Moving Targets: An Analysis of Global Forced Migration

Part 3: Migration and Displacement by Region

Migration and Displacement by Region

Having established a broader framework related to global forced migration, this section elaborates on regional histories, accounting for the interface between the three dynamics of forced migration—neoliberalization, securitization, and the climate crisis, as well as the colonial relationships from which they took shape. We explore the regional histories of the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. We also highlight the significance of European and US colonial and imperial influence in shaping these regions and peoples’ experience of forced migration within and away from them. 

This image includes a map of the Asia-Pacific


Since the late nineteenth century, the US has colonized many islands in the Asia-Pacific region, transforming them into strategic sites for advancing US economic and military interests. These islands included Guam, Eastern Samoa, Hawai‘i, and the Philippines; in these places the US established infrastructure for military operations and imposed colonial forms of education, health, and public policy. Throughout these experiences, the US created indigenous elite and police collaborator classes, while excluding most indigenous populations from the dominant, white circles of influence, residency, and power.98

In the Asia-Pacific region, colonial militarization rapidly advanced following World War II, converging with regimes of colonial accumulation.99 Specifically, as part of the containment of communism, and in order to support US military deployment in allied Asian nations, the US government turned the region’s islands into a Pacific “base network.”100 According to Yen Le Espiritu, upon securing US hegemony in the Pacific, military leaders proceeded to build permanent facilities on key islands in Micronesia, with Guam in particular serving as a heavily militarized site and central part of the United States’ “buffer zone” from perceived hostilities in the region during the Cold War.101 By 1956, Andersen Air Force Base, a 20,000-acre site located on the northern side of Guam, had become Strategic Air Command’s chief base in the Pacific, one of thirty-eight overseas bases that encircled the Sino-Soviet Bloc.102 This build-up was experienced elsewhere in the region during the Cold War, with Clark Air Base in the Philippines becoming the largest US base overseas, with a permanent population of 15,000 at its peak during the Vietnam War.103

Such colonial histories within the Asia-Pacific region were particularly significant in that they came to structure the militarized production and management of displacement during the second half of the twentieth century. The trajectory of US militarization in Southeast Asia—punctuated by the US war in Vietnam—is illustrative of this historical relationship between colonial militarization and forced migration. Notable for its indiscriminate violence, the US war in Vietnam saw search-and-destroy missions in the South, carpet-bombing raids in the North, free-fire zones, and chemical defoliation, and the maiming of countless bodies, the poisoning of water, land, and air, the razing of countrysides, and the devastation of infrastructure.104 Ending at least three million Vietnamese lives, and forcing more than three million people from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to seek asylum in other countries between 1975 and 1995, the US war in Vietnam and the subsequent “Indochinese refugee crisis” have been described as one of the “great population shifts in history.”105


Myanmar (also known as Burma) is the country of origin for the majority of refugees in Southeast Asia. Since independence from the British in 1948, there have been major waves of displacement from and within Myanmar. 

The first wave occurred in the 1960s and 70s when Ne Win, a politician and military commander, established military rule. Those who fled were primarily of Chinese origin, particularly following the 1967 anti-Chinese riots. Between the 1980s and the early 1990s, after the anti-socialist national uprising in 1988, people from many ethnic groups were forced to flee. 

In 2013, religious and ethnic tensions between the Rohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists. who make up the majority of the population in Myanmar, escalated into widespread and deadly rioting. Considered “stateless entities” by the Myanmar government, the Rohingya people lack legal protection from the government of Myanmar and have long experienced mass ghettoization, massacres, and restrictions on movement.108 For the near future, it is predicted that Myanmar will continue to undergo protracted internal displacement due to conflict and tensions.109

WHO Many of the 135 officially recognized ethnic groups of Myanmar have been discriminated against by Myanmar's military governments—most notably in recent years, the Rohingya.110

HOW MANY Internal displacement: As of mid-2016, there are 452,747 internally displaced people within Myanmar.111

Refugees: As of mid-2016, there are 197,982 refugees from Myanmar.112

WHERE TO AND WHY Most refugees from Myanmar have gone to Thailand and Bangladesh. Thailand: According to the UNHCR, as of October 2016, Thailand is currently home to some 103,300 Myanmar refugees, living in nine camps along the

Thailand-Myanmar border and mainly of Karen, Karenni, Burmese and Mon ethnicity. Refugees first arrived there in the early 1980s after fleeing ethnic conflict in south-eastern Myanmar, making this one of Asia’s most protracted refugee situations.113

Bangladesh: As many as 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingya are in Bangladesh, according to government estimates.114 According to Amnesty International, the Bangladeshi authorities have cracked down on the flow of Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar, detaining and forcibly returning hundreds. The move is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement in international law, which includes forcibly returning people to a country or place where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations. The Bangladeshi authorities have also sealed their border with Myanmar and fortified it with the deployment of the Bangladesh Border Guards and coast guard forces.115 Since 1992, the Bangladesh government has a policy of denying Rohingya refugee status.116

Papua New Guinea

SEA LEVELS RISE & CLIMATE CHANGE Papua New Guinea, the largest and most populated country in the Pacific, is subject to unpredictable environmental hazards, including volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, floods, landslides, droughts, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The volatile nature of Papua New Guinea’s environment has worsened in recent years as a result of climate change. In the past 20 years, the frequency of storms has increased and sea levels around the atolls have risen by 10cm, inundating communities. In 2007, 38,000 people were displaced by flooding as a result of sea swells. Predictions for the future show no promise of improvement: a 2015 International Organization for Migration (IOM) report argues that “more than a quarter of PNG’s shoreline is expected to be moderately to severely inundated due to sea-level rise and associated impacts of climate change, affecting up to 30% of the country’s population.”119 The effects of climate change will be experienced even more widely that, pointing to the disproportionate impact of climate change on countries in the Global South. Specifically, in Papua New Guinea, approximately 85% of the population relies on agricultural production as their primary source of income, and the varying impacts of climate change on weather patterns, and thus crop yields, threatens the livelihood of the majority of Papua New Guinea’s population.120

As a result of both abrupt environmental disasters and slowly occurring environmental changes due to climate change, Papua New Guinea has experienced unusually high rates of internal migration. There are four main categories of displacement in Papua New Guinea: labor migration, environmental migration, conflict-driven migration, and development-induced displacement. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) two-thirds of internally displaced persons in PNG were displaced due to natural hazards.121 Due to the frequency of natural disasters, the government of Papua New Guinea has developed elaborate resettlement plans that have been implemented to relocate communities—particularly the populations of the low-lying atolls. In 2007 the resettlement of islanders from the Carteret Islands became the center of national and international attention. The Carteret Islands are only about one meter above sea level and have been heavily impacted by rising sea levels, intensifying storm surges, and volcanic activity, which has led many in the international community to label them as the first “climate refugees.” In 2007 the Planning Division of the Bougainville Administration adopted the Atolls Integrated Development Policy to resettle Atolls islanders at designated resettlement land by the end of 2020.122

Challenges with traditional land ownership laws and bureaucratic backlog has slowed down the progress of resettlement. As such, community leaders have developed voluntary resettlement efforts to compensate for the slow pace of the government’s resettlement program. In 2005, the Council of Elders of the Carteret Islands created Tulele Peisa, a local NGO that has coordinated the voluntary relocation of the majority of the island’s population to the Bougainville Island. In partnership with the Roman Catholic Church of Bougainville, Tulele Peisa has aimed to ensure that resettled islanders are able to be economically self-sufficient. At the 2014 International Conference on Small Island Developing States, ambassadors from the Pacific Islands rejected the term “climate refugees” as they argued the political connotations of it imply a lack of agency and choice. Kiribati’s president Anote Tong stated: “I have never encouraged the status of our people being refugees. We have to acknowledge the reality that with the rising sea, the land area available for our populations will be considerably reduced and we cannot accommodate all of them, so some of them have to go somewhere, but not as refugees. We have more than enough time now to train them, to up-skill them, so that they can be worthwhile citizens when we relocate them as a community, not as refugees.”123

Beyond the production of refugees, the way the US came to “manage” these refugees points to the relationship between colonial militarization and forced migration, and has laid the groundwork for a key dynamic of global forced migration today—securitization. Following Espiritu’s definition of the “militarized refugee,” it was the enormity of the military buildup in the Pacific—particularly Guam and the Philippines, as outlined above—that uniquely equipped US bases there to handle the largescale refugee rescue operation. For example, the route most frequently used for airlifted refugees was from Vietnam to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California.106 In short, US evacuation efforts were not an improvised response to an emergency situation that arose in Vietnam in 1975. Rather, such efforts were part of the long-standing colonial and highly militarized histories that connected the United States to Vietnam, the Philippines, and Guam, dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.107

Militarization across the Asia-Pacific region is still an ongoing phenomenon. For example, some of the most militarized parts of the Pacific are still Hawai‘i, the Marshall Islands, and Okinawa. Yet, in recent years the US military has begun to increase Guam’s “strategic” significance, highlighting “the increasing geopolitical importance of Asia to Washington as well as the Pentagon’s priority to project power from American territory rather than foreign bases.”117 Militarization in these regions and elsewhere has also taken place under new names. For example, active US military propaganda campaigns in Guam and Okinawa have depicted militarized settlement as one of economic opportunities and “economic progress” for the indigenous and settler populations of those areas.118

This history of Asia-Pacific highlights how the flight of refugees to the US is most often portrayed as a matter of desperate individuals escaping political persecution or traveling solely for economic reasons. Such narratives discount the central role that the US government, military, and corporations have played in causing such mass displacement in the first place,124 and they the importance of the US state and private corporations in the management of this exodus. Apparent in this regional history is the militarized production and management of displaced peoples, and the fact that both are not only made possible by longer histories of colonial influence, but also continue to influence the structure of contemporary security regimes. 

Latin America and the Caribbean

The links between colonial accumulation and militarization, and the forces of contemporary neoliberalization and securitization, are evident in the history of US influence in Latin America as well. There, US militarization and support of security forces within the region has been carried out in order to help keep in check the rise of regional cooperation and national independence that has threatened US political and economic interests as well as corporate interests. 

This influence came to be quite direct by the mid-twentieth century, where, following World War II, the US had dropped the supposed multilateralism that it had embraced in the 1930s.125 Instead, according to the State Department’s Division of the American Republics, it moved “toward a policy of general cooperation [with dictators] that give only secondary importance to the degree of democracy manifested by [Latin America’s] respected governments.”126 Under what was more of a system of containment, technical and financial aid was increasingly provided to insurgent militaries and security forces. The orchestration of coups and destabilization programs in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and elsewhere became a key strategy of regional control.127

In Guatemala, for example, anti-communist pressure from the US government and pressure to protect the interests of US companies—particularly United Fruit—fomented a military coup backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency. On June 18, 1954, Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas led a US-backed invasion force into Guatemala from Honduras, resulting in the resignation of Arbenz on June 27, and end to the agrarian reforms attempted by the Arbenz regime. Castillo Armas, supported by the US ambassador, was installed as president on July 8, 1954, and Guatemala’s 36-year civil war would follow shortly thereafter.128 The US also supported a similarly brutal regime in El Salvador in the 1980s by sending military advisers and economic and military aid to help the right-wing Salvadoran government fight Marxist guerrillas. Lasting from 1980 until the 1992 peace agreement, El Salvador’s civil war saw the loss of more than 75,000 lives.

The militarization of the region by the US would be a key reason for the social, political, and economic dislocation that occurred at the time. Specifically, the extreme inequality and vulnerability that characterized both Guatemala and El Salvador’s economies, the undermining of political dissent, and civil war and extreme violence, all led to a massive displacement of people. The large-scale migration from both countries was one that ended in the US—an ironic destination when taken at face value, but considering the fact that US power and wealth has been predicated upon such colonial relations, the decision would be a difficult one to avoid.129 From 1967 to 1980, roughly 109,000 Guatemalans immigrated to the US, due to both political The militarization of the region by the US would be a key reason for the social, political, and economic dislocation that occurred at the time. Specifically, the extreme inequality and vulnerability that characterized both Guatemala and El Salvador’s economies, the undermining of political dissent, and civil war and extreme violence, all led to a massive displacement of people. The large-scale migration from both countries was one that ended in the US—an ironic destination when taken at face value, but considering the fact that US power and wealth has been predicated upon such colonial relations, the decision would be a difficult one to avoid.129 From 1967 to 1980, roughly 109,000 Guatemalans immigrated to the US, due to both political conflict and a devastating earthquake in 1976.130 During the Salvadoran civil war, up to 30 percent of El Salvador’s population emigrated, and about 50 percent of those who escaped the country traveled to the US, which, by then, was already home to over 10,000 Salvadorans.131

This image includes a map of Latin America & the Caribbean

The trajectory of the US-led “War on Drugs” across Latin America is also illustrative of both the present-day reformulation of longstanding US efforts to control the development of such countries, as well as the continuation of mass displacement caused by such efforts.140 Ramped up anti-narcotics efforts in the region reflect the elaboration and extension of colonial forms of militarization into what we have argued are two of the key dynamics of forced migration today—neoliberalization and securitization. Specifically, the “War on Drugs” has included, among other measures, the deployment of US military forces throughout Mexico, and Central and South America, but more importantly, the financing of Mexican, and Central and South American, security forces and military assistance—measures that have helped foment new waves of displacement.

Perhaps the most well-known of such counter-narcotics operations is “Plan Colombia,” launched by the Clinton administration and expanded under George W. Bush. As Foreign Affairs documented in 2002, “The Clinton administration shifted its emphasis from a comprehensive counter-narcotics program… to a policy that focused on the provision of military assistance and helicopters.”141 Altogether, the US military, police, and economic aid to Colombia between 2010 and 2015 had totaled nearly $3 billion.142 Yet after 14 years and $10 billion under Plan Colombia, things changed. Due to a number of reasons, rebel leaders and the Colombian government formally signed an agreement on September 26, 2016 to end the half-century war that has killed more than 220,000 people and that, from 1995 to 2000, according to Colombia’s National Administrative Statistics Department, forced over 700,000 people to flee the country.143

Other such militarized and securitized counter-narcotics efforts in the region include the steady increase of US assistance to Honduran armed forces and the US role in militarization of national police forces. The US Drug Enforcement Administration’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) worked to train a local counter-narcotics police unit and help plan and execute drug interdiction operations, yet in practice such operations and the “commando style [FAST] squads” differed little from military missions.144 The deployment of this sort of combination of military, paramilitary, and militarized law enforcement, and the provision of funds and equipment to support such measures, is indicative of the US strategy of securitizing the region. Rather than simply overt military occupation, the US “provides assistance” in the form of monetary and non-monetary aid toward military and non-military matters.145


When Haiti gained its independence from the French empire following a slave rebellion at the end of the eighteenth century, France left a debt so large it took 150 years for Haiti to pay it off. The US occupied the country for 20 years, also leaving the Haitians with a debt of $40 million. Despite the formal end to US occupation in 1934, US imperial influence continued throughout the twentieth century through the imposition of puppet dictatorships and neoliberal debt regime.132

Haiti ranks 145 out of 169 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Such dismal conditions with regard to housing, nutrition, healthcare, have exacerbated the impact of natural disasters that have struck the country. A devastating earthquake in 2010 claimed tens of thousands of lives (estimates but on the high end are over 300,000) and displaced more than 1.5 million people initially. The result was a crisis of displacement that the country was ill-equipped to handle.133

WHO Among the world’s poorest nations, the experience of poverty and displacement is generalized throughout Haiti. However, the tradition of discrimination between Haiti’s black and mulatto population that France left behind has left Haiti’s black population worse off amidst such poverty, dearth, and displacement. 

HOW MANY Internal displacement: Following the 2010 earthquake, more than 1.5 million Haitians were living in some 1,500 camps in Port-auPrince and surrounding towns. As of mid-2016, there are 33,258 IDP households.134

Refugees: As of mid-2016, there are 33,258 refugees from Haiti.135

WHERE TO AND WHY Most refugees from Haiti are predominantly going to the United States and Brazil.

Brazil: Haitians started migrating to Brazil in large numbers after the earthquake, with over 65,000 Haitians arriving between 2011 and November 2015 according to data from Brazil’s Federal Police.136 At the time, and with the World Cup and the Olympics approaching, the Brazilian economy was growing, fueling its need for cheap labor. Many Haitians were granted humanitarian visas that allowed them to work, but with the end of the World Cups, and amidst Brazil’s economic and political downturns over the last two years, many Haitians lost their jobs and sank deeper into poverty.137

United States: Many Haitians have already sought refuge in the United States from Brazil: on the San Diego border, 4,346 Haitians arrived as of September 1, 2016— with tens of thousands more expected to be en route— while only 339 arrived there in all of 2015.138 Following the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti was added by the US government to the list of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designated countries. TPS beneficiaries are temporarily granted relief from deportation and given work authorization until their TPS designation expires. Since early summer, most have been given permission to remain in the country for as long as three years under a humanitarian parole provision, although as of September 2016, Haitians seeking entry now are subject to a fast-track process called Expedited Removal that entails immediate detention, likely followed by deportation.139


Conflict has been a constant in Colombia since the mid-twentieth century, beginning with the 1948 assassination of populist political leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, who was set to have been elected president.

Following the US-backed anti-communist repression in rural Colombia in the 1960s, liberal and communist militants re-organized into the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), fueling decades of low-intensity war between Colombian governments, paramilitary groups, and crime syndicates, and left-wing guerrillas such as the FARC and the National Liberation Army.

Both guerrilla and paramilitary groups have been accused of engaging in terrorism and drug trafficking. All of the parties engaged in the conflict have been criticized for numerous human rights violations.148

In a bid to end a half-century of conflict, Colombia’s congress ratified a new peace deal with FARC in late 2016. Although rebel commanders accused of war crimes will still go before special tribunals, the Colombian Congress passed an amnesty bill that allows rank-and-file guerrillas to return to civilian life.149

WHO Villagers, peasants, and indigenous people living in rural and forest areas are often forcibly displaced by guerrillas and other groups trying to grow coca plants and extract other resources. These people are also displaced by government forces themselves that seek to contain the spread of such guerilla groups.

In Colombia’s porous border areas where many flee, Colombian children are particularly vulnerable to targeting and recruitment by Colombian armed groups.150

HOW MANY It is the largest displacement crisis in the Western Hemisphere, and constitutes the seventh largest refugee population in the world.151

Internal displacement: As of mid-2016, there are around over 7 million internally displaced people inside Colombia, around 13% of the entire population.152

Refugees: As of mid-2016, there are 89,823 refugees from Colombia.153

WHERE TO AND WHY Colombians fleeing the war have landed primarily in Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama. In all three countries, the conflict has greatly impacted the areas bordering Colombia, though refugees have also fled to major cities and other areas far from the border. At the same time, many have chosen to return to Colombia because of the discrimination, xenophobia, and lack of job prospects they face in their countries of asylum. Thus, for some Colombian refugees, resettlement to a third country is the only option that will allow them to receive adequate protection.154

Ecuador: Hosting the largest number of refugees in Latin America, as of 2016, Ecuador shelters around 257,000 Colombians who have fled the prolonged conflict.155 Of these, approximately 60,500 are registered refugees and 175,000 are asylum-seekers. Most refugees in Ecuador lack legal status, and as a result many find it difficult to work, enroll their children in school, and access healthcare.156

Venezuela: According to the UNHCR, in 2016 Venezuela was home to around 170,000 Colombians in need of international protection.157 In 2015, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro closed the Veneuzla-Colombia border and deported thousands of Colombians following the shooting of three Venezuelan soldiers on the border between the two countries, highlighting the volatile nature of Venezuela’s support and the uncertain position of Colombia refugees.158

Panama: Panama has done little to support Colombian refugees. In 2010, for example, only 2% of applicants were granted refugee status in Panama.159

 The relationship being forged between the US and those security forces it finances under the banner of counter-narcotic efforts is apparent in Mexico too. The US government has spent more than $2.3 billion on counter-narcotic operations over the last eight years, yet rarely criticizes the abuses committed by such security forces. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s assault on the country’s cartels, continued by his successor Enrique Peña Nieto, has cost more than 100,000 lives and forced many to flee.146 Mirroring earlier migrations from across the region, for the last five years, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala have topped the list of countries from which the US receives the most asylum applications, totaling nearly 120,000 in 2014.147

Beyond solely causing mass displacement, the Latin American case highlights the ways in which neoliberalization and securitization also structure the management of displaced peoples. For example, alongside the intensification of anti-narcotic efforts is the militarization of the US-Mexico border, which most emigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America pass. According to the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), border militarization resembles the “systematic intensification of the border’s security apparatus, transforming the area from a transnational frontier to a zone of permanent vigilance, enforcement, and violence.”160 The militarization of the US-Mexico border—a border significant to all of Latin America—dates back to the 1970s (and likely earlier, given the establishment of the US Border Patrol in 1924) yet it was not until the early 2000s, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, that national security concerns placed the US-Mexico border under unprecedented military escalations, shaping the lives and restricting the movement of peoples fleeing years of US activity in the region. With the reconfiguration of immigration services, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, increased funding and expanded jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the force President Trump has put behind his pledge to start construction on a wall along the 2,000 mile US-Mexico border, this trend has only increased.161 Such security measures, new and old, would work in conjunction with the longstanding US practice of not granting refugee status to asylum seekers from Mexico, further constraining the movement of those people displaced by years of uneven trade policies and the “War on Drugs."162

Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa

Many countries in the Global North have come to know displacement in the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa in the twenty-first century through what is commonly referred to today as the “European refugee crisis.”163 The crisis began in 2015 when a rising number of refugees and migrants made the journey to the European Union to seek asylum predominantly from countries across the Middle East, South Asia, and much of Africa, though many have also come from the Western Balkans. According to the UNHCR, the top three nationalities of the over 1.3 million Mediterranean Sea arrivals in 2015 were Syrian (49 percent), Afghan (21 percent) and Iraqi (8 percent)—78 percent of all refugees of the refugees and migrants arriving in Europe by sea in 2015. 


For over half a century, Palestinians have made up the largest refugee population in the world. With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 came massive expulsions of the Palestinian population, which continue to this day. Although international law upholds the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Palestine, they continue to be systematically denied this right and remain a stateless people. Their numbers continue to grow in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. The lack of protections for Palestinians has been exacerbated by Israel’s decades-long military occupation, in addition to other regional conflicts that continue to sweep across the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

WHO According to the UNRWA, there are 5,094,864 displaced Palestinians.

Palestinian refugees fall under the mandate of the UNRWA, not the UNHCR. The UNRWA is the only UN agency created specifically for a certain region or conflict. Significantly, the UNRWA does not share the same policies with the UNHCR including its mandated mission to eliminate refugee status with resettlement, integration, or repatriation of refugees. 

HOW MANY The ongoing occupation of Palestine continues to create severe consequences for Palestinian refugees, who are forced to endure multiple displacements, without any sufficient legal protections or final status agreements in sight. Currently, Palestinian refugees are internally and externally displaced in the following regions:

Gaza: 1,258,559

West Bank: 762,288

Syria: 526,722

Lebanon: 449,957

Jordan: 2,097,338

WHERE TO AND WHY Given their lack of status, Palestinians have been blocked from legal pathways for asylum in other countries.

In Syria, the Palestinian refugees have not been granted citizenship, so they remain without nationality. More than half of the Palestinians in Syria have been displaced both internally and beyond Syria’s borders. 

In Greece, the asylum cases of Palestinians from Syria have been frozen, despite the fact that their condition of statelessness makes them some of the most vulnerable of displaced populations.


Modern Afghanistan’s ongoing refugee crisis began with the 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union. Following the Soviet departure, other conflicts have forced millions to flee violence, including civil war, Taliban conquest, and the US-led invasion after September 11, 2001. Collectively. The result has been in constant warfare and displacement. Although many Afghan refugees return during times of relative peace, renewed fighting has almost always means such safety is short-lived.174

WHO One of the world’s most protracted conflicts, Afghanistan remains a country plagued by war and poverty. According to a 2012 report by the Feinstein International Center, one in three Afghan children are malnourished, 15 percent of the population lacks access to even basic healthcare services, and in areas where fighting continues, militants lack respect for the neutrality of health care facilities, making visiting these facilities dangerous.175 As such, the experience of destitute conditions, violence, and displacement are relatively generalized. 

HOW MANY Internal displacement: As of mid-2016, there are 1,323,391 people internally displaced in Afghanistan.176

Refugees: As of mid-2016, Afghanistan form one of the world’s largest refugee populations, with 2,685,784 refugees worldwide. Before the recent violence and war in Syria and Iraq, the UNHCR reported that Afghanistan remained the world’s top producer of refugees for the 32nd year in a row.177

WHERE TO AND WHY The largest and most protracted refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate, since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a total of about 6 million Afghan refugees have settled in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. This population constitutes 95% of Afghan refugees globally.178

Iran: Iran hosts 840,158 refugee as of 2014 statistics.179 However, many Afghan refugees in Iran face forceful deportation every year. In 2006, about 146,387 undocumented Afghans were deported and, since then, newly arriving Afghans has been denied the ability to register as asylum seekers.180

Pakistan: Pakistan hosts 1,615,876 Afghan refugees.181 In 2012, the governments of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, along with the UNHCR, adopted the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), which outlines the need for increased voluntary repatriation, but also makes clear the need for enhanced resettlement as a means of international responsibility sharing.182

US and EU: In the last 20 years, the US has taken in less than 20,000 Afghan refugees. The US has allocated only 7,000 or so visas to Afghans, with most visas offered to translators and guides for the armed forces.183 In 2015, 213,000 Afghans arrived in Europe and 176,900 requested asylum that year. At least half of such requests by Afghans have been denied so far, meaning that tens of thousands of people could be returned to Afghanistan.184


The Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen inspired protests in Syria. Yet, followed by intervention by the Syrian Army, Syria descended into civil war, quickly becoming divided into a complex patchwork of shifting alliances—most recently between the Assad regime, Russia, and Iranian militia, and Syrian rebel groups, partly supported by the US, European, Turkey, and Arab Gulf states. Initially, a US-led coalition was providing non-lethal aid to the Free Syrian Army but that support has waned, giving the Russian-backed Syrian army a greater ability to retake rebel strongholds. The US has provided military aid to Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIS.

UN Security Council resolutions have resulted in temporary ceasefires in order to allow humanitarian aid to enter bombed cities and for injured and sick Syrians to be attended to, yet death and displacement continue relatively unabated.

WHO The refugees are mainly residents of rebel held strongholds such as Aleppo, as well as Homs and Kobane that have been hit, with Syrians also fleeing border towns with Iraq due to persecution by ISIS. Aleppo has recently been reclaimed by the Syrian army with substantial assistance from the Russian military and Iranian-backed rebels.

Religious minorities such as Shi’a Muslims and Yazidis have been most affected by ISIS persecution.

HOW MANY Internally Displaced: 6,563,462 as of mid2016.18

Refugees: 5,259,126 as of mid-2016.190

WHERE TO AND WHY Most of Syria’s 5.2 million refugees are going to Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. In 2016, pledges have been made by various nations to permanently resettle 170,000 registered refugees.

Turkey: Turkey hosts 2,973,980 registered refugees. Nearly one-third live in 22 government-run camps near the Syrian border. Turkey is home to the highest number of Syrian refugees.191

Lebanon: As of December 2016, Lebanon has taken in approximately 1 million Syrian refugees. Initially, there were no entry or renewal restrictions as compared to Turkey and Jordan. However, with increasing refugee numbers, visa requirements were instituted in January 2015. After such requirements were instituted, Syrian refugees in Lebanon have been forced to either find a Lebanese sponsor, which can result in exploitation, or receive UNHCR certification, which means they are not able to work while in Lebanon.192

Jordan: Jordan has taken in approximately 658,015 Syrian refugees. The country extended the grace period for work permits for Syrian refugees, at least until the end of 2016.193

US, Canada, and the European Union: Countries in the Global North such as Canada and Germany have also taken in tens of thousands of refugees. Financial aid from other countries has been limited, though in November 2015, the EU promised 3,200,000,000 in financial aid toward Syrian refugees.194

However, there is a much longer history of forced migration from and within the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa.164 The causes of displacement range from colonial experiences (as in the case of Palestinians expelled from the territory that became Israel), “post-colonial” contexts (such as Sahrawi and Kurdish refugees),165 civil war (as is the case for Lebanese and Syrian refugees), and military intervention and civil conflict post-military intervention situations (such as Iraqi refugees).166

As a key part of the histories and dynamics of forced migration across these areas, this section focuses on oil and water—two natural resources that have long informed strategic thinking and political, economic, and military interventions in the region. Oil has been important because of its abundance, and water has been important because of its scarcity.167 The many operations tied to these resources illustrate and enunciate the colonial histories of accumulation and militarization that have defined the web of US- and European-led interventions in the region, and played a significant part in mass displacement from and within the region. Operations tied to these resources also highlight how colonial histories of accumulation and militarization in the region structure the central dynamics of forced migration today.

The centrality of oil to US strategic thinking and policymaking in the region is illustrative of how US militarism has historically been a central strategy for the consolidation of US power in the region. Fostering and preserving the security of the entire Persian Gulf region and the flow of oil from it were among top US political and economic concerns during the first half of the twentieth century.168 During this time, the US did not wage war in order to establish direct control over oil fields. Instead, US activity in the region has largely been about securing amicable relationships with the region’s oil producers, though not necessarily to guarantee such oil made its way to the US (though meeting basic domestic energy was an important matter for consideration). Keeping prices stable, not low, and keeping pro-US regimes in power were central to US strategic policy.169

As in the Asia-Pacific region, it was from the mid-twentieth century onward that colonial militarization in the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa rapidly advanced, merging with regimes of colonial accumulation in the region. In short, it was the late 1960s and early 1970s that marked a transformational period in the United States’ approach to regional stability.

In the 1960s, governments of oil-producing countries within the region had already begun to express dissatisfaction with the monopolistic control over the means of production and pricing exercised by major oil companies for much of the twentieth century. In 1960, in an effort to drive oil prices higher, several major oil producers established the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Led by Saudi Arabia, and in response to US support for Israel in the 1973 Egyptian and Israeli conflict known as the Yom Kippur War, key oil producers and oil companies in the region orchestrated an embargo on Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, leading to the decrease of supply and increase in prices otherwise known as the 1973 oil crisis. Further, by securing the direct control over production and pricing mechanism, such oil-producing countries were able to attain a massive increase in oil revenues. The embargo and its impact on domestic politics troubled US officials, who struggled to rebuild relations with allies in the region while deepening its commitment to maintaining peace and order.170

The convergence between colonial accumulation and militarism continued on into the 1970s. Specifically, although direct corporate and US political control over oil in the region ended in the 1970s, and although the waves of independence and nationalism ultimately helped dismantle a longstanding geopolitical framework that had largely served US oil interests, the authoritarian regimes remained. The US government sought to do new kinds of business with such regimes, and by arming them and positioning them as surrogates for US interests and power they laid the ground for a weapons pipeline between them.171 The pattern of militarism that began in the Persian Gulf in the 1970s has thus partly been the product of US support for, and deliberate militarization of, brutal and vulnerable authoritarian regimes, and the lasting relationships the US would pursue.172

The effects of such oil-driven colonial accumulation and militarization have been far reaching, as the United State’s weapons sales to leaders in the region—and efforts to develop a geopolitical order that depended on and empowered such leaders—resulted in a heavily militarized and fragile balance of power. From the 1970s on, many countries within the region experienced domestic unrest, invasion, and regional or civil war, and although much of the turmoil experienced resulted from internal dynamics, the United States’ militarization of the region exacerbated and accelerated those uncertainties and helped further destabilize the region.173 Such strategies and implications of US involvement across the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa continued unabated through the 1980s and 1990s—spanning various contexts such as the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the US funding of Afghan insurgents, the US involvement in the Lebanese Civil War (1982-1984), and the Gulf War (1990-1991), among others.


With the Houthi overthrow of its government, a Zaydi Shi’a movement, and a Saudi-led counteroffensive, Yemen is experiencing a massive crisis. Worse yet is that there is minimal progress on reinstating the internationally recognized government in the capital of Sana’a. The fighting, and a Saudi-imposed blockade meant to enforce an arms embargo, has brought famine and a host of other devastating humanitarian consequences.200

As a result of the situation in Yemen, which continues to deteriorate since fighting intensified in late March 2015, more than 5,800 people have been killed, 22 million face severe food shortages, and millions have been displaced, internally and across Yemen’s borders.201

WHO Although suffering is widespread, not as many people have sought or been able to find refuge outside of Yemen. Bordered by ocean and desert, with only Saudi Arabia and Oman as direct neighbors, Yemenis have no easy outlets, though the Saudi government allows those already in the kingdom to stay. Departures from its previous support, Jordan now demand visas and sets tough conditions for asylum-seekers.202

HOW MANY The UNHCR estimates that 21.1 million people—80% of the population—require some form of humanitarian protection or assistance, and the United Nations has designated the humanitarian emergency in Yemen as severe and complex as those in Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria.203

Internal displacement: As of mid-2016, there are 2,139,268 Yemeni refugees.204

Refugees: As of mid-2016, there are 268,486 Yemeni refugeess.205

WHERE TO AND WHY Countries who receive most of Yemen’s 268,486 refugees are: Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Oman, followed by Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan.206

Saudi Arabia: 39,880 Yemeni have arrived in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian government has provided a six-month visa to more than 465,000 Yemenis to regulate their stay in the country, and when the violence escalated in Yemen, special consideration was given at the Yemeni-Saudi border to evacuate close to 10,000 third country nationals.207

Djibouti: As of November 2016, 36,603 Yemeni have arrived in Oman. Most of the Yemenis who fled to the Horn of Africa arrived in Djibouti given its close cultural, social, and linguistic links to Yemen, and its open door policy.208

Oman: As of November 2016, 51,000 Yemeni have arrived in Oman. Oman allows access to those with family links in the territory and transit for third country nationals. Oman reported that over 51,000 third-country nationals have transited since March 2015.209

United States, Canada, and the European Union: Very few Yemenis have sought refuge in the US, Canada, and the European Union, although the Obama administration issued a directive to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Yemeni nationals currently residing in the United States, according to an order approved by the Department of Homeland Security. 

Next to oil, the centrality of water to US strategic thinking and policymaking in the region is also illustrative of the colonial histories of accumulation and militarization that have defined the web of US-led engagements in the region and that have long structured mass displacement within and from the region.185 Unlike oil, however, it is the scarcity of water in the region that has shaped such histories. In The Conflict Shoreline, Eyal Weizman outlines how colonial powers have historically traced the border of the desert in the Middle East and North Africa according to the so-called “aridity line,” areas where there is on average 200 millimeters of rainfall a year, which is considered the minimum for growing cereal crops on a large scale without irrigation.186

These meteorological boundaries are not fixed and have fluctuated for various reasons. The population centers that fall on the aridity line often do not fare well because of such fluctuations.187 Weizman highlights how the city of Daraa, Syria— where Syria’s record-breaking drought displaced countless farmers in the years leading up to the outbreak of Syria’s civil war, and where the Syrian uprising itself broke out in 2011—is directly on the aridity line. Although the drought was not the sole reason for the conflict, an estimated 1.5 million people were internally displaced in Syria because of it, it was indeed significant.188

All along the entire aridity line—from parts of Libya and Palestine, to parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan—not only is there drought, high heat, and unrest.195 There has also been US military involvement. Specifically, Weizman highlights, many US drone strikes within the region– from South Waziristan through northern Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, Gaza and Libya– have been directly on or close to the 200 mm aridity line.196 From US fighter jets following the abundance of oil in previous years, to US drones closely shadowing areas experiencing drought at present, US regional involvement highlights how environmental crises intersect with the colonial histories of accumulation and militarization, and how, together, they structure the central dynamics of forced migration today—neoliberalization, securitization, and the climate crisis.197

In this light, what has been referred to as the Global War on Terror (GWOT), led by the US following the attacks on September 11, 2001, reflects most clearly the transition from what was more readily apparent as militarization toward a more expansive view of war itself that still serves US regional and global interests. Specifically, according to Jonathan Hafetz, the US war-making position no longer rests on a target’s connection to a particular conflict, but rather to an amorphous, global, armed conflict against al-Qaeda, ISIS, and “associated groups”—a conflict that has proven sufficiently malleable to accompany the shifting focus of US counter-terrorism operations from Afghanistan and Iraq to Yemen and the Horn of Africa.198 The distinction is important because outside of armed conflict, peacetime law applies and prohibits extrajudicial killing absent exceptional circumstances.199

Such modes of policymaking, strategic thinking, and intervention in the region have been devastating for the people living there, forcing many to flee their homes, communities, and countries. Afghans have been on the move to escape war almost continuously since 1979, and the ongoing US war in Afghanistan—the longest in US history—has extended this reality into the foreseeable future. As of mid-2015, there were nearly 2.6 million Afghan refugees, with most having sought refuge in Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan.210 As of mid-2016, there were more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Afghanistan itself.211 Additionally, on the border of the region, millions of Pakistanis have been on the move, attempting to escape violence since 2004. In July 2014, before the peak of the flight due to Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the UNHCR counted 1.2 million internally displaced persons in Pakistan, which itself already hosts 1.6 million refugees from neighboring countries (mainly Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq) for a total of more than 2.8 million refugees and internally displaced persons inside the country.212 It is these refugees, and refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the region, that are some of the prime targets of travel restrictions and anti-immigrant sentiment and policy-making throughout Europe and the United States.213

Sub-Saharan Africa

Over the past several decades, displacements have reached daunting proportions in Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular. According to Francis Deng, the first representative of the UN Secretary-General on IDPs, between 1969 and 1994, the number of internally displaced persons in Africa soared to between 10 and 15 million. In 1994, the longstanding and alarming increase in IDPs prompted the Organization of African Unity to state that internal displacement is “one of the most tragic humanitarian and human rights crises in Africa today.”214

These trends continue today. As of 2015, there were 12.5 million Internally Displaced Persons in the 21 sub-Saharan countries that the IDMC monitors—more than any region in the world, more than a third of the global total, and vastly larger than the population of three million refugees that Africa hosts.215

From government corruption to protracted inter-ethnic conflict to natural disasters, many cite the proximate causes of displacement in order to explain crises of migration in Africa and elsewhere. Yet in doing so they often elide the generations-long and reiterative processes of colonial accumulation and militarization, and environmental factors, that have helped underwrite such mass expulsions, displacement, and deaths. 

This image includes a map of Sub-Saharan Africa

Citing proximate causes, however, has merit. The most pervasive proximate causes for displacement in the region have been economically-induced expulsions and conflict-induced displacements.216 Regarding the former, economic crises have frequently led to violence against, and displacement of, those seen as “foreigners” or “outsiders.” At times of economic recession, for example, many countries have sometimes taken radical measures, such as the mass expulsion of 200,000 Nigerians and other foreigners from Ghana in 1969.217 In 1983 and 1985, Nigeria followed Ghana’s example, with its military government expelling over 1.2 million Ghanaians, accusing them of taking jobs from Nigerians.218

Yet, by and large, it is conflict that is the primary proximate cause of displacement. The civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia clearly illustrate the impact conflict can have on displacement. At their peak in 1996, these wars induced the displacement of around 755,000 Liberians and 355,000 Sierra Leoneans to neighboring countries.229

The nature of conflict-induced displacement has varied across time. Until the late 1980s, such conflicts generally remained localized in otherwise stable regions, ultimately causing more internal displacement than cross-border refugee flows. In West Africa, for example, apart from the liberation struggle of Guinea-Bissau, most conflicts have been intrastate—largely related to nation-building HAASINSTITUTE.BERKELEY.EDU Sub-Saharan Africa processes and struggles over the control of power and resources, and articulated around ethnicity or religion. The secessionist movements like the Biafra war in Nigeria (1967–70), for example, make this case clear. Political tensions have at times also arisen from the militarization of the political sphere or from post-election crises.230

Yet by the mid-1990s regional displacement dynamics had evolved significantly and moved away from largely intrastate affairs: the increasing involvement of intrastate conflicts by various actors, including humanitarian organizations, ECOWAS, the UN, or other states; massive cross-border refugee movements which have sometimes fomented new tensions and displacements; and conflicts fueled by historical links between cross-border populations.231 The development of the Casamance independence movement and conflict in Southern Senegal (1980– present) reflects this evolution. The impact of the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia on Côte d’Ivoire make this case clear as well, where the concentration of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in the West of the country significantly increased an already important demographic pressure on land at a time when Côte d’Ivoire was experiencing a major economic crisis and the redistribution of power among its elites.232 Their presence exacerbated of ongoing regional conflict and helped foment civil war in Côte d’Ivoire (2002–2007, 2010–2011), which further displaced Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees but also led to the massive expulsions of Ivoirians of Burkinabe origin, the internal displacement of thousands of Ivoirians, and the flight of 250,000 others abroad.233

While these conflicts that have been the proximate cause of displacement hold much explanatory power, external, historical factors such as European and US colonial influence that have long underwritten, and continue to underwrite, Sub-Saharan Africa’s manifold economic- and conflict-induced displacements. Specifically, “accumulation by dispossession” and its legacies in Africa, according to Patrick Bond, dates back many centuries to the point when value transfers began via enslavement and appropriations of antiquities, precious metals, and raw materials—laying the ground for the unequal trade and investment relationships between Africa and the Global North. These unequal relationships, with deep roots in the history of colonialism, extended into the twentieth century and become intensified under contemporary forces of neoliberalization and securitization. These continue to serve as proximate reasons for displacement by fomenting further resource scarcity and conflicts of various sorts.

The history and impact of contemporary “land grabs” in particular are illustrative of this continuity between colonial histories of accumulation and today’s resource and power conflicts, and the significance of such links vis-à-vis forced migration. Land grabs—the acquisition of local land by foreign governments and foreign firms, and the displacement and expulsion of people living and working on that land—is a centuries-old process in much of the world. But, according to Saskia Sassen, there are specific phases in the diverse histories and geographies of such acquisitions. According to Sassen, the large-scale acquisition of foreign land since the 1980s have been structured by a few key things specific to this era of neoliberalism—namely, that the IMF and World Bank restructuring programs implemented in much of the Global South in the 1980s that have helped weaken and impoverish national governments in much of the Global South, have ultimately provided a critical entry point for the IMF, World Bank, and a range of other actors—including foreign governments and firms—to acquire land.245

Further, since 2006, a new phase of land grabs has been inaugurated. This phase has been marked not only by a rapid increase in the volume and geographical spread of foreign acquisitions, but also by an increase in the diversity of the buyers, which included purchasers from countries of origin that range from China to Sweden, and firms from sectors as different as biotechnology and finance. “Land grabs” can also be carried out by way of local governments where, for example, many of the areas being “grabbed” are leased by the government for various types of development that involves state and non-state, and local and non-local actors.246

The scale and impact of land grabs during this latest phase has been unprecedented: more than 200 million hectares of land are estimated to have been acquired from 2006 to 2011 by foreign governments and firms” globally—much of this acquired land being in Africa.247 Such land grabs 

have also led to the forceful eviction and displacement of entire communities. For example, part of the Ethiopian government’s ambitious plan for economic development, the massive hydroelectric dam known as Gibe III has been under construction since 2006 and led to the displacement of 270,000 indigenous peoples from the Western Gambella and Omo regions to new villages by the government of Ethiopia in conjunction with foreign partners. Such populations experience loss of livelihoods, deteriorating food situations, and ongoing abuses by the armed forces against the affected people.


Largely missing from assessments of the proximate causes of displacement and mass expulsion are the historic processes of colonial accumulation and violence that have helped underwrite such contemporary experiences. Accounting for forced migration in Africa especially today requires accounting for the colonial histories.

This history of accumulation and violence is most notably rooted in the transatlantic slave trade, which was foundational to the development of capitalism, the wealth of the Western world, and the world as we know it today, more broadly. The trans-Saharan slave trade had long supplied enslaved African labor to work on sugar plantations in the Mediterranean alongside white slaves from Russia and the Balkans. This same trade also sent as many as 10,000 slaves a year to serve owners in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Iberian Peninsula.242

But the slave trade vastly expanded with the colonization of the Americas. From 1492 to 1776, 5.5 million people who survived the crossing of the Atlantic were enslaved Africans.243

Significantly, each plantation economy in the Americas—from sugar in Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba, to cotton, tobacco, rice, and indigo in the United States—was part of a larger national and international political economy. The case of cotton makes this clear: by the 1830s, slave-produced cotton was the foundation of the antebellum Southern economy. US financial and shipping industries, and the British textile industry, were also dependent on slave-produced cotton. These national and international ties consolidated between 1870 and 1930 helped prop up the US amidst the turn-of-the-century competition for global political-economic leadership.244

Not only did the histories of colonialism and enslavement ravage the African continent and peoples, they made possible US global power in the modern era, the same power that has fomented the forcible displacement of many people around the world.

The unequal trade and investment relationships between Africa and the Western world that were rooted in this history of colonialism extended into the twentieth century, intensified under contemporary neoliberalization and securitization, and continued to underwrite the proximate reasons for displacement by fomenting further resource scarcity and conflicts of various sorts. 248

Further, conflict is not only caused by such acquisitions and longstanding forms of accumulation, it also helps secure them. According to Sassen, “it is easier for rich foreign governments and investors to acquire vast stretches of land in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America and Asia if their dealings are with weakened and/or corrupt governments and local elites, with little if any voice and political representation left for the population.”249 The continuity of colonial accumulation within Africa and the extension of such relations up into the early-twenty-first centuries, of which land grabs represent just one part, has had drastic effects on living conditions in the region.250 Although since the mid-1970s there have been significant improvements in the Human Development Index (HDI) score of people across the world, Africans— and sub-Saharan Africans in particular—are the notable exception.251 In fact, 36 of the world’s 44 Low Human Development countries are found in Africa, with the vast majority found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, while the life expectancy of people in Global South countries are moving closer toward that of Global North, such is not the case in sub-Saharan Africa.252 As of 2006, according to the UNDP, life expectancy in that region was retrogressing, with the region as whole recording lower life expectancy than it was roughly thirty years ago.253

South Sudan

In January 2011, 98.83% of the South Sudanese population voted for independence from Sudan. By December 2013, fighting had broken out between government and anti-government forces—the South Sudanese Civil War engulfed the country in violent conflict. With the collapse of a peace deal in July 2016 and the massive surge of deaths and displaced peoples, the UN has stated that both genocide and ethnic cleansing could potentially envelop the country.

Exacerbating this situation, serious food insecurity, caused by war and drought, has been a longstanding issue in South Sudan. As of early 2017, the famine has been estimated to affect almost five million people, roughly 40% of the South Sudanese population.234

WHO Although both side of the civil war have supporters from across South Sudan’s ethnic divides, rebels have been targeting members of Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group and government soldiers have been attacking Nuers. 

According to Leo Dobbs, spokesperson for the UNHCR, “Most of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children. They include survivors of violent attacks, sexual assault, children that have been separated from their parents or travelled alone, the disabled, the elderly, and people in need of urgent medical care.”235

HOW MANY South Sudan has now joined Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia as countries, which produced more than a million refugees.

Internal displacement: As of mid-2016, there are 905,000 IDPs within South Sudan..236

Refugees: As of June 2017, there are 1,794,572 refugees from South Sudan.237

WHERE TO AND WHY As of June 2017, most of the 1,794,572 who have fled South Sudan to neighboring countries, especially Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

Ethiopia: As of February 2017, about 286,578 refugees from South Sudan were living in Ethiopia, yet many lack water, food, and sanitation, and are suffering from emergency medical conditions, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).238

Kenya: According to the UNHCR, over 44,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived to Kenya in the first two years of the Sudanese Civil War, and as of April 2017, there are 63,808 South Sudanese refugees in Kenya. The Kenyan Kakuma camp in particular, home to hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees escaping conflict and hunger, is anticipating an influx of refugees as fighting in South Sudan persists.239

Sudan: According to the UNHCR, as of April 2017 there are over 379,692 in South Sudanese refugees in Sudan. The UNHCR and other organizations are experiencing funding shortfalls that are affecting the assistance that is being provided to South Sudanese refugees in Sudan.240

Uganda: According to the UNHCR, Uganda hosts 795,771 South Sudanese refugees. Uganda opened four reception centers for South Sudanese refugees in 2014, though some have become overcrowded, such as the Dzaipi settlement, which has been roughly 22,000 people over its 3,000 person capacity.241

Democratic Republic of Congo

Since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its 75 million residents have experienced numerous protracted economic slumps, and violent political and economic crises.219

Growing dissatisfaction with the Mobutu regime, and with democratization coming to a standstill during 1990s, led to riots in the capital, Kinshasa. In 1994, an armed campaign against President Mobutu was successfully launched by Laurent-Désiré Kabila yet not without devastating consequences. The rebellion, which lasted from 1998 to 2003, led to more than 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).220

WHO The Congolese refugee population mainly consists of those who fled the first and second Congo Wars in 1996- 1997 and 1998-2003. The eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, and the ethnic minorities living there, bore the brunt of the violence of the decades of armed conflict and unrest in the DRC.221

HOW MANY Internal displacement: As of mid-2016, there are 1,722,082 internally displaced people in Congo.222

Refugees: As of mid2016, there are 535,866 refugees from the DRC.223

WHERE TO AND WHY As of 2016, more than half a million refugees had fled the DRC making the DRC refugee population the sixth largest in the world. The primary countries receiving refugees from the DRC are those neighboring it—Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi. However, according to the UNHCR, largescale local integration of Congolese refugees in these countries has not taken place. This is due to a lack of economic and professional prospects, access to land, and de jure and de facto integration, which hinders them from becoming self-sufficient.224

Uganda: As of November 2016 there are over 224,000 Congolese refugees in Uganda. The vast majority of them live in settlements and the rest live in the urban center, Kampala.225

Rwanda: As of November 2016 there are over 73,100 Congolese refugees in Rwanda.226

Tanzania: As of November 2016 there are over 62,500 Congolese refugees in Tanzania.227

Burundi: As of November 2016 there are over 54,900 Congolese refugees in Burundi228

  • 98. Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L. Camacho, Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), xx.
  • 99. Yet, of course, the historic role of U.S. militarism and the development of U.S. influence in the region goes back further. In 1898, following the Spanish-American War, the United States took possession of the Philippines, but not without resistance. The Philippine- American War (1899- 1902) that followed resulted in the death of about a million Filipinos and the U.S. territorial annexation of the Philippines, ultimately enabling the United States’ establishment of its first military bases there and what would later be some of the United States’ largest overseas air force and naval bases. These bases would be key to U.S. imperial influence in much of the Asia-Pacific region. Espiritu, Body Counts, 28.
  • 100. Ibid.
  • 101. Shigematsu and Camacho, Militarized Currents, xix.
  • 102. The Fena Caves Massacre in Guam, for example, occurred on July 23, 1944. Shortly after U.S. troops invaded the island, Japanese soldiers killed more than thirty people from Agat and Sumay in the caves near Fena Lake. Such moments are reflective of the violence of the experience of dual U.S. and Japanese military invasion, occupation, and violence faced by these populations in the Asia-Pacific. Further, none have no receive U.S. or Japanese apologies, monetary redress, or reconciliatory arrangements for their activities. See: Shigematsu and Camacho, Militarized Currents
  • 103. Espiritu, Body Counts, 27–28.
  • 104. Not only a window into how the U.S. would manage refugee populations, the “Indochinese refugee crisis” had a major effect on U.S. refugee resettlement policy itself. While the U.S. resettled hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees in the late 1970s and early 1980s, some argue that the 1980 Refugee Act was a means for reducing the influx of these refugees. In fact, after 1980 the inflow of refugees declined consistently until the Balkan wars. See: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Chapter 4: Flight from Indochina,” in The State of The World’s Refugees 2000: Fifty Years of Humanitarian Action (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2000),
  • 105. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al., The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 50.
  • 108. Penny Green, Thomas MacManus, and Alicia de la Cour Venning, “Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar” (London: International State Crime Initiative, 2015).
  • 109. “Operation: Myanmar,” 2017 Planning Summary (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2016),
  • 110. “The Rohingyas: The Most Persecuted People on Earth?,” The Economist, June 13, 2015,
  • 111. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, June 2015),
  • 112. Ibid.
  • 113. “First Myanmar Refugee Returns from Thailand Under Way,” UN High Commisioner for Refugees, October 25, 2016,
  • 114. “10,000 Rohingya from Myanmar Have Landed in Bangladesh: UN,” Radio Free Asia, November 30, 2016,
  • 115. “Bangladesh Pushes Back Rohingya Refugees Amid Collective Punishment in Myanmar,” Amnesty International, November 24, 2016,
  • 116. As of early 2017, Bangladesh’s government is moving forward with a plan to relocate Rohingya refugees staying in camps near the country’s largest tourist resort towns to a remote island that is underwater for much of the year. Maher Sattar, “Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh to Be Relocated to Remote Island,” The New York Times, January 31, 2017,
  • 119. “Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment, and Climate Change in Papua New Guinea” (Geneva: International Organization for Migration, 2015).
  • 120. Ibid.
  • 121. Ibid.
  • 122. Ibid.
  • 123. “Pacific Islanders Reject ‘Climate Refugee’ Status, SIDS Conference Hears,” ABC News, September 5, 2014,
  • 106. Espiritu, Body Counts, 28.
  • 107. Ibid., 30.
  • 117. Shigematsu and Camacho, Militarized Currents, xxii.
  • 118. Ibid.
  • 124. Espiritu, Body Counts, 17
  • 125. This is due in part to the Mexican Revolution and other instances of Latin American opposition to U.S. regional influence.
  • 126. Greg Grandin, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007), 27.
  • 127. Ibid.
  • 128. Peter Rosset, Raj Patel, and Michael Courville, eds., Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform (Oakland: Food First Books, 2006), 41.
  • 129. Raymond Bonner, “Time for a US Apology to El Salvador,” The Nation, April 15, 2016,
  • 130. POV, “In Context: Immigration to the United States from Guatemala,” PBS, January 19, 2012,
  • 131. Faren Maree Bachelis, The Central Americans (Chelsea House Publishers, 1990), 10.
  • 140. Eric Draitser, “The US and the Militarization of Latin America,” TeleSUR, September 2, 2015,
  • 141. Julia E. Sweig and Julia E. Sweig, “What Kind of War for Colombia?,” Foreign Affairs, September 1, 2002,
  • 142. Draitser, “The US and the Militarization of Latin America.”
  • 143. Michael Shifter, “Plan Colombia: A Retrospective,” Americas Quarterly, Summer 2012,
  • 144. Draitser, “The US and the Militarization of Latin America.
  • 145. Ibid.
  • 132. “Poverty in Haiti: The Impact of Aid, Earthquakes & Imperialism,” Poverties, May 18, 2013,
  • 133. “Haiti Earthquake Facts and Figures,” Disasters Emergency Committee, February 6, 2015,
  • 134. “Haiti” (Displacement Tracking Matrix, December 2016),
  • 135. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.”
  • 136. Gabriela Bazzo, “Haitian Migrants Pouring Into Brazil Don’t Find A Warm Welcome,” Huffington Post, February 8, 2016,
  • 137. Kirk Semple, “U.S. to Step Up Deportations of Haitians Amid Surge at Border,” The New York Times, September 22, 2016,
  • 138. Sandra Dibble, “Uncertainty for Haitians in Tijuana,” San Diego Tribune, September 23, 2016,
  • 139. Chiamaka Nwosu and Jeanne Batalova, “Haitian Immigrants in the United States,” Migration Policy Institute, May 29, 2014,
  • 148. “Colombia: Events of 2015” (New York: Human Rights Watch, January 6, 2016),
  • 149. Mark Katkov, “Colombia’s Congress Ratifies Second Peace Deal With Marxist Rebels,” NPR, December 1, 2016,
  • 150. “Colombian Refugees: No Solutions in Sight,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2016,
  • 151. Yet, highlighting the potential for Colombia’s crisis to shift and spread, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2013, Peru overtook Colombia as the world’s largest coca producer. The once-powerful Maoist rebel group Shining Path—which has been on the U.S. state department’s list of terrorist organizations since 1997—has been a significant part of Peru’s narcotics trade. For its involvement with cocaine production and distribution, it was recently designated by the United States treasury department as a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker.” “US Designates Peru’s Shining Path ‘Drug Traffickers,’” BBC News, June 2, 2015,
  • 152. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.”
  • 153. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.”
  • 154. “Colombian Refugees: No Solutions in Sight.”
  • 155.
  • 156. “Our Programs: Ecuador,” Asylum Access, 2014,
  • 157. Adrian Edwards, “UNHCR: Include Refugees and Displaced in Colombia Peace Talks,” UN High Commisioner for Refugees, April 12, 2016,
  • 158. “Venezuela Manufactures a Dispute with Neighboring Colombia,” The Washington Post, September 1, 2015, html; William Neuman, “In a Venezuelan Border Town, a State of Emergency Is Barely Perceptible,” The New York Times, August 29, 2015,
  • 159. “Colombian Refugees: No Solutions in Sight.
  • 146. In the context the “War on Drugs,” the proximate reasons for displacement are varied. Displacement, for example, has been spurred by fighting between cartels over control of the routes into U.S. drug market, by the intimidation tactics of local brutal street gangs, and by attacks upon the civilian population by government forces.
  • 147. Roque Planas, “Want To Reduce Illegal Immigration? End The Drug War.,” Huffington Post, August 29, 2015,
  • 160. “Border Militarization Policy,” National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, accessed April 17, 2017,
  • 161. Ibid.
  • 162. Conversely, the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees was a non-binding declaration signed by 10 Latin American countries that attempted to expand the definition of refugee to include those who fled “generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.” See:
  • 163. The Middle East and North Africa are used here to refer to the countries of: Morocco, Western Sahara/Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt), the Levant (also known as the Mashreq: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine/the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Israel) and the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait). This region is typically referred to as MENA. Yet for the purpose of naming the structures and histories that join these regions, this report includes South Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.
  • 174. Hiram Ruiz and Margaret Emery, “Afghanistan’s Refugee Crisis,” Middle East Research and Information Project, September 24, 2001,
  • 175. Prisca Benelli, Antonio Donini, and Norah Niland, “Afghanistan: Humanitarianism in Uncertain Times” (Somerville: Feinstein International Center, November 2012),
  • 176. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.”
  • 177. Ibid.
  • 178. Rachel Westerby and Sophie Ngo-Diep, “Afghan Refugees in Iran & Pakistan,” in Welcome to Europe: A Comprehensive Guide to Resettlement (Geneva: European Resettlement Network, 2013),
  • 179. Ibid.
  • 180. “Unwelcome Guests: Iran’s Violation of Afghan Refugee and Migrant Rights” (New York: Human Rights Watch, November 20, 2013),
  • 181. Westerby and Ngo-Diep, “Afghan Refugees in Iran & Pakistan.”
  • 182. Ibid.
  • 183. Claire Gordon, “Coming to America: The 5 Biggest Refugee Groups of the Last 20 Years,” Al Jazeera, October 13, 2016,
  • 184. Rod Nordland and Mujib Mashal, “Europe Makes Deal to Send Afghans Home, Where War Awaits Them,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016,
  • 190. Ibid.
  • 191. “UNHCR Syria Regional Refugee Response” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2017),
  • 192. Ibid.
  • 193. Ibid.
  • 194. James Kanter and Andrew Higgins, “E.U. Offers Turkey 3 Billion Euros to Stem Migrant Flow,” The New York Times, November 29, 2015,
  • 164. Many people in the region have experienced not only forced migration but also “forced sedentarization,” a problem for mobile and nomadic populations in particular for whom movement and mobility are central parts of their lives and livelihoods
  • 165. Sahrawi people—who live in the western part of the Sahara desert—constitute one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world, with many remaining in the camps in Tindouf, Algeria which many found refuge in after having fled invading Moroccan forces in Western Sahara during the Western Sahara War (1975– 1991).
  • 166. Sari Hanafi, “Forced Migration in the Middle East and North Africa,” in The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, ed. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014),
  • 167. Naomi Klein, “Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World,” London Review of Books, June 2, 2016.
  • 168. Further, the British have also had a history of conflict and intervention in the Persian Gulf. For example, in an effort to secure and expand their own supplies in the region, the British captured Baghdad in 1918 and projected power in the region from there for much of the twentieth century. Toby Craig Jones, “America, Oil, and War in the Middle East,” Journal of American History 99, no. 1 (June 1, 2012): 208, doi:10.1093/jahist/jas045.
  • 169. Ibid., 210.
  • 170. Ibid., 211.
  • 171. Specifically, the rapid increase in prices ultimately pushed U.S. policymaker to convince leaders in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and elsewhere in the Gulf to use the wealth generated from high oil prices in the West on Western products. Most significant to growing trade relations would be U.S. weapons, thus creating of a weapons pipeline deepened the ties between the United States and Gulf oil producers (Jones).
  • 172. Following mass critique of the war in Vietnam, Richard M. Nixon drove this new militarization strategy in 1969 by establishing the Nixon Doctrine, which called on U.S. allies to bear a greater burden in providing for their own defense. This strategy would have a life beyond Vietnam itself, with U.S. policy makers observing the doctrine in the Gulf by keeping U.S. military forces “over the horizon” while pushing the build up of local militaries in order to maintain regional order.
  • 173. Jones, “America, Oil, and War in the Middle East,” 210.
  • 200. Zachary Laub, “Yemen in Crisis” (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, April 19, 2016),
  • 201. Yemen Situation Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, December 2015), http://reporting.unhcr. org/node/9982; “UN Report: Yemen War Abuses Require Investigation,” Al Jazeera, January 27, 2016,
  • 202. Alistair Lyon, “Yemen War Generates Widespread Suffering, But Few Refugees,” Reuters, March 9, 2016,
  • 203. “Yemen Regional Refugee Response” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2017),
  • 204. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.
  • 205. Ibid.
  • 206. Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan were also major recipients of Yemeni refugees. Somalia: As of November 2016, 34,453 Yemeni have arrived in Somalia, 89 percent of whom were Somalis who themselves were recognized as refugees in Yemen. Reintegration of Somali returnees poses additional challenges as the widespread conflict and political strife have crippled essential infrastructure and more than three quarters of the population in Somalia lack access to healthcare, proper sanitation and safe drinking water. Ethiopia: As of November 2016, 13,309 Yemeni have arrived in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the Government recognizes Yemenis as prima facie refugees following nationality screening procedures and registration. Those arriving through Jijiga, at the border with Somalia, cannot get assistance from UNHCR until they are registered by the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA.) Yemeni refugees can reside in the urban areas, a privilege denied to Somalis. Ethiopia is also facing a food insecurity crisis. Sudan: As of November 2016, 6,766 Yemeni have arrived in Sudan. The open door policy and the policy of the Government of Sudan has generally allowed Yemenis to work and to move freely, though they have been denied some assistance granted to refugees of other nationalities. “Yemen Regional Refugee Response.
  • 207. Ibid.
  • 208. Ibid.
  • 209. Ibid.
  • 185. Regional leaders have also used war to deflect internal challenges to their authority. Further, international political rivalries, such as Cold War rivalries between the United States and Soviet Union, has also helped facilitate insecurity and displacement in the Middle East. Jones, “America, Oil, and War in the Middle East,” 217.
  • 186. Eyal Weizman and Fazal Sheikh, The Conflict Shoreline: Colonialism as Climate Change in the Negev Desert (Göttingen: Steidl, 2015).
  • 187. These reasons range from Israel’s efforts at “greening the desert” to cyclical drought increasing desertification. For example, projections show that the flows of the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers are likely to decrease, worsening the water shortages in both Israel and Jordan. Exacerbation of water shortages in those two countries and in Oman, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq— and the salinization of coastal aquifers—are likely to threaten agricultural production in those regions. Klein, “Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World”; Valerie Yorke, “Politics Matter: Jordan’s Path to Water Security Lies Through Political Reforms and Regional Cooperation,” Working Paper (Geneva: Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research, April 2013),
  • 188. Weizman and Sheikh, Fazal Sheikh/Eyal Weizman; Klein, “Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World.”
  • 195. Climate change has also impacted much of Africa, with similar effects. For example, in late 2010 and throughout 2011 severe droughts and civil strife forced a mass exodus of Somalis to Kenya, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. East Africa and the Horn of Africa are experiencing ongoing droughts, desertification, flash floods and land degradation. In 2007 the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that the region is projected to be impacted the most negatively by climate change in the future. Gaim Kibreab, “Forced Migration in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa,” in The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, ed. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), Baher Kamal, “Africa: War On Climate Terror (II) - Fleeing Disasters, Escaping Drought, Migrating,” ReliefWeb, August 11, 2016,
  • 196. Weizman and Sheikh, Fazal Sheikh/Eyal Weizman; Klein, “Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World.
  • 197. Klein, “Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World.
  • 198. As is the case with the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa, much of sub-Saharan Africa is also imbricated within the U.S.-led, Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The GWOT has taken shape in Africa as Operation Enduring Freedom– Trans Sahara (OEF-TS), the military operation conducted by the United States and partner nations in the Sahara/Sahel region of Africa. Specifically, these operations have consisted of counterterrorism efforts and policing of arms and drug trafficking across Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco. It has also taken shape as Operation Enduring Freedom–Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA), the U.S. military operation against “militant Islamism” and “piracy” across Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Seychelles, and Kenya. Outside this Combined Joint Operating Area, the CJTF-HOA has operations in Mauritius, Comoros, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The U.S. contribution to the operation has consisted of advisers, supplies, and other forms of non-combat support, as well as drone strikes targeted at Al-Shabaab. Taken together, and as with the Middle East and North Africa, the militarization of sub-Saharan Africa has ranged from the propping up of local regimes favorable to U.S. regional interests, to the extrajudicial detainment and killing of those deemed threatening to U.S. domestic, regional, and global interests.
  • 199. Jonathan Hafetz, “Targeted Killing and the ‘War on Terror,’” Al Jazeera, November 19, 2011,
  • 210. Neta C. Crawford, “War-Related Death, Injury, and Displacement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2014” (Providence: Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, May 22, 2015).
  • 211. IDMC also estimates that at least 948,000 people were internally displaced by conflict and violence as of July 2015, a dramatic increase from some 500,000 in 2013. As of mid-2016, that number has increased to 1.2 million people. “Afghanistan IDP Figures Analysis,” Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2015, “Afghanistan: Number of People Internally Displaced by Conflict Doubled to 1.2 Million in Just Three Years,” Amnesty International, May 31, 2016,
  • 212. The death toll from the Global War on Terror has also been immense. From 2003 to 2015, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility, the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan—totaling around 1.3 million in these three countries alone. A potentially conservative estimate, the total number of deaths in these three countries could also be in excess of 2 million. “Body Count” (Washington, D.C.: Physicians for Social Responsibility, March 2015),
  • 213. Crawford, “War-Related Death, Injury, and Displacement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2014.
  • 214. Andre-Michel Essoungou, “Africa’s Displaced People: Out of the Shadows,” Africa Renewal, April 2010,
  • 215. “Sub-Saharan Africa” (Geneva: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2014), sub-saharan-africa/.
  • 216. Idimama Kotoudi, “Les Migrations Forcées En Afrique de l’Ouest” (Dakar-Ponty: The Panos Institute West Africa, 2004); Cited in: Marion Fresia, “Forced Migration in West Africa,” in The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, ed. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014),
  • 217. Micah Bump, “Ghana: Searching for Opportunities at Home and Abroad,”, March 1, 2006, http://www.; Cited in: Fresia, “Forced Migration in West Africa,
  • 218. 6. Bump, “Ghana”; Cited in: Fresia, “Forced Migration in West Africa,” 6.
  • 229. Fresia, “Forced Migration in West Africa,” 5
  • 230. Ibid., 4.
  • 231. Among such new tensions caused by cross-border displacements in the region is the use of refugee camps by various parties as recruitment sites for militarized regional conflicts. Ibid., 5.
  • 232. Ibid.
  • 233. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “UNHCR Global Report 2011 - West Africa” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2011), 110, Cited in: Fresia, “Forced Migration in West Africa,” 5.
  • 245. Specifically, these restructuring programs require and stimulate the making of a global market for land. According to Sassen, they entail the development of a vast “servicing infrastructure to enable sales and acquisitions, secure property or leasing rights, develop appropriate legal instruments, and push for the making of new law to accommodate such purchases in a sovereign country,” an infrastructure that not only facilitates the purchase of land but also stimulates further foreign role in such purchases Sassen, Expulsions, 87.
  • 246. Significantly, host African governments are themselves playing a major role in enabling land grabbing, despite its undermining the goals of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). For instance, Mali’s government supported a 100,000 hectares allocation to a subsidiary of the Libya-based Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). In Tanzania, the government has coerced villages to set aside land to be used by investors in seemingly mutually beneficial arrangements. In Senegal, the government has exerted considerable pressure on local communities to allocate land for biofuels production, a trend that has been observed in Ethiopia as well(Land Grabbing in Africa 8).
  • 247. Sassen, Expulsions, 97
  • 242. “How Slavery Helped Build a World Economy,” Jubilee: the Emergence of African-American Culture (New York: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 2015).
  • 243. Ibid.
  • 244. Ibid.
  • 248. Malkammu Jaatee, “Land Grabbing and Violations of Human Rights in Ethiopia” (Berkshire: Anywaa Survival Organization, January 28, 2016); “‘What Will Happen If Hunger Comes?’: Abuses against the Indigenous Peoples of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley” (Washington, D.C.: Human Rights Watch, June 2012).
  • 249. Sassen, Expulsions, 87.
  • 250. Joseph Mensah, Neoliberalism and Globalization in Africa (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), 7, accessed April 17, 2017,
  • 251. Ibid., 2.
  • 252. “Human Development Report” (Geneva: UN Development Programme, 2006),; Cited in: Mensah, Neoliberalism and Globalization in Africa, 2.
  • 253. According to the World Bank, however, not one sub-Saharan country saw life expectancy fall between 2000 and 2014. Steve Johnson, “Africa’s Life Expectancy Jumps Dramatically,” Financial Times, April 25, 2017, 746f8e9cdd33.
  • 234. “Famine Hits Parts Of South Sudan,” World Food Programme, February 20, 2017,
  • 235. “UN: One Million Refugees Have Fled South Sudan,” Al Jazeera, September 16, 2016,
  • 236. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.”
  • 237. Ibid.
  • 238. “South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, January 2017),
  • 239. Ibid.
  • 240. Ibid.
  • 241. Ibid.
  • 219. Yet, as with elsewhere in Africa, contemporary displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has colonial roots. Following the 1885 Berlin Conference, the Congo Free State was founded as a Belgian Colony for the extraction of its rich supplies of rubber, minerals, and oil and notorious for its abuse and exploitation of the local population. Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Bruno Schoumaker, “Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Migration History Marked by Crises and Restrictions” (Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute, April 19, 2016),
  • 220. Ibid.
  • 221. “Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (Washington, D.C.: Cultural Orientation Resource Center, March 2013),
  • 222. “Mid-Year Trends, 2015.”
  • 223. Ibid.
  • 224. “Congolese Refugees: A Protracted Situation” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, January 2014),
  • 225. “Democratic Republic of Congo Regional Refugee Response” (Geneva: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, November 2016),
  • 226. Ibid.
  • 227. Ibid.
  • 228. Ibid.