UNHCR and Voluntary Repatriation of Refugees: A Legal Analysis

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Voluntary repatriation of refugees is generally considered to be the preferred solution to what is referred to as the problem of refugees . This study attempts to analyze the legal meaning of voluntary repatriation, its place within the framework of universal refugee law, and whether or not it deserves to be called an ideal solution. The focus of the text is on UNHCR - the agency which is mandated to assist in the voluntary repatriation of refugees - as the constant and recurrent actor in the practice of organized large-scale repatriations. A brief historical analysis is followed by four real-life case studies of the voluntary repatriation: of Cambodian refugees in 1980 and again in 1992 and 1993; of Iraqi (Kurdish) refugees in 1991; and of Mozambican refugees (from Malawi) in 1993-1995.