Beyond Voluntary Return: A critical ethnographic study of refugees who departed Israel ‘voluntarily’

Maya Fennig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Against a global backdrop of anti-refugee discourse, governments are increasingly paying refugees to repatriate. This critical ethnographic study explores the lived experiences of refugees who participated in Israel’s Voluntary Return program. The data were derived from in-depth interviews with refugees who had departed Israel. Participants highlighted the various exile-related stressors that led them to choose to leave and reflected on the ambiguity inherent in the term ‘voluntary’. Post-departure, participants continued to experience significant psychological distress. In light of popular perceptions that repatriation is an optimal solution to refugees’ displacement, the implications of these findings for interventions and policies are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-538
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Social Work
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Displacement
  • forced migration
  • lived experiences
  • mental health
  • repatriation

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