Refugee Flows and Transnational Ethnic Linkages

What are the effects of cross-border refugee flows and the possible spread of conflicts in host countries taking into account ethnical linkages?

Project Summary

One of the most significant external effects of civil war is massive population dislocations and refugee flows across national boundaries. The effects of refugee flows remain poorly understood, however. One of the most plausible links between cross-border refugee flows and the spread of conflict has to do with the impact of migration flows on the ethnic balance of host countries.

However, there is a lack of systematic data on the ethnic composition of refugee flows, making it difficult to test these claims. In conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the research team proposed the creation of two datasets, a global one on the primary ethnic groups of refugee flows between states, and a geographically disaggregated one listing refugees’ point of origin in the sending country and point of settlement in the receiving country. These datasets were used to assess the effects of refugee flows taking into account ethnical linkages.

Academic Output

Executive Summary

One of the most significant external effects of civil war is massive population dislocations and refugee flows across national boundaries. Those fleeing conflict and instability are rightly viewed as victims of persecution and war, requiring humanitarian aid, relief supplies and host-country protection. Yet, it would be incorrect to simply depict refugees as passive victims—rather than important actors—in the conflict dynamic. Several scholars have noted that refugee communities are often associated with security risks for the host and home countries, particularly if they are mobilized by militant groups. Others have found that refugee flows are one mechanism by which conflicts spread across regions. These effects remain poorly understood, however. One of the most plausible links between cross-border refugee flows and the spread of conflict has to do with the impact of migration flows on the ethnic balance of host countries.

Report

Final Scientific Report

After the research project started in March 2010 by which time the two PhD students were hired, several research meetings were held in Zürich and Geneva. While in the first year, we predominantly planned and discussed the organization of the data collections including possible cooperation with UNHCR at these meetings, in the second year, the focus shifted to the presentation and discussion of the research results.

Research Team

Lars-Erik Cederman
Coordinator
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

 

Simon Hug
Co-Coordinator
University of Geneva

 

Idean Salehyan
Associated Member
University of North Texas

Status

completed

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Regions

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Coordinator

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