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close this bookResettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1995, 60 p.)
close this folderPart 4: Options of place
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentReturn to residence or area from which displacement occurred
View the documentSpontaneous repatriation
View the documentOrganized repatriation
View the documentIntegration into the host community
View the documentRelocation
View the documentCASE STUDY: Planned Secondary Resettlement (PSR)
View the documentCASE STUDY: Land tenure issues in resettlement: Repatriation to Tigray region of Ethiopia

Spontaneous repatriation

Repatriation can occur under a variety of conditions. Many displaced families arrange and return to their place of origin through self-initiated, individual efforts, sometimes referred to as spontaneous repatriation. On the basis of personal perceptions of necessity, safety and risk, people are often motivated to return home and organize their own repatriation. They may return to join family members, protect property, begin rehabilitation or to plant crops.

The movement of displaced persons from places of refuge to permanent residences is usually continuous during an emergency. Families may take independent action to move based on the options open to them. Various observers have noted that repatriation is not simply an activity that begins at the end of a crisis (Larkin et al, 1991). Aid to resettling individuals can include transportation, protection, and financial assistance. When appropriate, emergency services should be reduced and emergency and temporary shelters closed.

It is critical to note that self-initiated repatriation can also be motivated by violation of basic human rights while in refuge. Not infrequently, the desire of governments to rid themselves of the responsibility for displaced persons leads to reductions in services, lack of protection and harassment. In some situations such courses of action have led to extreme hardships and the death of large numbers of people. In such situations the need to defend the rights of displaced people to remain in their place of refuge and to be treated humanely must be pursued.

Displaced people are sometimes used as political pawns, recruited for the military, exploited commercially, or used to justify large international aid programs.

Conversely, displaced people who could repatriate may be discouraged or prevented from returning home by national governments or other parties because it is to their advantage. Displaced people are sometimes used as political pawns, recruited for the military, exploited commercially, or used to justify large international aid programs. In such situations it may be necessary to defend the right of people to return home. Relief organizations must be cautious that their assistance does not contribute to the entrapment or abuse of displaced people.