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Part I International Refugee Law— Reflections on the Scholarly Field, Ch.7 Refugees as Migrants »

Idil Atak, François Crépeau
From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law
Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam
This chapter details the long-standing debate on whether refugees should be portrayed as migrants. Several organizations, refugee advocates, and scholars argue for a clear line between ‘migrants’ and ‘refugees’, as a means of protecting the refugee regime. They point to the inherently distinct motivations driving refugee movements compared to other types of migration, as well as to the specific normative and institutional framework for refugee protection. The chapter argues that conceptualizing refugees as migrants does not undermine the specific normative and institutional framework for refugee protection. Rather, it further promotes refugees’ access to asylum and safety. The chapter then examines the literature on the refugee/migrant distinction, highlighting the increasingly overlapping and interconnected motivations and contexts driving forced migration. It looks at the mounting barriers refugees face to reach safety and explores the avenues to safeguarding and promoting access to asylum and refugee rights. The chapter also articulates the role that freedom of movement should play in protecting the rights of all migrants, including refugees.