Religion and the Promotion of Social Justice for Refugees

The Refugee Hosts team is honoured to have been awarded a Bridging Voices grant by the British Council-USA (generously funded by The Henry Luce Foundation) in collaboration with four US-based colleagues affiliated with the Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses at Yale University.

Led by Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL, Refugee Hosts’ PI) in the UK, and by Dr. Zareena Grewal and Dr Unni Krishnan Karunakara (both at Yale University) in the US, the interdisciplinary project brings together leading experts from the UK (Refugee Hosts’ Prof. Alastair Ager, Dr. Anna Rowlands and Prof. Lyndsey Stonebridge) and the US (Yale’s Prof. Catherine Panter-Brick and Dr. Louisa Lombard) to examine the roles that religion plays in promoting social justice for refugees.

Through comparative research with and about refugees from and in Central America, Central Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Western borderlands, the project aims to analyse the roles that local faith communities and faith based organisations (FBOs) play: in supporting refugees’ access to protection; lobbying for rights; and challenging xenophobia and discrimination against different groups of refugees.

In addition to convening a number of digital workshops, face-to-face meetings and public events, over the next few years the team will:

  • Complete primary research with refugees, members of host communities and local level authority figures in towns and cities across Central America, Central Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Western borderlands to explore how they perceive the role that religion can play in promoting social justice for refugees.
  • Interview international, national, municipal and local level policy-makers and practitioners working in/on humanitarian situations to examine how they perceive and address the relationship between religion and displacement in these geopolitical regions.
  • Interview FBO representatives and leading scholars and practitioners of international refugee law to examine how religious traditions vis-à-vis asylum have been drawn on at national, regional and international levels to engage with the formation and implementation of law, and to try to shape public opinion to promote refugee rights and social justice for refugees.


The Refugee Hosts team is looking forward to working closely with our Yale colleagues on this project, and to building upon our existing interdisciplinary conversations on these issues.

Watch and listen to Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and our Yale colleagues Dr Zareena Grewel and Dr Unni Krishnan Karunakara introduce the project here:


For some of our recent reflections on the roles of faith and religion in displacement, including pieces published as part of our Refugee Hosts Faith and Displacement series, see:


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