Refugees and immigration

Most refugees want to go home

Researcher Maja Janmyr works to ensure that the human rights of refugees are protected in the best possible manner. This autumn, she has been following the situation from Lebanon.

Researcher Maja Janmyr
THE GOAL IS TO RETURN HOME: "Of the almost 60 million displaced people in the world, the vast majority have only one goal: being able to return home," says Maja Janmyr. Her PhD from 2012 concerned protection of the law in refugee camps.
Magnus Halsnes

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Maja Janmyr is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Bergen's Faculty of Law and is presently a guest researcher at the American University of Beirut.  She is researching the plight of those who are fleeing from Syria and are now in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey - the countries that are accepting the most Syrian refugees. 

"A few days after I arrived in Lebanon, I visited the Souk al-Ahad Sunday market and purchased a roll of tape from a Syrian man.  When he heard where I was from, he assured me that he did not want to travel to Norway, or to Sweden, or to any country other than his home in Syria," Janmyr says. 

She wants to examine in more detail how the refugees involve themselves to create positive changes in their homeland in order to be able return home one day.


Back to Syria

Almost every third inhabitant in Lebanon is a refugee. The country is the size of Aust-Agder (Norwegian county) and has several million refugees. 

"We often hear about how Europe deals with the refugees who succeed in getting over the Mediterranean, however it is in Lebanon and Syria's other neighbouring countries where we see the true scale of the Syrian refugee crisis," Janmyr says.

She notes that the UN has major problems obtaining financing for food and other assistance to the refugees.

"We are now hearing that refugees have started to travel back to war-torn Syria because the situation in the neighbouring countries has become so desperate. To say that the situation is acute is therefore an understatement," she says.


No protection

The refugees in the region also have other problems. 

"Lebanon does not consider itself to be a country of asylum but only a transit country. This is reflected in the local refugee policies. Like other neighbouring countries, Lebanon has no refugee and asylum laws and is also not a party to the UN Refugee Convention. This means that millions of refugees in the region are completely or partly without the protection the Convention can, and should, provide," says Maja Janmyr. 

"Those of us who research refugee and asylum issues should maintain our focus on finding solutions to the world's refugee problem. Until the day people no longer have to be on the run, we have to work towards their rights being safeguarded as best as possible," Maja Janmyr says.

Translated from the Norwegian by Kjell Leifsen / Amesto Translations.