September 19, 2019 – After tracing the return of 200 Lebanese returnees from various countries of immigration and from diverse regions in Lebanon, interviewing them about their experiences, and creating a tentative model of the returnee’s world, Dr. Guita Hourani, Director of the Lebanese Research Center for Migration and Diaspora Studies (LERC) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) and Dr. Suzanne Menhem, of the Lebanese University and Research Associate at LERC, have published their findings as Homecomings: Re-integration of Return Migrants in Lebanon. This study is concerned with the return of Lebanese who emigrated during the Civil War (1975-1990) and who have since returned in the post-war era. The publication of Homecomings is a step towards filling a significant gap in the literature of migration, one that has consequences for both state policy and the sociology of globalization.
The study explores questions pertaining to the factors that motivate Lebanese to return; the impacts of the experiences of living abroad and returning; and the diverse conditions and perspectives of return to Lebanon. The majority of the 200 returnees were immigrants in Saudi Arabia, France, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Togo, Canada, the USA, Dubai, Kuwait, Australia, and Venezuela, among others.
The study found that the major reasons for returning are as follows: family life/family reunification, to invest in Lebanon, better job opportunities, better lifestyle, children’s education, and a more satisfying social life. In terms of the permanence of the return decision: most of the returnees have come back on a permanent basis; some view their return as temporary; while a significant percentage remain undecided.
The study uncovered commonalities among returnee opinion. Among the issues about which they feel strongly: that political stability and institutional reforms are essential to stabilize the country and to attract diaspora investments; that radical changes are needed in the government structure, the parliament, the electoral system and the laws governing each; and that reducing confessionalism, combating corruption, inducing transparency, increasing decentralization, modernizing the laws, and developing the country’s infrastructure would enormously benefit the homeland.
This study is one of a very few studies on return migration in Lebanon, a subject that has been understudied in academic circles. The study is particularly salient because it not only addresses a broad and significant gap within the scholarly literature, but it also creates data and a model to generate new research in this field. As such, academics and researchers now have at their disposal a foundational footing which can act as a springboard for future research.
According to Dr. Hourani and Dr. Menhem, the purpose of the study was “to initiate a dialogue on formulating policies and programs that will help returnees and encourage return migration to the country.” The authors hope that this study will be a catalyst to usher in more original inquiries on return migration and its social, cultural, political, and economic impacts on the returnees and on Lebanon.
The study is published by Scholar Press and is available for purchase or download on all online platforms and online bookstores globally.