Why do some countries host more refugees than others? Previous research has focused on the role of geographical, political, and economic determinants, and little attention has been paid to civil conflict dynamics. In this article, I examine how a host country’s support for rebel groups may affect the number of refugees that it accommodates. Countries that support rebels host a higher number of refugees than others, as accommodating refugees can be the continuation of that support and help rebel groups in their armed struggle. By hosting people, countries may offer a sanctuary from which rebels can operate some of their insurgent activities. Rebel groups can exploit these camps for recruitment, training, and benefiting from the main services such as health care. In addition, when rebels operate in host countries, these countries may monitor, impact, or even direct the strategies of insurgent groups. Analysis of refugee flows between 1968 and 2011 suggests that countries which support rebel groups host twice as many refugees as others. Results are robust to various model specifications, two different sources for the main explanatory variable, matching analysis, and additional checks. Findings of this article highlight the importance of conflict dynamics in explaining the variation in refugee flows.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.