Protracted Refugee Situations and the “Warehousing” Option: The Intractability of Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Complex

Sage Shaheen, David P. Thomas


This article examines the phenomenon of Protracted Refugee Situations (PRS) and the so-called warehousing of refugees in the case of Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex. We analyze the intractability of PRS in this particular case and argue that there are four main features that make it so: (1) a host state that views the refugees primarily as a security threat and takes very little responsibility for their well-being; (2) UNHCR acting as a surrogate state with very little influence over the Kenyan government and little incentive or capacity to remedy the situation; (3) an ongoing political situation in Somalia that prevents the safe return of refugees; and (4) a general failure on the part of wealthier countries to commit to substantial resettlement initiatives.

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