Permanent crises? Unlocking the protracted displacement of refugees and internally displaced persons

This policy overview examines the issue of protracted displacement of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and explores potential strategies for addressing this crisis. The paper argues that international actors need to reframe protracted displacement and focus on finding effective solutions. It suggests innovative strategies such as improving the quality of asylum, opening up migration routes, and adopting a more flexible approach to residency and citizenship rights. Based on the evidence assessed, the paper concludes that these strategies can help unlock protracted displacements and better meet the needs of those affected by this crisis.


This paper, titled “Unlocking Protracted Displacement,” explores the challenges and potential solutions to long-term displacement situations. The authors argue that traditional approaches to addressing protracted displacement have failed, and new innovative strategies are needed. They emphasize the importance of understanding the problem from the perspective of the displaced individuals, who face an absence of state protection and a lack of access to basic rights.

The paper examines three case studies: Central American displacement crises in the 1980s and 1990s, Iraqi displacement experiences in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, and Somali displacement dynamics in Kenya and within Somalia itself. The aim of these case studies is to provide insights into the bottom-up perspectives of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and their understanding of protracted displacement.

The authors identify several key findings from the case studies. They highlight the need to recognize the different typologies of protracted displacement, including crises resulting from a breakdown of state authority, authoritarian regimes, and poverty-driven migration. They argue that protracted displacement is closely linked to the declining quality of asylum and the inability of states and international institutions to provide adequate protection. The paper also emphasizes the resilience of displaced populations and their ability to form networks and adapt to their circumstances.

Based on these findings, the authors make several recommendations for addressing protracted displacement. They suggest conducting further research on bottom-up approaches and incorporating refugee and IDP perspectives into policy development. They propose supporting regional citizenship initiatives to create economic, social, and political space for the displaced. They also advocate for a shift in focus from mass physical returns to gradual and sustainable refugee-led repatriation processes. The paper concludes by emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach that combines peace-building, state-building, and development efforts to address the root causes of protracted displacement.


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