On public lectures: Navigating Nakivale @ RCC

Morten Bøås gave a lecture at the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre on “Navigating Nakivale: the borderland economy of a refugee camp” on 13 November 2015.

The talk focused on how the combination of conflict + different types of interventions produces outcomes: “what matters is not only the cards you were dealt, but your ability to play them”.

It was his introductory remarks about the current status of refugees worldwide that caught my attention, @17:30 —

So it’s a combination of the fact that some places are completely full, and the local integrative capacity has been completely overloaded for too long. And we have contributed to this by underfunding the agencies who could have, at least in theory, contributed against this. And in addition, the conflicts that produce refugees do not come to a conclusion.


Bøås goes on to issue a warning call: If Uganda forcibly closed Nakivale, if Kenya forcibly closed Dadaab, if Lebanon expelled all Syrians — what would happen? Everyone needs to pay attention to the local + regional areas that have absorbed the majority of the world’s refugees.

Thus, the current refugee crisis is really global: “not a European crisis, or Norwegian, or Northern Norwegian, or Storstog refugee crisis. Only a very very few can afford to take these routes,” aiding the development of a “hierarchy of suffering”. Those left behind in camps must not be forgotten.



On the other refugee crisis

Ben Rawlence writes in the New York Times of one of the other refugee crises — protracted situations by way of long-term refugee camps,

Dadaab is not an anachronism, or a hangover from a former world order. It is the future.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Dadaab was created as a short-term haven where the international community could house and feed displaced people until a “durable solution” could be found. Under the principles set out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this meant refugees would stay in the camp until one of three things happened: They returned to their country of origin; were integrated into their new host country, in this case, Kenya; or were offered resettlement to a third country, usually in Europe or the United States.

There are nearly 400,000 Somali refugees living in Dadaab for whom none of these outcomes is likely. They are among the 14 million refugees living in what the United Nations calls “protracted situations,” those in exile for more than five years. The global displaced population is now at 60 million, but this appalling number masks another crisis that has been brewing out of the headlines for the past decade: the explosion in protracted refugees.

related: Barbara Borst via The Huffington Post on naturalization in Tanzania.