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date: 23 October 2019

(p. vii) Foreword by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

(p. vii) Foreword by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

We live in an age where more and more people are on the move; where conflicts and persecution drive millions from their homes each year; and where forced displacement grows increasingly protracted. There is enormous human suffering hidden behind the statistical trends, but at the same time I am impressed, again and again, by the resilience we encounter among those who have lost nearly everything. Displacement is no doubt one of the great contemporary challenges the world is facing, and as the international community remains ill prepared to prevent and resolve its root causes, millions of people continue to be affected year after year.

I am therefore grateful for this publication, and for the bridges it helps build between academic study and our everyday fieldwork and advocacy in forced displacement. The chapters of this Handbook carefully examine all the key elements for the protection of refugees, displaced persons, migrants, and other people on the move, identifying both obstacles and opportunities that are relevant to our work in the field, and which should rightly be contemplated by students of forced migration.

The chapters on shifting spaces and new paradigms of forced migration examine questions relating to encampment, urban refugees, internally displaced persons, and protracted refugee situations, which we at UNHCR are grappling with every day. Issues such as internal displacement and statelessness need to be put higher on the international agenda, and I welcome developments in institutional frameworks and partnerships that support this.

The authors draw attention to specific concerns such as the protection of children, older persons, and those with disabilities, as well as the gendered dimension of displacement (including sexual and gender-based violence). The increasing risks and dangers faced by refugees, asylum seekers, and others travelling in mixed migratory flows require the establishment of complementary national and regional strategies in order to mitigate pressure on the institution of asylum, and ensure that frameworks and tools translate effectively into better protection and assistance to people on the ground.

Taking stock, as this Handbook does, of new trends and root causes of displacement such as human trafficking and smuggling or climate change provides opportunities to explore the broader impact of migration on communities across the world. In particular, the dramatic demographic, economic, and social consequences of forced displacement highlight the need for strategic and complementary partnerships across disciplines. UNHCR, for example, is working closely with partners, governments, and civil society to help increase self-reliance while enabling positive impacts on local economies. Such (p. viii) essential protection activities will be supported by the Handbook’s valuable regional analyses.

Today we stand at a critical juncture in the history of forced displacement and migration —faced with multiple emergencies, a 20-year high in the number of forcibly uprooted people, and complex mixed-migratory flows that increasingly include perilous sea journeys. This Handbook aptly highlights the multiple challenges defining the contemporary field of forced migration. A welcome collection of research in this changing context, it examines essential concepts from a theoretical perspective, but also considers the practical implications which affect operational actors, such as UNHCR and the people we work for.

It is encouraging to see developments in this field attracting the attention and acknowledgement that is warranted, and in an in-depth and meaningful manner. I commend the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre for providing this comprehensive overview, which covers nearly every aspect of contemporary refugee and forced displacement studies. In addition to being an essential tool for academics and students of forced migration, the comprehensive nature of this Handbook opens up the field to a wide range of stakeholders.

In particular, I hope that the Handbook will be a valuable tool for practitioners in the field and assist them in working together to protect a fundamental human value—that of providing refuge to people fleeing violence and persecution.

Geneva, March 2014

Foreword by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

António Guterres

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees