DUBAI, 31 January 2012 (IRIN) – Among the migrants who found themselves caught up in Libya during last year’s war was a group of people whom one University of Oxford researcher calls “invisible”: refugees who travel to third countries for work or better education.
Wedged between violence, politics, overlapping identities and restrictive definitions, these “refugee-migrants” or “refugee-students” are often overlooked and under-protected, according to Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, a lecturer in forced migration at Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre.
“Certain displaced populations have been hyper-visible whilst others have effectively been rendered invisible to (and by) the international community,” she writes in an article soon to be published by the International Journal of Refugee Law, called Invisible Refugees and/or Overlapping Refugeedom? Protecting Sahrawis and Palestinians Displaced by the 2011 Libyan Uprising. An earlier version of her paper was recently published by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as part of its New Issues in Refugee Research Series.
The conflict in Libya has highlighted potential gaps in the protection of Palestinian refugees who have migrated to a third country and raised complex questions about who should protect them – and how – in the case of crisis. It is a question of increasing relevance as the situation in Syria,home to half a million Palestinian refugees, becomes more unstable.
For more on this story, visit: IRIN Middle East | Analysis: The Middle East’s “invisible refugees” | Libya | Aid Policy | Conflict | Early Warning | Governance | Human Rights | Migration | Refugees/IDPs | Security.