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The Journey Home: Flight Related Factors on Refugee Decisions to Return

Chu, TS; Ghosn, F; Simon, M; Braithwaite, A; Frith, M; (2019) The Journey Home: Flight Related Factors on Refugee Decisions to Return. In: Proceedings of the 115th American Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition : APSA 2019. APSA: Washington, DC. Green open access

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Abstract

The international refugee regime promotes voluntary repatriation as the preferred solution to refugee crises. It is commonly held that it is safe for refugees to return once conditions are stable in the country of origin, which typically translates to when the violence between combatants ceases. However, the empirical record suggests that refugee returns are far from uniform in relationship to the presence or absence or level of violence in a conflict setting. In other words, we know remarkably little about the conditions under which refugee returns actually occur. In response to this shortfall in knowledge, we ask: how do refugees form decisions on when and whether they should return despite ongoing violence and instability in their country of origin? We focus upon one crucial part of the picture, in particular: how does prior exposure to violence in the country of origin affect refugees’ subsequent decisions to return? To explore this relationship, we designed an original survey, implemented among 2,000 Syrian refugees hosted in Lebanon to causally identify the effects of prior conflict exposure on refugees’ decisions to return. We find that Syrian refugees are more willing to leave Lebanon and return home when they have prior experience of violence in Syria. We explain this counter-intuitive finding as a reflection of these particular refugees as “experts” who are better able to understand and assess their risk tolerance of violence. In contrast, refugees more removed from violence before fleeing their homes harbor more uncertainty of the threats associated with returning and are unwilling to accept the risk of doing so.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: The Journey Home: Flight Related Factors on Refugee Decisions to Return
Event: 115th American Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition : APSA 2019
Location: Washington, DC
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://connect.apsanet.org/apsa2019/
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086159
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