By the middle of 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had identified 25.4 million refugees, 10 million stateless people, and 68.5 million forcibly displaced people globally (UNHCR, 2018a). These numbers represent the highest level of human displacement in modern refugee history (UNHCR, 2018a). According to UNHCR statistics, a staggering eighty-five percent of refugees are hosted by developing countries (UNHCR, 2018a). These numbers are unprecedented and astounding, but why do they matter and what types of problems do they present?
The growth of the refugee population is an increasing concern for origin states, host states, international aid organizations, and, most importantly, refugees themselves. Often perceiving refugees as security threats and drains on their economic systems, host states seek to marginalize the influence of these displaced and at times unwelcome foreigners on their communities. These responses to refugees have a disempowering effect on refugees and can prevent countries and the communities within them from benefiting from refugees as a resource. Though international law provides a guide for the norms countries should follow to address refugee integration, in practice countries respond differently. In the wake of the current global refugee crisis, the importance of this issue cannot be overstated. With millions of lives at stake and refugee spillover effects globally impacting nearly every country in the world, it is critical to analyze the types of policies governments are implementing to address refugee integration issues. These policies have real impacts on refugees. Entire groups of people are fleeing their homelands in search of safety and better opportunities; yet, upon reaching their host countries, they often face policies that seek to further marginalize them. When placing limitations on refugee integration and capacity to contribute out of security or seemingly humanitarian concerns, host countries fail to realize the negative impacts such policies can have on their societies and economies. Furthermore, such policies prevent refugees from taking charge of their own lives, and, as such, inhibit individual fulfillment of potential.
SOURCE: Rachel Santon. “How Do Policy Differences Impact the Capacity of Refugees to Make Economic Contributions?” ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2019.
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