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. Security concerns - such as arms trafficking, forced recruitment and drug smuggling - can and do occur in some of the camps and urban areas hosting long-term displaced populations, while camps have been attacked by armed groups seeking resources and recruits to continue their activities.
The prolongation of refugee crises may not only cause such direct security concerns but also have indirect security implications. Tensions between refugees and the local population can arise as social services, such as health and education, may be provided in refugee camps but not available in surrounding villages. As donor support for camp-based refugee populations decreases over time, however, competition between refugees and the host population over scarce resources can become a source of insecurity. Reductions in assistance in the camps may also lead some refugees to pursue coping strategies such as banditry, prostitution and petty theft. These activities create additional security concerns for local officials and other refugees. For example, levels of sexual and physical violence are frequently concerns for both camp-based and urban refugee populations.
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.
Credit: James Milner
- African Union (2006) 'Draft Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development'.
- Center for Systemic Peace (2010) 'State Fragility Index and Matrix 2009'.
- Betts, A. and Kaytaz, E. (2009) 'National and International Responses to the Zimbabwean Exodus: Implications for the Refugee Protection Regime', New Issues in Refugee Research No.175, UNHCR.
- Crisis Index for Foreign Policy, 'Fragile States Index'.
- DFID (2005) 'Why we need to work more effectively in fragile states'.
- Duffield, M., Diagne, K. and Tennant, V. (2008) 'Evaluation of UNHCR's Returnee Reintegration Programme in Southern Sudan', Evaluation report, UNHCR.
- Bermudez Torres, A. (2005) 'Armed Conflict, Peace Processes and Forced Migrants, FMO Research Guide.
- Bradley, M. (2006) 'Reparations, Reconciliation and Forced Migration', FMO Research Guide.
- FMO Resource Summary: Fragile States.
- FMO Resource Summary: Small Arms.
- Lewis, T. (2009) 'Sudanese Refugee Youth ‘Gangs’ in Cairo', Forced Migration Review No. 33.
- Loescher, G. and Milner, J. (2004) 'Protracted refugee situations and regional and host state security.
- Menocal, A. (2009) 'State-building for Peace: Navigating an Arena of Contradictions', ODI.
- Muggah, R. (2002), 'Small Arms and Forced Migration' FMO Research Guide.
- OECD (March 2009) 'Ensuring Fragile States are not Left Behind'.
- Sharpe, T. and Cordova, S. (2009) 'Peacebuilding in Displacement', Forced Migration Review No. 33.
- Stewart, F. and Brown, G. (2009) 'Fragile States', CRISE Working Paper, No.51.
- Thailand Burma Border Consortium (2009) 'Protracted Displacement and Militarization in Eastern Burma'.
- USAID (2005) 'Fragile States Strategy'.
- World Bank Institute (2009) 'Development Outreach: Fragility and Conflict'.
- Betts, A. (2006) 'The Politics, Human Rights and Security Implications of Protracted Refugee Situations', Journal of Refugee Studies, 19, no. 4, pp. 509-514, (Oxford University Press).
- Loescher, G et al (eds.) (2008) 'Protracted Refugee Situations: Political, Human Rights and Security Implications' (Tokyo ; New York : United Nations University Press).
- Loescher, G. and Milner, J. (2007) 'Protracted refugee situations and peacebuilding', Adelphi papers No. 375 (Abingdon : Routledge for the International Institute of Strategic Studies).
- Loescher, G. and Milner, J. (2005) 'Protracted Refugee Situations: Domestic and International Security Implications'.
- Loescher, G., Milner, J., Newman, E. and Troeller, G. (2007) 'Protracted Refugee Situations and the Regional Dynamics of Peacebuilding', Conflict, Security &; Development, 7, No. 3, pp. 491-501 (Taylor & Francis).
- Milner, J. (2009) 'Refugees and the Regional Dynamics of Peacebuilding', Refugee Survey Quarterly, 28, No. 1, pp. 13-30, (Oxford University Press).
- Milner, J. (2011) 'Refugees, Peacebuilding, and the Regional Dynamics of Conflict' in Betts, A. and Loescher, G. (eds.), Refugees in International Relations, (Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press).