Sustainable Return: A Case Study of Refugee Return to Lao PDR in the 1980s–1990s
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The possibility of repatriation has recently come under heavy discussion along the Thai–Myanmar border. The discourse around ‘sustainable return’ looks beyond long-term development and focuses on four kinds of insecurities (namely, physical insecurity, social and psychological insecurity, legal insecurity, and material insecurity). Repatriation and reintegration are thus viewed as a durable solution only when these aspects of displacement are addressed in an integrated and effective manner. Based on this framework of sustainable return, this chapter begins with a discussion on the standard of voluntary repatriation in accordance with international principles (including the principle of non-refoulement). It then outlines the conditions that induce voluntary repatriation using a case study on repatriation of Indochinese refugees from Thailand to Lao PDR and Cambodia in the 1980s. It describes the security conditions in which repatriation occurred, and highlights the challenges and successes of return in this context, including policies adopted by Lao PDR and the roles of UNHCR and the RTG.
KeywordsSustainable Return Displace Person Refugee Woman Temporary Shelter Durable Solution
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