Displaced Iraqis: Predicaments and Perceptions in Exile in the Middle East

Dawn Chatty, Nisrine Mansour


Much has been written about Iraqi refugees in the eight years since the March 2003 Anglo-American invasion of the country. Most of this work tries to understand the refugee crisis which followed from the perspective of “topdown” governmental and institutional factors such as interstate relations, state fragility, and regional insecurity. The key innovation of this paper is that it explores “bottomup” factors. The focus of this paper is on the perceptions, interests, and perceived predicaments of displaced Iraqis themselves as contrasted with the perceptions of them by international players locally based in the Middle East region. As such the paper focuses on factors such as: livelihood strategies, economic engagement, protection rights, and alternatives to refugee/forced migration statuses. By reorienting analysis to local people-based perceptions the paper provides new ways of understanding not only the conditions of protracted displacement but also a broader scope for durable solutions.

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