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Conclusion: Durable Solutions During Transient Years: Lessons Learned

Elzbieta M. Gozdziak and Marisa O. Ensor

Worldwide displacement is, at the time of this writing, at the highest level ever recorded. Sociopolitical upheaval, instability, and persecution have forced millions of children and their families from their homes and countries. Globally, 1 in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. If this were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24 th largest state (UNHCR 2014, 2016a). More than 60 million people have been forcibly displaced globally and, unlike in previous years, refugees, both young and old, are now squarely in the center of international media attention and political agendas (UNHCR 2016a).

E.M. Gozdziak • M.O. Ensor (*)

Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

© The Author(s) 2016

M.O. Ensor, E.M. Gozdziak (eds.), Children and Forced Migration, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40691-6_15

Global mobility is contributing to most societies becoming more multicultural, multiethnic, and multireligious. Although this growing diversity can be a source of national strength, ethnic and identity-based violence also has become a primary concern in recent years. With the ongoing armed conflicts in the Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and the Ukraine—to mention but a few conflict-ridden countries—the current focus on wartime displacement is of particular importance. Additionally, there are numerous populations that have remained displaced over decades and now are referred to by the institutional label “protracted refugee situation.” These include the Bhutanese in Nepal; the Karen in Thailand; the Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan; and the Sahrawi in Algeria. “In each of these cases it is not the youngest generation but their parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents who were forced to flee” (Hart 2014, 384).

It also is important to acknowledge that the challenges for humanitarian agencies are increasing for other reasons besides, or in addition to, conflict. Climate change and population growth are acting as accelerators of other trends in today’s world, including food insecurity and increasingly severe “natural” disasters. In Central America, these trends have combined with pervasive structural and political violence (Ensor 2008, 2009), contributing to the exodus of thousands of unaccompanied minors who are migrating to the USA in search of a better life (Ensor 2008; see also Gozdziak, chapter “What Kind of Welcome? Addressing the Integration Needs of Central American Children and Adolescents in US Local Communities”). In South Sudan, “the consequences of climatic changes combined with the legacy of a brutal civil war are contributing to make this region one of the most underdeveloped, volatile, and conflict-prone areas” (Ensor 2013, 526); and, once again, one of the main refugee-producing countries in the world (see Ensor, chapter “Refugee Girls and Boys and the Dilemmas of (Un)Sustainable Return to South Sudan”).

Children and Forced Migration responds to the reality that children and youth constitute a disproportionately large percentage of this global displaced population. Drawing on empirical research findings and robust policy analyses of cases of child displacement across the globe, the contributors to this book have advanced the central argument: The particular challenges and opportunities that displaced children and youth face must be investigated and factored into relevant policies and practices, which in turn should promote more sustainable and durable solutions.

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