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Protracted Refugee Situations are those defined as ‘without immediate prospects for implementation of durable solutions’ (UNHCR 2009). The very protracted nature of such refugee crises is therefore directly connected to the fact that – because of political obstacles – there are ‘No Solutions in Sight’ (Crisp 2003). 

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. Work has looked at the challenges and controversies surrounding repatriation to still fragile settings, and the connections between return, reintegration and broader peace-building processes. 

Additional projects have looked at the obstacles preventing formal local integration in host communities, as well as the extent to which de facto integration takes place despite official hostility. Some actors have encouraged the “strategic use” of third-country resettlement in the hope this may help to open up opportunities for broader solutions.

Other researchers have argued that, given the growing numbers trapped in PRS, this is 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. Yet it is clear that sustainable solutions to PRS depend on continued defence and protection of refugees’ right to high-quality asylum.

Credit: Katy Long 

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