Every year thousands of people flee their country or region of origin due to civil unrest. In 2012, the population of refugees throughout the world was estimated at almost 10 million, and the number of internally dispersed persons (IDPs) was nearly double that, at 18 million. The majority of forced migrants were hosted in developing countries, with about 70 percent of the world’s refugees having been in exile for more than five years. While the total number of refugees did not grow significantly between 2007 and 2012 (from 9.68 million to 9.88 million), the refugee population in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) increased by 20 percent (from 2.27 million to 2.75 million), driven largely by drought‐related emergencies and armed conflicts in the Horn of Africa and West Africa. A recent surge of forced migration outside of SSA has also occurred, driven by flows of more than 2.4 million refugees from Syria into Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey.
Refugees interact with their host economies in various ways and can have far‐reaching consequences on their local hosts. One negative consequence—the one most often cited—is the threat that refugees pose to the food security of host countries. Because civil wars can be long lasting, most refugees are likely to reside in host countries for protracted periods, implying significant long‐lasting impacts on host communities and their food security. Furthermore, most refugees are hosted in neighboring countries that do not necessarily enjoy better economic conditions and often may be struggling with preexisting food insecurity. The weakness of the host economy may place a further burden on the host populations and erode their ability to withstand shocks and achieve food security over time.
Little is known definitively, however, about the actual consequences that refugees have on food security and resilience in hosting communities. This brief (1) demonstrates why the relationship is not as clear‐cut as it seems at first blush; (2) overviews the findings of Mabiso and colleagues, who have reviewed the evidence that does exist on food security and resilience for hosting communities in protracted refugee situations and drawn implications for policymakers; and (3) highlights key research gaps that offer promising areas for future research.
- International Food Policy Research Institute
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