The pages in this section provide access to resources on specific themes and policy issues related to Protracted Refugee Situations. Each page provides an overview of online resources as well as other documents on the respective theme as it relates to PRS.
Protracted Refugee Situations can contribute to security concerns for refugee-hosting states, countries of origin, regional actors, the international community, and refugees themselves. The long-term presence of large refugee populations has caused inter-state tensions, resulted in the spill-over of conflict, and led to the militarisation of some refugee camps. The prolongation of refugee crises may not only cause such direct security concerns but also have indirect security implications. Protracted Refugee Situations can also undermine peacebuilding in the country of origin, especially if there are armed or political elements within the refugee population opposed to peace, or if the host state pushes for early and unsustainable repatriation. More generally, however, refugees can make an important contribution to peacebuilding if they benefit from training and skills development while in exile and have opportunities to participate in the peacebuilding process in their country of origin.
The effects of protracted displacement on individuals vary according to factors such as gender, age, class, race, ethnicity, or health. While refugees trapped in Protracted Refugee Situations generally are in need of protection, some groups face exceptional challenges. Particularly women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities stand out as having specific, group-related needs which lead to increased vulnerabilities in Protracted Refugee Situations.
For the hundreds of thousands of refugees worldwide trapped in so-called Protracted Refugee Situations the ability to access decent livelihood opportunities is severely constrained. Legal and policy restrictions in countries of asylum often prevent refugees from accessing formal employment opportunities, credit support, land for agricultural production, and/or restrict their freedom of movement. Despite living in exile for years, even decades, people’s lives are often confined to the boundaries of refugee camps where job opportunities are largely provided by humanitarian aid agencies and where prospects for self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods are inevitably limited.
The practice of keeping refugees in protracted situations of restricted mobility, enforced idleness, and dependency on aid amounts to a denial of basic rights.It is generally acknowledged that, in emergency situations, states may find it difficult, even with the support of others, to ensure to refugees the full exercise of all their human rights. With the passing of time, however, states have fewer and fewer excuses for denying such basic rights as, for example, freedom of movement, access to courts or personal documentation. As for socio-economic rights, such as the right to work and earn a living, both the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the International Bill of Rights establish a principle of progressive realisation, meaning that the effective enjoyment of refugees’ human rights is supposed to improve over time, whereas one observes exactly the opposite in many Protracted Refugee Situations.
Protracted Refugee Situations are those defined as ‘without immediate prospects for implementation of durable solutions’ (UNHCR 2009). As a result, much of the academic and policy research carried out on the subject of PRS has focused on how to broker access to the three traditional durable solutions in PRS, repatriation, local integration in host communities and third-country resettlement. There is however, growing evidence that the classic solutions framework is inadequate to meet the challenges of 21st century displacement. New approaches are needed: there has been a particular focus on how refugee migration and mobility might be incorporated into strategies for solving PRS. Researchers have also begun to question the extent to which the focus on “solving” PRS has actually deflected attention away from the deteriorating quality of asylum in many host states.