The introduction begins by explaining the inadequacies of the existing refugee regime that this book seeks to address by offering urgently needed new thinking. It outlines the challenge of ‘protracted refugee situations’. Today, over half the world’s twenty million refugees are in exile for at least five years, often without the right to work or freedom of movement. One reason for this is the insistence on seeing refugees as a purely humanitarian issue, even beyond the emergency phase. In the absence of durable solutions, development-based approaches are needed to promote greater refugee autonomy and self-reliance. A key problem is that, historically, attempts to bridge the humanitarian–development divide have tended to be state-centric, sidelining refugees’ own skills, talents, and aspirations. This chapter introduces the book’s premise that if refugees’ own engagement with markets can be better recognized and understood, this may offer a way to move from dependency towards sustainability.
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