Planned rural settlements and camps often share the characteristic that they are placed in peripheral areas and on land that has not been used by the local population. This means they are badly placed to attain economic self-sufficiency (for a discussion of this notoriously imprecise term which seems more often than not defined by political and other non-economic criteria, see Kaiser 2000). In contrast to camps, settlements are intended to provide refugees with the opportunity to achieve some degree of self-reliance. Therefore, land characteristics are more important in the planning stage. This has in the past led to the relocation of settlements to increase their economic prospects.
Given the different economic base of settlements, which rely more on the productive potential of the refugees themselves and less on the impact of external relief items and infrastructure, the success of self-settlements relies disproportionately on a range of broader economic factors. Among these are local infrastructure and economic capacity, a local agro-ecological potential that allows for refugee integration into the economy, and the potential for refugee education and skill enhancement.
The link between refugees and the development prospects of their host is thus an essential feature of the "refugee problem". As was recognized at the 1967 Conference on African Refugee Problems in Addis Ababa, refugee self-sufficiency at mere subsistence levels could not be considered conclusive. Formal development was required both to consolidate the refugee settlements and to integrate them into the local economic and social system. Furthermore, such development prompted by refugee presence should contribute effectively to the overall development of the country of asylum; thus, the surrounding population must be ensured an equal share of the advantage accruing (Betts 1984) .
Camp-style food handouts have been criticized for ignoring the diversity of a refugee population and masking (or exacerbating ) real inequalities in the camp. Yet planned settlement schemes do carry their own problems in this respect. Thus in the settlement schemes examined by Armstrong (1988) it was found that only a small number of the villages produced two-thirds of the crops marketed. In the Quala en Nahal settlement, unofficial land transfers resulted in the fact that only 36 per cent of the refugees still claimed the same amount of plot some time after initial, egalitarian distribution.
- Research report to the United States Agency for International Development, Refugee Policy Group, Barry Stein and D. Lance Clark, "Older Refugee Settlements in Africa" http://www.msu.edu/course/pls/461/stein/FINAL.htm
- UNHCR Tania Kaiser, " UNHCR's withdrawal from Kiryandongo: anatomy of a handover" http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/+XwwBmeAmJ69wwwwwwwwwwwwhFqo20I0E2gltFqoGn5nwGqrAFqo20I0E2glcFqVwDwBdMOadhawarwDmdVnGDzmxwwwwwww/opendoc.pdf
- Tom Kuhlman, "Responding to protracted refugee situations: a case study of Liberian refugees in Côte d"Ivoire" http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=RESEARCH&id=3d4006412&page=research
- Shelly Dick, "Responding to protracted refugee situations: a case study of Liberian refugees in Ghana" http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=RESEARCH&id=3d40059b4&page=research
- Forced Migration Online Omar Bakhet, "Background paper: delivery of social services in rural refugee settlements" http://www.forcedmigration.org/
- Ingrid Palmer, "Women refugees in urban and rural settlements" http://www.forcedmigration.org/
Self- or spontaneous settlements
Despite the frequent absence of assistance for them, proponents of spontaneous settlement for refugees have claimed that self-settlement is the preferable option if long-term dynamics are taken into consideration. Moreover, they hold, self-settlements constitute the preferred option of refugees themselves, and that this is proven by the fact that most refugees self-settle. It may well be impossible to reach overarching conclusions about refugee choice in regards to their accommodation, and in some cases self-settled refugees (predominantly men) have expressed a greater feeling of insecurity than those in camps (Kibreab 1987). Kaiser (2000) has documented the way in which refugees in Uganda have resisted the handover of a refugee settlement to local authorities as they feared the loss of both protection and assistance.
Other authors, however, document widespread resistance to camps and settlements ( Hansen 1992; Harrell-Bond 1986; Bulcha 1988; HRW 1999; Baker and Zetter 1995) . This may be based on a variety of factors such as the reputation of camp administration, prior experience in settlements, and generalized fear to be forced to adapt to a camp lifestyle ( Harrell-Bond 1986; Schelhas 1986; Kibreab 1991) . Bulcha (1988) has closely related "maladjustment" to a new situation with the loss of power and control expressed in refugee camps. This is often expressed through feelings such as paranoia, anxiety, suspicion, guilt, or general anxiety. Hansen's study of Angolan refugees in Zambia implicitly confirms these findings when observing that generally camps were avoided due to "a reputation for disease and death, the fear of forced repatriation, and restrictions on social and residential patterns and mobility" (Harrell-Bond and Voutira 1997).
As noted before, research on self-settled refugees is, for perhaps obvious reasons, much less available than that on camp-based assistance. The most well-known may be Hansen's study of self-settled refugees in Zambia, which more recently were studied by Bakewell. Currently, only some host countries officially condone refugee self-settlement, whether in rural or urban areas. Among recent examples is the Ivory Coast (until recently "Guinea"). Many more do not enforce official restrictions on refugee movement.
A question that has attracted some attention is whether settlement patterns influence refugees" reluctance (or desire) to eventually repatriate. Current evidence, while largely inconclusive, shows at a minimum that settlement patterns do not seem to be independent factors in this decision.
The fate of self-settled refugees is in many ways at the very heart of our understanding of the international refugee regime and its fundamental purpose. In the case of Guatemala, Cheng and Chuloba argue that the neglect of self-settled refugees was "one of the most striking shortfalls of the UNHCR response". They add, "An organization cannot hope to effectively respond to a crisis without knowing with whom it is dealing. The shortfall undermines the agency's credibility vis-à-vis the refugees, the host and the home governments, and the donors. In addition, it leads to the problem of adverse selection because the five per cent of the displaced population that ends up in the camps is probably the least mobile, the least skilled, and possibly also the least able to actively." Their position challenges both the current logic of refugee relief and those views that in extremis hold that refugees who avoid the purview of relief agencies and the frequently associated "encampment" are actually better off than those who do not.
- Gaim Kibreab, "Displaced communities and the reconstruction of livelihoods in Eritrea" http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/dps/dp2001-23.pdf
- UNHCR Oliver Bakewell, "Refugee aid and protection in rural Africa: working in parallel or cross-purposes?" http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=RESEARCH&id=3ae6a0d04&page=research
- Tania Kaiser, "A beneficiary-based evaluation of UNHCR's programme in Guinea, West Africa" http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=RESEARCH&id=3b0a2a752&page=research
- Naoko Obi and Jeff Crisp, "Evaluation of the implementation of UNHCR's policy on refugees in urban areas" http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=RESEARCH&id=3c0f8bd67&page=research
- Forced Migration Online Gaim Kibreab, "Host governments and refugee perspectives on settlement and repatriation in Africa" http://www.forcedmigration.org/
- Non-electronic resources and bibliography
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