Book review: Refugee solutions in the age of global crisis: Human rights, integration, and sustainable development

Archives > Volume 20 (2023) > Issue 2 > Item 11

DOI: 10.55521/10-020-211

Androff, D. (2022). Refugee solutions in the age of global crisis: Human rights, integration, and sustainable development. Oxford University Press.

Reviewed by Joan M. Groessl, MSW, PhD, LCSW
University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

International Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics • Volume 20(2), Copyright 2023 by IFSW

This text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the authors and advance notification of IFSW.

Key principles of social work practice link social justice and service to vulnerable and oppressed individuals.  The introductory statements of this book highlight this issue with true examples of the dehumanizing approaches to people wishing to enter a country for asylum.  Individuals who wish to know the logistics of asylum within immigration policy will find a good overview of the process and critical assessment heavily supported with examples.  The text is organized by first outlining the magnitude of refugee displacements and the durable solutions for refugees established internationally. The discussion is clearly approached using the social work lens for both social justice as well as the role of social workers as agents of change.

Once the reader is provided the foundational concepts connected to policy, including the historical precedents as policy changes have occurred over time, Dr. Androff uses three case studies to further explore the durable solutions of voluntary repatriation (Somalian refugees), local integration in the country of first asylum (Kenyan settlements), and resettlement to a third country (Arizona, United States, project).  Preceding each case study is a chapter with thorough discussion of the concepts around the example within the case study. The U.S. example is one in which Dr. Androff was actively involved in program development and evaluation of outcomes. He emphasizes the community work in establishing a successful outcome, and social work’s role in empowering individuals to find their voice is evident. It is in this chapter that social workers can consider the many ways social workers can impact refugees on both micro and macro levels. 

The final chapter examines what is needed to manage the refugee crisis more effectively. Dr. Androff outlines ethical approaches to the growing magnitude of the refugee crisis and links policy to political and economic factors, outlining strategies that would serve to promote the well-being of those impacted by displacement in what he terms a “human made disaster.” Displacement generally occurs due to war and other strife within a country. For those in macro practice settings, the conclusions focus on sustainable development and the need to address geopolitical and socioeconomic factors impacting refugees, as well as migration in general. The approach to examining durable solutions which don’t address the problem provides a focus for further analysis.  All these strategies reflect social work’s ethical commitment toward social justice.

The materials are thorough, provide current examples and reflect existing research and best practice discussions.  Ideological and political impact on policy and the outcome for refugees is clearly outlined on a global scale. The unenforceable nature of much of international policy is examined and critically assessed. As someone with only rudimentary knowledge about refugee policy, this reviewer wished for a diagram to aid in mentally organizing the history, concepts, and durable solutions as the policies and solutions are somewhat complex. Definitions and explanations of the concepts, however, are communicated clearly for those who wish to attain understanding of this policy arena. The text’s organization of a chapter outlining the concept, followed by the related case study in Chapters Four and Five, Six and Seven, and Eight and Nine, respectively, did provide a focused means of examining each of the solution’s outcomes. Within the paired chapters, allows deeper understanding and analysis of the three types of durable solutions; how the idea and then case presentation is organized helps those less familiar with repatriation, asylum, or resettlement.

This book would be a good resource for an international policy course and serves as education for anyone wishing to understand refugees and the process they go through once displaced from their home country. Dr. Androff emphasizes a rights-based approach which is consistent with social work’s person-centered practice.  His knowledge on the subject and life-long experience in promoting the wellbeing of this population is clear and an example to be replicated.