Briefing Paper

How can development policy help to tackle the causes of flight?

Schraven, Benjamin / Bernhard Trautner / Julia Leininger / Markus Loewe / Jörn Grävingholt
Briefing Paper (2/2016)

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Dt. Ausg. u.d.T.:
Was kann Entwicklungspolitik zur Bekämpfung von Fluchtursachen beitragen?
(Analysen und Stellungnahmen 14/2015)

Europe has been discussing how to deal with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world for months now. However, one frequently overlooked aspect is the fact that just a small percentage of the world's approximately 60 million forcibly displaced people actually come to Europe – the number of asylum applications across the entire European Union between 2008 and September 2015 totalled around 3.5 million. Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran are each accommodating over one million refugees, thus probably more than the European Union to date.
All in all, the number of people forced to leave their homes has never been as high as it was in 2015. Flight is a reaction to threats to people's physical or psychological integrity. The causes of flight include wars, political repression, terrorism, food shortages and natural disasters. What can development policy, including humanitarian aid, do in order to combat these root causes?
In the short term, attempts should be made to create or maintain so-called 'stability cores' – locations in which those who are fleeing receive physical stability and essential material resources (water, food, education, health care services). These spaces may be created in the countries of origin themselves or in host countries in the region. In the process, it is crucial to involve administrative structures within the host countries from the outset, and also to ensure that the host population benefits from the aid provided.
In the medium term, the refugees should be prepared effectively, either for their return to their countries of origin, or for their integration within the host country. Whatever happens, economic, social and legal prospects must be created for them, in order to avoid apathy and despair – a breeding ground for frustration and violence. At present, larger amounts, increased reliability and longer-term perspectives in terms of funding for humanitarian and transitional aid are urgently required.
Above all, development policy can attenuate the causes of flight preventively, with long-term effects. It is vital to ensure that no other countries, such as Egypt, Pakistan or Nigeria, are plunged into crises (civil war, political repression, etc.), with the result that the number of refugees increases considerably once more. Prerequisites for this are efforts relating not only to the short-term, but also to the long-term stabilisation of these countries. This pre-supposes not only politically, socio-economically and ecologically sustainable development, but also requires the involvement of large sections of the population in political decision-making processes. Only then can a social and political equilibrium between competing interests within society be achieved. In future, the primacy of short-term political stability via the support of authoritarian governments at the expense of political legitimacy and participation should no longer be accepted. Development policy is equipped with tools designed to promote inclusive social change and the balance of political forces without significantly expanding the financial scope of authoritarian regimes. As a result, crisis prevention and peace promotion must become important focuses of development policy once more. Experiences with 'multidimensional peace-keeping' in post-conflict countries show that concerted international commitment with multilateral leadership is the way forward, even in very challenging circumstances.

Further experts

Baydag, Melis

Political Science 

Bergmann, Julian

Political Science 

Dang, Vy

Political Science 

Erforth, Benedikt

Political Science 

Fiedler, Charlotte

Political Scientist 

Friesen, Ina

Political Science 

Furness, Mark

Political Science 

Grimm, Sven

Political Science 

Hackenesch, Christine

Political Science 

Keijzer, Niels

Social Science 

Koch, Svea

Social Science 

Kuhnt, Jana

Development Economist 

Lorch, Jasmin

Political Science 

Löpelt, Sarah

International relations and Sustainability policy 

Martin-Shields, Charles

Political Science 

Mross, Karina

Political Science 

von Haaren, Paula

Development Economics 


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