Beyond Care and Maintenance: Rebuilding Hope and Opportunity for Refugees (Transatlantic Council Statement)
For many of the 65 million individuals who were displaced around the world as of 2015, 21 million of whom are refugees, the three principal pathways to a long-term resolution—repatriation, resettlement, or local permanent integration—are stretched thin or blocked entirely. Yet with few exceptions, refugees and asylum seekers in first-asylum countries receive only the most basic forms of assistance and have no realistic hope of returning to something resembling a normal life, leaving them in limbo. Opportunities for formal permanent settlement and consequent integration in low- to middle-income countries of first asylum are typically limited by a dearth of capacity, namely the political, social, and capital resources to absorb large numbers of newcomers.
The fifteenth meeting of MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration took up the question: What actions are needed to move beyond the current “care and maintenance” model and provide refugees with the opportunity to lead a decent life and contribute to their local economies and communities, wherever they are? This Council Statement, which distills some of the discussions of the Council and research reports that informed the Council meeting, outlines the priorities for action in order to gradually move the international community away from a choice between resettlement for a tiny proportion of refugees and basic protection from physical harm for the rest.
The top priorities for action:
- Expand the availability and reliability of assistance to first-asylum countries.
- Provide opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant as early as possible.
- Invest in improving the host-country economic and policy environment, as well as in supporting refugees themselves.
I. Introduction: The Limitations of the Modern Refugee Regime
II. A New Approach to Durable Solutions
A. Donor Countries Fail to View Addressing Refugee Situations Abroad as a Strategic Priority
B. No Universal Mechanism Exists to Mobilize a Joint Response
C. Assistance Is Insufficiently Linked to the Search for Solutions
III. Turning Inclusive Solutions into Reality: A Roadmap
A, Provide a Reliable, and Sufficient, Pool of Assistance for Countries of First Asylum
B. Design Responses in a Manner That Promotes Refugee Inclusion and Self-Reliance as Early as Possible
C. Identify Investments that Can Make the Economic and Political Environment in Asylum Countries More Favorable to Refugee Inclusion
IV. Conclusions and Recommendations