In Search of Sanctuary: Border Closures, ‘Safe’ Zones and Refugee Protection

In Search of Sanctuary: Border Closures, ‘Safe’ Zones and Refugee Protection, Journal of Refugee Studies, Volume 26, Issue 3, 1 September 2013, Pages 458–476

Abstract

In the past two decades, refugee-hosting states have increasingly chosen to close their borders when confronted with mass refugee influxes. This article examines humanitarian responses to such closures. I argue that, particularly in the post-Cold War period, the international community has increasingly chosen not to condemn but to mitigate such closures, constructing alternative ‘safety’ zones. Yet while border closures that lead to ‘safe zones’ may offer a minimal security and preserve life through humanitarian relief, they cannot offer the full protections of refugee law, or a durable solution to persecution and political exclusion