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The international community's approach to refugees focuses largely on mass influx situations and high profile refugee emergencies, delivering humanitarian assistance to refugees and war-affected populations, and encouraging large-scale repatriation programmes. In stark contrast, of the total number of refugees in the world (which exceeds 10 million) some 70%—or 7.7 million—are not in emergencies, but trapped in protracted refugee situations. Such situations, often characterised by long periods of exile, stretching to decades for some groups, constitute a growing challenge for the international refugee protection regime and the international community. While global refugee populations have fallen to their lowest in many years, the number of protracted refugee situations and their duration continue to increase. There are now well over 30 protracted refugee situations in the world, and the average duration of these refugee situations has nearly doubled over the past decade: from an average of nine years in 1993 to 17 years in 2004.

More information


Journal article


Taylor & Francis

Publication Date



7 (3)


491 - 501