Obeying the situation : exploring Somali refugee experiences in a Ugandan refugee settlement

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


Nakivale refugee settlement in Mbarara district, Uganda is a temporary home to around thirteen thousand refugees from seven countries in the Great Lakes and Horn regions of Africa. The population of refugees from Somalia has a unique situation in that they are from many different clans, most of which are currently in open conflict with each other in Somalia. Through data gained from personal interviews with Somali refugees and observations in the settlement, this paper will examine the interplay between personal identity and refugee identity and how these identities affect the search for security and stability in the experience of refugees. In conclusion, it will show that Somali cultural processes and methods for resolving conflict are upheld in Nakivale as a way of governing interactions and relationships between clans, and that these, in addition to personal choice and the laws of the host country, are what succeed in creating a space of relative calm in an otherwise tenuous environment. Furthermore, it is the hope that this research can be of benefit in beginning to examine and explore the complex dynamics and relationships that are inherent to any group of people, but which are often overlooked by assisting agencies in their work with refugees.

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