TRAFIG Practice Note No. 2

Addressing protracted displacement. Lessons from the past

Addressing protracted displacement has been a major concern since the beginning of an international refugee protection regime in the 1920s. The search for solutions has been a central theme ever since.
In a historical perspective, efforts to resolve protracted displacement have been diverse, being devised in response to both domestic and international constraints and opportunities.The term “durable solutions” is of more recent origin. It came to be used more frequently from the late 1990s onwards, in conjunction with the notion of “protracted displacement”, a term coined by the UNHCR to denote situations “in which refugees find themselves in a long-lasting and intractable state of limbo”.

No. of documents found at REFWORLD related to durable solutions and protracted displacement, 1970–2016 © Albert Kraler

The TRAFIG Practice Note No. 2 highlights four main points:

  • Employment and political considerations have been central for resettlement in the past.
  • Imposing solutions top-down has never been particularly successful.
  • Camps and other place-based solutions limit rather than open up opportunities.
  • Mobility and connectivity can be a resource for displaced persons.

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Selected historical instances of large-scale resettlement (in thousands) © Albert Kraler

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Learning from the past.

Protracted displacement in the post-World War II period.

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