Why do host states treat migrants and refugees inclusively, exclusively, or without any direct engagement? Current classifications of migrant and refugee engagement in the Global South mistake the absence of formal policy and law for neglect. Reluctant Reception proposes the concept of “strategic indifference,” whereby states proclaim to be indifferent toward migrants and refugees, thereby inviting international organizations and local NGOs to step in and provide services on the state’s behalf. By allowing migrants and refugees to integrate locally into large informal economies, and by allowing organizations to provide basic services, host countries receive international credibility while only exerting minimal state resources. This book provides a highly original comparative account of the politics of asylum seeking and migration in the Middle East and North Africa.
Methodologically, it draws on more than 130 interviews with government officials, international humanitarian organizations, local NGOs and individual migrants and refugees in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey to classify the type of engagement present in each country over the last thirty years, and to examine change in strategy over time. The findings demonstrate that states in the Global South are capable of choosing migration and refugee policies that best fit their strategic aims, and that when doing so, they consider both domestic political constituents and diplomatic relations with sending countries in the Global South and powerful states in the Global North.