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.