The Warrior Refugees vs the Humanitarian Imperative: Case Studies of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan and Burmese Refugees in Thailand


de Mel, Rashindu. 2010. “The Warrior Refugees vs the Humanitarian Imperative: Case Studies of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan and Burmese Refugees in Thailand.” Master's thesis, Department of International Relations European Studies, Central European University.

Author: Rashindu de Mel


The ‘warrior refugee’ phenomenon is a special problem of our time as it poses a threat to the environment of the refugee and most importantly the ‘humanitarian imperative’. In the advent of new conflict situations in the developing world relief and aid is sought after more than it ever has been and ‘humanitarians’ roam the fields in vast numbers and missions. International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law acknowledge the threat posed by ‘militant activities’ within refugee populated areas (RPAs), but no International Convention has subscribed to the term/concept of the ‘refugee warrior’. Thus, the category itself remains a misnomer within the refugee regime causing further constraints when attempting to provide security to the refugees. The ‘warrior refugee’ is still an active concept in the present refugee context; a study of pre Cold-War Afghan refugees and present day Burmese refugees will show that this phenomenon remains to be a threat. With the above issues in mind I have ventured to argue that that the ‘refugee warrior’ phenomenon remains a threat to the ‘humanitarian imperative’; in the way that it makes the international humanitarian regime rethink their principles and legal instruments, as the ‘humanitarian imperative’ could not only quell the militant refugee activity but make way for it too.

Keywords: Afghan refugees, Burmese refugees, humanitarian imperative, aid, International Humanitarian Law, International Refugee Law

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Humanitarian Assistance, International Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL Regions: Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Myanmar

Year: 2010

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