E.g., 12/02/2016
E.g., 12/02/2016

From Dependence to Self-Reliance: Changing the Paradigm in Protracted Refugee Situations

Policy Briefs
May 2015

From Dependence to Self-Reliance: Changing the Paradigm in Protracted Refugee Situations

More than 51 million persons are displaced because of violence and conflict in the world today, and the majority of these—both refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)—are in protracted situations, with little chance that their displacement will end anytime soon. While emergencies may attract a significant amount of funding in assistance to the displaced, long-standing situations are perceived to have neither the urgency nor likelihood of resolution that draw heightened donor interest. At the same time, as United Nations guidance goes, humanitarian relief following a cataclysmic event should give way, in fairly short order, to development and reconstruction, yet this is often not the case in large-term displacement situations.

This policy brief by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees T. Alexander Aleinikoff argues for long-term development solutions and a new narrative in addressing protracted displacement, one that emphasizes refugees' potential to contribute to host and origin communities through their own human capital, transnational connections, and dedicated international assistance. 

While the development potential of granting refugees the right to work in their host country has been demonstrated, many host governments are still reluctant to do so, and taking such solutions to scale will require the buy-in of both donor and host governments as well as development agencies.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

Beyond “Care and Maintenance”

II. Programmatic Interventions

A. Refugees’ Rights to Work, to Self-Employment, and to Pursue Professions

B. A Better Approach to Livelihoods

III. Instrumentalities

A. Development Actors

B. The Diaspora

C. Private Investors

IV. Conclusions