Since the mid-1970s, increases in refugee flows have coincided with a growing unwillingness of states to grant asylum. The resulting transformation of the international refugee regime has an ad hoc character, and is largely about tackling issues in or near the country of origin. States are reluctant to extend their legal obligations, and have not enlarged the formal definition of ‘refugee’ to encompass those fleeing from war, anarchy, destitution and famine. Forced repatriation has resurfaced. Yet assistance has expanded and innovations have occurred. UNHCR's budget increased dramatically up to 1996. The ’internally displaced‘—those whose flight does not involve crossing international borders— have been given substantial help. The UN Security Council has frequently cited refugee issues as a basis for authorizing military action. Unprecedented efforts have been made to promote refugee return. The new developments necessitate an examination of the security of vulnerable populations, whether in their own country or in emergency camps abroad—a question that proved particularly problematical in the refugee crises of the 1990s. A more interventionist approach to refugee flows is unavoidable.

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