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The End of the Refugee Cycle?

The End of the Refugee Cycle?: Refugee Repatriation and Reconstruction

Richard Black
Khalid Koser
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The End of the Refugee Cycle?
    Book Description:

    At the start of the 1990s, there was great optimism that the end of the Cold War might also mean the end of the "refugee cycle" - both a breaking of the cycle of violence, persecution and flight, and the completion of the cycle for those able to return to their homes. The 1990s, it was hoped, would become the "decade of repatriation." However, although over nine million refugees were repatriated worldwide between 1991 and 1995, there are reasons to believe that it will not necessarily be a durable solution for refugees. It certainly has become clear that "the end of the refugee cycle" has been much more complex, and ultimately more elusive, than expected. The changing constructions and realities of refugee repatriation provide the backdrop for this book which presents new empirical research on examples of refugee repatriation and reconstruction. Apart from providing up-to-date material, it also fills a more fundamental gap in the literature which has tended to be based on pedagogical reasoning rather than actual field research. Adopting a global perspective, this volume draws together conclusions from highly varied experiences of refugee repatriation and defines repatriation and reconstruction as part of a wider and interrelated refugee cycle of displacement, exile and return. The contributions come from authors with a wealth of relevant practical and academic experience, spanning the continents of Africa, Asia, Central America, and Europe.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-718-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-vii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  7. Part One Refugee Repatriation and Reconstruction

    • 1 The End of the Refugee Cycle?
      (pp. 2-17)
      Khalid Koser and Richard Black

      At the beginning of the 1990s there was great optimism that the end of the Cold War might also result in the end of the global ‘refugee cycle’. Cold War analyses of refugee displacements often highlighted the ‘escape’ from communism as the principal motive for refugee movements in the North. They tended to explain refugee-generating conflicts in the South in terms of wars conducted by proxy by the two superpowers (Suhrke and Zolberg 1989). In reality, though, the global refugee population increased substantially immediately after the end of the Cold War, from about 14.9 million in 1990 to 17.2 million...

    • 2 Researching Repatriation And Reconstruction: Who Is Researching What And Why?
      (pp. 18-36)
      Rosemary Preston

      In various parts of the world, and throughout the twentieth century, the transition from conflict to peace has led to the repatriation of exiles to their countries of origin (Coles 1985). Over recent decades, increases in the world’s refugee and asylum-seeking populations have led to an increase in the number of people going back to their countries of origin at the end of war and conflict.¹ The visibility of such moves is also growing. The laws of migration are such that every outward movement generates a back flow and there is research which suggests that this might be proportional, varying...

  8. Part Two Mass Repatriation of Refugees

    • 3 Revisiting a ‘Repatriation Success’: The Case of Cambodia
      (pp. 38-55)
      Marita Eastmond and Joakim Öjendal

      Following drawn-out negotiations on the Cambodia Conflict, in October 1991 the Security Council of the United Nations adopted Resolution 718. It was then clear that a massive repatriation operation was about to take place within eighteen months. The peace agreement stated that all ‘refugees and displaced persons’ were to be repatriated in a ‘peaceful and orderly manner’ before the national elections which were to be held in May 1993. UNHCR was to assume the operational responsibility for repatriating some 360,000 refugees, most of them from Thai border camps. The operation was clearly a challenging task. Refugees had lived for up...

    • 4 Repatriation and Reconstruction: The Case of Afghanistan
      (pp. 56-68)
      Peter Marsden

      When Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, they set in motion a major exodus of refugees. By 1983, an estimated three million refugees had fled to Pakistan, increasing to some 3.27 million over the following seven years. A further 2.9 million had taken refuge in Iran by 1991. The refugees in Pakistan were accommodated in camps along the length of the border. They were provided with tents and some household equipment and had free access to food, health centres and schools in the camps. They were also permitted to seek employment within Pakistan, subject to certain restrictions. Most were...

    • 5 Contradictions and Control in Repatriation: Negotiations for the Return of 500,000 Eritrean Refugees
      (pp. 69-84)
      Lucia Ann McSpadden

      During the longest standing armed conflict in Africa – the Eritrean struggle for liberation from Ethiopia – over one-quarter of Eritrea’s population became refugees. The majority, as many as 500,000 people, sought asylum in Sudan, where some have now been for up to thirty years (Kibreab 1996a, Kibreab 1996b). In May 1991, after thirty years of trench warfare, Eritrea achieved liberation from Ethiopia. Although there is acknowledgement of food and humanitarian aid supplied during the war to nongovernment controlled areas through the Sudan-based Cross-Border Operation, there is a clear and pervasive sense within Eritrea that Eritrea had to and did win its...

    • 6 Repatriation from South Africa to Mozambique – Undermining Durable Solutions?
      (pp. 85-108)
      Chris Dolan

      Explanations for the promotion of ‘voluntary repatriation’ as the preferred solution to the refugee cycle in the 1980s and 1990s tend to be sought in the field of international relations. Is it a reactive solution to problems within the international organisations? Harrell-Bond (1989) argues that it may be cheaper than long-term protection in the host countries. Allen and Turton (1996) view it as a ‘pragmatic’ response by the international community to avoid giving serious consideration to the other two ‘durable’ solutions and to reduce the likelihood of manipulation by host governments hungry for international assistance. They also imply that it...

  9. Part Three The Complexity of Repatriation

    • 7 Repatriation from the European Union to Bosnia-Herzegovina: the Role of Information
      (pp. 110-125)
      Martha Walsh, Richard Black and Khalid Koser

      In December 1996, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, announced that requisite conditions had been satisfied to end the ‘temporary protection’ of Bosnian refugees, setting the stage for 1997 to be the year of repatriation from the European Union. According to UNHCR, at the end of 1996 there were 835,000 Bosnian refugees in twenty-five host countries in Europe without a ‘durable solution’, of whom it was projected that around 200,000 would return in 1997 (UN 1996). Half of these returnees were expected to come from Germany alone (UNHCR 1997b). While the vast majority of returns to Bosnia-Herzegovina were...

    • 8 The Point of No Return: The Politics of the Swiss Tamil Repatriation Agreement
      (pp. 126-141)
      Christopher McDowell

      This chapter is about Tamil asylum migration during the years of the Sri Lankan conflict between 1983 and 1995, and attempts by the Swiss authorities to return failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The focus is on the country of asylum, rather than on the country of return and aims to do three things. First, to explain why the Swiss authorities went through the arduous exercise of negotiating a return scheme aimed solely at failed Sri Lankan asylum seekers. Second, to describe the political and social consequences of the return scheme for the Swiss Sri Lankan population. And lastly, to...

    • 9 The ‘Self’ in Self-Repatriation: Closing Down Mugunga Camp, Eastern Zaire
      (pp. 142-170)
      Johan Pottier

      In mid-November 1996, after two years in exile, half a million refugees left eastern Zaire to return to Rwanda. Though sudden in some respects, this mass exodus in reverse followed a series of coordinated manoeuvres involving the strategic deployment of troops and aid. The return was planned and forecast, yet many questions surrounding the ‘liberation’ of the refugees remained, among them the thorny issue of whether the return had been voluntary. In view of the subtle changes that appeared in the international discourse at the time – in which terms like ‘organised repatriation’ and ‘self-repatriation’ came to be used – it is...

    • 10 From ‘Refugee’ to ‘Repatriate’: Russian Repatriation Discourse in the Making
      (pp. 171-196)
      Hilary Pilkington and Moya Flynn

      When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia and the other newly independent states had no legislative or institutional framework for monitoring or managing large migrational flows, still less ‘forced’ migrations and refugee streams. During the Soviet period ‘immigration’ into the USSR had been virtually nonexistent and migration between constituent members of the Union (‘interrepublican migration’) was treated largely as an issue of rational economic planning.¹ In the post-Soviet period, however, Russia has found it necessary to develop rapidly legislative and executive structures to manage a range of population movements. More than one hundred migrational flows have been identified in...

  10. Part Four From Repatriation to Reconstruction?

    • 11 Why Angolan Soldiers Worry about Demobilisation and Reintegration
      (pp. 198-209)
      Art Hansen and David Tavares

      In the immediate postwar period, the vast majority of people migrating, resettling and reconstructing civil society are civilians. Yet demobilising soldiers and reintegrating them into civil society are key steps, and sometimes necessary preconditions, in the processes of demilitarisation and postwar social reconstruction. In Angola, the failure to demobilise after the 1991 Bicesse Accord facilitated the return to war in 1992. Demobilisation in Angola entails merging two armies and then sending around 70,000 soldiers back into civil society. As of November 1997, this process was still far behind the schedule predicted when the Lusaka Protocol was signed. Who are these...

    • 12 Repatriation and Everyday Forms of State Formation in Guatemala
      (pp. 210-226)
      Finn Stepputat

      The return of Guatemalan refugees from Mexico after more than ten years in exile is one of the cases that contributed to the designation of the 1990s as the ‘decade of voluntary repatriation’. This repatriation exercise is an example of the contemporary concerns to promote the process of repatriation and to ‘push’ refugee assistance back across the border in order to prevent the further production of refugees. The lasting aim was to contribute to the formation of a modern, democratic state.

      The process of how repatriation links up with the (re-) formation of states has rarely been examined. The present...

    • 13 Examining the Discourse of Repatriation: Towards a More Proactive Theory of Return Migration
      (pp. 227-244)
      Laura Hammond

      In the study of repatriation, the lion’s share of attention has been placed on examining either the decision to repatriate (particularly identifying the factors that go into electing to return and determining whether such decisions are voluntary), or the actual repatriation movement from the country of exile to the country of origin. While such areas of enquiry are obviously valid, there has been a virtual neglect of the later stages of repatriation, in which returnees attempt to establish themselves socially, economically and politically in their areas of return. Failing critically to consider these later stages can lead to the erroneous...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 245-248)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-270)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 271-275)