Does Being Legal Matter? Legal Status and Livelihood Obstacles for Urban Refugees in the Global South
Bailey, Sarah K.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: The word 'refugee' generally conjures images of sprawling rural camps with grids of tents, families living in cramped quarters, and fences. When one contemplates refugee hosting areas, one generally does not think of Johannesburg, Cairo, Kampala, Nairobi, Kharto... read moreum, Dar es Salaam, and New Delhi. However, together these cities host hundreds of thousands of refugees. Each host government is unique in the degrees to which it accepts refugees into urban areas and allows them to be social and economic actors. In general, the norm in the Global South is one where refugees are confined to camps. Those who migrate to urban areas, either directly from their country of origin, through other countries, or from rural settlements, often do so in violation of the host country policy. Egypt and South Africa are unique in their lack of camp-confinement policies and their acceptance of refugees in urban areas. The fact that some refugees have government permission reside in urban areas while others do not creates a system of legal and illegal urban refugees. Faced with limited or non-existent assistance, all of these refugees are left to their own resources in order to meet the basic needs of food and shelter and eventually move beyond a survivalist existence. This paper examines the extent to which refugees living legally in urban areas throughout the Global South face the same livelihood challenges as refugees without legal status.read less