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Sustainable return in post-conflict contexts
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 17:10 authored by Richard Black, Saskia Gent
Post-conflict return is a highly politically charged process in a number of contexts, both for returnees and those who did not migrate or flee, leading many observers to question the notion of an unproblematic return “home”. Specifically, doubts remain both about the conditions and voluntariness of return, the ability of individual returnees to reintegrate in their home countries and regions, and the wider sustainability of the return process. This paper seeks to provide an overview of recent policy interest in returns, before setting out a tentative definition of what might be considered a “sustainable” return. It is argued that it is possible to draw a distinction between narrow indicators of the “sustainability” of return, such as whether returnees subsequently reemigrate, and wider definitions, which see “sustainability” as involving both the reintegration of individual returnees in their home societies, and the wider impact of return on macroeconomic and political indicators. Based on either definition, the development of robust indicators of the sustainability of return could assist in monitoring the impact of return programmes, providing valuable insight on return policies. The broader definition suggested also draws attention to the idea that continued mobility after an initial return - including circulation and the development of a “transnational” lifestyle - may be more “sustainable” than a single and definitive return to the refugee's place of origin.
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