Protracted refugee crises: Providing support to the interminably displaced

The Economist ran a fantastic article last month called “Flight to Nowhere,” detailing several developing challenges in modern refugee crises worldwide. Have a read at the link below:

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21572753-refugees-plight-worsening-their-numbers-grow-and-their-nature-changes-flight

Among other challenges, the article poignantly calls attention to the increasingly protracted nature of modern refugee crises. Each year another handful of conflicts — in Syria, northern Mali, and Myanmar’s Rakhine State, to name a few recently — grabs international headlines, but the people displaced by these conflicts are often impacted for years, even decades. Indeed, The Economist notes that over three-quarters of refugees registered with UNHCR have been displaced for five years or more.

Refugees and other displaced persons are profoundly affected by long-term displacement. Even those fortunate enough to find safe and stable host communities nevertheless often lack access to even the most basic public support necessary to start anew. And thus refugees can find themselves stranded in a foreign environment without any language skills, job training, or access to healthcare — and with little hope of returning home.

The international community can help provide support where governments fail or refuse. Refugees International Japan (RIJ), for its part, funds many projects that look beyond immediate humanitarian aid (although such projects are vastly important in their own right) and toward providing literacy classes, job training, employment opportunities, and more. Our focus with such projects is sustainability: developing systems and infrastructure within displaced communities so that people can rebuild their lives now, without having to wait years or decades before the conflict ends.

In addition to the The Economist article above, take a look at RIJ’s 2012 Project Reports page for more insight into the needs of persons displaced by protracted conflicts:

http://refugeesinternationaljapan.org/project_report_2012.

Adam Becker

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