Unprecedented levels of displacement make the return of refugees and internally displaced populations a critical challenge, with post-conflict minority return especially complex. This article investigates the return process in Kosovo to identify what supports and hinders sustainability. For nearly two decades the Government of Kosovo and international partners have supported the return of minorities displaced during the 1998–1999 conflict and March 2004 riots. We draw on interviews with all major stakeholder groups in return programming and on indicative survey data from 499 returnees. Using a framework adapted from Black, Koser and Munk (‘Understanding Voluntary Return’), we focus on the Kosovo return process in recent years. The survey results indicate some sustainability but high differentiation in returnees’ satisfaction. This warrants concern, as differences in returnee perspectives run along already conflictual ethnic and spatial fault lines. In post-conflict settings, sustainable return and reintegration require more than the provision of services–they require nuanced understanding of how the shadow of conflict shapes returnee experiences. Finally, we question the orthodoxy of return discourse and highlight critical factors to support sustainable return elsewhere.
- Refugee return
- durable solution
- minority return
- sustainable return
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations