Accepted paper:

Ethnodemographic notes about Somali refugees in Eritrea


Valentina Fusari (University of Pavia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to outline the ethnodemographic profile of Somali refugee in post-independent Eritrea, that is one of the largest per capita producers of refugees worldwide. Besides, it aims to underline the refugees’ perception and use of time in such a peculiar socio-political context.

Paper long abstract:

Eritrea, because of its location in the Horn of Africa and due to the events that characterize its long liberation struggle, has always been a refugee-producing country. However, Eritrea, after obtaining the de facto independence in 1991, is hosting a few thousand refugees, mostly Somalis. My paper aims to describe in emic terms the peculiarity of the Somali community living in Eritrean refugee camps, waiting for their resettlement elsewhere according to international programs. In an attempt to outline the history and the ethnodemographic profile of Somali refugee population in Eritrea, I give special special attention to the migratory trajectories, to the actors involved in the process of admission and management, to the conditions and possibilities for personal growth and training opportunities available with a view to moving to other countries. More in detail, Somali refugees' experience in Eritrea is unique because of the context, as tens of thousands of Eritreans have fled a suffocating socio-political situation over the past decade, making the small northeast African nation one of the largest per capita producers of refugees in the world. Therefore, it is interesting to analyse how time is perceived and invested by the Somali refugees in a context that seems to act as a push factor for local population. Moreover, opportunities of training and self-fulfillment available in refugee camps can have consequences on the refugees' expectations, due to transit in a country that has not yet ratified the main treaties about the consolidation of the international refugee protection.

panel Mig005
Refugee visions and realities: interpreting time with people on the move