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Animating ‘refugeeness’ through vulnerabilities: worthiness of long-term exile in resettlement claims among Somali refugees in Kenya

  • Fred Nyongesa Ikanda
Abstract

Refugees are generally viewed as a transitory problem. In many African countries, however, protracted refugee situations have turned the temporary refugee state into a more or less permanent phenomenon. In this article, I draw on the concept of uncertainty, and on claims that suspicion structures humanitarianism, to examine how long-term residents in Dagahaley refugee camp in Kenya attempted to make themselves worthy of being considered for resettlement. I demonstrate how the incompatibility between the UNHCR's resettlement criteria and Somali refugees’ lived realities provided both sets of actors with a resource: they used understandings of vulnerability as a means for making or denying resettlement claims. Refugeeness is a process of becoming, premised on how earlier arrivals deployed long-term suffering as a justification for being prioritized for resettlement. These dynamics resulted in the emergence of ‘new’ and ‘old’ refugee distinctions through which the meanings of vulnerability were redefined.

On considère généralement les réfugiés comme un problème transitoire. Dans beaucoup de pays africains, cependant, les situations de réfugiés prolongées ont transformé l’état de réfugié temporaire en phénomène plus ou moins permanent. Dans cet article, l'auteur s'appuie sur le concept d'incertitude, et sur l'assertion selon laquelle la suspicion structure l'humanitarisme, pour examiner comment des résidents de longue durée du camp de réfugiés de Dagahaley au Kenya ont tenté de se faire valoir comme candidats à une réinstallation. Il démontre comment l'incompatibilité entre les critères de réinstallation du HCR et les réalités vécues des réfugiés somaliens a doté ces deux catégories d'acteurs d'une ressource : ils ont utilisé des interprétations de la vulnérabilité comme moyen de revendiquer un droit à la réinstallation ou de le refuser. La qualité de réfugié est un processus de devenir basé sur la manière dont les arrivants précédents ont utilisé la souffrance de longue durée comme justification à être prioritaires en matière de réinstallation. Ces dynamiques ont abouti à l’émergence d'une distinction entre « nouveaux » et « anciens » réfugiés à travers laquelle la signification de la vulnérabilité a été redéfinie.

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References
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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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