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Refugee repatriation and voluntariness

Gerver, Mollie (2015) Refugee repatriation and voluntariness. International Journal of Human Rights, 19 (1). pp. 32-52. ISSN 1364-2987

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13642987.2014.981535


Repatriation programmes facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organisations have been criticised as not being truly voluntary, because refugees’ decisions are made under oppressive government policies. Yet, failing to facilitate repatriation may force refugees to stay in a host country against their will. While current literature focuses on governments’ responsibilities in repatriation, agencies must often determine if a given choice of a refugee is voluntary, even when states fail to fulfil their minimal obligations. This article first examines three cases of repatriation from Israel to South Sudan, based on fieldwork conducted in Israel and South Sudan between 2011 and 2013. In the first case, a woman repatriated from a mental health institution in Israel, where she had been placed after attempting to murder her infant son. In the second case, a man repatriated with his family after being arrested for child maltreatment. In the third, a family repatriated to a town in South Sudan without employment prospects or food security. After presenting these cases, the article draws upon literature on consent and autonomy from analytical philosophy to suggest five criteria for determining if these individual cases were sufficiently voluntary to justify private organisations assisting in repatriation, even when Israel failed to fulfil its basic obligations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2015 10:30
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 20:24

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