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During the 1980s and early 1990s, more than three million Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans were displaced within their own countries and throughout Central and North America by interlinked civil wars and rampant human rights violations. Although the discourse of protracted displacement was not prominent at the time of the crisis, this was undoubtedly a protracted displacement situation: many Central Americans were uprooted for more than a decade before they were able to access a durable solution in the form of resettlement, local integration or voluntary return. The struggle to resolve Central America’s protracted displacement situation has often been heralded as a success story by researchers and practitioners. Upon closer analysis, however, it is clear that this case is far from a straightforward success. More than a decade has passed since the conclusion of formal efforts to resolve Central America’s protracted displacement situation. It is now an opportune time to reflect on this ‘success story’ and discern the lessons that may be drawn from it; this paper explores the implications of the Central American case for 'unlocking protracted displacement'.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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