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close this bookResettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 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


At least three alternate types of relocation for displaced persons may be considered. The first may be thought of as self-initiated relocation. Many families initiate achieving "settledness" after being displaced. For others, a series of moves is required to locate the appropriate place. It is common, for example, for refugees repatriating to their own country or resettling to a third country to settle initially in one place but subsequently to move again in pursuit of more satisfactory social and economic arrangements. In the repatriation of the Cambodian people from the displaced persons camps in Thailand, some 20 percent of the people who were repatriated chose a secondary site rather than the place they were from. The international assistance provided to help people settle in whatever site they choose was considered very positive to reintegration.

Repeated relocation can also be a reflection of dire need. Such movement can be an indicator of the unsettling and impoverishing effects of displacement and the inability of affected families to find suitable alternative living arrangements. For example, self-sufficient families, once displaced, can encounter difficulties in establishing satisfactory settlement arrangements and live on the move with the constant threat of eviction due to lack of land tenure rights or in search of jobs. Such is the case of many "squatters" and "homeless" families. While adequate employment is always a central issue, "settledness" of displaced people is also integrally related to land tenure issues and housing policies, as is dramatically illustrated in Central America, the Philippines and South Africa.

The second type of relocation may be considered aided relocation. Often assistance is offered to aid displaced people to find a suitable "place." As in Cambodia, Mozambique and Central America, large resettlement programs are established to transport families and help them initiate their activities in the place they have chosen to resettle. In the past, large numbers of refugees were aided in settling in a third country but in recent years this has been a declining possibility. Currently, it is an option for very few of the millions of displaced. (See Case Study on Planned Secondary Resettlement.)

The third type of relocation, organized relocation, is planned movement of communities or groups of people to new sites. Sometimes population relocation is used as a military strategy in conflict situations or as a way to expropriate properties for commercial development or industrial development. After natural disasters, proposals may be made to move communities to safer locations such as away from fault lines, flood zones, or volcanic risk zones. Governments may consider group relocation programs as solutions to political or environmental problems. Relocation of communities often becomes a consideration whenever displaced people are segregated and unsettled, such as in public shelters, camps or empty buildings.

Whatever the cause of an organized relocation, it is an issue of interest to international agencies due to increasing violations of basic rights. Such relocation efforts may be harmful because even though individuals can easily be transported to a new site, it is not easy to move a way of life. Such moves disrupt work, play, worship and the multiple integrated functions that constitute social life. They disrupt the psychological web and social networks which are the heart of social life (Quarantelli, 1986:85).

Therefore, aiding the resettlement of displaced persons may involve varying "settlement" circumstances. Aiding the return of displaced people in voluntary return to their homes is a worthy effort. However, this idealized solution should not obscure the fact that many displaced people are not able or do not choose to return to their former place of residence. Assistance may be required to aid people to settle locally or help them settle in some alternative location.

The circumstances and needs of people who have evacuated their homes for only brief periods must be considered as well as those who may return after long periods away. In some situations appropriate assistance can help persons with the initiative to return home, while in other situations group-oriented assistance strategies may be useful. International assistance may be required to facilitate the repatriation and settlement of displaced people. In the case of forced return or violations of basic rights, international assistance may protect displaced people from forced repatriation. Assisting the settlement and recovery of displaced persons is, in view of all possibilities, a multi-faceted social concern and must be directed by humanitarian concerns but determined by specific needs and circumstances.

Q. What factors may prompt displaced persons to integrate into the local community rather than repatriate?

A. __________________________________________________

Q. Why is assistance often required for integrated persons living in urban areas? How should such assistance be targeted?

A. __________________________________________________

Q. What are the potential problems regarding organized relocation?

A. __________________________________________________


It may be unsafe to return; they may have been away a long time; they may already be partially settled; they may perceive their new situation to be an improvement.

They may live in the same conditions as the very poor; they may lack resources and needed services. Large numbers of urban displaced live in need of water, sanitation and employment. The aid may be solely for the displaced or an area-based strategy.

It may be used as a military or political strategy and may violate human rights. It may prove to be harmful to the well being of the relocated people.