Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Repatriation of refugees, between hope and reality

Written by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, MARSEILLE on Thursday, December 12th 2019 à 15:11 | Read 457 times

With the millions of victims of military and civil conflicts, can Arab Spring Refugees consider a return to their home countries? What are the economic, social and political conditions for considering repatriation? What is the profile of those who has or will go through the adventure of returning home? In a joint report, economists from FEMISE and the Economic Research Forum (ERF) examine the profile of candidate returnees, the economic costs of the conflict and make several scenarios about the political settlements, repatriation and the restructuring of war-torn Arab countries. Version française

Repatriation of refugees, between hope and reality

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Ibrahim Elbadawi, ERF's  Managing Director and FEMISE President. ©N.B.C
Ibrahim Elbadawi, ERF's Managing Director and FEMISE President. ©N.B.C
Never in the history of humanity has such an exodus taken place. 22.5 million Syrians, a quarter of the population has left the country since the beginning of the conflict in 2010. Iraq has also paid a high cost for  the eradication of the Islamic state. Yemen's economy is reduced to nothing. The conflicts in Libya have completely shaken the state structure. These millions of refugees, these diasporas scattered all over the world, will they put a cross forever over the country where they were born or are they planning to return?
In a report titled "Repatriation of Refugees from Arab Conflicts: Conditions, Cost and Scenarios for Reconstruction", FEMISE and the Economic Research Forum (ERF) set political stability and the return of security as a prerequisite before considering resettlement. Repatriation of populations seems difficult to envisage given the persistence of pockets of conflict. 1% chose to go home. The deplorable living conditions in some host countries encourage the most reckless to return. (Read the whole report here)

Maryse Louis, General Manager of FEMISE. ©N.B.C
Maryse Louis, General Manager of FEMISE. ©N.B.C

250 billion dollars to rebuild Syria

"Returning to one's country of origin can be considered as a political act that is equivalent to recognizing the legitimacy of the regime," says the report coordinated by Ibrahim Elbadawi, ERF's  Managing Director and FEMISE President,  with the contribution of several specialists in the subject. For years, some refugees whose children have schooling in the host country, choose not to return when others intend to contribute to the reconstruction process. Several motivational factors come into play. The propensity to return will be greater if part of the family is left behind. Economic and social considerations play a decisive role: finding a job, the presence of educational institutions and access to care. Today, these conditions are not met, the first candidates for repatriation are mostly single men, according to the 2017 figures of UNHCR.
The study of Femise and ERF also presents several possible scenarios for the political settlement of conflicts and makes different assumptions as to the cost and duration needed to rebuild these totally devastated countries. "An inclusive political settlement and a balanced division of powers between elites with impersonal bureaucratic governance can lead to a total commitment of the international community for reconstruction ($ 250 billion) and a return of 70 to 80 percent of refugees" states Maryse Louis, General Manager of FEMISE in her chapter. However, the reality often leads to accept compromises.
Will it take twenty or thirty years for Syria to recover or exceed its 2010 GDP? For the authors, the international community plays a key role in this reconstruction effort, but States’ involvement is eroding over the years. $ 250 billion will be needed for the reconstruction of Syria, according to the UN envoy.

Read the report here


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