This helpdesk report addresses the following questions:
What lessons have we learnt on the effectiveness of various refugee settlement approaches (integration in towns/communities, informal settlements, formal settlements, camps) with regard to:
- supporting protection for refugees and host communities: how do respective approaches help to uphold refugees’ rights, protect them from e.g. exploitation and abuse, support social cohesion and enable their access to formal and informal protection mechanisms and services?
- delivering assistance and supporting self-reliance among refugees and host communities: how do various models enable or not self-reliance, help manage public health risks, and deliver wider economic benefits to the host communities?
This review of the effectiveness of different approaches to refugee settlement shows that the ‘traditional’ approach of setting up refugee camps is ineffective in many respects – particularly in terms of promoting self-reliance – and hence to be avoided. The recommendation in policy circles is now for alternatives to camps that provide economic opportunities to refugees, allow mixing with host populations, do not set up parallel service delivery systems, and seek to benefit both refugees and host communities. However, perhaps because the policy shift away from camps is only recent, there is less clarity about what these alternatives would look like in practice and very few large-scale examples of this.
K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.
Idris, I. (2017). Effectiveness of various refugee settlement approaches. K4D Helpdesk Report 223. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.