The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) have released a new report outlining a framework of organisational core positions and operational and advocacy priorities in relation to the return of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and rejected asylum seekers.
The positions have been defined against a back drop of unequal responsibility sharing and prospects for durable solutions for displaced populations across the globe, the consequence of which is a significant pressure on refugees, IDP’s and asylum seekers to return to their places of origin. While DRC is obliged to engage with return processes, this comes with a number of humanitarian risks for both those needing to return and for DRC’s integrity.
DRC outlines eight positions that form its framework for engaging with returns. They maintain that protection against refoulement, the safety of routes to return, respect for due national and international human rights standards, and the inclusion and dignity of all concerned individuals must always be at the forefront of decisions on return, with the use of force or detention avoided at all costs. They emphasise the right for refugees to be returned “all the way home” but if they so wish they should also be able to access housing services in other areas of their country of origin. In either case post-return monitoring or meaningful reintegration support should always accompany the process.
DRC’s framework also focuses attention on the opportunities of refugees and IDPs to develop new skills and maximise their own capacities while in exile, to better enable them to lead sustainable and dignified livelihoods once in their country of origin. As the report explains, it is crucial that “displaced persons are not merely offered ‘care & maintenance’, but are offered opportunities to heal, transform, and become empowered to master a new reality”. It maintains that return should not be seen in isolation; all durable solutions should be pursued regardless of a host-government’s political agenda.
In light of this framework, DRC specifies that it will not serve as the enabling factor in any returns in which the ‘voluntariness’ of the procedure cannot be confirmed, where arrangements between the country of origin and hosting country cannot ensure safety, or in cases where the individuals concerned are at a credible of risk of becoming displaced once again. DRC will endeavour to provide both pre- return and post- return assistance, in terms of counselling and sustainable reintegration support, which it will advocate to be distributed without discrimination and in proportion to needs and vulnerability.