It is often taken for granted that local communities hosting refugees are composed of settled and established groups of citizens. However, newly displaced populations not only share spaces with or aim to integrate into communities of ‘nationals’ but also into communities formed by established or former refugees and IDPs, whether of similar or different nationality/ethnic groups. This is especially the case given three key trends in displacement: the increasingly protracted nature of displacement, the urban nature of displacement and the overlapping nature of displacement.
While a great deal of academic and policy attention has been given to the first two, very little research has been conducted into the nature and implications of ‘overlapping’ displacements, including with regard to local communities. I use this term to refer to two forms of ‘overlap’. Firstly, refugees and IDPs have often both personally and collectively experienced secondary and tertiary displacement. This is the case of those Sahrawi and Palestinian refugees who left their refugee camp homes in Algeria and Lebanon to study or work in Libya before being displaced by the outbreak of conflict there in 2011, and of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees who had originally sought safety in Syria only to be displaced once more by the conflict there. Secondly, refugees are increasingly experiencing overlapping displacement in the sense that they often physically share spaces with other displaced people. For example, Turkey hosts refugees from over 35 countries of origin, Lebanon from 17 countries, Kenya 16, Jordan 14, Chad 12 and both Ethiopia and Pakistan 11. Given the protracted nature of displacement, over time these refugee groups often become members of communities which subsequently welcome and offer protection and support to other groups of displaced people.