Some two-thirds of displaced people in the world today are not in classic emergency situations but are trapped in protracted displacement – situations characterised by long periods of exile and separation from home. When people remain displaced for a long period, their needs may no longer be urgent but can be just as acute. As the years pass the challenges to be faced change as people grow up or grow old, living in a state of extended yet temporary limbo away from home. For them, as for those assisting or hosting them, there is also an inevitable tension between planning sensibly for the long term and yet not creating a long-term situation that precludes their return home.
As we are reminded by several of the contributors to this issue, neither the definition of a ‘protracted displacement situation’ nor the range of usual ‘solutions’ should constrain our attempts to resolve the causes of displacement, sometimes decades earlier, or to find ways for the people involved to cease being displaced and instead to be able to lead fulfilling, sustainable lives.
Many people in protracted displacement situations live in urban areas; however, the next issue of FMR will focus on urban displacement and therefore this aspect is not covered extensively in this issue. Similarly, some long-term refugees such as the Burmese and Palestinians are only lightly touched on, as we have previously devoted full issues to their particular situations (see http://www.fmreview.org/mags1.htm).
We are grateful to Susanne Schmeidl, Gil Loescher and James Milner for their support and advice on this issue. We would also like to thank those agencies who have generously provided funding for this particular issue: the Canadian International Development Agency, the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Africa.
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Finally, we would like to thank our colleague Musab Hayatli for his years as Assistant Editor of the Arabic edition (NHQ). He is leaving Oxford but will continue workingwith us on NHQ from afar, in a freelance capacity. We wish him well.
With best wishes.
Marion Couldrey and Maurice Herson
- FMR 34 (due out February 2010) will focus on urban displacement. The call for articles is at http://www.fmreview.org/urban-displacement/.
- FMR 35 (June 2010) will focus on disability and displacement. Submission deadline is 31st January 2010. See http://www.fmreview.org/forthcoming.htm for details.
FMR 36 (October 2010) will focus on The Great Lakes/Democratic Republic of Congo.