When Do States Repatriate Refugees? Evidence from the Middle East

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Which conditions affect whether a state will choose to repatriate forcibly displaced populations residing within its borders? One of the most pressing issues related to the protracted Syrian refugee situation concerns the future of over 5 million Syrians who sought shelter in neighboring states. With host countries pursuing disparate strategies on Syrians’ return, the existing literature has yet to provide a framework that is able to account for variation on host states’ policies toward refugee repatriation. In this paper, we expand upon the concept of the refugee rentier state to theorize inductively upon the conditions shaping states’ policymaking on repatriation. We draw upon multi-sited fieldwork across the three major refugee host states in the Eastern Mediterranean (Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey) to establish that a refugee rentier state's strategy is driven by domestic political economy costs related to the hosting of refugee populations as well as its geostrategic interests vis-à-vis these refugees’ country of origin. Using a comparative case study approach, we note how a state is more likely to pursue a blackmailing strategy based on threats if it faces high domestic political economy costs and adopts an interventionist policy vis-à-vis the sending state, as in the case of Turkey. Otherwise, it is more likely to pursue a backscratching strategy based on bargains, as in the case of Lebanon and Jordan. We conclude with a discussion on how this framework sheds light on refugee host states’ repatriation policies on a global scale.
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@article{Sahin-MencutekTsourapas2022, author = "Zeynep Şahin-Mencütek and Gerasimos Tsourapas", title = "When Do States Repatriate Refugees? Evidence from the Middle East", latexTitle = "When Do States Repatriate Refugees? Evidence from the Middle East", booktitle = "Journal of Global Security Studies", number = "1", type = "Journal Article", year = "2022", doi = "10.1093/jogss/ogac031", }


Journal Article


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Journal of Global Security Studies


Jordan , Turkey , Lebanon