How refugees spark conflict
The literature linking refugees and war can be limiting because it neglects the many forms of violence other than war that can afflict refugee communities. An influx of refugees often generates controversy in hosting countries, often at a hyperlocal level. Existing research points to a number of ways in which refugees can exacerbate the risk of domestic conflict. In particular, we may have increased real or perceived competition between refugees and local populations. Existing survey evidence also confirms that resentment often is widespread among local populations in hosting countries. This creates a fertile political atmosphere for violence.
The unequal refugee burden of weaker states
The state can play an important role in modifying the risk of violence against refugee populations. On one hand, states can help to better accommodate the needs of refugees and address the impact of refugee flows on local communities to decrease perceived conflict. On the other hand, states can also provide security, both in the sense of monitoring refugee camps and taking measures to protect refugee populations from violence by locals.
Where the risk is greatest
Although many states hosting refugees lack the capacity to implement measures that can mitigate the risk of violence, external resources could help to compensate. The scale of the current refugee crisis may create many additional demands and strains, but failing to implement comprehensive policies to accommodate refugees can be far costlier in the long run.
Tobias Böhmelt is a professor of government at the University of Essex.
Vincenzo Bove is a reader of politics and international studies at the University of Warwick.
Kristian Skrede Gleditsch is regius professor of political science at the University of Essex and a research associate at the Peace Research Institute Oslo.