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This chapter looks at the international community’s interest in fixing refugee populations in camps and how it conflicts with refugees’ own practices of (often irregular) encampment and self-settlement in towns and cities. It first provides a brief overview of the many different forms of encampment before turning to a discussion of the emergence of the international refugee regime and how states could respond to the need for international protection in practice. It then examines some of the reasons for the rise of encampment and compares it with self-settlement. It argues that the narrow policy focus on refugee camps tends to obscure the much more flexible ways of self-settlement preferred by refugees.

More information


Book chapter


Oxford University Press

Publication Date



127 - 138

Total pages



international community, refugee camps, refugees, encampment, self-settlement, international protection