As a geographer, I certainly have my problems with “push-pull” models of migration. Simply put, people move for many reasons; these motivations are difficult to describe, capture, or categorize, even for the individuals who are migrating. Real trouble starts when overly simplistic models are used to inform state or UN policy on migration. Physical violence and the economics of violence are more difficult to tease apart than most formal definitions of “the refugee” tend to assume.
In his article for the Political Violence at a Glance blog, Justin Schon proposes a more nuanced framework for understanding how movement and violence intersect, based on years of first-hand research with Syrians across the Middle East.