Protracted Refugee Situations

In brief. . .

  • Protracted Refugee Situations (PRS) refer more than 30 situations in which 7.2 refugees have lived in exile for 5 years or more.

  • There is no durable solution in sight regarding UNHCR's traditional solutions of integration, return, or re-settlment.

  • Two-thirds of the world's refugees are warehoused in limbo with no substantial change likely. 

  • The average time in protracted displacement is approaching 20 years. 
  • Chronic regional insecurity and lack of political will creates and maintains these situations.
  • Aside from extreme vulnerability, the occupational implications for individuals, families, and society are devestating.

Protracted Refugee Situations Map

Interactive infographic from US Deparment of State website here

Significance of occuaptional opportunities. . .

The WFOT Position Paper on Human Displacement (2012) acknowledges two important things especially relevant for engaging protracted refugee situations (PRS). Firstly, that whilst displaced people are legally in limbo, but they are not occupationally passive. They strive and occupational adaptation is indeed relentless. Secondly, that reciprocity ensures insight and contributions are indeed given and recieved in respectful relationship with those experiencing PRS. 

Occupational therapy (OT) has a focus on creating and enabling participation in daily life and community which helps communities, but also the rest of the world see affected people, as people.

Not just extremely vulnerable people on TV with experiences we can't relate too, but as people with occuptional needs and rights the same as our own. OT engagement can make a significant contribution towards conflict transformation and the political will necessary to resolve protracted refugee situations. 

"It is difficult to see a proud grandmother, a student with dreams of becoming a doctor, a hardworking farmer. It is extremely difficult to see the hopes, dreams, strengths and resources that those displaced by conflict and drought actually carry with them. This is especially problematic because assistance cannot be just an emergency response. Emergencies lose their urgency after a limited period of time and emergency responses cannot be never-ending. Longer-term assistance to refugees from chronic conflicts and crises as in the case of Somalia, needs to build on the resources, strengths, dreams and hopes of refugees themselves." ~ C. Horst's 2011 article here

LInda Learning from Colleagues in 2010     Syrian Refugee Kids at School

Occupational therapists have much to learn from colleagues

(above L, photo credit thanks to member Linda Rylands)

Kids debunk myth of occupational passivity even whilst Syrian refugees are in political limbo

(above R, creative commons photo credit to Freedom House)

Learn more. . .

Forced Migration Online is a treasure trove here

The Oxford University has a Protracted Refugee Situation (PRS) Project here

Rights Displaced: The Effects of Long-Term Encampment on the Human Rights of Refugees (2012) here

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