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Invited but not (always) willing to go: Refugees in Tham Hin camp (Thailand) as an example of migration theories shortcomings

©2011 Diplomarbeit 117 Seiten


Even in the most basic theories about migration, there is an inherent assumption that people in the ‘Global South’ are eager to move at the first opportunity, and that this decision is foremost a ‘rational choice’ decision, depending in the largest part on economic considerations. This assumption, which applies to economic migrants moving from the periphery to the central developed states, is even more assumed for refugees, considering their often precarious, inhumane living conditions, in crowded camps with little possibilities for any improvements. It seems only natural, therefore, to assume that these groups of the most vulnerable would be eager to move at the first opportunity offered, even at the cost of making large sacrifices in order to become one of the ‘lucky few’ able to move on. In regard to refugee situations, foremost in Africa, this seemed unfortunately to been confirmed in scandals involving UNHCR staff with taking bribes for resettlement placements.
Over the years, we have seen not much of this assumption change, and the picture of ‘Europe as the El Dorado of the welfare state’, beleaguered by the less-fortunate of the developing world’ is ever-dominant - from a European perspective, there is a long list for ‘them’ to come to ‘us’.
Against this hype, however, the reality looks much different. Indeed, only a very small minority of migrants and refugees are actually arriving in ‘the West’, or even trying to get there - the majority of both groups only move to neighboring countries, which are often as poor as their home region. Indeed, only a small proportion of any ‘emigration country’ would see migration to ‘the West’ or ‘the North’ as the best solution to their everyday problems, and this applies as well to the direst situations as we see in many refugee camps. Therefore, even if ‘Fortress Europe’ would open ist gates completely, the fear of an ‘inrush of people’ is unjustified - most people, even in developing countries, are, just as in ‘the North’, simply too very firmly rooted in their own communities.
This paper is the outcome of a survey done by UNHCR in Tham Hin camp, one of the nine Burmese refugee camps in Thailand, which had the aim of creating a clearer picture as to why such a relatively large proportion of eligible refugees didn’t chose to resettle, even when they were presented with this opportunity. More precisely, the survey found that less than half of eligible refugees in Tham Hin […]


ISBN (eBook)
1015 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Universität Wien – Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Internationale Entwicklung
2014 (April)
flüchtlinge migration resettlement weiterwanderung thailand burma myanmar

Titel: Invited but not (always) willing to go: Refugees in Tham Hin camp (Thailand) as an example of migration theories shortcomings