Learning from the past–Protracted displacement in the post-World War II period

From a historical perspective, efforts to resolve specific protracted displacement situations have been diverse since World War II and the massive growth of displacement in the Global South from the late 1970s onwards. With a focus on the Horn of Africa, East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, TRAFIG working paper no. 2 analyses past policy responses that address situations of extended exile and examines the potential of translocal mobility and connectivity as a solution to displacement.

In TRAFIG working paper no. 2, eight researchers, working together in the context of the EU-funded project “Transnational Figurations of Displacement” (TRAFIG), examine protracted displacement situations after World War II both in a global and a regional perspective. Doing so, they focus on the four regions East Africa, Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia (with an emphasis on Palestinian and Syrian as well as Afghan refugees) which are covered by the project. First, the paper analyses past policy responses that explicitly or implicitly address situations of extended exile. The paper finds that finding solutions for long-term displacement situations has been a key driver for the evolution of the international refugee protection regime since its beginnings in the 1920s.

Yet, only more recently, these efforts have crystallised around the notions of ‘durable solutions’ and ‘protracted displacement’. In a second step, the authors zoom in on concrete policy responses to protracted displacement in the four regions, while also seeking to understand the role of transnational connectivity among refugees and refugee mobilities in coping with protracted displacement.

The two-pager TRAFIG practice note no. 2 “Addressing protracted displacement–Lessons from the past” complements working paper 2 by summarising its key messages. Here, Albert Kraler, lead author from the Danube University Krems, points out that imposing solutions top-down has never been particularly successful. He also highlights that camps and other place-based solutions limit rather than open up opportunities. Finally, he stresses that—based on the literature on displacement in the 20th century—mobility and connectivity can clearly be seen as a resource for displaced persons.

TRAFIG working paper no. 2 was published in the framework of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 research project “Transnational Figurations of Displacement” (TRAFIG) which investigates long-lasting displacement situations at multiple sites in Asia, Africa and Europe and analyses options to improve displaced people’s lives. To read more about the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project TRAFIG, click here. You will find TRAFIG working paper no. 2 “Learning from the past – Protracted displacement in the post-World War II period” as PDF at: https://trafig.eu/output/working-papers/trafig-working-paper-no-2


TRAFIG practice note no. 2 “Addressing protracted displacement—Lessons from the past” as PDF at: https://trafig.eu/output/practice-notes/trafig-practice-not-no-2

You can download the press release here.

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