27 November: Migration Seminar “The Self Reliance of Self-Settled versus Settlement Refugees in Uganda” by Ayla Bonfiglio

Loading Map....

Date(s) - 27/11/13
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

UNU-Merit Conference Room (Keizer Karelplein 19)


The Self Reliance of Self-Settled versus Settlement Refugees in Uganda 

by Ayla Bonfiglio

Maastricht Graduate School of Governance / UNU-MERIT with MACIMIDE migration seminar


Once refugees migrate to Uganda, they must choose either to settle themselves in Kampala or live in a rural settlement sponsored by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Inside these settlements, refugees receive relief and development assistance until they repatriate to their countries of origin or are re-settled in a third country. If refugees decide to settle themselves in Kampala, it is the policy of the Ugandan government that they forfeit their rights to all formal assistance and find their own housing and employment.

It would appear that settling in Kampala without assistance hampers the ability of refugees to provide for their livelihoods. However, upon examining data collected from 98 ethnographic interviews with urban and settlement refugees in Uganda, a puzzling trend emerges: self-settled urban refugees are more successful at achieving self-reliance than refugees living in settlements. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses, this study will show that refugees in Kampala are more self-reliant than their counterparts living in settlements because they are a self-selected population based on the single factor of higher levels of education.

 This is significant because education provides refugees with the experience and confidence to obtain new skills and knowledge, a trait that is crucial to adapt to a foreign and potentially unwelcoming location. Additionally, it suggests that for settlement refugees to gain higher levels of self-reliance, assistance programs inside settlements should have a greater focus on widespread education goals.

About the speaker

 Ayla’s current activities and research interests are focused on African migration, the relationship between migration and development, and the research methodologies employed to study international migration. She is also interested in issues of forced migrant protection, livelihood strategies, and emergency education programming. Read more about the speaker.