Durable solutions

Refugee status is meant to be a temporary phase. Most groups working with refugees agree that there are three solutions to the problem of refugeehood:

Voluntary return
Experience working with forced migrants leads JRS to believe that the majority (if not the overwhelming majority) wish to be able to return home in safety and dignity. Safety implies that their return takes place under conditions of legal safety (such as freedom from persecution etc), physical security, and material security (access to means of livelihood). Return in dignity means that refugees can return unconditionally at their own pace, that they are not arbitrarily separated from family members, and that they are treated with respect and full acceptance by their national authorities, including the full restoration of their rights.

Local integration
Local integration as a durable solution combines three dimensions. Firstly, it is a legal process whereby refugees attain a wider range of rights in the host state. Secondly, it is an economic process through which a sustainable livelihood and a standard of living comparable to the host community can be obtained. Thirdly, it is a social and cultural process of adaptation and acceptance that enables refugees to participate in the social, political and cultural life of the host country and live without fear of discrimination. JRS believes that this process should begin as soon as possible to prevent refugees from becoming dependent on aid and thus preventing the realisation of any of the durable solutions.

Third country resettlement
Despite the best efforts of countries of asylum to help people who have fled their homes and country, the trauma and suffering of refugees does not simply disappear. They are rarely able to simply resume everyday activities in a new setting and live and work as they did before. Sometimes the threats that caused refugees to leave their homes in the first place are also present in the country of refuge. There may be a risk that refugees be forced to repatriate before they are willing to, or there may be new sources of danger for individuals with special needs or for parts of the refugee community.

When individual refugees are at risk, or for some reason are unable to return home or integrate into the country of asylum, they may seek resettlement to a third country. Through resettlement, refugees can gain legal protection – residency and often eventually citizenship – from governments who agree, on a case-by-case basis, to open up their communities to new members.