Refugees, displaced people and international migrants changing the face of development

Refugees, displaced people and international migrants changing the face of development

How are issues of refugees, poverty and real development interlinked?

This presentation pursues two areas of reflection concerning the limitations of development strategies, both of which result from observations of armed conflicts: one is what happens to refugees, displaced persons and the diaspora (including, international migrants) and the other is what happens to the nation-state as it attempts to reconstruct and reconcile to prevent further conflict. In both areas of reflection, any form of conventional development models or strategies appear questionable and may even worsen the situation. This paper uses examples from the objective conditions prevailing in the Great Lakes region. It also uses examples from the Sudanese conflict which borders Uganda in the North and has been the source of continued instability and fear, creating the largest numbers of refugees in Uganda at this time.

Conclusions Few development models or strategies address the new situation of increased refugees and displaced persons faced by many regions of the developing world where nation-states are engaged in continuous conflict and war. While the nation-states weaken and regions grow increasingly unstable from poverty and war, there are some issues for debate:

  • nation-states must be viewed in their regional contexts and seen as in continual transition; resolutions to violent conflicts must involve refugees and displaced persons as a central part of an on-going negotiation process
  • a regional approach to development should be complementary to assistance to nation-states in order to strengthened regional co-operation and avert continued regional instability
  • relevant institutions should find a way to develop universally recognised resident status in order that rights and entitlements of refugees and/or displaced persons can be assured
  • we must recognise that development is about politics and people, not technical 'fix-it' solutions; emergency aid packages can often hinder rather than help conflict situations
  • in acknowledging that the task at hand involves political choices for people-centred development, we must address whom development is for, to accomplish what ends and that it requires constant reassessment in different contexts

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