Research and Orientation Workshop and International Conference
'The State of the Global Protection System for Refugees and Migrants'

Calcutta Research Group, (25-30 November 2018)

Module F


Module F. Migrants and Movements Across Asia: Common Features with the European Scenario

Coordinators: Dr. Anita Sengupta and Professor Meghna Guhu Thakurta




This module is concerned primarily with the refugee situation in Asia.The Asian region is now possibly the most volatile in terms of population flows and the refugee crisis has reached unprecedented heights. In recent times, South and Southeast Asia states have hosted large numbers of refugees unimagined on a European scale.The long drawn war in Afghanistan followed by wars in Iraq and Syria, and now the massive exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar have produced refugees, asylum seekers, immigrant labour, and trafficked girls, children, and women in the last few decades. One needs to add to this the preceding flows in South Asia following decolonisation and partition of the Indian sub-continent. The violent partition of the region into nation states, displaced even by conservative estimates some 15 million people. The impact of partition was enormous, however, even in colonial times there were massive displacements due to conflicts, contest over resources, exploitation by colonial masters, and subsequent protests. Subsequently, the Bangladesh War, Tibetan refugee flows, ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, borders and boundary conflicts in the region, minority exodus from Myanmar to Thailand, Vietnamese boat refugees can be seen as direct or indirect fallout of decolonisation of the wider region. Added to these is the issue of migrant labour flows (what is seen as ‘illegal’ labour migration) into Malaysia, India, Turkey, and other countries from other Asian nations like Bangladesh, Syria or Afghanistan. What adds to the conundrum are strict border controls, violent borderlands, no labour rights, and below subsistence wages.

India, the largest country in the South Asian region, is at the very centre of the mixed population flows. It has to be mentioned that India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol. In India, the refugees like all other migrants fall under the jurisdiction of the Foreigners Act (1946) and the Passport Act (1955). But this is not to say that India has not given refugee status to any group. There is also no regional convention on refugee protection (unlike Africa), no Asia wide understanding. None of the South Asian states, except Afghanistan,has signed either the 1951 UN Refuge Convention or the 1967 UN Protocol. However, these countries have ratified in the recent past several other human rights instruments. All of them ratified the four Geneva Conventions as well. The Asian context is also characterised by regional features such as the Bali Process etc.There are various judicial decisions, legal decisions, political movements in defence of the rights of the migrants and forced migrants.

Keeping in mind the above context, this module encourages discussions on issues of refugee protection regime, citizenship and statelessness, the role of race, gender and religion in migration and forced migration in the broad Asian region. It seeks to evolve an understandingof a holistic approach towards ensuring human rights, protection, and justice, in place of policies dovetailed for old and redundant administrative categories like refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced, stateless, illegal immigrant, trafficked women, trafficked labour, boat refugees, etc.


Draft of Full Paper: CLICK HERE



Sl.No. Name & Details of the Participants Country Photo Research Articles Comments by Coordinator

Aditi Sabbarwal , UNHCR || Email:
Aditi Sabbarwal, born and brought up in Delhi, an alumna of The Shri Ram School, Indraprastha College for Women (University of Delhi) a double post-graduate with one Masters in Political Science from Arts Faculty, University of Delhi & the other in Social Work from Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi, has been working in the development sector since 2011....continue



Refugee livelihoods in India & Turkey - a comparative study




Angela Smith, University of New South Wales           
Angela Smith is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Angela’s research explores the securitisation of migration in the age of neoliberalism, with a focus on migration by sea. She is interested in critical geographical approaches, particularly concerning islands, maritime spaces, and offshore territories. Prior to commencing at UNSW, Angela worked as a researcher on migration, displacement and human mobility, with a focus on North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.


West Sentinel: An island solution?


Santi Sarkar, Vidyasagar University, Midnapore                       
Santi Sarkar is a Ph.D. scholar at the department of Political Science at Vidyasagar University. The title of his thesis is “Hunger and politics in West Bengal (2000-2010): In the light of Right to Food” under the supervision of Dr.Sibaji Pratim Basu. His specialisation in P.G was on “Society and Politics in South Asia” from where he started to develop an interest in migration and forced migration studies. Santi has been emotionally drawn to refugee related themes since childhood as he was born in a partitioned refugee family. This workshop will definitely expand the horizons of his knowledge in the concerned field.


Refugees, Asylum and Threat perceptions: The Recent Cases of Rohingyas in South Asia and Syrian Refugees in Europe


Full Paper


Vishwa Kanak Khatri , Manipal Academy of Higher Education       
Vishwa Janak Khatri is an MA student at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations at Manipal Academy of Higher Education. She earned her BA in Psychology, Sociology, and English at Christ (Deemed to be University) in 2016. Her research interests include emerging geopolitics of South Asia, political risk and challenges of refugee issues, cultural diplomacy, and international negotiations. She completed her dissertation titled “Refugee Crisis and its Implications for Global Peace and Stability” which analysed the role of international refugee regime, varying sate responses and the consequences on international cooperation. She was also an Asian Graduate Student Fellow 2018 at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.


ASEAN and Myanmar’s Rohingya Challenge: Assessing Policy and Response






1. Banerjee, Paula, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia: The Relevance of UN Guiding Principles (New Delhi: Sage, 2005) Chapters 1-3 and 4-8


2. Basu, Sibaji Pratim, (ed.) The fleeing People of South AsiaSelections from Refugee Watch (New Delhi: Anthem Press, 2009)


3. Chimni, Bhupinder S., “The Birth of a ‘Discipline’: From Refugee to Forced Migration Studies,” Journal of Refugee Studies, Volume 22, 2009.


4. Chimni, Bhupinder S., “The Geopolitics of Refugee Studies: A View from the South,” Journal of Refugee Studies, Volume 11(4), 1998.


5. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, ElenaGil LoescherKaty Long, and Nando Sigona, The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)


6. Guhathakurta, Meghna, “Understanding Violence, Strategising Protection: Perspectives from Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh,” Asian Journal of Social Science 45, 2017, pp 639-665


7. Guhathakurta, Meghna, and Suraiya Begum, “Protection Assessment for the Disadvantaged Undocumented Myanmar Nationals and Local Population in Selected Areas of Cox’s Bazar District,” Report Commissioned by the Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyer’s Association (BNWLA), 2016


8. Guhathakurta, Meghna, Suraiya Begum and Saidur Rahman, “A needs assessment of UMNs population and capacity assessment of service providers in makeshift settlements with a focus on Sex and Gender Based Violence (SGBV),” Study Commissioned by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2016


9. Haddad, Emma, The Refugee in International Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)


10. Laruelle, Marlene, (ed) Kyrgyzstan, Political Pluralism and Economic Challenges (Washington: George Washington University, 2017) Part 2, Chapter 2


11. Laruelle, Marlene, (ed) Uzbekistan, Political Order, Societal Changes and Cultural Transformations (Washington: George Washington University, Central Asia Programme, 2017) Part 2, chapters 6 and 7


12. Mathew, Penelope and Tristan Harley, Refugees, Regionalism and Responsibility (Northhampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016) Part I and Chapters 7and 9. 


13. Matthews, Elizabeth G, with David Newman, Mohammed S Dajani Daoudi (eds) The Israel Palestine Conflict: Parallel Discourses (Routledge, 2011) Chapters 1 and 2


14. Murshid, Navine, The Politics of Refugees in South Asia (London and New York: Routledge, 2017) Chapter 2, Refugee Voices, pp 15-34.


15. Samaddar, Ranabir (ed.), Refugees and the State (New Delhi: Sage, 2003), Introduction, Chapters 1-3, 6, 11


16. Refugee Watch No 45 June 2015

Basu Roy, Arpita, “Returnees in Afghanistan: Impediments to Reintegration,” Refugee Watch 45, 2015, pp 61-74

Canefe, Nergis, “Post-Colonial State and Violence: Rethinking the Middle East and North Africa outside the Blindfold of Area Studies,” Refugee Watch 45, 2015, pp 7-31

Chatterjee, Suchandana, “Putting the Local Back in Uyghur History’: The Uyghur and Dungan Migrants of Central Asia,” Refugee Watch 45, 2015, pp 47-60

Ghosh, Anwesha, “Marginality and Migration: The Plight of Persecuted Religious Minorities of Afghanistan,” Refugee Watch 45, 2015, pp 75-85

Singh, Priya, “A Syrian Exodus: The Case of Lebanon and Jordan,” Refugee Watch 45, 2015, pp 32-46                 


17. Refugee Watch 48, December 2016

Adelman, Howard, “Commentary on Canada’s Reception of Syrian Refugees,” Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 104-116

Belma Kurtişoğlu, Selda Öztürk & Hussain Hajj, “Performing the Migration,” Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 67-81

Canefe,  Nergis, “Migration as a Necessity: Contextualising the European Response to the Syrian Exodus,” Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 82-103

Canefe, Nergis,” Introduction: Syrians are Coming? Reframing the Syrian Refugee Crisis,” Refugee Watch 48, 2016, 1-6

Chiara Denaro, “Syrian Refugees’ Reception in Southern Europe: The Shifting Content of the Right to Asylum in Lesvos, Sicily and Melilla,” Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 49-66

Kathryn E. T. Dennler, “The Politics of Mobility on Lesvos, Greece: A Critical Scholarly View from The Beach, The Camp, and The City,”  Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 34-48

Pınar Uyan Semerci and Emre Erdoğan, “Guests to Neighbours: The Difficulty of Naming Syrians in Turkey,”  Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 20-33

Singh, Priya, “Politics and Policy: Syrian Refugees and the European Union,” Refugee Watch 48, 2016, pp 7-19


18. Refugee Watch 49, June 2017

Sengupta, Anita, “The Migrant as a Political Object: “Guests” in Turkey, EU Debates and the Middle Eastern Conundrum,” Refugee Watch 49, 2017, pp 62-77


19. Majumder, Suchismita, Priyanca Mathur Velath and Kriti Chopra, Madhura Chakraborty, “Rohingyas in India: Birth of a Stateless Community,” MCRG Policies and Practices 71, 2015


20. Sengupta, Anita and Simon Behrman, “Labour, Law and Forced Migration,” MCRG Policies and Practices 70, 2015


21. Sergey Abashin: Movements and Migrants in Central Asia


22. Laruelle, Marlene and Caress Schenk (eds) Eurasia on the Move: Interdisciplinary Approaches to a Dynamic Migration Region (Washington: George Washington University, Central Asia Program, 2018)

23. Hugo, Graeme, Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi and Ellen Percy Kraly (Eds) Demography of Refugee and Forced Migration (Springer, 2018)


24. Cook, Alistair D.B. and Christopher W. Freise, " Forced Migration and Terrorism: Southeast Asian Human Security Challenges"


25. Wahab, Andika Ab., " The Future of Forced Migrants in ASEAN"


26. Ho, Elaine Lynn-Ee, Laura Madokoro and Glen Peterson, " Refugees, Displacement and Forced Migration in Asia: Charting an Inclusive Research Agenda",(Working Paper Series No. 236, ARI, 2015).


International Migration Review


Feliciano, Cynthia, “Does Selective Migration Matter? Explaining Ethnic Disparities in Educational Attainment Among Immigrants’ Children,” International Migration Review, Volume 39 (4),2005, pp 841-871 

Levitt, Peggy, Josh DeWind and Steven Vertovec, “International Perspective on Transnational Migration: An Introduction,” International Migration Review, Volume 37(2), 2003, pp 847-873 

Macklin, Audrey, “Methodological Nationalism, the Social Sciences and the Study of Migration: an Essay in Historical Epistemology,” International Migration Review, Volume 37(2), 2003, pp 576-610 

Portes, Alejandro and Josh De Wind, “A Cross Atlantic Dialogue: the Progress of Research and Theory in the Study of International Migration,” International Migration Review, Volume 38(2), 2004, pp 828-851

Vertovec, Steven, “Migration and Other Modes of Transnationalism: Towards Conceptual Cross Fertilization,” International Migration Review, Volume 37(2), 2003, pp 641-665