With camps limiting many refugees, the UNHCR’s policy change is welcome
Posted on 2 October 2014 by Lucy Hovil
It is rare to witness a paradigm shift in refugee protection. But such a shift has just happened with the release of the new policy from the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) on alternatives to refugee camps.
For refugees and their advocates, who have been shouting for years about the perils associated with camps, the policy is almost too good to be true. As it states: “From the perspective of refugees, alternatives to camps means being able to exercise rights and freedoms, make meaningful choices regarding their lives and have the possibility to live with greater dignity, independence and normality as members of communities.”
It makes perfect sense. But why has it taken so long?
For decades, the default response to refugee crises has been to set up camps or settlements and coerce refugees into them. Camps, it was argued, were best suited to meet the social, economic and political realities in which refugees are living.
Yet a significant body of research has demonstrated the exact opposite, pointing to the fact that those refugees who have opted out of the camp system – even when that means forgoing any humanitarian assistance – have established an effective alternative approach to exile.
IRRI Rights in Exile Newsletter
a monthly forum for news and discussion on refugee legal aid
Issue 52, October 2014
IN THIS ISSUE:
CASE NOTES & SHORT PIECES:
Somali Association of South Africa & 5 Others v. Limpopo Department of Economic Development, the Environment and Tourism and 9 Others
A letter from Pierre-Célestin Mbodina Iribi, one of three Congolese witnesses to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the eve of their deportation
And much more...
Read the full newsletter.
Stop the Bombardment of Innocent Civilians in Darfur, Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (Elie Wiesel)
(8 September 2014) Expressing our alarm and concern with the ongoing bombardment, loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties and livelihood in Darfur, and Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where the government of Sudan has dropped over 3,000 bombs since April 2012,
Offering our deepest sympathies to those who lost their lives, those displaced and the millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance, Remembering that the Sudanese government has a history of genocide in the Darfur region,
We concerned Sudanese and international civil society organizations working for Sudan, hereby issue the following statement:
The Government of Sudan is continuously committing major atrocities in avoidable wars in Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. These conflicts have now affected over six million people.
Read the full letter.
IRRI Submits Evidence on UK and International Engagement with South Sudan
On 3 July 2014 IRRI submitted a statement to the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan in response to a call for written evidence into “UK and International Engagement with South Sudan 2011-2014”. While mindful of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan that unequivocally deserves the attention of the international community, our intervention urges the UK government to ensure that it maintains its focus on the crucial demands of state-building in the world's newest state.
As the statement argues, if there is only an emergency response to the current situation without sufficient attention being paid to longer-term reconstruction, cycles of violence and displacement will remain unbroken and humanitarian assistance will be palliative.
Read the full submission here.