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Imagining Refugia

Could a New Transnational Polity Help Solve the Refugee Crisis?

Syrian refugees, who fled the violence back home, walk in the Domiz refugee camp in the northern Iraqi province of Dohuk, August 2013. Thaier Al-Sudani / REUTERS

Over the last three years, the global north has fluctuated between welcoming and closing itself off to new waves of migration. With roughly 65 million people currently uprooted within or outside their countries, and with many of them in limbo for years at a time, policymakers are searching for solutions to the problem of mass displacement. The UN is steering the international community toward global pacts on migration and refugees due to be agreed on by the fall of 2018, but many doubt that much will come of them based on the record of similar international agreements so far. Nor is there much confidence that the current refugee architecture is up to the task: the three conventional solutions to displacement—repatriation of refugees, their local integration, or their resettlement—seem unable to work on the scale needed. Only a small proportion of the displaced find their situation resolved through such pathways: most

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