Fafo researchers and guests discuss how the international refugee resettlement program works, how fair it is, and how the refugees experience the process.
Many refugees embark on arduous journeys to seek asylum at the border of a safe country. A more orderly and less risky way is refugee resettlement. This, on the other hand, is granted to only about 1 percent of the world's refugees annually.
Since Fafo has a research project on refugee resettlement, the researchers wanted to create a series of short podcast episodes that can provide a simple introduction to the topic.
"The program has been around for many decades. Norway have been involved since the 70s. But exactly how the system works is still little known”, says project manager Ragna Lillevik.
Intro course 101
The result is the podcast series "Refugee Resettlement 101". It consists of four English-language episodes with thematic divisions, each lasting between 20 and 30 minutes.
From the studio in Oslo, Fafo researchers and guests explain and problematise how the program is set up internationally, as well as the situation for refugees in different countries, with emphasis on Norway, Lebanon and African countries.
The resettlement program is led by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in cooperation with the individual receiving countries.
"In the podcast we are discussing the politics behind it and questioning how fair the program is. We also question how much help it contributes, taking into consideration the total number of displaced people in the world today”, Lillevik summarizes.
The Fafo researchers also share insights from fieldwork in Rwanda and Romania, where they observed how envoys from the Norwegian immigration authorities went about interviewing and selecting the refugees Norway had decided to receive.
"In addition, we reserved one episode to the refugee Ali Mohammed, where he tells the story about his dramatic journey from Somalia to being settled in Norway," says Lillevik.
Norway: Few, but consistent
Norway receives few refugees through resettlement, or “quota refugees” (kvoteflyktninger) as it is referred to locally.
Measured in the number of refugees, USA, Canada and Australia are the major receiving countries. These countries' policies therefore have the greatest impact, Lillevik points out.
"But even though European countries don't receive that many refugees through resettlement each year, the program has been maintained steadily. In this way, many people have been settled over time.”
As far as Norway is concerned, the number of refugees we will receive in this way is determined annually through the national budget. The size of this "quota" is often the subject of political debate.
In addition to setting the quota in the form of a fixed number, the politicians also set criteria for who should be selected for resettlement.
"The criteria may concern where they are from – either in terms of ethnicity, original home country or temporary country of residence – or health, family situation and the like," Lillevik adds.
Six people share insights
All of the above and more is more thoroughly explained and debated in the podcast series "Refugee Resettlement 101". It is now available on the major podcast distributors.
The guest list, in addition to Lillevik herself, consists of: Nerina Weiss and Ingunn Bjørkhaug from Fafo, Elsa Maarawi from Picardie Jules Verne University in France, and Ali Mohammed.
Studio host and technical producer is the Fafo trainee and Erasmus student Ayşe Bilgehan. She was instrumental in bringing the podcast series from idea to completion, Lillevik praises:
"She made a great effort to make the podcast come into being. Her personal commitment also left its own mark on the result.”