Refugee Integration between a Rock and a Hard Place: Challenges and Possibilities of Local Integration as a Durable Solution for Eritrean and Somali Refugees in Ethiopia

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This study examines the challenges and possibilities of local integration for
urban refugees by comparing two refugee groups (Eritreans and Somalis) in
Addis Ababa. A qualitative research methodology was employed and semistructured interviews with refugees and host communities as well as key
informant interviews with the Administration of Refugees and Returnees Affairs
(ARRA) and local authorities were conducted. In addition, focus group
discussions (FGDs) with refugees and host communities of the study areas were
held. The respondents for both interviews and FGDs were purposively selected.
The historical and ongoing relations between Ethiopia and the refugee
producing countries, a structural factor, impacted not only the country’s policy
direction towards the refugees’ but also the refugees’ and hosts’ perceptions of
local integration. The study revealed that Somali refugees are more integrated
in the host communities than Eritrean refugees in the respective areas despite
the cultural compatibility of the latter because of the interplay of structural,
refugee and host community related factors. The prolonged settlement and
engagement of Somali refugees in both the formal and informal economy in the
area reduced prior mutual mistrust and misperceptions and resulted in the
refugees’ progressive integration in the host communities. However, the
securitisation of Somali refugees in the area by interlinking them with the
insecurity and terrorism in their country obstructs the intensive integration by
creating fear among both refugees and host communities. On the other hand, the
Eritrean refugees perceive the special treatment provided to them as politically
motivated and temporary. Low levels of migrant integration are caused by the perception of Ethiopia as country of transit and a lack of motivation on the side
of host communities to facilitate integration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359 - 1385
JournalAfrican Human Mobility Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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