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Refugee repatriation and consent

Gerver, Mollie (2016) Refugee repatriation and consent. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Over the past decade, NGOs and government agencies have helped millions of refugees repatriate to their countries of origin, providing them free flights, travel documentation, and modest stipends. This thesis considers when such repatriation assistance is morally permissible. Drawing on original data from East Africa, I distinguish between six sets of cases, which require six distinct policies. In the first set, refugees choose to return because they are unjustly detained by the government. In such cases, NGOs should avoid helping with return if their actions causally contribute to the government’s detention policy. In the second set of cases, refugees are not detained, but return to a country they know little about. In such cases, both NGOs and government agencies have duties to inform refugees of the risks of returning. If they fail to inform refugees of the risks, they are engaging in a form of wrongful immigration control. In the third set of cases, refugees regret returning and, based on this, NGOs and government agencies can predict that future refugees will likely also regret returning. I develop a novel theory of when future regret is a reason to deny a service, and apply this theory to the case of repatriation. In a fourth set of cases, refugees are paid a great deal of money to repatriate, and would not have returned had they not been paid to leave. I argue that paying refugees to repatriate is only permissible when conditions are safe in countries of origin. In a fifth set of cases, parents repatriate to high-risk countries with their children. I argue that parents, in general, do not have a right to live in a country unsafe for their children, and NGOs and government agencies should refuse to help with such returns. In a final set of cases, refugees of a minority ethnicity are provided generous assistance to leave, while refugees of the majority ethnicity are not. I argue that such discriminatory assistance is permissible only when third parties remain unharmed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Mollie Gerver
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Spiekermann, Kai

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