Fact, advocacy, parody

history & humanitarianism

Benjamin Thomas White recently published a blog on the surprising ‘fact’ the average stay in a refugee camp is 17 years. Once surprising because of how very long it was, it is now surprising because, despite being frequently repeated, it turns out not to be true. In the first instance, the data it relies upon is from 2003. If the simple passage of time then doesn’t lead you to think a recount might be necessary, then perhaps the UN’s claim that the global refugee population is now at its highest since the Second World War will. Secondly, the figure didn’t include Palestinian refugees. Thirdly, it wasn’t about camps. And finally, as UNHCR’s own documents stated, it was always a very crude estimate. (You can get the full details on Ben’s blog.)

In discussions after the blog, Jeff Crisp – formerly of UNHCR – drew our attention to a report he…

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