Conflict and Fragility

Policy briefs

Protecting refugee social capital in protracted displacement

20 Jul 2018 - 18:14
Source: Flickr/DFID - UK Department for International Development

The untapped resource: Protecting and leveraging refugee social capital in protracted displacement

Lebanon is hosting the highest per capita refugee population in the world, estimated to comprise around a quarter of the country’s residents. Despite multifaceted donor assistance, Syrian refugees in Lebanon face an ongoing deterioration in their socio- economic conditions. This policy brief argues that in these challenging circumstances, refugees rely to a great extent on their social capital to manage their experience of protracted displacement.

Social capital is often the sole remaining asset that refugees have at their disposal to access livelihoods or cost-saving measures, or to use as a form of social safety net. As a result, social capital increases refugees’ resilience and improves the effectiveness of aid. Conversely, a lack of social capital can make individuals and families more vulnerable. The brief makes recommendations to all key actors in refugee responses on the ways they could identify, help maintain and leverage refugees' social capital for improving the lived experience of protracted displacement.

This policy brief is first in the series of publications capturing the outcomes of research conducted under the Surviving2Thriving project, funded by the Nationale Postcode Loterij. Within this project the Clingendael Institute looked at the protection in the region agenda in Lebanon in order to identify approaches that could be implemented by the key stakeholders: donors, aid agencies and national actors – in order to improve the quality of asylum in the country. This brief looks at the refugees’ own response strategies to protracted displacement, identifying interventions that could build on refugees’ agency.