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Myanmar Edges Toward State Collapse Following Coup
Myanmar Edges Toward State Collapse Following Coup

The Balkan Refugee Crisis

The magnitude and complexity of the unfolding refugee crisis in the Balkans is hard to overstate.  One and a half million people have been forced to flee their homes in Kosovo since the start of this year. 

Executive Summary

The magnitude and complexity of the unfolding refugee crisis in the Balkans is hard to overstate.  One and a half million people have been forced to flee their homes in Kosovo since the start of this year.  These latest victims of Balkan conflict join the ranks of a further one and a half million other refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from earlier wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

While many of those expelled from Kosovo are anxious to return home as soon as possible, the obstacles in the way of their return are formidable.  Creating the conditions necessary for large scale return[fn]'Return' refers to all return back to place of origin, from exile as well as internal displacement.  'Repatriation' is only used for return from exile.Hide Footnote  will take a long time and require enormous resources.

This report argues in favour of providing temporary protection[fn]Refugee status was never intended to be permanent. The 1951 Refugee Convention gives room for granting of international protection on a temporary basis through its ‘cessation clause’.Hide Footnote  for refugees in the region, with the aim of them returning home at the earliest opportunity.  Temporary protection is necessary to maintain pressure on Belgrade and demonstrate our commitment to reverse the effects of ethnic cleansing.  But this report argues for more realism in relation to the length of time it will take to reverse the present refugee flow.  Lessons from Croatia and Bosnia have demonstrated that there is no such thing as fast voluntary return in the wake of war and ethnic cleansing[fn]Only 20% of the refugees and IDPs had returned to their homes in Bosnia-Herzogovina 16 months after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. In the same period only 10 % of damaged houses were repaired. ICG report: "Going nowhere fast", 1 May 1997.Hide Footnote .  Perhaps induced, but most likely not voluntary.  Non-voluntary return of refugees is a very sensitive issue.  The international community can only try to circumvent it by striving to put in place the necessary conditions that would make return acceptable to Kosovo refugees.  This report discusses these key conditions and calls for the establishment of a comprehensive repatriation plan.  Strong regional management structures must be established by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in order to develop, co-ordinate and implement the strategy for the return process.

Specifically, the report recommends that the international community focus on the following action points:

  • Maintain and promote the temporary status of refugees;
  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for the return of all refugees and IDPs;
  • Keep the refugees in the region, in so far as possible;
  • Plan for the early return for refugees evacuated to third countries;
  • Prepare for spontaneous return;
  • Plan according to realistic time frame;
  • Keep refugees informed;
  • Give equal attention to short- and long-term needs;
  • Involve the local opulation in the return process;
  • Develop regional humanitarian solutions and structures;
  • Mobilise up-front funding of return efforts;
  • Include the whole region in economic recovery planning;
  • Keep the roles of humanitarian aid workers and the military separate;
  • Include binding return mechanisms in the future peace agreement; and
  • Synchronise European refugee policy.
Video / Asia

Myanmar Edges Toward State Collapse Following Coup

Two months after the 1 February coup, Myanmar is in a deep crisis. The military seems bent on imposing its will, using draconian tactics that are only strengthening demonstrators’ will to resist. International actors should stay united in urging the junta to change course.

In this video, Richard Horsey, Crisis Group's Senior Adviser on Myanmar, explains what is happening in the country.

Click here to read the full briefing.