Many of the refugees Concern works with still have the keys to their homes. However, as complex crises and protracted conflicts become the norm, this becomes less tenable over time. Syrian refugees, largely living in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, have effectively put their lives on hold for over a decade without a sign of resolution. Afghan refugees have spent four decades living in host communities in Pakistan, with some families growing by generations while in displacement.
Many refugees leave thinking they will be gone for a few weeks or months. No matter how long it takes, many - like Syrian mother Khadija* - are ready to go back. "I aim to go back to Syria someday, rebuild my home, and use the same keys for it," Khadija told us from her temporary residence in Lebanon.
Despite ongoing conflict and crisis, more than 126,000 refugees returned to their country of origin during the first half of 2021, according to the UNHCR.
Ensuring that home communities are prepared for the influx of returnees is part of the repatriation process. Part of Concern’s work in Cambodia in the 1990s was helping with the transition to ensure that livelihoods and financial stability remained healthy as millions came home. What began as a small microfinance project at that time was divested to the members in 2003, and is now the largest provider of credit in Cambodia.