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The displaced from Iraq now constitute one of the largest refugee populations worldwide manifesting the evolving conditions of “protracted displacement”. Unlocking this protracted crisis of displacement requires analysis of the perceptions of solutions, durable and not-so-durable, among all stakeholders. This article focuses on the local-level perceptions of practitioners, policy-makers, and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. It is based on desk research and interviews in the field in April and May 2011. Our findings show that the three classical durable solutions are largely unworkable for the majority of Iraqis in exile in the Middle East. Their migration is often circular and involves movement in and out of Iraq as well as across wider transnational networks in the Middle East and further afield. There is a need for an analytical shift from transitory humanitarian (emergency) assistance to fostering inclusive local assistance and accommodation to cater to the large group of Iraqi refugees who are increasingly “stuck” in host countries of the Middle East. It is worth exploring the possibility of a multi-directional approach to unlocking this prolonged crisis that taps into legal, policy, and operational opportunities.

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Journal article


Oxford University Press

Publication Date



30 (4)


50 - 83