Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty

Publication Date



This research, developed as part of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Poverty and Globalization, was funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) of the UK government. It was carried out by the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies program (FMRS) at the American University in Cairo between February and June 2005. It is part of a wider research program examining the policies affecting forced migrants in the Arab world. The project addressed the interplay of politics, policies, and populations in the production of current perceptions of refugees and other forced migrants. Throughout the project, the researchers looked at the domestic policy environment as shaped by national and international political, social, and economic forces. The research considered the actors, forces, and conditions which determine policy in all its stages from how it is devised, to how it is applied, including how policy may be subverted or rendered ineffectual. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed to describe the process whereby refugees and forced migrants are held in limbo, in a state of ‘not belonging’. The study reflects on these policies and their rationale. Instead of looking exclusively at international policies affecting refugees, the research also considered domestic policies and how they determine the identities, opportunities, and welfare of asylum seekers. The contradictions between these policies and their actual implementation were considered, which included looking closely at the role of international, local, and community ­based actors. This project documents and analyzes the assumptions upon which refugee policy has been based, the impact that policies themselves have in either relieving hardship or continuing dependency, and assesses whether refugee policy may be based on incorrect assumptions about the role that refugees play in the social and economic fabric of Egypt. The research went beyond the simple documentation of refugee­ related policy and the position of Egypt, to examine the intersection of policies that directly and indirectly affect the lives, conditions, and opportunities available for refugees.

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