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Refugees: Flight to nowhere

Date Published: 
03/01/2013
Summary: 

The plight of Syria’s refugees exemplifies a growing global problem. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counts 15.2m (4.8m of them Palestinians, looked after by a different UN outfit), with an additional 26.4m displaced within their own lands. But hosts are increasingly unfriendly to refugees, and ever more unwilling to allow them to settle permanently. Conflicts are becoming more protracted. The old ways of dealing with people fleeing across borders, designed for smaller numbers and shorter stays, rarely work anymore. (..) Aid agencies have had to adapt. UNHCR sends text messages with information; the World Food Programme mails electronic grocery vouchers, which give recipients more choice and remove the need for costly distribution networks.