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The role of SAARC and EU in managing refugees in South Asia and beyond: potential for north-south cooperation
journal contributionposted on 2018-02-01, 00:00 authored by Zahid AhmedZahid Ahmed
South Asia hosts more than three million refugees. However, with Europe and the Middle East preoccupied with their own crises, less attention has been paid to South Asia. Due to conflicts in Afghanistan and Myanmar, South Asia continues to host refugees from both within and outside the region. Afghan refugees also form the second largest refugee group after the Syrians in Europe. It is argued in the article that since South Asia hosts so many refugees who would otherwise travel elsewhere, especially Europe, it is key to the balancing-act that characterises the current global refugee regime. It is therefore important to think of options through which the host countries of South Asia can be supported. In this context, this article argues the need for North-South cooperation through greater engagement between the EU and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to address protracted refugee situations. Despite criticism on its performance, the importance of SAARC cannot be ignored. This article proposes policy recommendations for SAARC-EU cooperation.