Return: voluntary, safe, dignified and durable?

FMR 62

Voluntary return in safety and with dignity has long been a core tenet of the international refugee regime. In the 23 articles on ‘Return’ in this issue of FMR, authors explore various obstacles to achieving sustainable return, discuss the need to guard against premature or forced return, and debate the assumptions and perceptions that influence policy and practice. This issue also includes a mini-feature on ‘Towards understanding and addressing the root causes of displacement’.

Daniel P Sullivan

The common barriers to return in the cases of Rohingya refugees and South Sudanese IDPs prompt serious questions about how to ensure the safety and voluntariness of returns.

Catherine Huser, Andrew Cunningham, Christine Kamau and Mary Obara

Gaining insight into the experiences and perceptions of refugees can help ensure programming is better able to support refugees’ durable return and reintegration.

Chloe Sydney

There are multiple factors influencing refugees’ decisions to return to their country of origin, not all of which reflect conventional wisdom.

Amaya Valcárcel Silvela

For Tamil refugees, considerations of sustainability affect their decision to remain in India or return to Sri Lanka. Their views and aspirations must inform planning for both integration and repatriation. 

Ahmad Al Ajlan

Syrian refugees in Europe are not one homogenous group but are individuals and families from different parts of Syria who have different experiences in exile and different expectations around return.

Georgia Cole

Better understanding of the perceptions and living conditions of the communities into which returnees will arrive may facilitate better integration of those returning from displacement.

Jeff Crisp

The laws and norms established by the international community to ensure that organised repatriation takes place in a way that protects the rights of refugees are increasingly being violated.

Stefanie Barratt, Marion Guillaume and Josiah Kaplan

Durable solutions frameworks for measuring progress towards sustainable return and reintegration fail to specifically consider children’s different needs and experiences.

Tamirace Fakhoury and Derya Ozkul

Analysis of return practices in Lebanon reveal challenges to voluntary, safe and dignified return.

Zeynep Sahin Mencutek

Turkey’s approach to encouraging refugees to return to Syria risks jeopardising the safety and voluntariness of such returns.

Julia Morris

Return preparedness of Syrian refugees has become a prominent issue in Jordan, but the prospect of return raises numerous concerns.

Peter Kirui and Suzanne Francis

Amid uncertain return conditions, the repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya risks leading to instances of forced return. Alternative avenues, such as local integration, should be explored.

Ochan Leomoi, Abdikadir Abikar and HaEun Kim

Finding a ‘durable’ solution for Somali refugees in Dadaab means ensuring they have the knowledge, capacity, confidence and qualifications required for meaningful, lasting return.

Yuka Hasegawa

Despite recent political developments in Myanmar and difficult conditions in Thailand, there has been widespread and deep-seated reluctance among refugees to participate in the official facilitated return mechanism.

Hamsa Vijayaraghavan and Pallavi Saxena

There are many lessons to be learned from UNHCR’s controversial – and ultimately reversed – decision to end refugee status for Burmese Chins in India and Malaysia.

Kerrie Holloway

The Rohingya in Bangladesh and Syrians in Lebanon have different expectations of what repatriation ‘with dignity’ would entail.

Djordje Stefanovic and Neophytos Loizides

Studying cases of successful minority return may help determine what policies could help other potential returnees.

Martin Clutterbuck, Laura Cunial, Paola Barsanti and Tina Gewis

Preparation in terms of legal rights is crucial for Syrian refugees who are planning to return.

Ahmad Araman and Shaza Loutfi

Syrian refugees who have evaded military service face barriers to return which call into question the viability and sustainability of other refugee returns.

Diala Lteif

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Taif agreement that formally ended the Lebanese Civil War of 1975–1990. Three decades later, some communities remain internally displaced because of the actions of the State.

Zurab Elzarov

IDPs in Darfur continue to face difficulties in securing a durable solution to their displacement. Recent developments may offer new hope for some, but complex challenges remain.

Barbra N Lukunka and Peter de Clercq

Refugees and IDPs require national and international actors to make concerted efforts to ensure that they are successfully reintegrated into the economic, social and political landscapes of their countries of origin.

Babette Schots and Garth Smith

Humanitarian agencies must be extremely cautious about how they support returns and relocations to ensure that they avoid causing harm or allowing humanitarian assistance to be instrumentalised by political actors.

General Articles
Volker Türk

Preventing displacement by addressing its root causes requires a holistic approach and engagement by a wide range of actors. The starting point must be a better understanding of root causes and their complexity.

Alex Shoebridge

Building sustainable peace requires both a greater awareness of the dynamics of localised conflict and a willingness on the part of external actors to cede control to local actors.

Oumar Sylla, Ombretta Tempra, Filiep Decorte, Clarissa Augustinus and Ismael Frioud

Thousands of displaced Yazidis in Iraq have been assisted in making a safe, sustainable return through a project that addressed the complexity of issues around land tenure.

Wale Osofisan and Shuna Keen

There is growing recognition of the need to address the root causes of displacement through the perspective of the humanitarian-development-peace ‘triple nexus’. A locally led programme in DRC and Somalia reflects this approach and offers useful lessons and recommendations.

Vickie Knox

Significant displacement is caused in Central America by gang violence, gender-based violence and hate crimes against LGBT+ people but State responses have failed to address their root causes.

Francesca P Albanese and Damian Lilly

Acknowledging the root causes of Palestinian displacement and objectively applying international law will be key to any solution to the Palestinian refugee question. Recent attempts to dismiss the Palestinian refugee issue altogether make this all the more imperative.

Pablo Cortés Ferrández

Collaborative approaches to building capacities of urban IDPs and host communities are emerging as a more effective way of confronting the root causes of protracted and secondary displacement in informal settlements in Colombia.


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