation in refugee settings was a cause for concern. 
  • The importance of education and access to services for refugees. They explored the idea that many refugees are already highly educated but being stateless along with a lack of citizenship prevents access to crucial opportunities and services. In terms of children, the right to education is vital to their empowerment and development, which supports the need for free education to seek this outcome. 

Attendees were introduced to a docudrama offering an insight into the living experiences and everyday life of refugees in humanitarian spaces.

Dr George Palattiyil said:

“The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide has crossed a staggering 100 million. The World Refugee Day international webinar brought together UN representatives, practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to critically reflect on the human rights violations and abuses that refugees continue to face, no matter where they are. Refugees who joined the webinar from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya shared some poignant reflections on the impact of living in limbo. Precarity, risk and unsafe living conditions mark their lives. I think there is a real need for a radical look at the refugee protection frameworks and conventions to shine a light on their fit for responding to the complexities of contemporary forced migration issues.”

The Global Refugee Health Research Network’s overall aim is to stimulate debates about refugee health and advance collaborative research on migration, health and other intersectional factors. Through its research, the network addresses the evidence gaps for influencing migration and health policies. It is a partnership between The University of Edinburgh; Protracted Crisis Research Centre, University of the West of Scotland, Centre for Statelessness and Refugee Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences India; and the Centre for Migration and Forced Displacement, Makerere University Uganda.