Refugee repatriation during conflict: protection and post-return assistance

This article reports on the findings of the International Study of Spontaneous Voluntary Repatriation, begun by the authors in 1986, and involving case studies on return to countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It discusses the lack of recognition in both policy and practice of the pervasiveness of refugee-induced repatriation, and of repatriation during conflict; and offers new assumptions regarding the pattern and process of contemporary repatriation and of refugee decision-making. Lastly, it examines some repatriation issues for the 1990s: fragile peace and tenuous security; protection of the voluntary nature of return; dealing with non-recognised entities; and post-return assistance, particularly the need to focus on rehabilitation before development and to provide refugee-centred aid.