Accepted paper:

Explaining fresh refugee movements out of Eritrea


Assefaw Bariagaber (Seton Hall University)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

During the 30-year long war of independence in Eritrea, close to a million (out of an estimted 3.5 million) Eritreans left the country in search for refuge in many parts of the world. After the war ended in 1991, many expected Eritrean refugees, especially those in neighbouring countries, to return in droves immediately. This, however, did not occur as well as many had hoped. Instead large numbers remained in exile. And more surprizingly, new groupos of refugees left during and after the 2000 border war with Ethiopia. Although there are many factors that account for this, including conscription in the armed forces and economic slowdown that followed the border war, such possible factors as refugee immitative behavour and 'familiarity with refugeehood' have largely remained unexplored. This paper interrogates these factors to determine if they contributed to the post-independence Eritrean refugee movements, and explores whether or not the threshhold of resisitance to become a refugee has lowered over the last few years. In short, the paper seeks to answer the question: has the decision to flee to exile become less agonizing because of refugee immitative behaviour and 'familiarity with refugeehood'?

panel B4 & B5
In and out of Eritrea: returnees, refugees, and renegades