Forced Displacement and the Crisis of Citizenship in Africa’s Great Lakes Region: Rethinking Refugee Protection and Durable Solutions
This article explores refugee protection and durable solutions in Africa’s Great Lakes region by examining conflict, displacement, and refugees in the light of the crisis of citizenship. Drawing on empirical data from nine studies across the region, we scrutinize the causes of conflict and displacement and refugee policies and practice in the region through the lens of citizenship. First, we argue that the continued plight of many refugees in the region without durable solutions results, at least in part, from an endemic and systemic inability of many people in the region to realize citizenship in a meaningful way. This inability, we argue, is a significant contributor to the continued forced displacement of millions of people, with many still refugees, even after living in the host states for over three decades. Second, we argue that solutions are failing because discussions about the root causes of refugee influxes and movements often fail to capture the intricately connected historical, political, social, economic, religious, and legal factors that engender displacement. We submit that full and equal enjoyment of the rights and benefits of citizenship by all, including access to citizenship for refugees, is one means of resolving displacement and providing durable solutions to refugees.
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