Refugee fatigue

There is a rift between the growing number of refugees and displaced persons in the world and the countries that are able to assist them. Refugees are in limbo, living in camps that are constructed along national borders and supported by international humanitarian aid. Host nations face economic uncertainty, and, because of national security threats, immigration restrictions are heightened.

Refugees are the victims of oppression and human rights abuses in their home countries. Their ways of life are typically threatened by their own governments or violent rebel groups. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, the majority of the world’s refugees emigrated from Southeast Asia and Africa and sought assistance from both neighboring countries and developed nations.Refugee fatigueRefugee fatigue[cat]REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS;Refugee fatigue[cat]THEORIES;Refugee fatigue[cat]BORDERS;Refugee fatigue

While fleeing from persecution, refugees often find themselves fighting through red tape to find stable places in which to relocate. Camps are constructed along borders of neighboring states, with refugees living day to day on humanitarian aid services. Some camps are intended as temporary refuge until political unrest and violence dissipates, allowing citizens to return to their homes. These camps often remain under threat from oppressors. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Janjaweed militiamen in the DarfurDarfur region of Sudan continually attacked camps of people fleeing the Genocide;Sudanesegenocide. Other camps, such as those on the Thailand;refugee campsThai-Burmese border, have been in place for more than twenty years. In cases like this one, the younger generations are unaware of life outside refugee camps. Although food is made available to the refugees, education and additional resources are limited. Regulations make it virtually impossible to travel outside the camp or to obtain employment.

With growing numbers of refugees seeking places to live during the early twenty-first century, the international community has struggled to find countries willing to take them. Border countries already feel the strain on their economy from border camps and illegal immigration. In the United States, national security concerns and a recession (beginning in late 2007) are major factors that limit the number of refugees admitted. Few applicants have family already in the United States, and their education and English-language skills are limited. Efforts are made to return refugees to their home countries when it is safe, but it is difficult to estimate how long refugees will remain in the United States or how many will seek permanent legal status once they have arrived.

The terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, led to stricter immigration standards, established in the [a]Patriot Act of 2001Patriot Act of 2001. In 2000, the United States accepted 68,925 refugees; in 2002, the number of admitted refugees fell sharply to 26,773. Some of these standards have been relaxed, but national security remains a high priority. About half a million refugees were relocated to the United States during the first decade of the twenty-first century, but the numbers are in decline despite the increasing number of refugee applicants. Potential host countries face a moral dilemma: whether to host refugees whose lives are threatened and who are without homes, or to limit the number of refugees allowed in the country because of national security and economic issues.Refugee fatigue

Further Reading

  • Lischer, Sarah Kenyon. Dangerous Sanctuaries: Refugee Camps, Civil War, and the Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005.
  • Martin, Susan F., et al. The Uprooted: Improving Humanitarian Responses to Forced Migration. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2005.
  • Whittaker, David. Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Contemporary World. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Economic consequences of immigration

Refugee Relief Act of 1953


Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy

Welfare and social services

World migration patterns