PerspectiveESSAY

Refugee protection and resettlement problems

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Science  13 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6287, pp. 772-773
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8962

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Summary

In 2015, more than a million refugees and other migrants entered the European Union. They are just a small part of the world's rapidly burgeoning population of displaced people, which climbed by more than 37% between 2009 and 2015 to reach 59.5 million people. Humanitarian aid to these people has been dramatically insufficient, and many displaced people now lack adequate food, medical care, housing, or transportation. As a geographer, I spent 16 months between 2009 and 2013 conducting participant observation research in camps for displaced people in Georgia (see the photo), where I discovered serious shortfalls in the humanitarian aid system. Increasingly, humanitarian aid is a temporary solution to a permanent problem, a stopgap that not only does not help displaced people resettle but, instead, makes it more difficult for them to move on with their lives.