State fragility poses a challenge to the refugee regime. Rather than just placing the emphasis on the need to protect people fleeing the acts of states against their own populations, it also demands the protection of people fleeing the omissions of states, whether due to states’ unwillingness or to their inability to provide for their citizens’ fundamental rights.
Donors have allocated increasing resources in fragile states to the reform and/or rebuilding of the architecture of the state – such as justice systems, the police and army, and the management of ministries – in efforts to support stability. This has been important for all sectors of society, including displaced people.
A better understanding of state fragility – combined with improvements in policy and funding for displaced populations – is necessary to prevent the proliferation of further regional conflicts.
Interventions aiming to assist IDPs and refugees returning home in fragile states would do well to take note of the local political and economic contexts in the aftermath of war, because these deeply affect the reintegration of war-affected populations.
Burundi’s peace villages, which are intended both as models for reintegration and as centres of economic development, have encountered a number of problems which are related to the country’s continued fragility as a state.
Current practice in African states highlights both the potential and the limitations of the 1969 African Refugee Convention in providing protection to persons displaced from fragile states.
There has been a worrying tendency for the international community to ignore questions of state capacity when enacting repatriations. Governance and the rule of law should be vital considerations in attempts to deal with forced migration in fragile states such as DRC.
For the vast majority of those affected by conflict, displacement is often seen as the only option in an attempt to find safety. The provision of some basic assistance in places to which people flee makes this process slightly easier but in the absence of state-led protection, multiple displacement has become a defining feature of the Kivu conflict. This has implications for both the humanitarian and the development response.
While the international donor community has been trying to engage with DRC by partnering with the government to implement the New Deal for Aid Effectiveness for Fragile States, communities in DRC, especially those displaced in war-affected areas, continue to have to look out for themselves.
The cessation of refugee status results from a judgment that a sufficient change has occurred in the refugees’ country of origin that they no longer require international protection. For individual refugees this may leave them in a precarious situation. For states hoping to dispel an image of being economically, politically or socially ‘fragile’, this judgment is clearly very helpful.
To date, displaced persons in fragile and conflict-affected states have had little success in claiming their rights for housing, land and property violations. Creative legal thinking and strategic litigation has the potential to change this.
The fragile nature of the state had turned emigration into a major feature of Haitian life even before the earthquake displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Those who left Haiti in the chaotic aftermath of the 2010 earthquake did not generally find the same posture of solidarity and humanitarianism overseas that was apparent in the significant international assistance that followed the disaster.
Often a combination of factors pushes people to leave their country, and the voluntary character of their departure remains debatable, challenging humanitarians both to meet needs and to adapt to changing categories of forced displacement.
The existence of a large number of refugees or internally displaced persons in a country is considered a primary indicator of instability. By this measure, and all others, Yemen is one of the world’s most fragile states. Less well understood is how this context affects the vulnerability of refugees, IDPs and migrants themselves and what can be done to strengthen protection for them.
Private entrepreneurship and the diaspora play important roles in supporting displaced people in fragile ungoverned situations. They are also valuable in helping those situations emerge from fragility.
In order to improve security for both Colombian forced migrants and Ecuadorians in the communities where they live, an approach that takes advantage of governance networks can allow residents to negotiate access to resources and rights that they otherwise would not be able to enjoy. It can also improve relations between the two groups.
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are among the world’s most fragile nations, yet they are largely ignored by refugee agencies who underestimate transnational criminal organisations’ abuses and powers of control, while overestimating national governments’ ability and willingness to protect their citizens.
Displacement and distress migration within and outside North Korea may be an indicator of state fragility but a reduction in numbers should not necessarily be read as a sign of improving conditions there. In fact, increased movements might be considered as positive, if they are accompanied by increased protection for refugees, survivors of trafficking, stateless children and other vulnerable populations.
The humanitarian, developmental and political consequences of decades of mass forced migration are part of the legacy that the current political leaders of Iraq need to address. For this they need the right institutions if they are to be successful in guiding their country towards a more peaceful and stable future.
The post-Saddam Iraqi state enjoys only limited support from the population, excludes significant sections of its people from power, suppresses the opposition and does not protect citizens from arbitrary arrests, and corruption is rampant. There is a direct relationship between these failures and displacement in Iraq.
A fragile state is not an ideal environment for any professional to work within – psychiatric, medical or otherwise. Psychiatrists working to assess psychological distress and mental health in fragile states, or with refugees from fragile states, need to adopt flexible approaches.
The development approach to displacement brings advantages not only in addressing the needs of refugees, IDPs and host communities but also in helping societies tackle the underlying aspects of fragility that may have caused the displacement.
Lebanon has absorbed the enormous Syrian influx but at a high cost to both refugees and Lebanese populations. Current humanitarian programmes can no longer cope and new approaches are needed.
Refugees’ involvement in artistic activity – music, theatre, poetry, painting, etc – often plays a powerful positive role in their ability to survive physically and even emotionally and spiritually.
Trails of Tears have arisen to draw attention and give legitimacy to multiple movements for fairness and justice, hoping to create a community of support strong enough to rectify a past injustice or prevent a future one.
Over the past decade, UK courts and administrative tribunals have become increasingly comfortable relying on international human rights treaties in cases where non-citizens claim asylum or other means of protection from persecution. However, this trend does not mean that these treaties have always been deployed by refugee lawyers in ways which benefit their clients.
At all phases of the displacement cycle – flight, displacement and return – older people are exposed to specific challenges and risks which are not sufficiently taken into account.
Despite the significant displacement that Jordanian Bedouin families have undergone in recent generations, Bedouin women are able to mitigate some of the consequences of that displacement through the opportunities and influence they have gained as Nabati poets.
The Haiti experience challenged the international humanitarian community both to take advantage of the possibilities of increasingly available and common communications technologies and networks, and to ensure that it has access to the technological infrastructure enabling it to do so.
Sexual and gender-based violence prevention campaigns that incorporate culturally sensitive understanding will stand a better chance of breaking down barriers to accessing services.