Refugees & Armed Conflict

As the number of refugees fleeing conflict, persecution, and violence reaches record levels, countries hosting significant refugee populations face severe legal, administrative, and resourcing challenges, compromising their ability to meet their obligations under international refugee and international human rights law. Since 2014, the Clinic’s international refugee work has been focused on understanding refugees’ experiences accessing documentation necessary to prove identity and status in such countries. The Clinic has worked primarily with refugees displaced by armed conflict.

Julius Mitchell, JD ’19, conducting an interview in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. January 2018.

Since 2014, the Clinic has partnered with the Norwegian Refugee Council, a major humanitarian actor—first in Jordan and from 2017 in Kenya—to examine the challenges refugees encounter obtaining identity and status documentation, and explore the significance of this documentation to their daily lives. In the Jordanian context, through two influential policy reports, the Clinic has studied birth and marriage registration for Syrian refugees, as well as the processes by which Syrian refugees obtain identity documents from Jordanian authorities that enable them to live securely in Jordanian cities and towns. In the Kenyan context, the Clinic’s work started in Nairobi, looking at how refugees experience often complex and unwieldy processes to obtain official documents recording their status as refugees.

In 2018, the Clinic’s work shifted to Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp—one of the largest refugee camps in the world—and focused on the right to freedom of movement and the right to work, rights whose exercise often depends on the issuance of various official documents.

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