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Survivor-led approach – Lamp Lifeboat Ladder

I thought this article by Heaven Crawley, professor at the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, was very interesting as it highlights how many academics, policy makers and others working in the refugee sector propose solutions to that work in the interests of the global north, and that these ‘solutions’ often perpetuate ‘out of sight out of mind’ approaches. For instance, she refers to an idea put forward in 2018 by two Oxford University academics, called ‘Refugia’, which, they suggest would be an autonomous area or region, separated from other communities and citizens (who find refugees’ presence to be politically difficult) ‘in which refugees would live and work.’  Where these regions would be set-up would be dependent upon the outcome of negotiations and bargaining between the global south (where 85% of people who have been forced to flee their homeland live) and richer states

Her article also demonstrates the almost total absence of the voices, power and opinions of refugees and trauma survivors in describing their needs and experiences as well as defining political and practical solutions in response and in shaping of their own futures.  She suggests that despite there being recognition that listening to voices of those forced to flee their homeland and the importance of ‘giv[ing] them agency’, those with power, including academics and policy makers lead and feel they ‘know what’s best.’

Lamp Lifeboat Ladder initiative is doing the exact opposite. It is a survivor-led and centered initiative, striving to transform the refugee ecosystem and make it more humane for those seeking safety, while broadening pathways for resettlement to safe countries.  The most important architects of this initiative are individuals who have lost their homeland and are seeking safety.   Survivors of sexual violence and torture themselves are leading the process of developing the mission, vision and goals of the initiative based on their experiences, needs and what they want their futures to look like with support from a team of doctors, lawyers, anthropologists, policymakers, teachers, investors and allies. Through this process they are guiding us in creating a shared language in the field of forced migration based on values of humanity, freedom, safety, equality, dignity and individual agency.

Crawley ultimately suggests that in order to understand completely forced and other forms of migration, the colossal global inequalities must be considered. Ignoring these inequalities helps to retaining the system of privilege and dominance and, without real refugee engagement and involvement, these harmful ideas stymie efforts to ‘facilitate mobilization and solidarity among a wide range of marginalized groups.’

About the author

Sophie McCann

Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.

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