PEACERETURN project awarded €2.6 million

Heidi Pullig
Prof Neophytos Loizides

Neophytos Loizides, Director of the Centre for Conflict Analysis Research (CARC), has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant of €2,657,725 for his project, PEACERETURN.

The PEACERETURN project, which will run for five years, focuses on victims of forced displacement and their decisions to return (or not) to their pre-conflict communities.

Professor Loizides and colleagues from Kent, the University of Cyprus, and Sabanci University, seek to understand why the proportion of actual returnees worldwide has been in significant decline in the past three decades despite the growing consensus among governments, international NGOs, and often victims of displacement themselves of the value of peaceful voluntary return.

The project will investigate why voluntary return is declining and what leads to partially successful returns or failures.

Professor Loizides said: ‘We are at an unfortunate moment in history witnessing an alarming increase of displaced persons; at the same time, there has been a significant decline, up to 85% in the past three decades, in the number of individuals who return to their original pre-conflict homes. PEACERETURN examines this puzzle focusing on victims of mass displacement and the individual, community-based, and institutional factors that shape voluntary peaceful return.’

The grant awarded by the ERC is part of its €544 million Horizon Europe programme – a project which supports cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields, from medicine and physics to social sciences and humanities. It is amongst the most prestigious and competitive EU funding schemes, awarded to established, leading researchers with a proven track-record of significant research achievements over the past decade.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: ‘ERC grants are a top recognition and a significant commitment from our best researchers. The €544 million funding puts our 218 research leaders, together with their teams of postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and research staff, in pole position to push back the boundaries of our knowledge, break new ground and build foundations for future growth and prosperity in Europe.’

PEACERETURN will be led by Professor Loizides. The senior staff on the project are Professor Betul Celik (Sabanci University), Dr Ed Morgan-Jones (University of Kent) and Professor Charis Psaltis (University of Cyprus)